My running schedule was disrupted by an unforeseen distraction this summer. For the first three weeks in July, I was held captive at my PC monitor by live streaming of the Tour de France. The pleasure derived from watching riders putting themselves through ever-worsening agony, day in day out, felt almost voyeuristic, but I couldn’t stop. I was gripped. It was while wincing through stage 18, as the riders tackled their third 2,000m-plus climb of the day, that a treacherous thought struck me: aren’t running races a bit too easy, compared to this?

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