A Classic Training Route: South Downs Way

Just as I started to wonder where to run at the weekend I received the kind of group email I love – from one of my running friends, Alan, saying he was going to run 50 miles from Amberley to Winchester along the South Downs Way on Saturday and did anyone want to join him? I’d run this route nearly 2 years ago with Alan and hated most of it – I wasn’t as fit and the hills really hurt. I remember walking into Winchester as the darkness fell; feet in pain and exhausted. So I thought it would be good to revisit! Two others also took up the offer so Alan, Anja, Alex and I made up the A team (well nearly). Meeting Anja at East Croydon train station was a great surprise as I’d not seen her for ages and joining the others on the train to Amberley we were in good spirits. We all agreed to run together for a while and split as and when; all having different objectives for the day. Anja was coming with us to Petersfield at half-way and had a massive bag with 2 spare pairs of trainers, enough clothes for a polar expedition and a kitchen sink… well nearly – she explained the trainers were because of a heel injury which she’d struggled with and was helped by different shoes – though it turned out the heel stayed pretty quiet. Alex was intending to get to Winchester at his own pace as a training run ahead of the Highland Fling in a couple of weeks and had wonderfully responded to my late night panic-text when I couldn’t find any decent gloves at home by bringing 2 spare pairs. Alan is attempting the Bob Graham Round in May with James Edgar (who’s blog here gives full details and is a good read) and wanted to try to run a steady paced 50 miles at slightly quicker than ‘social’ pace to help his prep for the second half of the BGR, when keeping up the pace is important for completing the challenge of running all the peaks in the Lakes in 24 hours. And me? I was just hoping to run a hilly 50 miles in under 10 hours and get some miles in with some company and a decent route in some lovely English countryside. I was wearing a few more clothes than I shall in the summer (it was a chilly, overcast day though the threatened rain never came) but apart from that was pretty much as I hope to be setting off everyday in the summer – my Raidlight bag, water bottle and bladder making 2.5l drink and some food, bit of emergency cash and phone. I also replicated what I imagine will be the start of many days in the US run as I had a tight calf and legs felt quite stiff, possibly from last weekend’s marathons but I was also blaming not having run on Friday at all. We all stayed together for the first 11 miles to the first ‘water station’ of a tap in a farmyard and then Alex dropped back, happy to run at his own pace, and then at 23 miles we said bye to Anja who was heading the 3 miles to Petersfield train station. She’d had no injury issues and looked fresh as a daisy, it’d been good to catch up and hear about her trips to Switzerland recently where her boyfriend Pete lives (and I also want to thank Pete for helping me with re-formatting this blog recently, very helpful advice!!). We’d also talked about my Hot Power Yoga sessions that I’ve been going to since last August – the differences to Bikram Yoga (it’s not as hot, different poses and varied lengths of classes whereas Bikram I found rather dull and samey as the same sequence is followed in every 90 min class). I really like HPY – the teachers are great and it’s my best way of stretching, even if my hamstrings hate it and I have very little co-ordination! After Anja left, Alan and I ran on but I didn’t want to hold him back from a quicker pace so he ran on and I continued at a plod. The route is easy to follow with decent signposts, only once was I really confused as the path ahead was full of cows, big, scary-looking cows – though it turned out the farmer was moving them into another field and I’d just have to wait for them to move before continuing. Arriving into Winchester in daylight was great – and I was pleased with 9:30 for the 50 miles; and a decent train journey home meant I arrived home about 13 hours after I left, a superb day out!

Fields of yellow through the trees on the South Downs Way - coutesy of Tourist Anja

Whilst I’m spending lots of time getting ready for the summer run it’s now coming around very quickly! I’ve only got 5 weeks left at work and whilst my running is going well I’m very keen to get going, and it’ll be here in no time at all. I’ve still got some final prep to do – booking some of the later motels and sorting out my packing; which now includes lots of favourite foods I can’t get in the US – who knew the US is missing out on Soreen and Hobnob biscuits?! Call themselves a developed nation…

This week I’ve been trying to run a little less, eat a lot and put on some weight for the run. This also means I’ve been cycling to work rather than running; just as the London weather turned to heavy showers and I’ve been soaking wet pretty much all week! Well, I’m in severe danger of writing up last weekend’s long run before the week is out – in the US I plan to update everyday, even if it’s just a short ‘made it through the day in one piece’ note!

Ooh and before I go I have had lots of exciting parcels recently – thanks to TCL Sports for the Gu stuff, 2XU gear and Newtons all at a substantial discount – much appreciated on some of my favourite running brands!I’ve also been stocking up on my Iron supplement to make sure I’m ok for the summer:

Thanks TCL Sports!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s