Day 254 – Berlin, Germany, Marathon 74 of 196
People say running is an individual sport; I say it’s not. What do you think? Thoughts people, please! Runners compete individually but race together – be it a short run like a city marathon or a big multi-day ultra, everyone gets to the finish line with the collective effort and support from family, friends, other runners and spectators.
Today was a great example of how to enjoy a marathon. Over the past few years I’ve run a lot. I’ve run to Paris, run in the Sahara desert, raced around islands and numerous countries, trained hard for months on end, competed all over the world, and run multiple 24-hour training days. In total I’ve now run over 40,000 miles in my life.
We all have the rainy mornings at home when it’s dark and we desperately want to roll over and hit the snooze button till midday… it’s likely that if you’re reading this, perhaps you don’t hit that snooze button that often. Make today count.
Initially I learnt to run for fitness, then I progressed to run to compete and race, and now I run for fun (at the moment, anyway). I love running because it clears my mind, it sorts my body out and gives me a boost of encouragement in life, in some weird way.
Today was a brilliant run. I cruised through the entire course in second gear – no pain, no effort, no soreness – and the finish came around pretty quickly. I’m not gloating; I’m just making the point that it’s a long journey to properly enjoy a run. It’s also the combined effect of training and making the decision to run hard or not. Most of the runs this year I won’t be running hard because I need to survive injury-free for two years, and also because I enjoy a longer, slower run.
I met a great girl called Kathrine during the race who I believe managed to secure her PB, I ran with a good friend Kip, and I even bumped into Dan during the race – a big well done to everyone taking part and to everyone who worked hard and reached their goals. The best thing about not reaching your goals, though, is that you get to run again. Loved today. This is what running is all about.
Day 255 – Berlin, Germany, work day
New videos coming! Get your questions in!
A heads up to everyone… in the coming weeks I am launching a new YouTube channel. I have thousands of hours of videos and snippets of the trip so far for the documentary Spark Media are producing for various broadcast channels… but it’s worth sharing some other bits and pieces. With 17 months still to run, I have had some hilarious, scary and simply odd things happen to me. My hope is that you guys will enjoy seeing some behind-the-scenes footage of the trip.
REQUEST! Please send in your questions! I’m going to do an initial Q&A video. If you have anything you wanna know about me, the trip, the organisation, the running, the injuries, please ask.
Today… I won! Connect Four, that is. It’s a surprisingly tough game when played tired, post-marathon. That said, I still won, four times… #loserdani
This morning I met up with Dan P. Dan works for Pro:Direct and Do Sport Live, two significant sponsors of mine. Everyone at Pro:Direct and Do Sport are fab and have supported me for years. Thanks folks. Dan and I shot some interview stuff and he presented me with yet more kit, including my seventh pair of trainers this year.
Dani and I managed to see some sights today: the Berlin Wall, and, of course, Checkpoint Charlie was a must. We spent some downtime working and chilling in the Charlie beach area, a brilliant concept of a small sandy beach surrounded by small food and drink outlets, right in the centre of Berlin. Historical and so brilliantly contrasted with the 30 years prior. Let’s not build another wall, Trump.
After a very long and entirely inaccurate game of darts, we ate some tasty oversized chicken wraps while avoiding wasp attacks. Later we headed back to the hotel to begin some proper work.
Laptops out, photos organised, emails checked and four hot chocolates later we showered and ventured into the city one last time – dinner, drinks and a few bars. It’s now time for bed. Tomorrow we move on to the Czech Republic for Marathon 75 in Prague.
Day 256 – Berlin, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic
Phase 5 of the expedition takes me through 16 countries in four weeks – four marathons per week starting in Barcelona and working our way east, utilising the Interrail network. I am yet to return to Africa and complete the last 25 countries of that continent, and I still have to begin Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. Only 17 months left to go…
By the end of the year I should have completed 100 marathons, which takes me just over half way to completing 196 by November 2019. Every country in the world, plus I’m running all the Majors too.
We are shooting a documentary, and I’m writing a book and launching a worldwide photography exhibition of the journey. Everything is to raise money and awareness to help fight against prostate cancer.
