A long run shared is a long run…halved?

The big 2-0 on the training plan is a daunting prospect to even the most seasoned marathon runner.  Not only is it a very long way, but it’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one.  It’s also the run that can give you the confidence that a marathon is actually achievable – if I can just get to 20 miles in training the last 10k will be fine…right?

Of course, it doesn’t actually work that way in real life because during last 10k of a marathon things can either miraculously come together, or spectacularly fall apart!  I’ve definitely experienced the latter more than the former but it doesn’t stop the 20 miler giving me some confidence before race day.

On Sunday the Clapham Chasers hosted their annual Thames Riverside 20 mile ‘race or pace’ event (TR20) which is geared up with Spring marathoners in mind.  We offer pacers from sub 7mm to 10mm so it’s the perfect training run to check you’re on track.  For me, I just love the fact that I can focus on running with my friends around me rather than worrying about the distance.

A sunny race HQ in Bishops Park at 7.30am


It’s an out and back route from Putney Bridge to Richmond along the towpath which means you get to see some friendly faces as people start turning around and a friendly face can offer the same pick-me-up as a caffeinated salted caramel gel!

I find participating in an event like this really beneficial for several reasons:

  • There’s emotional strength to be found in not running alone.  Even if you don’t know the runners around you, even if  you don’t speak, they’re right there and going through the same thing you are (unless you’re Nathan who won the race in a new course record with a full 7 minute lead…but he’s pretty amazing).
  • Plenty of water stations mean you don’t have to carry your own
  • There are marshals all along the course to offer encouragement and a smile (and maybe a high-5 if you’re lucky)
  • When you’re wearing a race number other pedestrians seem more willing to let you past
  • If anything happens help is never far away
  • If it’s the TR20 there’s guaranteed to be a whole lot of cake at the finish!

Chaser Pacers, a happy Garmin & an almost empty cake table!


I went off in the 9mm wave not really sure if I’d be able to hold it but, with Laura and Gemma by my side having a good ol chat, it felt surprisingly easy.  We were a bit ahead of target which worried me, but I managed to hold the pace even though we split up on the way back – I made friends with some South London Harriers instead!

As I rounded the corner to the finish line I was greeted by the Chaser Cheering Squad shouting my name and cheering, I couldn’t help but finish with a little sprint and a big smile!

The best thing about the TR20 is that all I had to concentrate on was getting out of bed (at 5.45am!) and getting to the start rather than planning a route, carrying fluids and being mentally strong on my own.

Maybe sharing a 20 mile run won’t make it any shorter, but it’ll sure make it happier.  I’ve got 18 miles to knock out this weekend and I’m more than grateful to have some Chaser ladies lined up to share it with!

Laura & I looking surprisingly perky post run.


The Art of Running Slowly

We all know how it works. If you want to improve as a runner you need to mix up your sessions and introduce some speed work, plodding along at one pace won’t get you anywhere. However, in order to make the most of the hard sessions you need to slow down the easy runs. You also need to vary the pace of your long runs.  Start slow, introduce some marathon pace and finish strong.

It all makes perfect sense to me, I get it. However, as with most things it’s a lot easier in theory than in practise.


On Friday I went for a run at lunch (RUNch as we call it) & it was supposed to be an easy run. An easy run is 60-90 secs slower than MP. For a 3.45 marathon, MP is 8.35, add on 60-90 seconds and that’s 9.35-10.05 pace.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I only dreamt of running that pace but, for me, at this point, it just doesn’t feel natural, I can’t do it.  So I compromised at 9mm…but only ended up running 1 mile at that before falling into 8.30. Fail.

I don’t really like running to be too complicated. The beauty of running is its simplicity. But I know that if I want new PBs I need to control my pace a lot more.

Today’s long run was 135 mins in total. 60 easy, 60 steady and 15 MP or faster. I was determined to stick to it! Generally my long runs are pretty consistent in pace, maybe dropping towards the end if I’m tired, but I know this isn’t the way to do it.  I was going to try really hard.

I set out slow. It felt slow, a bit like I was shuffling but I stuck to it. My route took me round Clapham Common and up to Battersea Park. There were loads of other runners out and they were all running faster than me…


Running around Battersea Park I was eager to pick the pace up. This was my territory, this was where I came for speed work not shuffles. Then I spyed a tall girl bobbing up and down next to me. She was bobbing up and down, she was being tall and she was RACING me. She was, I know she was, how was I supposed to control myself now?! Luckily, by the time I had finished pondering this she turned off. I must have scared her, she knew she couldn’t take me….

Anyway, tall bobby girl out the way I focused on my pace again. As I ran across Chelsea Bridge I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to run faster now. I’m not sure I’ve ever run a negative split before. However, I waited until 57 minutes on the clock (I just couldn’t wait until 60, patience isn’t my strong point) and picked it up.  It felt ok.

By the time I got to 2 hours I was still feeling good and ready to pick it up again, so I went for it.

Obviously I looked exactly like this…cool, calm, in control and fast…


The clock reached 135 minutes and had done it!! I ran the first half slow, the second near MP and the last 15 at tempo. And I finished strong. It made me so happy!

Now I just need to nail these jogs. I just wish I could get Kanye West out of my head…’drive slow homie’