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I’m loving the look and feel of my Salomon S-Lab trail shoes but are they comfortable enough to run in? For me I’m having some doubts, but this morning I’m going to walk across London in them and see how they go and then hit the road in them for a short 3 or 4 miles tonight and see wants cooking. Wish me luck and enjoy Friday Running.

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I used to be fast, well faster… 37 minutes over 10km, 1.36 over the half – I then started the transition to big distance running, started picked up injuries and my pace has never been the same. However, there have been glimmers of light at the end of a very slow tunnel, my comeback from the TG100 has been more muted than usual and despite the Achilles problem I’ve been building up slowly, doing all the stretching and looking after myself. My Royal Parks Half Marathon time was okay given I had done no training whatsoever and I came very highly placed at Xtreme Beach, this is all coupled with a pretty good first half to the Snowdonia Marathon – there is for the first time in ages reason to be a happy runner.

And so I entered Govember I was keen to push on from my gentle progress and my methodology is simple, 10 miles a day broken up into 2 x 2.1mile hill runs and 2 x 3mile urban run (one gently uphill, one gently downhill). As I write this sat in the train I realised I had hit my first of the hill sessions with at nearly 6.30per mile – congratulations to my Adidas Adios. This morning, so far I’m happy and if I can do my uphill urban running in under 20minutes I’ll be pretty content too, we shall see.

But the crux of this post is that no matter how bad your injuries are, no matter the setback – you will return to strike fear into the roads you run on. It won’t always feel easy and progress may be slow but you will get there. Now get out there, and yes, that does include you.

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I saw a post recently on Urban Running from Running Mum and thought it was a truly excellent piece and caused me to consider my own urban running. Why? Well, I began to think that I was one of those shits who simply expects people to get out of my way and expects the roads to open up in front of me but then I was discussing this very topic this morning and discovered that actually I’m pretty courteous.

However, the following is true;

I run straight towards people
When I do run straight towards people I always move out of their way, I’m the one going quickly, I’m going to take the appropriate action and I try to indicate to people which way I’m going so as not to cause distress.

I jump out into the road
When I jump out into the road I always look before I leap and look before I leap back too.

I run in front of the traffic be it ahead or behind me
I only take windows of opportunity that are available and usually none life threatening but I will travel on the road until it is no longer safe to do so and I’m a very good judge of traffic. I am very aware of the traffic after four young gentlemen while I was running along the back of Oxford Street pushed me into the oncoming traffic, this had the effect of me hitting the side of a taxi and rolling along it and off the back into the road – thankfully there was nothing behind as had there been I would have been killed. The guys just laughed and continuing wandering down the road. I got up and dusted myself off and despite being shaken continued running.

I have shouted ‘meemeep’ to get my fellow pavement users out of the way
I would never shout offensive things to the fellow pavement or road users (including cyclists) but when I run through Covent Garden at rush hour I do like to pretend I’m the roadrunner and call out meemeep as my warning sound. This is especially effective with Americans and children.

I have tutted when groups of tourists have gotten in my way
I try to be considerate but when you are narrow streets and are a large group it would do you no harm to be considerate too and so yes I will grumble to them as I go past and think this is perfectly acceptable

I have shoulder barged tourists on the embankment and not apologised
On occasion when I’ve been going flat out I have misjudged the odd space and smacked straight into someones shoulder usually and I haven’t stopped. I probably should and I’d like to apologies here and now for anyone I might have accidentally bruised during my running escapades. I have also been known to slap into someone who is hogging a pavement to make a bit of a point – pavements are designed to go in multiple directions and when those who can clearly see you coming make no effort to let you pass then why should I be the bigger person and step into the road? I mean I usually do but when they look you in the eye and challenge you that pisses me off – shoulder slap!

I have been called a ‘cunt’ by people on Westminster Bridge as I run past them
Funnily it’s the language of the cyclists that gets me the most. I was once deliberately pushed into the cycle lane by a pedestrian, the cyclist who was going beyond me called me ‘you giant fucking cunt’ – rather an over reaction as I barely slipped into the road and managed to get back on the pavement pretty quickly. As I passed him at the traffic lights a few hundred metres later at the traffic lights near Waterloo I did give a rather long two fingered salute – childish I know but he deserved it.

