- 10 Reasons Why Boston Is the Best Running City in America
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- Why Run While Travelling
The 10th place woman in Boston ran a time that would have gotten her 39th in Berlin. The weather last spring on Marathon Monday in Boston was hellacious : driving wind and freezing rain. More than 60 percent of the elite men dropped out. So many elite women dropped out that a Spanish teacher at my Boston-area high school, who had never placed remotely as highly in a major road race before, came in fourth. In other words, was a particularly bad year to head from Hopkinton to Kenmore Square.
And the reason comes down to at least four factors, all of which are partly endemic to the course itself. The first and most important is temperature. Running quickly generates heat, which the body needs to dissipate. The ideal temperature for running a marathon is roughly 45 degrees Fahrenheit, though the faster you are the colder you want it.
Cloud cover is probably good. Rain, which makes roads slippery and clothes heavy, can feel good but is actually bad. Humidity matters too, since the more vapor there is in the air, the harder it is for a runner to dissipate heat. In , temperatures on the course reached 85 degrees. In , the wind chill was in the 20s. In , it went back up into the 80s and more than two thousand runners needed medical treatment for heat-related illnesses. Not great. The second factor affecting the speed of a course is elevation, and downhill is good. Runners have to fire their quadriceps muscles to keep from tipping over when a hill is too steep.
And Boston has a series of famously steep uphills between miles 16 and 21, just when your glycogen stores are running out. I spoke with Alan Ruben , a legendary local runner who completed 15 consecutive New York City marathons in under His theory is that Boston is actually faster than New York, and possibly as fast as London, with its historically quick course.
But he adds that if you take your time early on, the net downhill pays huge dividends. The course, in other words, is hell for rookies. The third and most interesting factor is wind. Most marathon courses finish roughly where they start, meaning that the wind will likely blow in your face as frequently as it blows at your back. The Berlin Marathon begins on one side of the Brandenburg Gate and ends on the other.
On a course like that, you just want there to be as little wind as possible. On courses like New York—which is roughly south to north—you want a little tailwind, though you also know that any winds blowing from the south will hit you in the face as you come down from the Bronx toward Central Park. In general, marathon runners spend about 2 percent of their energy overcoming wind resistance on a normal day. Boston, though, is run almost entirely west to east, which means the wind can be either entirely in your face or at your back, adding an extraordinary variability to the results.
In , an easterly wind pummeled runners for the entire journey. The winner finished in , and the wheelchair winners finished in men and women. In , the winds reversed. Geoffrey Mutai crossed the finish line first in the best time ever recorded there, The wheelchair winners came in at and There are ways, of course, to deal with the wind. Runners can draft behind each other, a strategy that could save approximately 1 percent of energy expenditure on an average day. When Eliud Kipchoge set out to break the two-hour marathon , in conditions arranged meticulously by Nike, runners arranged themselves in a V shape for the entire race to cut the wind.
His advice is to tuck into a group of runners, but not too tightly. And be strategic. If the wind is coming from the front, move to the back.
10 Reasons Why Boston Is the Best Running City in America
I spoke with Amby Burfoot, who won the Boston Marathon 51 years ago, and he told the story of how it can hurt. Tons of people set personal records. Not me. I distinctly remember that the wind forced my body to go faster than it was conditioned for, and hence my legs cramped up.
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The fourth factor is the number of turns. He vividly brings to life the country runs that he goes on. His argument is that for something so natural and free, Big Running as he likes to call it, is constraining it. I could see the validity of his argument I found out about this book after reading an article in Runners World magazine. Reading the book though, has made me ponder how I can mix up my running to make it less formulaic, with more of a focus on engagement with my surroundings. Oct 24, Mark rated it liked it. I grew very tired of hearing about his dog Nutmeg especially since many of my off-road running experiences have been compromised by poorly-controlled dogs and their indulgent owners.
That said, much of what he said rang true. Dec 17, Robert rated it liked it Shelves: nature-writing , mountains-and-the-outdoors , uk , sport. I run every other day in the countryside whenever possible and I'm also a natural history enthusiast so the subject matter of this book is very familiar and should be enjoyable. And on one hand it works - this has some great nature writing passages about the experience of running in the countryside and the mountains of the UK.
Lots of these passages transport me into a hodge-podge of fond memories from my own runs. It's just a shame that Askwith is such a curmudgeonly prescriptivist about runnin I run every other day in the countryside whenever possible and I'm also a natural history enthusiast so the subject matter of this book is very familiar and should be enjoyable.
It's just a shame that Askwith is such a curmudgeonly prescriptivist about running. He's right that running shouldn't be an expensive sport requiring lots of kit and maybe too many of us get too focused on times, performance, the perception of others and the avoidance of risk.
