January has been a very busy month, both professionally and in terms of my running.
From meeting with South Bucks Hospice in the first week of the year – confirming our plans to raise as much money together as possible – to my first 26 mile run on the last day of the month, it has been non-stop.
Traditionally January is a quiet month in the commercial photography calendar but that hasn’t been the case this year with shoots all over the country. Like most people running has had to fit in around work so it has been an interesting exercise keeping both sides of my life happy.
Having said that training has gone really well and I’ve recorded my biggest ever monthly mileage (242 miles) Knowing I’m running for the Hospice has really focussed my mind and made me determined to train as hard and sensibly as possible. I want to do well but also don’t want to get injured!
I’ve started to build in speed work now, trying to get a bit quicker. My club – Handy Cross Runners – cater for all levels of runner and hold a couple of sessions a week concentrating on speeding up. These benefit all types of runners as it pushes you probably further than you would do on your own; and it’s also a great way to socialise with fellow runners.
Long runs are the bedrock of any marathon training and I usually do mine on a Sunday morning. However, one Saturday this month my daughter had to be up early for work and wanted me to make sure she was awake. As I was up anyway I thought I’d get the run done so set off at 6.30. The idea was to run 17 miles and end up at the Rye just before 9am to run parkrun (the free running event held every week there – www.parkrun.org.uk). I’m not a morning person and obviously my first few miles were a bit sluggish as, when I got to the other side of the Rye, I could see 300 people running the opposite way having already started!
On the last day of January I ran my first full marathon distance this year. It’s not something I usually do training for a marathon but the Stonehenge Stomp is a favourite of mine and I couldn’t pass up the chance to run around those iconic stones. Organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association (www.ldwa.org.uk) this isn’t a race, doesn’t have medals, timing or goodie bags and isn’t really for runners! You can start when you like and just follow the very well signposted route for 10, 20, 30 or 40 kilometres. It rained for pretty much the whole way round but the marshals at each checkpoint were as enthusiastic as ever. I spent about 17 miles chatting to a fellow runner not noticing the miles passing as we swapped stories. At the finish I decided I might as well run another mile or so around Amesbury to get the distance to exactly 26.2 miles.
So the first month of training has gone well and I look forward to the next one where I will not only be concentrating on the running side of the challenge but also getting out and spreading the word about the incredible things that South Bucks Hospice do in supporting patients and families.
If you feel you could support South Bucks Hospice in any way please visit their Just Giving page at http://tinyurl.com/z2ttyw6