I do weave through people traffic and take no prisoners
I make no bones about it, if I’m running at 3.30per km I’m going to need to weave between people and not lose my groovy pacing. Straight lines simply aren’t available in London during rush hour and therefore I dodge between people but I do it in as polite a way as possible.

I do run through the ticket section of Blackfriars station
I love running through the ticket sections of train stations, Blackfriars, Charing Cross, London Bridge – to name but a few. Hearing the sound of the TfL guys telling me to slow down is a sound I never tire of. Breaking rules, I’m such a bad man! Ha.

I will leap between people when there is a slightly too small gap
I’m a designer, I work with space, I see space, I understand how it all comes together and I know where I can fit. In the distance I’m judging the spaces in front of me. I see people and watch how they are walking, when and where they will connect and can I dive between them. I pull my shoulders tight, push my arms forward and follow through with a ‘meemeep’ and an occasionally ‘woohoo’ if it was very tight. Its childish but by crikey its fun.

So, yes, I probably am an inconsiderate urban runner but not the most inconsiderate and I do try to think of other road and pavement users and while I may fail sometimes because I am occasionally a bit of what the cyclist described me as I will continue to try. I like to think that it isn’t just the urban runner who can be inconsiderate but intact all road and pavement users and if we all thought a little more about the things we do the world would be a much better and generally safer place – but then maybe some of the thrill is in the barbed exchanges and danger.

Happy running.

Most things are not urgent, in my job I remind my clients that ‘nobody dies if we don’t finish’ whatever we are working on, but then yesterday as I was ambling round the Royal Parks Half Marathon I saw something that rather disturbed me – runners receiving medical attention. Now I’m not exactly a drama queen and so i didn’t immediately think OMG that could be me within the next mile but seeing what looked like really athletic people keeled over on the grass being treated by the wonderful medical professionals made me think about Snowdonia.

In less than 3 weeks I am going to to attempt the Snowdonia Marathon, considered to be one of the toughest marathons in the UK and I’ll be honest I really haven’t done the training for it. After my last completed Ultra (The Wall) I’ve had a succession of injuries and a lack of desire, that coupled with my complete and utter failure at the Thames Gateway 100 have knocked the confidence of UltraBoy somewhat. Then we have to add that yesterday my performance at the Royal parks half marathon which was the longest distance I’ve done in absolutely ages and it didn’t go nearly as well as I was hoping for.

Which brings me back to the runners who lay unmoved on the ground at the race yesterday, will that be my fate?

My solution is pretty simple, I have dispensed with my travelcard for work. I now cannot get on the tube as my ticket only goes into London and back again. This means that not only do I have to either walk or run across London in the evenings I also have to do it in the mornings, this will double the distance at a minimum and I can increase my standard evening running to about 10km. I’m not aiming to run Snowdonia quickly, I’m just aiming to finish it. I suppose effectively I just need to get the distance under my belt and then I can focus on the performance.

All of this will hopefully help me to pump up my fitness levels again – something I was seriously lacking yesterday and I’m also hoping that a combination of Pilates and new stretches will help ease the pain I’m suffering from in my hip. Of course there’s the final thing I’ve got in the plan to help me complete Snowdonia and that’s the wonderful sounding Xtreme Beach, 18km of delicious obstacle course – I’ve got 2 weeks to get ready for that. I do love a challenge

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Let me tell you a story about a guy who woke up at 5.30am this morning after a poor nights sleep and quickly showered, threw on his Nike Tailwind vest and hurtled to the train station for only his second half marathon of the year – The Royal Parks Half – and yes the bloke in question was UltraBoy.

Let me add a bit of background, the RPH was my first ever half marathon distance race back in 2011 and it was in that first year of running an event I looked back in with great pride and even today I look at that medal and think ‘yep that was special’. So going back had a lot to live up to and I’m also a very different runner to the fearless youngster who arrived at the start line 2 years ago full of confidence. This year I headed to the event centre in Hyde park and had a windfall wander around with the 16,000 other runners, got changed, had a few laughs with other runners, deposited a bag and absorbed as much of the positive atmosphere as was humanly possible. I joined the line up rather later than is my norm with less than five or six minutes until the horn would sound but this was more than adequate to make a few new acquaintances on the start line. There is something that draws out comradeship when you are about to do something ridiculous.