But he seems to insist that he has found some "One True Way" of running that's more arbitrary and idiosyncratic than I think he realises. He rails against the use of digital technology and social media in what he clearly sees as his domain and fails to see how much of what he writes comes across as a baby boomer complaining about "kids these days". Apparently he's discovered his sense of playfulness by running without a goal in mind, but a bunch of adults racing each other over arbitrary footpaths and hills for useless internet points on Strava isn't also a form of play?
He gives the standard nature writer talk about reading the landscape through prolonged exposure and then a few pages later talks about preferring not to investigate parts of nature as the ignorance helps keep the mystery rather than seeing one answered question creating a dozen more in its place.
He arbitrarily craps on the ParkRun movement for having accepted corporate sponsorship to help keep their operation running and free. He periodically recognises that he's being a little unfair to those he criticises but then drifts into similar behaviour in the next chapter over and over.
A frustrating read by what seems like a kindred spirit. Mar 30, Dc96 rated it it was amazing. One of my favourite books on running - mainly because I like many of the same things Richard does - country running off the beaten track. The book also raises some interesting points on the commercialisation of running and the neat packages that are presented to us. Feb 24, Markw rated it liked it. But I'm glad I did. By this I mean the stage when you finally pit yourself against the very biggest, craziest, most daunting challenge you can possible imagine … For some this might mean going for Olympic gold; for others it might mean running a marathon, or perhaps some kind of adventure race or triathlon.
We all have an inner child. Can it really be healthy not to let it out to play occasionally? We are all sinners. True, they take sponsorship money from Big Running Nike, Sweatshop, and all , but this has always come across to me more as a pragmatic approach to paying some of their costs than as selling out.
You only have to interact with the website once, for the initial registration, and thereafter you just turn up and the standard time for you local event and run, and never again see any reference to the sponsors or their branding. My local event certainly feels like a local event, organised for free by local volunteers including the stalwarts who give up their run to act as event wardens.
By far the most successful element is the account of his running year. He name-checks Robert Macfarlane at one point. Jul 20, George Budd rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. It was eloquent and poetic when it needed to be, informative and immersive in other sections. Opening each chapter with a tale of a run of his own might have made this book a bit repetitive and dull, but Askwith always coloured in the details enough to be interesting from each chapter to the next. His negative view on 'high tech' trainers or to normal runners, trainers was a bit of a nuisance, as was his opinion on Tough Mudder style races but I very much can see the reasoning behind his derision due to the commercialisation of something which should be easy and free.
The book through up quite a few interesting opinions which contrast with my own and whilst I didn't agree with some of these, Askwith was always detailed and genial enough for it to seem like a chat down the pub, not a fist-fight on the internet. Aug 31, Alvaro Lara rated it really liked it. It's an interesting journey of a man and his experience with running, mostly reflective on different stages he has gone through.
Some of his ideas about finding meaning in running and avoiding the consumerism did resonate quite strongly with my own. If you are looking for some insights on the experience of running and some of the questions that raise from reflecting on it, this is the book to read. The 3 stars are more for the parts where he puts across his passion for what he calls 'rural running'. I was inclined to give less for his tendancey to come across a bit holier than tho despite his attempts at tempering it.
I personally enjoy going in for the types of events like Tough Mudder that he so dispises just as much as getting out into my local countryside. But overall his sheer joy for the landscape and his sport stopped me from being too harsh in my judgment. May 16, Brianna Henderson rated it it was amazing. Reminded me why I love running and made me fall slightly more in love with the sport. Changed my perspective on running in difficult weather conditions, and how there is now a booming industry for specialist running clothing and equipment.
The author strips running back to its basics, running without a care for performance but for nature instead. Jun 17, Grim-Anal King rated it liked it. Quite inspiring to start with but it became clear this book was overly formulaic and dependent on repetition. That is an accurate reflection though - running free as Askwith would have it is better than running tethered to urbanity or worse still running indoors , but the inspiration can often be fleeting and distraction from the downsides of the pastime is sporadic.
Encouraged me to get out and run Wasn't sure what to expect from this book but very much enjoyed it. As a result of it I ended up splashing through puddles at 6.
Vancouver Sun Run - Vancouver Sun Run
Loved that it combined nature with running. Just felt went on for not longer than needed to. Feb 20, Ben Holmes junior rated it it was amazing. Richard Askwith gets it. Feb 19, Alex Rendall rated it really liked it. As someone who runs regularly and who loves the countryside, this book appealed to me when I saw it on the shortlist for the Wainwright Prize. Askwith describes how he had become disillusioned with what he calls "Big Running": the organisation of more and bigger running events with corporate sponsorship and the encouragement to spend money on expensive kit and races.
He talks a lot about running for fun and running in the countryside, how he found joy by noticing the wild things around him which As someone who runs regularly and who loves the countryside, this book appealed to me when I saw it on the shortlist for the Wainwright Prize. He talks a lot about running for fun and running in the countryside, how he found joy by noticing the wild things around him which he had never seen when running previously.
