Major Tim Peake has just found the best place to recover from a marathon. IN SPACE.

On Sunday something extraordinary will happen. Major Tim Peake, 44, will run the London Marathon. 

Peake will not be running the well-trodden route from Greenwich to Buckingham Palace. Peake will be running on a treadmill in Node Three of the International Space Station, his progress charted by the Run Social app. He will be first person in history to run a marathon in space.

“I’m feeling good,” Peake says, as he is beamed in via video link to a packed press conference back on planet Earth. “We have a great training team up here who support us in everything we do, and that includes our physical condition. They’ve been keeping me in good shape.”

Major Tim Peake Selfie ()

If this didn't get a million insta' likes we don't know what will

The marathon is not really his distance. Peake has run one once before, completing London in 1999 in 3:18:50. “I like the half marathon distance, I run a 10k two times a week, if not three,” he says. But the temptation to write his name in the intergalactic history books made him decide to up his distance. “The London Marathon is a worldwide event. Let’s take it out of this world,” he said when he announced his plan last year.

Peake has been onboard the ISS for four months. It has hardly been an ideal place to train. The microgravity climate does not make for silky smooth Alter-G training conditions. Quite the opposite: he has to strap himself into a bungee harness in order to run. “It’s not very comfortable,” he says. “It’s like running with a clumsy rucksack on. It tugs and pulls in different directions, causing chafing around the hips and around the shoulders.”

Then there are the rather obvious time constraints that come with flying a spaceship. He’s been tasked with various science experiments and projects. European Space Agency medical man Jonathan Scott says that Peake’s training, rather than being based on long endurance runs, has instead erred towards short and intense sessions.

That said, he has still been able to get a weekly long run in, and is hitting a decent pace. “I’ve been doing my longer runs at about a steady seven and a half miles per hour,” says Peake, who is looking to run a time somewhere between three-and-a-half and four hours.

Major Tim Peake ()

Peake won't be running in a sumo suit, although members of his support team will be running wearing spacesuits

Although his training time has been tight, Peake has found evening workouts to be a valuable part of his work-life balance. Indeed, if you ignore the bit about spacewalks, the language Peake uses is not far removed from that of any other busy working professional moonlighting as Eliud Kipchoge.

“Although we’re very busy up here, we don’t do a lot of physical work, hard work, unless it’s something like a space walk, of course,” Peake says. “So it’s nice at the end of the day to get on the treadmill, on our exercise machine, lift weights and do our strength training to keep ourselves in good shape.”

Peake is confident that he can maintain his training pace on race day. He plans to wake early for breakfast, allowing time for his sachet of baked beans and sausages to digest: “Food in microgravity doesn’t settle very well, it just stays floating around.”

Then he will get warm, lace up and get going, just like the 38,000 runners in the British capital 400km below. The main differences will be that he has to strap himself into a harness in order to run, and he won’t have to wait in line to go to the toilet. “I’m actually running right next to the loo up here on the space station, so there certainly wont be a queue!”

Though there are advantages to avoiding the masses, it does mean Peake will miss out on the support of the spectators and thousands of fellow runners to get him through the course.

“One of the main memories I have of 1999, when I ran the London Marathon before, was the atmosphere and the crowd and the other competitors taking apart,” he recalls.

This time round he’s had to put a few tricks up the sleeve of his spacesuit in order to make sure his motivation doesn’t wane. Using the Run Social app means he’ll “be looking at the route” and get the feeling of “running alongside everybody else”. He’ll also have television images of the race beamed up to him. “It will be a huge boost for me, to know that I’m running beside everyone down there,” he adds.

#SPACEROCKS: Peake has been announcing his London Marathon soundtrack on Twitter

While he runs, Peake’s cardiovascular levels will be monitored by the European Space Agency team back at ground control, although not for any reason other than checking he’s a-ok. Nonetheless, there will be a longer-term value to what he is doing.

“Although we’re not gaining any specific science based on the London Marathon,” Peake says, “when I come back to planet Earth I will go through my rehabilitation and we’ll compare the kind of exercise and training that I’ve been doing versus what other astronauts have been doing.

“We can always learn things about how to prepare the body better for space flight and for coming back either to planet Earth, or a Mars environment, for example. There is certainly plenty of beneficial things to be learned.”

Peake is keen to stress the educational impact of his mission as well. A cult figure in the UK, he has always said that he hopes his mission to space will inspire the next generation of scientists. He also hopes running the marathon while up there will also inspire kids to stay active.

“It’s really good for communicating to kids the importance of staying fit and healthy,” he says, bringing attention to other fitness and charity initiatives that have taken place while he’s been on board. “I think all of these links to sporting activities and exercise and nutrition have been really important throughout the mission.”

As for his recovery, Peake says the microgravity “is one of the perfect environments” for a marathoner to be in.

“The moment you stop, the moment you get off that bungee system, your muscles are in a completely relaxed state. I think that we recover faster up here from any aches or sprains. Any muscular problems I think do recover very quickly up here.”

Maybe it’s time to reconsider your next altitude training plans.

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