Training for a half marathon in Central London

Back in November one of my Crossfit* coaches said she was signing up to the Hackney Half in May. Just a head’s up in case anyone else fancied it – she hates running so it could be good for motivation!

My first thought: Oh Rachel. So silly. Why on earth would you do that?!

I had my out. A combination of hyper mobile knees, and a previous knee fracture. These tend to keep me in check any time I consider the hideous idea of running more than the 400m that occasionally comes up in a workout.

Then Tamsin got on board with the idea of the half and suddenly managed to sign up hoards of people. This girl should work in sales. How do you get ten (?!) crossfitters that hate running to sign up?

It’s all down to the community and the shared suffering.

So now that I’m about ten weeks away from the event, the reality has sunk in. Training, combined with regular Crossfit, has ranked way up!

After a few months of doing the odd 5km run and feeling like it was a breeze, I opted to run home from work.

You say “run home from work” and it sounds grim. The most traumatising thought. I’m not going to say it’s not traumatising. But surely running to work. Or running to and from work. Or running a half marathon. Or even worse, RUNNING A MARATHON! Are all far more traumatic concepts?

My bed and my desk are 6.3 miles apart. So it’s not exactly a nice thought.

But I set off, nervously, for my first running commute and what looked like it would probably be the longest run of my life.

And it wasn’t too bad! In hindsight.

There are many considerations of running, mostly the boredom, and the fear of my knees that make it seem bad. When it comes to running in London, the worst bit is accidentally ending up in the middle of The City at peak leaving-the-office-to-go-home time.

MY GOODNESS! People can really get in the way.

Never mind thinking about crossing roads and the impact of cars. They’re a breeze – traffic doesn’t move fast enough to care about them.

The people that swan out of the office paying no attention, on their phone, with a suitcase, and a cigarette in their hand. Those people. Anyone that falls into any of those categories. Are a nightmare!

A few things I have learnt about people from three runs in Central London:

  1. We, as a population, need to get off our phones and pay more attention to what is going on around us (me included), there is a whole world in front of our noses and we’re missing it – we’re also causing people to trip over trying to avoid us, by abruptly stopping without considering what’s going on nearby

  2. Stop smoking! It’s disgusting and dangerous. There’s nothing worse that running around a corner and someone blows a great big puff of smoke in your face! Mmm the cleanest air to keep me going. Also, when it’s packed and you’re trying to navigate the army of people leaving the office and someone nearly puts their cigarette out on your leg/arm/face – no!

  3. Tourists are still as annoying as I have always thought. Groups, selfie sticks, selfies, randomly stopping, randomly stopping as a whole group, I could go on. Just pay attention! Duck into the side, avoid people’s faces with that stupid stick, be careful! Stop drawing more attention to yourselves for being idiots!

A few things I have learnt about running from three runs in Central London:

  1. It is actually really cool to run around London

  2. I feel like I’m in a special club when I get out at lunch – I had no idea how many people ran at lunch – I think we should all have a special nod/wink/gesture (DANCE!?)

  3. Running makes my brain peaceful – there’s not much that can do that. Lots of people say they run so they can think more clearly, I’m realising that I like to run to stop thinking. I am the worst for over thinking everything and under communicating the thoughts in my head. This seems to be a good way for me to just get a little bit of silence and think no more than how my body feels and where I am going.

  4. It makes me really hungry! Probably because I combine it with a Crossfit session in the morning or evening. So there’s only one answer, welcome back to my life carbs!

  5. I am going to have monster calves!

  6. I need to learn how to use Strava properly.

So, three runs down, I look forward to updating as I get further into training!

*I’ll get to why I go through this madness on a near daily basis in another post.

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