Record breaker

Brilliant perk of running as part of the Freshfields Oxfam team today.  And I’m not talking about the rather fetching baseball cap they gave me .  Freshfields sponsors the world record breaking marathon runner and Paralympic medal hopeful Richard Whitehead, and today the marathon runners got to go out on a training run with him.

Fears that we wouldn’t be able to keep up were fortunately allayed as we headed out at a very gentle pace along the Embankment and made our way up to Hyde Park.  Richard runs with a wide circular gait which makes running right alongside him a little hazardous until you get used to it, so for the first half a mile or so we made quite a spectacle for the tourists as he led the way with a dozen girls (and one guy) chasing after him.  When we got to Hyde Park we did a few intervals of around about 200 metres or so, which gave my dodgy quad something to think about, and finally headed back to the office at a much more brisk tempo pace which felt pretty great actually.

Richard is a great guy and very happy to chat and answer questions.  We discovered that his secret weapon is a large bowl of plain spaghetti for breakfast before a marathon race – a strategy I don’t think I’ll be adopting.  Haribo might not fuel me to a world record but they are a much more tasty option!

As midweek training runs go, they don’t get much better than today’s.  A great combination of easy, tempo and interval running, some inspirational chat and the opportunity to bunk off work with impunity.  I think my training may have just peaked.

Distance:  11.6km
Time:  not sure, no watch
Weather:  misty but not too cold
Time of day:  2pm, on a Wednesday, so pretty indulgent.  Lucky it was sponsored by the firm really.
Route:  Embankment, St James Park, Green Park, Hyde Park
Notable features:  training with a world record breaker – can’t beat it.



The morning after the night before

The traditional wisdom has it that some level of abstinence from alcohol is necessary when training for a marathon.  It would be dangerous to get complacent about it, but so far it has to be said that big boozy nights out don’t seem to be having much of a detrimental effect on how well my long runs go.  This morning, in a minor departure from what was starting to become a Sunday long run tradition, I woke up neither late nor hungover.  Instead, I woke at 7am, still drunk.  And on a mate’s sofa, where we had passed out after watching Kevin Pietersen join the surreal Ashes party with a superlative unbeaten double ton.  In retrospect, that last bottle of Bollinger at 3.30am was probably unnecessary (the beverage chosen both to mark the milestone birthday we had earlier been out celebrating, and as an ironic nod to the Aussie fast bowler being smacked around the Adelaide Oval by KP).

All of which meant that even after three or four more hours sleep in my own bed, I expected to feel pretty rough as I set out for today’s eight miles.  But strangely, I didn’t.  Maybe I was energised by the glorious winter sun starting to sink in spectacular fashion below the bare treetops.  Maybe it was just excitement that a balmy temperature of 2 degrees meant there was no snow or ice left to drive me inside and onto the mind-numbing treadmill.  Maybe I was fuelled by the wonderful aromas of suckling pig and roasting chestnuts wafting across Hyde Park from the Winter Wonderland.  Whatever, these factors all combined to make me feel great about being outside, enjoying the festive atmosphere and doing something healthy and restorative after poisoning my poor body last night.

I took it reasonably easy, settled into a comfortable rhythm and felt at the end like I could happily have gone on for many more miles (which is just as well really).  There were two or three fast sprints to catch favourable traffic lights, and apart from a very weird spasm in my right buttock at around 3 miles – which felt very odd but didn’t seem to affect my running – nothing really grumbled.  I’ve no hint left of the hangover I deserve, although I won’t be imbibing any more alcohol at our local pub quiz tonight (unless we win – the prize is a bottle of champagne).  And to top it all off, I’ve returned home to find my wonderful flatmate busy in the kitchen making mince pies.  All in all a great result.

Distance:  8.00 miles
Time:  1:22:13
Route:  Hyde Park, Green Park
Weather:  wonderful winter sun(set)
Time of day:  3pm
Notable features:  yummy Christmas smells, both in the park and now in my flat!

Week 5
Total miles:  16.79
Cross-training:  spin class, weights after speed session, pilates class, swimming (1 mile), lots of drunken Saturday night dancing!


The kind people at the RMT and TSSA unions were up to their usual tricks attempting to paralyse London, which is particularly mean on a frosty Monday morning.  Luckily I was prepared.  After a wonderful day at the Sanctuary yesterday I popped into the office to drop off clothes etc so that I could run in this morning, thereby both avoiding the transport disruption and getting my mid-week tempo run done in one fell swoop. Smug, me?

Actually, not all that smug, because boy was it cold this morning.  Although we’ve not yet seen any snow to speak of in London (apart from a few insignificant flecks last night) it was well below freezing when I left the house, and the park trails were frozen harder than the tarmac paths.  It was beautifully sunny though, and as I ran along the Serpentine, admiring through the trees and frosty air flashes of winter sun glancing off the London Eye and the ever-growing Shard tower, I once again rejoiced to have the option of such a visually spectacular commute.  No miserable hours in bus stop queues for me.

As usual on morning runs it took me a little while to really get going, and I marvelled again at how much more effort the 5.35 miles this morning was than the 6.2 on Saturday afternoon.  But I kept a fairly steady pace and once I got to the Mall I was feeling good, getting to the office bang on target in 53.34.  My arms, legs and bum were frozen solid by that point (though the vaseline I had daubed on my nose before I left seemed to have done its job because I still had some feeling in that at least) but a swift bowl of hot porridge later and I am about defrosted, and ready for the week ahead.  Bring on December.

Distance: 5.35 miles
Time: 53:34
Route: Run to work
Time of day:  8.00am
Weather:  freezing, sunny
Notable features:  frost

Monday was also the day on which Oxfam launched their new website for people running, or thinking of running, to raise money for them.  Having been told about it by the nice guys manning the stand at the London Running Show, I duly checked it out this afternoon.  Imagine my glee when I discovered that the footer of every page on the site is adorned with the beaming post-marathon face of David Haworth, one of the partners I work for, and Mrs H.  Much office merriment ensued.