34 Must-do Run­ning Ex­pe­ri­ences

Your ul­ti­mate bucket list

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

1-3 Get on track

Step­ping onto a flood­lit oval for the first time is a thrilling mo­ment for any run­ner, and you don’t need to be su­per-speedy to take ad­van­tage of the re­spon­sive, level, mea­sured sur­face. ‘Run­ning 400m laps is great for stay­ing fo­cused and de­vel­op­ing your con­cen­tra­tion,’ says Eng­land Ath­let­ics Coach Area Men­tor Stella Bandu. Start off gen­tly, with a max­i­mum of one track ses­sion per week. Here’s an easy feet-find­ing work­out: warm up, then do eight laps (two miles) of the track. Jog the bends and run hard on the straights.

…Now step up to a race

If you’re al­ready a track reg­u­lar, it’s time to re­lease your in­ner Mo. ‘You can choose race dis­tances from 100m to 10,000m, in­clud­ing the clas­sic mile,’ says Bandu. ‘Do­ing shorter track races will im­prove your speed and boost your con­fi­dence over longer dis­tances.’ Lots of clubs or­gan­ise ‘open’ ath­let­ics meet­ings that any­one can pay to en­ter. ‘Most events are graded, so you race against others of sim­i­lar abil­ity,’ says Bandu. Find a lo­cal event at open­meet­ings.co.uk, or re­live Lon­don’s Olympic glory and fol­low in the foot­steps of Bolt, Farah and Rud­isha by en­ter­ing the Great Ne­wham Lon­don Run (July, greatrun.org), which fin­ishes on the Olympic Sta­dium track.

…And spike your per­for­mance

If you’re on the oval, try swap­ping your usual run­ners for track spikes. ‘Con­ven­tional run­ning shoes won’t al­low you to achieve your po­ten­tial in track ses­sions,’ says Mark Speed, man­ager at Run­ner’s Need in Clapham, South Lon­don. He rec­om­mends a mid­dle-/long-dis­tance spike: ‘The fiveor six-pin plate will help you grip the track and push off more ef­fec­tively, which, com­bined with the shoe’s ex­tremely light weight, will boost your leg turnover and speed,’ he ex­plains. ‘Track spikes will of­fer a lot less sup­port than nor­mal run­ning shoes, so in­tro­duce them grad­u­ally.’ Try the Nike Zoom XC (£75, nike.com, shown left).

Track eti­quette

DO al­ways run an­ti­clock­wise (re­mem­ber, you’re ‘against the clock’).

DO move out to the right if some­one wants to over­take.

DON’T run in lane one (near­est the cen­tre) un­less you’re do­ing fast laps. They’ll usu­ally shout ‘track’.

DON’T stop sud­denly without check­ing who’s be­hind you.

DON’T stand around or leave any­thing on the track.

4/ Race in fancy dress

Rac­ing can be a se­ri­ous busi­ness, but not when you’re dressed as a veg­etable. Thomas Bolton has done three marathons in fancy dress, in­clud­ing one as the Tardis: ‘I find run­ning in costume more re­ward­ing, as I feel like I’m giv­ing some­thing back to those who’ve spon­sored me and those who’ve come out to watch.’

Costume karma

Tom’s tips for fancy-dress rac­ing:

‘Pick a costume that means some­thing to you. Lo­ca­tion-rel­e­vant cos­tumes are pop­u­lar, or ones linked to a char­ity you’re rep­re­sent­ing.’

‘Do your home­work on the course and also the type of run­ners it at­tracts. Some races aren’t so wel­com­ing.’

‘Even the light­est costume can af­fect your gait. You need to train in your out­fit, but al­ter­nate with costume-free runs.’

‘It’s worth hav­ing a mock costume for train­ing so your real one doesn’t get dam­aged.’

5/ Run your age

Many run­ners cel­e­brate land­mark birth­days by ‘run­ning their age’: for ex­am­ple, run­ning 40 miles at 40. Dave Mcgillivray, di­rec­tor of the Bos­ton Marathon, has been run­ning his age every birth­day for the past 50 years. Now 62, he mixes run­ning with cy­cling to make up the num­bers. De­pend­ing on your level and how many can­dles are on the cake, you can cel­e­brate in miles, kilo­me­tres or min­utes, or num­ber of fire en­gines that ar­rive to put out the blaze.

