The London Marathon takes place, fairly obviously, in London. The middle of London, to be even more precise. It runs past the Queen’s house and everything.
So today, in an effort to mix up and improve my training for a run right in the middle of Britain’s biggest city… I drove away from it and headed for the country. It made sense at the time, honest.
The theory is pretty sound. Most of my training has taken place near where I live in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. I’m fabulously lucky: I live within the M25, yet within minutes of my house I can run huge lengths of the River Thames towpath, two huge royal deer parks (one with hills, one without) and any number of reasonably quiet rural roads and smaller parks.
Even so, and even mixing up the routes I take, it can get a bit repetitive running in the same area all the time. So I arranged to meet up with fellow South West Children’s Heart Circle charity marathon entrant Matt Burt at his place down the M3, before heading into the countryside for a bit of rural trail running.
We chose a section of the long-distance Test Way Footpath in Hampshire. The bit we aimed for, starting in the village of Fullerton, just south of Andover, was made out of the disused Spratt and Winkle railway line. And yes, the name Spratt and Winkle line made me chuckle too. Just because.
What followed was a solid 16.7 miles of trail running on a flat, largely straight path, with occasional muddy patches to add a bit of drama. On a lovely British Spring day it was really very pleasant: fresh air, peace and quiet. Really, it was such a far cry from the packed streets of central London that I’ll hopefully be running through in six weeks time.
Despite the contrast, the change of scenery was really refreshing for what could otherwise have been a boring distance training run. And that could set me up nicely when heading back to London Town.
Oh, and one more observation: pretty much everyone we passed on the path – whether walker, runner or cyclist – said hello and smiled. Which builds on my recent theory that runners, and people in general, are generally nicer the further away from the city you get…
I’m running the 2016 London Marathon to raise money for the South West Children’s Heart Circle. Help support the families of young children undergoing heart surgery by clicking the ‘Just Giving’ button and donating. Thanks!