Anyway! The horn went and with a slow shuffle to the start it all began, now while the start was very well organised it did take nearly 7 minutes for me to get to the start line which seemed a little too health and safety conscious for my liking, however, once we were underway I set about making sure I had left the 1.50 pacer as far behind as possible and make my moved up the field and as I came into mile 1 I was running solidly and without any issues other than a mild concern about the rising temperature. By mile 4 things were actually looking pretty good, I’d refuelled on Lucozade and water and turned onto the Mall with a fair old turn of pace. The passion of the crowds was also pretty infectious and you felt the need to puff out your chest and give it your all for the people who were lining the streets of London just to cheer you on.

Miles 6 through 8 continued to feel strong and only a mild discomfort in my underarms was causing me any trouble. The thousands of runners and spectators were offering lovely views of what is a wonderfully busy event and I was delighted by my progress but just as I hit mile 9 I could feel the pain of my hip coming back and I could feel shooting pains throughout my back. I changed my style of running to make it a little easier and was able to come through mile 10 but the cost was high and I simply had to slow down, the problem with this though was that the 1.50 pacer caught up to me and I felt a great sense of deflation. My aim for this had always been under 2hrs but my progress over the first 9 miles had been such that I had delusions of a 1.45. By the time I reached mile 11 I knew I was going to make it but the thought of finishing was tinged with the significant sadness that I wasn’t going to get anywhere near the last time I put in for this race.

The finale through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are well known to me as they are part of the London Social Runners Saturday route and part of my training runs through the city and so I was able to gauge the slit incline up to Hyde park and give it the requisite amount of fizz needed for a solid and fast finish. I crossed the line in 1.53 but it wasn’t a happy time and I was sore in the hip and underarms. There is the part of me that should remember that this is the second longest distance that I’ve run since June and my training hasn’t exactly been tip top but the excuses aside I should have done better.

I made my way through the scores of runners and spectators to collect my medal and headed off to collect my back before a short wander around the festival site and here is whee is got weird. What I hadn’t realised was that my poor nipples had been bleeding for much of the race- the pain in my underarms had clearly been the bleeding out from the raw exposed flesh! I looked a little bit like a transvestite a I crossed the line, a sweaty dirty one (take a look at the picture below).

Anyway what can I say that hasn’t been said about this event, probably very little, it’s a wonderfully well organised and a wonderfully supported event on the race calendar and it’s a nice PB route through some of the best bits of Central London. However, things to be mindful of a) it’s busy and some slightly inconsiderate runners were happy to push past b) it’s too expensive, at £46 this is one of the pricier races around of this distance and for the same money you could enter 2/3 other smaller races and support them and c) it does lack some of the excitement you get with a more undulating and dynamic course. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it, if you were only ever going to do one half marathon then you would seriously consider this but the caveats remain in place.

For me this will be the last time (at least for a few years) that I enter the Royal Parks half but I will be back and I will get that PB on this course.

And finally, I love the new medal too 🙂

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So many races have taken place in the last two years and I’ve been a part of about 40 of them, collecting medals, T-shirts, certificates and usually biscuits but there was a defining moment when I realised I loved running and that was on 09.10.11, the date of my first ever half marathon, aged 34. Now a couple of years later, and although the T-shirt is a different colour, I’m back at the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I’ve been injured the last few months and I’m just going to roll up and have a few laughs tomorrow, no pressure, no time to get, this is about the day, the atmosphere and my love of running. I know lots of my fellow Tweeters are going to be there picking up PBs, doing their first half marathons but ultimately having a stunning time, I’m very proud to be one of you.

Good luck chaps and I’ll see you on the start line.

There’s nothing like the wind in your hair, the sweat dripping down your face, the dipping in front of a Japanese tourist who unforgivably got in your way or racing the traffic lights hoping like hell that you aren’t going to get flattened by the number 73 bus winding its way up to Ilford. There’s nothing like it at all and more importantly there’s nothing like hitting 4km in under 16 minutes, I’ll admit not far under 16 minutes but it was under. After months of injury it just felt good to be back and making headway and I weaves in and out of London’s notoriously busy Zone 1. Tonight me and my MV2 were on fire, we finally produced the goods and we are adding distance too, 7 miles were done last weekend and I’ve done a couple of 5 milers – my first half marathon of the autumn season is still 16 days away … I can do this, I’m mad enough to think I can get ready in this time and tomorrow I’m going to prove it by kicking all sorts of arse in the hills around my home.

Look at you Royal Parks Half Marathon, Ultraboy Runs and he’s running at you.

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