- Hours on the run: 4:06
- Kilometres: 45
- Calories burned: 27 bananas
- Times I felt like stopping: 1.5
- Runs in the rain: 1
- Endorphins: 1 million and 6
- Wildlife: 2 lesser-spotted lampposts, lots of ducks, swans, and an eagle-type bird
- Soundtrack: Santu Paulu-Finale by Ludovico Einaudi
This week’s highlight has to be the beautiful long run on Sunday morning. The elusive sun of past weeks shone in full glory, enticing runners across the land out of their beds to claim a slice of winter paradise laced with morning endorphins. Dazzling frost-covered paths still slippy in places made for greater adventure as eager running shoes etched out fresh tracks under that beautiful azure-blue sky.
A long run in weather like this is the ultimate reward for those week-day kilometres notched up on dark winter nights. Your field of vision no longer restricted to lampposts; your main form of entertainment no longer chasing shadows. Now, there’s an infinite backdrop to your run, a full spectrum of colour greedily soaked up by thirsty vision. Birds of prey to spot, a songbird’s soundtrack to tune in to, and crisp, golden air to fuel up on. And that gentle winter sun warming your skin, igniting dreams of Spring.
In short, a runner’s paradise.
That being said, my 17 kilometres were still tough! As was the 07:30 Sunday start. When you begin to increase your distance, there’s a bit more to take into account than simply getting out of the door and running. Breakfast is a must for me ahead of a run like this, yet it’s not a good idea to run on a full stomach. So to successfully complete an early morning run, I need to wake up at least 2 hours earlier to fuel up.
Since the actual marathon will start at 10:00, I’m trying to complete all of my long runs at the same time, to get used to that morning routine. It can be quite an art working out what breakfast you perform best on, how much of it, and of course, how much coffee to allow yourself before heading out the door. If you don’t get the balance right, you could be in quite some discomfort, and potentially in need of a few bushes (can be a challenge in these winter landscapes!).
These longer runs are also a good way of testing out refuelling strategies. While it’s definitely possible to run a half-marathon, or longer, without any fuel, for many people, taking energy gels or drinks can help to replace some of the energy and minerals lost and give you a much needed boost. For runs of up to 80 minutes, I wouldn’t bother with anything except water, but for longer than that, I tend to take one gel every 45-50 minutes.
I ordered a set of GU gels to inject some variety into the regular orange and apple flavours available at my local running store. Birthday cake anyone?! I’ll save that one for next month 🙂
Completing my long run and returning home with the sun still shining in full glory made for some relaxing post-run stretches, soaking up those rays to the max. The satisfaction of knowing you got yourself out there and through your intended distance (the longest run of the year so far!) – and the buzz from all those endorphins and fresh air – that’s the addiction that keeps you lacing up for more.
The soundtrack to this beautifully sunny run has to be Santu Paulu-Finale by Ludovico Einaudi. I have absolutely no idea what they are singing, but it all just sounds so sunny and makes me want to jump up and down shaking a tambourine! (I set it to start after the intro which is a bit slow, in case you’re wondering!).
Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.