The Power of the Running Buddy – London Chronicles 2

We are currently about 9 weeks out from the London Marathon. I’m at the tail end of week 7 of my plan. And I am still largely in one piece.

So what’s been happening? Well, no news is pretty much good news!

Largely my training has been going according to plan. This time around I am actually paying attention to the warnings you see in all the running magazines that it takes time for your body to be able to handle 4 or 5 sessions a week. I also very much needed to make sure I had time for cross training in there, so my weekly routine consists of three runs and a session of yoga every week.

This seems to be working – even if I must insist that we only whisper this, just in case.

I’ve been hitting my sessions and building up the mileage, more often than not in the company of my running buddy Catherine who is a bit faster than me but has never trained past 14 miles before, so we’ve been helping each other along really well.

So far so boring, but there have been a few items of note.

Firstly a few weeks ago I ran a solo 14 miler, as Catherine had gone to that meet the experts event put on by the London organisers. I wrote a gushing Facebook post about all the breakthroughs I felt I’d had on this run – I’d set out before dawn for the first time in this round of training (the fact that Homer’s ‘rosy fingered dawn’ was nowhere to be seen and it just got a bit less dark but no less dreich notwithstanding). I’d enjoyed the run from start to finish. I’d conquered a particularly unpleasant and nemesis-like hill (damn you Greenford Avenue!). I’d felt like it was easier to go just a bit faster. And I’d felt for the first time that there was a good chance of me completing the distance on marathon day.

Once I got home however, I had to add another first to this list; the first time I’d got in the shower and screamed blue murder because of a stealth chafing situation from an unnoticed pokey-out bit on my sports bra!
(NB – this is the only picture of me in my underwear you will ever find on the internet!)
The next day I had lots of fun volunteering with Team Skins at the Cancer Research London Winter 10k. We were hanging out in some very fetching Skins at the 9k marker, checking for anyone who looked like they could do with a hand and running the last kilometre with them. It was fantastically good fun, and because it was so lovely to run along with people I did more than I intended to – probably about 7k (I forgot my watch).
Aside from being seriously panicked that I wouldn’t get my tights on because the Skins team had decided I was an XS (I mean thanks, but really?!), I really like wearing these. I’ve now got two pairs of tights and a top. When I wear them they do feel like they are providing some sort of support to my muscles, and they have an oddly silky feel against your skin which is quite luxurious and not at all unpleasant.

This is what they look like without the big yellow T shirt – they’re really comfortable and easy enough to get on even though they look like you’ve shrunk them in the wash til you actually get into them. Just remember to take your watch off before removing them to avoid any confusing post-track sleeve issues like I had last week!

The one downside to the morning was that it was bloody freezing, and that combined with being naughty and running on consecutive days meant that my legs were feeling it a bit by the time I went to the track a couple of days later. Under coaches orders I dropped my next session and focused on my long run at the weekend.

But what a long run! Catherine and I met at sparrow’s fart to get in 10 miles before parkrun and another three afterwards. It was cold. It was dark. It started snowing partway around, which always makes me feel like I am proper hardcore!

We had an enjoyable parkrun (that’s Catherine in the pink) and had managed to add a bit of distance to our pre-parkrun 10 which meant only 2.5 miles extra afterwards.  Now Catherine is usually the one who drags me around these long runs, being naturally a bit quicker and a very strong person. But when we got to 14 miles it was uncharted territory for her, and it was up to me to keep her going. I turned into a bit of a crazy cheerleader with cries of ‘just 2 more miles’, ‘we can do this’ and even at one point a bit of motivational singing!

Proving the power of the running buddy, we ran our final two miles as the fastest of the whole run and made it to 16 with an incredibly strong finish. It was fabulous and we celebrated by stretching in the queue for a coffee and proposing a toast with chocolate recovery shakes.


It was fabulous – a really strong, fun long run.

Unfortunately after overdoing it a bit the weekend before, running track on sleepy legs and missing yoga I was getting a bit bothered about my shins, which were not happy at all on Saturday afternoon. I have been icing them every day, stretching regularly and following physio’s orders as well as trying to change my foot strike to avoid landing on my heels (there really is a lot to think about in marathon training – more on that coming soon!) – but I think now we are getting into 3 hours of solid running most weekends they are bound to start feeling the burn.

So off I went to my physio this week to make sure everything was ok. Miraculously, he was kind of happy. He’s never completely happy, but apart from his confusion that the problem seems to have inexplicably shifted from the inside of my right shin to the outside of my left, he kept his words of wisdom pretty low on doom and gloom.

Electricity duly fired into my legs and five minutes of excruciating deep tissue massage later, the main piece of advice he offered was music to my ears – he told me I’m not allowed to run hill repeats! I hate running hills, so this really doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me. I mean, who am I to argue with my physio? No hills it is!

This weekend will see us make an attempt at 17 miles, running some of the London Marathon route.

I’m excited, and so looking forward to it. But goodness, isn’t it starting to seem real?

Duffrunning has been shortlisted in the blog category at the 2017 Running Awards. If you have a spare 5 minutes, please head to their website and vote for me! You’ll find the blogs in the community section. 


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