While his message does get a bit repetitive after a while, I completely agree with him about the commercialisation of my sport, so it was refreshing to hear about the different attempts that Askwith made to "run free" while researching the book. His prose is lyrical and I can't help but enjoy the evocative descriptions of the countryside that he runs through. This is a book that runners and countryside lovers would adore.
It has certainly made me take notice of my surroundings much more when I go running and has inspired me to run in nature as much as I can from now on. Jul 05, Vicky rated it liked it. I would recommend this book to someone else. I did really enjoy reading it, and found myself agreeing with just about everything Richard said. If you are not already considering going out running more in the countryside, it is pretty likely this book will convince you, especially if you have a dog.
It leaves the writing of those parts quite stilted and I kept thinking, "If you're not going to reject it entirely, why are you bringing up the comparison at all? I guess it's just the dissonance between trying to promote running off-road without buying in to much of the consumerism of Big Running, with a consistent attempt to not dismiss the joy other people find in running e. Maybe it gives a feeling of hypocrisy? But if you are looking over one person's entire life of running, there's bound to be some cognitive dissonance. Another point is that the book seems to be aimed at middle-aged people who have been running for ten or twenty years, which I am not.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading this book the two chapters about being hunted by bloodhounds and men respectively stand out as particularly fun and would recommend it to others though I wouldn't blame you if you waited for the paperback. May 18, Jennifer rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , read , library-loan. The thing about this book is that I experienced the same emotional changes that happen on some of my longer runs.
I went through "I'm reading too much non-fiction, I need a novel", I went through "Methinks he doth protest too much, he's just talking to himself", I even went through "God this is dull, I think I might give up" But I also experienced tremendous exhilaration and affinity.
Askwith runs with his dog, as I do and happens to have a particularly delightful breed of dog I would have chose The thing about this book is that I experienced the same emotional changes that happen on some of my longer runs. Askwith runs with his dog, as I do and happens to have a particularly delightful breed of dog I would have chosen myself, he enjoys nature in all its detail - the fog, the well trodden area of mud and cow dung and urine still with grass growing in it as well as the unsurprising skylarks. I found some of his activities and analyses - the cheese rolling, the murky business history of obstacle racing, helping to train hounds - fascinating.
I was completely caught up in the 'hare' hunt, with fingers tingling. His paired anecdotes of two elite athletes meeting friends whilst out on a run were brilliant. He sometimes wrong-foots you, you think he is going to sneer and then he doesn't quite. I kept thinking he was grumpy and judgmental but that I shared his views very closely. What I did find weird was that although he clearly knows it exists, he didn't include orienteering in his description of running in nature. And he shows in many small ways that he is really pretty competitive and quick, whatever he says.
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Richard Askwith hates the commercialisation he would say over-commercialisation of running and he's not afraid to tell you so! This book is about getting back to the basics of what running is all about - getting out and going for a run - dispensing with all of the hype and gear. Askwith wants us to focus on the experience of running and re-connect with nature as we do so.
He thinks we are too distracted by the advertising and the brands, too focussed on the measurement, to really enjoy the act Richard Askwith hates the commercialisation he would say over-commercialisation of running and he's not afraid to tell you so! He thinks we are too distracted by the advertising and the brands, too focussed on the measurement, to really enjoy the activity and the outdoors we should be in.
It is certainly a different take on running than the one you see displayed in the big running magazines and major events, and as such it is a valuable perspective. At times he seems to swing too far in the other direction, and he is also speaking from the perspective of someone who has run semi-competitively for years, and so has a base of decades of good running to rely on. That said, I enjoyed it, and have started taking some of his themes to heart, focussing on the experience more than the times or PBs. Askwith, an englishman, focusses on the rural running avialable there, which is quite different from the trail running available here in even urban NZ.
It has some hilarious advice - not the usual sort for a running book - on dealing with livestock and rural obstacles such as nettles and brambles. Well worth the read if you want a different take on running. Aug 19, Documentally rated it really liked it.
Why Run While Travelling
I only recently decided to start running and have ran every day since. Probably not healthy but have promised myself a day off on my th straight day. I need to make sure it's now a habit. This book has really helped the process. I'd gone out and bought some gear but felt really disillusioned at the running bling on offer.
There's a crazy amount of crap on the shelves and I just wanted to run through my local countryside. Then I found this book. Richard Askwith recounts his story and running r I only recently decided to start running and have ran every day since. Richard Askwith recounts his story and running realisations beautifully.
I know the area he mostly writes about and the countryside round me, although flatter, had me unwittingly reflecting his adventures as I read the book. A great Inspirational read that with remind you how to always find the moment. To continue to see things a fresh.
Especially when surrounded by nature. Nov 13, Steve rated it really liked it. This is a book is about getting back to the basics of running, getting out for a run, and also advocates dispensing with all of the hype and gear. The author writes of the experience of running and his re-connection with nature. It is a different take on running than the one you see in most running magazines, and is an interesting perspective.