Today I left my 74th country, Germany, and passed through the countryside to the Czech Republic. Dani is only with me for another week, sadly, but we’ve had a blast. Once Dani returns to the UK I’ll be on my own again.
This evening we wandered through the streets of Prague, with the high Gothic architecture all around us, nibbles of some delicious spirally pastry things filled with ice cream and Nutella, of which I forget the name, settling down in a small Irish pub for some live music.
Here’s what the next couple of month looks like!
30 Sept ICELAND Reykjavik
4 Oct USA Chicago
9 Oct USA San Francisco
16 Oct IRELAND Dublin
19 Oct CROATIA Zagreb
22 Oct ROMANIA Bucharest
25 Oct NETHERLANDS Amsterdam
28 Oct BELGIUM Brussels
31 Oct USA New York
11 Nov SWITZERLAND Buchs
14 Nov LIECHTENSTEIN Vaduz
15 Nov LUXEMBOURG Luxembourg
17 Nov DENMARK Copenhagen
20 Nov NORWAY Oslo
23 Nov SWEDEN Stockholm
26 Nov FINLAND Helsinki
29 Nov RUSSIA St Petersburg
If you’d like to get involved in any way, please let me know. Run with me, give me a bed for the night, donate or help with The 196 Foundation. Cheers
Day 257 – Prague, Czech Republic, Marathon 75 – Injury
Marathon 1 for Nik without the ‘c’ and an injury for me. It’ll be fine, I hope…
In terms of the city, Prague was better than I expected. I knew about the Gothic architecture and the various ‘stag do’s’ nightlife, but not a lot else. The buildings are beautiful and the river has so much going on. High marks from me, Prague, although I could do with fewer cobbles.
This morning I started late. I enjoyed a long lie-in followed by a very filling, yet average, breakfast and before I knew it my trainers were on and it was time to run again.
Today’s run was great! Right up until some fibres in my right Achilles started to fray. It’s the first injury I’ve had on the expedition so far that was directly caused by running and where I felt I needed pain relief.
I ran with a brilliant guy called Nik. Full name Dominik, he is 16 years old and before today has never run a marathon. Well now you have, Nik. I was amazed at how he coped. Hot, cobbles, and he was entirely fine, up to 20 miles. Needless to say I think Nik learnt the lesson about salt intake. He was covered in salt lines, and so, with 6 miles to go, his calf, hamstrings, groin, quads and every other lower half muscle was cramping and going into spasm. I was limping and rather sore at this point, but we made it to the finish together, smiling. So proud and inspired by the grit of this 16-year-old. I wish I had his mental strength at that age. Impressive.
Mile 17 and my right heel, within 10 minutes, went from sore to barely walkable. Not a pain I’d had before but I’d had worse… a quick stop in the pharmacy and job done, painkillers and some anti-inflammatory gel and it began to feel better. I delved into my metaphorical sack of positivity and pulled out a winner. I’m pretty proud of my mind… it’s not always been strong, but it is now. Thanks to tens of thousands of painful brutal miles, training and racing. Runners, you know the drill. The more it hurts, the better you get. Let your mind control your body, not the other way round.
Some ice this evening and lots of rest; I just hope it’s not too sore for Austria tomorrow.
Day 258 – Prague, Czech Republic to Vienna, Austria
Today’s breakfast was like yesterday’s and the day before’s and the day before that… Average-to-poor breakfasts have become my life. Old pastries, machine-hot chocolates, small European-style ‘toast’, tiny rock-hard packets of ‘butter’ and UHT milk. Don’t get me wrong, this is far better than breakfasts I’ve had in Africa; I’m just craving a proper fry-up. Give me some pork and apple farmers’ market sausages and some runny eggs, maybe some crispy, smoked streaky bacon. Oh, and baked beans and huge helpings of hand-made hash browns please. Top it off with a fresh thick-cut white loaf and perfectly soft Devon butter. Ahhh cravings. The comfort of home…
Anyway, my breakfast rant aside, today consisted of my 18th train journey and another four hours of cracking on with admin on the train. Before we knew it we had arrived in country 76, Austria, and Vienna.
