A Book Review – of sorts

I have not run since 23 December. This is due to a number of factors, one of them being that I am taking longer than I expected to recover from my heart attack.

I decided to read a few endurance running books to help keep me interested over the summer, and want to share my thoughts on “Running Crazy” by Helen Summer

The book is a series of interviews with members of the UK 100 marathon club, with a chapter for each runner interviewed.

Running 100 marathons in your lifetime! I found it hard to get my mind around it.

There are some amazing stories in the book, from some truly impressive and inspirational runners. From the bloke who didn’t start running until after he had a heart attack , to the young woman who ran 100 marathons before she turned 30, the achievements are staggering.

Because the interviews all followed a similar template, the stories do get a bit repetitive. There are only so many answers to “why did you start running?” and “Does your partner run?”. And I personally found the author’s propensity to make each interview about herself (“I couldn’t run to the end of the street”, “I would rather stay in bed”, “I like to eat ….”) a bit irritating.

But the runners themselves are fascinating – Oldest, youngest, slowest, fastest average times, shortest number of months, longest number of years are all there.

Along with the average runners who just decided to run a lot of marathons. Respect to all of them.

I first became aware of the concept of running 100 marathons (and recording/celebrating the achievement) before I ran my first ultra. At that time I thought it was incredible – not only the running, but the commitment. I thought I could probably do a marathon every 3 months, and at that rate it would take 25 years to clock up 100. I have trouble committing to the next 25 weeks. It was mind numbing. Then there are the logistics. I live in a provincial New Zealand town, with a 2 hour drive to the nearest marathon. The time and cost required to travel to 4 marathons a year would be significant. Multiply that by 25!

Having read “Running Crazy” I started to think about it from an ultra runner’s perspective. There are a few chapters in the book where admiration was expressed for people who managed the astonishing act of running marathons on consecutive weekends (referred to as “a back-to-back”). A few super humans had even done marathons on consecutive days!

This made me reflect that most ultra marathon training plans will recommend back-to back long runs – meaning Saturday and Sunday, not one long run on two consecutive weekends. When I was training for my 5×50 at 50, I would routinely run a hilly marathon distance on Saturday, followed by a similar run on Sunday. Then repeat the next weekend. I think I ran 5 marathon distance training runs in 6 weeks. With this as my frame of reference, the concept of running 100 marathons has shrunk to only a handful of years (apart from the logistical problem of there not actually being any marathons where I live).

Now that I am over the mental hurdle, I just have to recover from the heart attack. Watch this space…..


6 months on

Yesterday it was 26 weeks since my heart attack.

And it will be 6 calendar months tomorrow.

So I thought I would split the difference and post something today.

At one point I thought I would post monthly updates on my recovery and associated and return to running. The posts haven’t happened because the running hasn’t happened.

In my previous post (November, 4 month update) I was frustrated at my slow progress, which felt like “two steps forward, one step back”.

Then in mid-December, after a careful build up, I managed to run 5km. It was slow and painful and I loved it. I realised that I had not run 5km since the previous March, and I was very excited. For no real reason I had built 5km into a major milestone in my mind, and I convinced myself that I had turned the corner.

I had a couple of 3 and 4 km runs in the following week, then tried another 5km just before Christmas. My heart/chest/breathing handled this fairly well given the circumstances, but my legs reminded me that it had been a long time between drinks, and when I had about 500 metres to go my hamstring decided that it had had enough. Of course I was so fixated on clocking up another 5km run that I did not walk to the end, I kept running (with a limp) until my gps said 5km.

I have only had one run since. With a lot on over the holiday period, and physio appointments hard to get, I decided to simply rest my hamstring and let it heal itself.

My heart-attack recovery has probably been helped along by the rest. I have more energy now than at any time in the last 12 months. If things weren’t so hectic at work I might have been tempted to go for a run last week.

This is not to say that I am back to 100%, there is still a way to go (although I recently mentioned to some one that I was only at 80%  and they replied that they only get to 80% on a good day. So these things are all relative).

I am encouraged about the progress though, and can almost imagine myself being strong enough to run again in a month or so, once we are over the busy period at work.

With a bit of luck and some careful management I might actually post something about running later this year.

I’m going to the world champs!

I won’t be running, I am not doing any running worth writing about at the moment.

Our daughter Antonia has been selected to represent New Zealand at the World 24 Hour Running Championships, to be held in Holland on May 11/12.

Yes, you read that correctly. 24 hours.

It has been described as a bunch of crazy people running in circles for 24 hours to see who is the craziest.

I have managed to convince Antonia that I would be good to have on her support crew for the event. She might regret that.

Is it sad that I am excited at the thought of spending 24 hours watching people run around a park?

You can follow Antonia’s build up to the world champs at her blog :