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100-mile challenge: Week 2

November 6, 2011

Sooner or later either work or social commitments were going to get in the way of my attempt to ramp up my mileage over the winter. I just hadn’t anticipated how soon sooner would actually be. However, with a bit of forward planning and a bit of luck, this week’s total mileage stands at 59.96 miles. Or, in layman’s terms, 60 miles.

The winter nights are closing in early now, with London starting to get distinctly dark around 4:30 in the afternoon. Consequently I’ve been thinking about well-lit routes for after-work runs. Regent’s Park, as I’ve discovered, is largely traffic-free if you run on the inside pavement of the Outer Circle, but poorly lit. However, running down the Thames Path, going west of Westminster, is largely quiet and well-lit. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a run along the Thames is much more scenic and atmospheric after dark than during the daylight hours.

A 2 x 5 segment panorama taken by myself with ...

Central London: alright by day, better by night. Image via Wikipedia

Come the weekend, though, we had my Dad’s side of the family come to stay. A lunchtime run on the Friday was out of the question since I was on the phone much of the day, so come the weekend I was running substantially behind schedule. Fortunately, my step-brother insisted that he wanted to come for a run on Saturday morning. For the past year he’d been training with the French fire brigade and informed me that he was used to running for an hour or 90 minutes and that he enjoyed running at around 16kmph. A sub-40 10k-pace training run sounded like a good challenge, so we agreed (after a few drinks on the Friday night) to set out around 9:30 on the Saturday.

Good to plan (sort of), we set off a bit after 10:30 – 9:30 having come and gone remarkably early – and headed out to the Lee navigation path. I had a plan to show Marco the Olympic Stadium, and if time allowed, a view of Canary Wharf. After three miles Marco ‘fessed up that he hadn’t really run for about two months, and when he had been running at 16kmph, it was generally for a maximum of 2km. So we adapted a run-walk strategy. Using the filter beds alongside the River Lee as a cunning loop to head back home, we were on the cusp of running again when Marco spotted a lone basketball player shooting hoops in a court beside the river. At which point we stopped, made introductions and spent a good 10 minutes lobbing a ball (with little luck or panache) in the direction of the hoop.

Eventually we managed to get back into running, took a short-cut home through Stamford Hill and just about made it back before midday. Despite the run being shorter than I had expected, it meant that I stood a good chance of making my week’s target by adding in a long run on Sunday.

This week’s runs consisted of:

  • A 10.3-mile after-work run through central London, along the Thames passing through Battersea Park and then crossing over to run back along Chelsea Embankment.
  • A 15.6-mile double commuter run, extended by a few miles on the way home by going via (a very dark) Regent’s Park.
  • A 10.1-mile after-work run along the Thames, which was probably ill-advised since it was the first run I’d taken in my new shoes. However, the shoes fit well, so there was no blistering and the run was at a comfortable pace.

    Citigroup Centre

    Limehouse Basin: swanky. Image via Wikipedia

  • 7.3 miles of run-walk-hoop shooting along the River Lee. Felt like a great way to show a guest some of the sights of London, so be warned any potential visitors…
  • A 17.6-mile long run along the Lee Valley, with a long switch round at Limehouse Basin via Regent’s Canal and Victoria Park. Having set off a bit late, I was in danger of running along the canal in the dark, but it turned out to be a great long route with 15 miles completely free of roads and traffic. Definitely something I’ll be repeating.
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