Over the past nearly 12 months, what with lockdown, winter, low moods and forced isolation, there were times that I had to force myself out for a run. Same places, same paces. The coaching schedules were a massive help in setting a plan, but still – where can you find an exciting 100 metre uphill for hill repeats, or a decent 1 mile loop to run circuits on? Don’t let me shadow the benefits of repeating a course where it can show improvement (such as Time Trial, parkrun, etc), but it sure does challenge the motivation for me.

Tuesdays and Thursdays used to be so easy – it was the coach’s decision where you started, where the session was held and what it was. Now with 2 out of the 3 put in your own hands, I think we can all agree that there should be a high level of admiration for our coaches in keeping things interesting every month.

Now personally, I rarely go out without a plan. Those who know me have used phrases such as “mother hen” because it’s the case that in probably 90% of the runs I go on that I’m set on a route, start time, approximate pace and there are not many times I go out and just run. Mores the pity as those are sometimes the most fun or rewarding. Weather and the time of day do carry some weight too obviously. No-one wants to get lost or trip over Joydens Wood come 6pm on a damp January evening, but the humour of seeing someone lose a trainer on a Sunday morning trip in the same place is definitely a fond memory I have from the past!

I tend to get bored of running the same routes though, which puts me at a huge disadvantage that I either need to add route planning to my “run time” or I need a reason to go and plod on the same streets as I’ve done a hundred times before. Strava segments, that was a good idea – getting to be a local legend, and the ongoing runs in order to prevent anyone taking your title. Yes, I’ve been that sad! Also, just meeting up with someone who’d already planned the route – makes my job of planning easier, and good company can make the repetition of a route slip to the back of my mind.

I’ve also got into walking as a break from the runs – but these carry the same trials and tribulations with where to go that is new and not just alongside a toxic dual carriageway. I didn’t know until I did a little bit of research on the internet that there are London routes for walks (and subsequently runs) on the TFL website, nicking ideas from other peoples logged Strava runs or suggestions on plotaroute.com. Certainly helps to find new paths and loops in the area – refreshing to say the least.

This turns my thoughts to the upcoming Breakfast Run. Just 2 weeks away now on the 21st March. I’ve more or less planned the important part, it’s going to be a bacon and egg roll with brown sauce, washed down with a black coffee and 2 brown sugars. Just a 15 mile route to plan now! Do I go similar to the club route and head out to Dartford, Hawley and Swanley roads, go boring with a river run out and back, or come up with something new. I am envious of you that will just pop out and decide at every junction where to head, that freedom running I seem to miss out on. Where ever you end up, bring a camera if you can and share your (during and after) pictures and routes across your coaching WhatsApp group for us to see how much fun you have.

I am really happy to see that nearly 75% of our Road Runners have renewed and are obviously keen on returning to training and continuing to get exclusive access to my ramblings. Also, if you’ve not done so already, please don’t forget to activate your training pass before we recommence actual training sessions on the 30th March.

In closing, let me remind you that times have been hard over the past year. Whether running has been at the forefront of your mind or you have to admit that it’s somewhat slipped by the wayside, that the club and coaches are looking forward to the restart and all bad habits can be left in lockdown. 3 weeks to find some of that lost fitness perhaps now. Find a new route, or tread some old paths – whatever suits really. Keep yourself safe and fighting through this – we are nearly at the end of a long and unexpected road.

Paul Dallison
Road Running Secretary