How to run 18 miles

Richmond Park

It’s with great pride and excitement that I can announce that I, a self-confessed lazy girl and recently reformed couch potato, have completed my first 18-mile training run. Can you believe it? I can’t.

On Sunday I set off on my own to Richmond Park with just my running backpack full of water and four SiS gels for company. Lazy boy, who has been my support crew of late, had a prior engagement with the Six Nations (watching not playing that is).

My route took me from the end of my road to Richmond Park, then twice round the perimiter of the park before heading back home and included two loo stops. On my first lap it nearly all went wrong. I encountered a group of teenagers whose matching T-shirts suggested they were part of some activity club. They were stood around talking and not long after I’d passed them they started running as a group and ran past me.

One thing I’m starting to notice is that I have a competitive streak in me. it may have laid dormant for many years through my lack of participation in sports, but it can’t be denied. I noticed my pace picking up and I was assessing the pack of teenagers as to which ones I could pick off and pass. I told myself there was no need to pass them because they were clearly going a couple of miles at the most and I still had another 15 to do. But that didn’t work. Gradually I overtook all but two of the group who, as suspected, stopped at a cafe after two miles leaving me rather more tired than I should have been for the remaining 13 miles. Thank goodness for my gels.

It’s not often that I try to offer advice as I’m still learning myself, but I would like to offer my thought on how to run 18 miles. Here it is – don’t think about it.

For me, the idea of doing 18 miles is a bit like flying in a plane. It boggles me that it’s possible – and I’ve done both. When I fly, I try to imagine I’m in a cinema or somewhere normal instead of 30,000ft above the earth in a metal tube travelling at 500mph. I employ a similar technique with running. If I think about how far 18 miles actually is there’s no way I’d be able to run it. So instead I thought of it as “last week’s run plus a bit more”. Simples.

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