My experience of Vienna before now was only of skiing, so I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful, and flat, city. Later we headed to a chilled-out man-made beach area on the river bank – burger bar, deck chairs and some deep house music, with locals flooding in after a hard day in the office.
Despite the sore foot, Dani and I wanted to explore the city a little more.
We have now just got in from a night on the town. One of my favourite bars I’ve ever been to: with a 50s theme, only playing jive music, Elvis, Jerry Lee, etc. Everyone was in great spirits and after five hours of dancing/hobbling like idiots (yes, even on my bad foot), we have just got back to the hotel. My clothes, including my underwear and jeans, are so wet with sweat I can literally ring them out. Yep! That’s a whole lot of shaking going on. Once again, my ethos of squeezing every last second of the day has been a success. I’ve just gotta get up in six hours to run another marathon. I hope my foot is happy tomorrow.
Day 259 – Vienna, Austria, Marathon 76
A runners’ high. Runners, you know what it’s like to feel bloody great when you run. Today was one of those days. I was cruising, my legs floating over the ground, my heart steady, the heat on my face and the wind in my hair. I feel sorry for all those non-runners out there. Go and run – you’ll love it, eventually.
Although I’ve been here for less than 48 hours, this city is such a great place. The atmosphere and general ambiance is spot on. Apparently Vienna has been voted the most liveable city for the last seven years, and I can see why. A decent financial sector, good economy, brilliant town centre, and today I discovered a fantastic running route around the quieter parts of the capital.
This morning my foot was noticeably not the same as usual, but I’m sure 99% of that was my tired brain giving me an excuse to stay in bed a bit longer.
Once I finally made it out of the hotel and pushed the start button on my watch I was anxious not to do any more damage and made the decision that if I was struggling to run or walk before 10 miles, I’d call it a day and revisit Vienna later in the trip.
Gladly, my foot, with a little TLC and some pain relief, felt fine. By the time the run was over and the painkillers had worn off, my foot felt virtually normal again. It just goes to show that a bit of positive thinking and carrying on regardless can sometimes work. Not always, but sometimes.
Run complete and feeling great, I tucked into a super-tasty chicken, mushroom and broccoli risotto. A huge portion, but I still had some room for chocolate cake after, obvs.
I’m getting into bed tonight with a feeling of accomplishment and relief that my foot wasn’t too bad and that there’s not been another hick-up, yet. The more marathons I complete, the more I’m desperate to nurse my body and mind to the end. It may not always be obvious, but nine months on the road, a dog bite, a mugging and 28 African countries later… this hasn’t been an easy journey and I’ve still got a lot ahead of me. Thanks for the support, guys and girls.
Day 260 – Prague, Czech Republic to Bratislava, Slovakia
Well today was eventful – as always in my wonderful world of this expedition, and indeed my life, I try and cram in as much as possible. Today was another thumbs up day.
One minute I’m sat in a busy Irish pub with a gaggle of women who make up a formidable Norwegian choir – I’m sure you can imagine it, huge smiles, elegant dresses and chatty personalities – and then the next minute I’m avoiding rowdy youths watching the Anthony Joshua fight. Oh Brits abroad… sorry Queeny, we’re not all barking brutes.
Today I met with Andy. You may remember him from marathons in Algeria, Brazil, Tunisia and Argentina. A good friend and a runner from home, and he’s out to join me for another two marathons.
This morning, before Dani and I left Prague, we conducted a little interview for his YouTube channel. Although I’m biased, it’s actually very interesting.
Dani (@foxohealth) has a health brand called Foxo Health and is extremely knowledgeable about everything and anything to do with nutrition. Although he doesn’t always live by these examples, he really knows his stuff. We talked about the trip, the challenges, but also attempted to tackle some of the misconceptions around running and to highlight the obvious and undeniable benefits of exercise in general. This is science, not just wishy-washy stuff. I learnt a lot from our hour chat on the balcony in the sun.
Before dinner and the Irish pub, we spent several hours in a hidden-away pool bar. This month of the trip has been so different with me not being on my own. So today I took full advantage and took my friends for every Euro they had. Nothing better than a chilled evening winning the entire contents of both friends’ wallets. My only advantage was that I was better than them… oh, and not drinking 15 pints. Hmmm, I wonder why I won.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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