Desire lines

Sunrise Hillyfields

Last Friday’s run was before breakfast, beautiful, but on jelly legs

On Thursdays I run at 6.45am with my best running buddy, who is a consultant psychiatrist. A high achiever, (you’ll have guessed that both from the job description and the early doors start), married to another ambitious soul, with children much younger than mine, she is an inspiration. She’s very well read and a great listener. We run and chat, quite puffily, as we try to maintain a brisk pace. She has a big important job to get to (she uses a gym next door to ready herself for a long day) and I? Well I, as a freelance writer and PT, fritter away my days not earning money but hopefully being inspirational in my own small way.

Today we talked about charismatic husbands (hers not mine), strong-willed mothers (mine and hers), horrible ovarian cancer death (my mother’s), body dysmorphia (both of ours) and, our favourite subject, Elena Ferrante.

As I ran back, having left her at her workplace, I crossed frosty greensward and used a so-called desire line in an attempt to keep my feet dry. I love that expression. I can’t remember when I first came across it: it was either at a council meeting or, I prefer to think, in Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways. It describes the natural paths made by thousands of trampers who know where they want to go, and how to get there quickest, so eschew the tarmac paths designed for them by the Powers That Be. Desire line is also the name I give to the blue line Virgin Money London Marathon route setters paint on the roads for runners, to show them the very quickest way to get round. Every metre saved adds up to that PB.

This morning a very obliging Professor of Applied Sports Science sent me a marathon training programme I might like to follow. I’ll check it out to see if it’s any less exhausting than this one. It’s back to 49 miles this week. The 39 dictated last week was a kindly sweetener to help you recover before upping the mileage once more. I do not feel particularly refreshed, for all that.

This is what I achieved last week

Mon: REST and too much wine in the evening

Tue: 7M total (about 4m easy and hard track session involving 4x1200m at 5k (7m/m)pace alternating with 4x400m at mile (6.30m/m) pace

Wed: 5M steady

Thur: 10M with 3 of them at marathon pace

Fri: 8M, with some hills and achey legs


My Weekly mileage was 38 miles

The week the plan is a daunting 49 miles, but I am midway through and on track to achieve that without losing too much sanity or sleep

This is what’s on the plan:

Mon: 8miles, a few at marathon pace

Tues: Track session 4x1300m, 2x800m with a couple of warm-up, warm down miles

Wed: Recovery 5 miles

Thur: 13 miles, with some at marathon pace

Fri: 4-5 miles hilly

Sat: rest (just cycling)

Sun: long slow run of 16miles or so

….And plenty of much-desired sleep. And black bean brownies (much, much nicer than they sound)







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