Where shall I run next?

Deciding where to go for a run is sometimes easy, sometimes not so straightforward. When I am just practising (I like that word – it sounds less serious than ‘training’!) I have certain local runs that I do very frequently. This is because generally speaking I know how long they are and therefore roughly how long they will take. So if I am going out early before breakfast I do about 6-8km; I have a dark morning route and light morning route.  The light morning route is through a park and is much more interesting than my winter route, which is quite boring and hard on my feet because it is all pavement. For longer runs I have a few different options – down the Grand Union Canal to Brentford (about 11km), or the Thames (about 15km), or for a very long run to Richmond (about 21km). Then there’s what I call my ‘Three Parks Run’ which is almost exactly 10km, and does what it says on the tin. Or for a longer run I sometimes go along the Paddington branch of the canal to Northala Fields in Northolt (16-17km). I feel very lucky that I can do so many runs from my doorstep that are through green spaces. (Except on winter weekdays…)

Northala Fields, September 2017

But where to do a Race? In past years when I have done maybe one or two half marathons there hasn’t been a problem choosing which to do really. For the last few years I have run the Ealing Half Marathon because it is literally on my doorstep, and because it is fantastically well-organised. It is a community enterprise company so the entry fee doesn’t just help put on the event but also goes to support local community projects.  I love doing it, and that will be September’s run this year. I have a JDRF place for the Royal Park’s Half, which I have done before with them, so that will be fun. October sorted.

What about all the other months?! This week I thought I really should get on and book runs for June, July and August, as summer runs will get booked up fast. It’s not easy to choose. First – when? Already there are weekends when I am away or busy. Second – who with? Both my sons like running, and it’s fun to go with people you know, but trying to coordinate other people is not straightforward even with group chats ;-). Third – where? This is the most interesting bit. Part of the ‘where’ is also deciding what kind of run – road or trail, flat or hilly? Because I am doing 12 runs this year I don’t want them all to be similar. Although I could run along the Thames path almost every month it would get a bit boring.

Low tide at Isleworth, October 2016

I still haven’t booked for the summer, but I did book one for November – a canal run along a part of the Grand Union Canal that I don’t know well, from Cowley near Uxbridge to Watford. I’m looking forward to that – fairly flat and new scenery. And I found one for December along another canal! Down in Surrey it goes along canal and river paths, and the timing is good too –28th December right at the end of my half marathon ‘marathon’. More on those later.

June: at the moment I’m looking at Saturday 29th June and 2 options. Either a slightly crazy one that starts at 5.30pm and is a trail up the Brecon Beacons. The full marathon distance is truly bonkers and is part of the ‘Fan Dance’ route that the British Special Forces use as part of their selection process. The alternative is a tamer run round the Lee Valley Velopark – home of the 2012 Olympics. Mind you the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a lovely place to run, and I wouldn’t have to camp after! It all depends on who might be around to run with.

For July there are a few options too. The most attractive at the moment are Saturday 14th July in High Wycombe – the Hell Fire Half, or Sunday 28th July Run Heaton Park, Manchester. Again it depends on who’s around to run with. July actually has lots of fun sounding choices – 14th July there is a run that takes you through two disused railway tunnels that have been developed into shared use (bike/pedestrian) paths right under the city of Bath.  And I have always wanted to visit the model town of Saltaire near Bradford where the fabulously named Sir Titus Trot takes place on 21st July. If I don’t do this run in 2019 I definitely want to do it next year!

August – well – on the 10th there’s another run along the Thames, but I really don’t fancy paying for another run along a path that I do for free several times a year. So I think it will probably be Sunday 11th at Burnham Beeches, which I know a bit having walked there sometimes.

Aldeburgh beach, Suffolk

If any readers have ideas or suggestions I am very happy to consider them! Or if anyone fancies meeting up at any of the above let me know. Meanwhile the next one definitely in the diary is next Saturday 23rd March in Princes Risborough, running through the beautiful Chilterns. I am looking forward to seeing the trees just beginning to come into leaf.

Happy running everyone!

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