6/ Set a record

You don’t need to run the fastest or the fur­thest to set a world record; you just need to achieve some­thing that hasn’t been done be­fore. In 2015, 86 new run­ning records were ver­i­fied by Guin­ness World Records. Run­ner’s World writer Meghan Kita set one of them: fastest marathon (fe­male) dressed as a fast food item (a hot dog, as you can see, left). Find out how the process works at guin­ness­world records.com/set-a-record.

7 Bag the Ma­jors

Per­haps the tough­est thing about tick­ing off all six World Marathon Ma­jors is get­ting into the per­pet­u­ally over­sub­scribed races in the first place, but con­sider it a life­time project. If you suc­ceed, you’ll gain en­try into the hall of fame and earn the Six Star Fin­isher Medal (world­marathon­ma­jors.com).

Here’s the or­der: Tokyo (Fe­bru­ary) Bos­ton, (April), Lon­don (April), Ber­lin (Septem­ber), Chicago (Oc­to­ber) and New York City (Novem­ber).

8/ Bare your soles

Run­ning bare­foot evokes a sense of free­dom that all run­ners should ex­pe­ri­ence. Whether it’s silky sand, smooth as­phalt or springy grass, you’ll awaken thou­sands of neu­ral con­nec­tions in your feet, height­en­ing your aware­ness of your body and your sur­round­ings. ‘We have be­come so disconnected and un­re­spon­sive to all that is around us,’ says John Wood­ward, a run­ning coach who has been go­ing bare­foot for more than 30 years. ‘Go­ing bare­foot en­cour­ages a mind­ful­ness in the way you move.’ While there are many fit­ness ben­e­fits, such as in­creased foot strength, greater an­kle mo­bil­ity and a softer landing force, for Wood­ward the great­est pay­off is open­ing the link be­tween mind and body. ‘It’s where the joy and the fun be­gin,’ he says. Bare your soles safely and ef­fec­tively on Wood­ward’s week­end run­ning cour­ses in the Lake Dis­trict (nat­u­ral­run­ning.co.uk).

9/ Streak!

No, keep your kit on…in run­ning terms, a streak means run­ning every day. It could be for a set pe­riod of time, such as one month or 100 days, or in­def­i­nitely; it could be for 10 min­utes or five miles. The world’s num­ber-one streaker is veteran Bri­tish ath­lete and for­mer mul­ti­ple world record holder Ron Hill, who has not missed a sin­gle day of run­ning at least one mile since De­cem­ber 1964. ‘I would rec­om­mend streak­ing to ev­ery­one,’ says the 78-year-old. ‘It’s a good dis­ci­pline for health and train­ing.’ For a lit­tle so­cial sup­port, join the Run Every Day in Jan­uary cam­paign, which chal­lenges you to run away the win­ter blues for 31 con­sec­u­tive days and raise money for the men­tal health char­ity Mind (run­ev­ery­day­jan­uary.com).

10/ Run at night

Even a well-trod­den route can feel deliciously dif­fer­ent un­der cover of dark­ness. A head torch and high-viz kit are wise, and it’s safer and much more fun with friends. Bet­ter still, try an or­gan­ised night race.

Wild Night Run A se­ries of six 10K to half-marathon off-road­ers in the West Coun­try. wil­drun­ning.co.uk

Kielder Dark Skies A 10K in Eng­land’s first des­gi­nated ‘dark sky park’ on trails through Kielder For­est. high­ter­rain­events.co.uk

Grim Chal­lenge Black­out An eight-mile au­tum­nal jaunt along forested trails. grim­chal­lenge.co.uk

FANCY THAT Dress up as In­di­ana Jones (and a gi­ant boul­der), a ve­loci­rap­tor or the Hulk. The choices are many (and strange)

MA­JOR ACHIEVE­MENT It may take years, but it’ll be worth the ef­fort BER­LIN

CHICAGO

NEW YORK

TOKYO

BOS­TON

LON­DON

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