Runners' StoriesOver 80 000 runners. Those all were running with us in 2017. They toe the starting line with a different kind of motivation and reasons to run. One runs to lose weight, another for a good cause and the third just simply loves it. Each of them has a unique story. You can read them here, get inspired and write your own. Share your story with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s almost Christmas, A time of tranquillity, peace, comfort and sweet Christmas goodies. With the merry-making done and dusted at least for another year, the new year frequently signals a desire for change – and for those brave enough to get on the scales, this often comes with resolutions to get out running. Motivations inspired by dreams of weight loss are the most common of them all. And thirty-six year old Milan Langr from Vlašim is living proof of this. He came to the conclusion that he could do with shedding some pounds three years ago. He went for a run and got hooked right away.
“It all started in October 2014 in the changing room of a shopping mall where I was trying to fit my 78 kilo sofa-hugging and food-loving frame into a pair of jeans. When I eventually managed to do up the button, I stared gleefully into the mirror and instead of myself, saw Homer Simpson staring back at me. That same day I got out my old pair of adidas trainers and headed out on my first run”, Milan recalls. He ran exactly 4.19 kilometres and during the 27 minutes that it took, decided it was time to lose weight!
Running has since become an integral part of Milan’s day-to-day life. “ Just looking at my weight on the scales was a source of inspiration for me as was the beer-fuelled bet declared in the pub. I was going to finish the half marathon in under 1 hour and 50 minutes! All that was left to do the following day was select the right race. Even though I’d yet to hear of RunCzech at that stage, I chose the Prague half marathon.”
And then I just had to start running. “I was still in the throes of training and there I was, suddenly standing at the start line and gulping up each second…. The Vltava playing, Prague is yours to savour at that point in time. With tears in my eyes (nobody has to know I found that first race totally overwhelming) I head to the 21st kilometre, totally euphoric and filled with inspiration as I spot the elite runners dashing by, who have no problem finishing it in under an hour. It turns out I’m a natural runner too! “ In spring 2015, following a mere four months of training Milan Langr managed to complete the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon in a time of 1:40:05, 41 minutes after the winner and 1884th place overall. “Tired but delighted to get my first ever medal.”
Milan’s promising running start was set to continue. He received a fair bit of admiration for it at work, but then a colleague (and experienced marathon runner) planted a new seed when he said “the half’s nothing, what you want to do is the marathon…” It was just one month before the Volkswagen Prague Marathon got under way, but Milan managed to get himself a ticket through the Light for the World charity. “ I made it across the finish in 3:59:00 exactly. Here I am reunited with that feeling of utter delight and satisfaction.”
After that he’s unstoppable, running race after race and breaking personal bests from the 10K all the way to the marathon. This year Milan managed to complete all the RunCzech races rewarding him with the RunCzech Star title and seven beautifully framed medals presented to him at a gala evening held at the Hilton hotel. Meanwhile he’s also come to the realisation that he won’t be able to keep it up forever. And this is the focus of his work with legendary trainer Róbert Štefko. “I’m working towards the one hour limit and am delighted. I enjoy running in a group and find it fascinating to be able to run alongside someone capable of completing the marathon distance in under 2:10 hours.”
Milan’s first training plan landed in his inbox at the end of January this year. Preparations focus on the two races which played host to his very first competitive running experiences – the half marathon in April and the marathon in May. And he’s doing great in terms of both! Milan hopes to shave a few seconds off his half marathon best, and a whopping 18 minutes off his marathon time with a time of 2:52:59 seeing him finish 105th overall.
Milan Langr has also become the face of the marathon captured by our photographer and featuring on posters for 2018. This will be a year dominated by running. “I’m still hugely motivated and keen to see further improvements. Running is no longer just a tool to slim down, but a drug and way of life.
“I never thought I could run 21 km. But it is possible, in fact anyone can do it if they really put their mind to it. It’s all about willpower,” Tereza Koňaříková reveals. She has completed the half marathon twice now in her home-town and is currently getting ready to take on her third Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon. You’ll not only have the chance to catch a glimpse of Tereza at the race scheduled for the end of June, but literally everywhere you go. Her face can be seen on all the posters, announcing to the world that All Runners Are Beautiful. So what’s the twenty-six year old runner’s story? We thought we’d let her tell you first hand…
“I’d sometimes go for a run, either alone or with my dog. I couldn’t believe it when I first ran four kilometres. It never occurred to me to run a half marathon. My brother bought me my first start number for the Olomouc race. My brother has always been in good shape so I told myself I had to do it and took it as a challenge. I started running more plus did a bit of training including some interval work. I ran 16 kilometres, ouch! Followed by 20! By which point it seemed realistic. And it was…
The first half marathon was amazing and I really enjoyed it. Despite the fact that it was scorching weather and I’d only just been reading articles about how to compete, keep my head covered and ideally not go out at all. In the end, though the heat didn’t bother me at all. There was plenty of water everywhere and I found I could run fine after a splash of water. The atmosphere was out of this world, I couldn’t believe the huge number of people who came to support us in the heat. When I finished I treated myself to a beer and a banana and was pleased that both me and my brother managed it.
Then I started reading books such as Born to Run and Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run. As someone who’s been vegetarian for the past ten years, I’ve never had any doubts about the benefits of a plant-based diet (even when under greater physical strain), but it was still great to read about how a man can run ultra marathons on a vegan diet. If you fancy trying a life without meat, you can have a go for yourself on the Vegan Challenge.
Personally I don’t’ make a huge fuss about food. Before big races I like to make myself some porridge with fruit or peanut butter and then take along some dried fruit. Carbs are best to give you energy. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to eat something light and keep your intake to a minimum around two hours before a race. When I’m really hungry, I prefer to eat a dried fruit bar which doesn’t take up much space in your tummy. I like to drink Vincentka to top up on minerals before or after a long race. When it’s hot you could try a Tarahumara drink – chia seeds and water with a few drops of lemon. It’s also good to get a magnesium boost every now and then even if it’s just a bottle of Mattoni. It varies a fair bit from person to person of course.
Personally, I love how running enables you to get to places you’d otherwise never go, and quickly too. When I arrive in Olomouc, I like to have a run around and check out what’s changed. And it’s great to discover new places through running. Right now I do most of my running in Prague and I would never have believed how many beautiful forests and parks there are just a few minutes from the centre by metro.
Running allows me to see, think, experience and work out loads, not to mention discuss things with my brother or a friend. Run whichever way makes it fun and you will enjoy it. You might want to run through the early morning city and soak up the aroma of freshly baked cakes, vegetables and herbs on the market. If you head into the forest early in the morning, the sunrise warms you up and you get to see the landscape bathed in light. And in the summer you can smell the pine needles, cool off your feet in a stream, eat fresh forest strawberries and maybe even bump into some dear. Winter on the other hand offers up a white landscape without you feeling cold. That moment stays with you forever.
Running has allowed me to see some amazing places, make some incredible friendships, attend interesting events and have fantastic experiences – such as with SK Babice. It has been tough at times with some blood, sweat and blisters involved along the way but as Scott Jurek says “not all pain means something” so I’ll see you at the half marathon in Olomouc!”