A run too far?

Wednesday 07 August 2013 – London

With Saturdays reasonably successful run in the back of my mind when the weather took a turn for the cooler this week I decided I would check out if I could run from my place in London Bridge up to El’s place in Walthamstow, and meet her when she got home from work.

While we walking around Hackney Wick on Sunday I had looked at some of the maps and found that the canal and River Lee Navigation towpaths (not the River Lea !) were more extensive than I thought and it looked like it was possible to travel from Shoreditch all the way to Walthamstow via the towpaths. I consulted the oracle for all things Google Maps and realised that though it looks an awful long way it is actually only about fifteen kilometres. It was on !

While it seemed like a good idea at the time, looking back on it it was probably not the best idea to do two ‘long’* runs in four days after not having done any running at all for weeks. Conventional training wisdom advises to not increase a run distance or a week’s running total by more than ten percent. Meh – Convention shmention.

I loaded up my pack with a change of clothes, dumped some new music on the MP3 player and headed out the door late in the afternoon, with the intention of arriving at El’s place after an hour and half or so, I mean it was ‘only’ fifteen klicks.

I started off Ok, kept it slow across London Bridge and then up through the city and was in Shoreditch and heading up Bethnal Green Rd after twenty minutes or so and not feeling too bad at all. I had planned to take a few snaps on the way and discovered the one negative on my new bag so far, there is no external pocket for a cellphone – a definite design flaw in my book. When I saw this new Craniowhich was not there on Monday, I had to stop and take a quick shot 🙂

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At the end of Bethnall Green Rd I ran up Mares Rd until it hit the Regents Canal towpath, all territory I had roamed before. If you have to run on the seal, then the tow paths are a great place to run – no cars, not too many people – though lots of bikes and a few other runners.

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From the towpath I cut through Victoria Park and was into unknown territory, I had a quick consult of one of the many maps thoughtfully provided by the council and made a minor adjustment to the direction I was going (about 90 degrees : ) ) and was soon running on a dirt track beside the roadway in the park. A relief from the constant pounding on tarmac.

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Popping out the far side of the park I found the Hertford Union Canal towpath and was soon on my way towards Hackney Wick. This was about halfway and I was starting to struggle a bit, my left hip was playing up, which is not uncommon and I imagine I was limping a little bit as I carried on at a very slow jog.

The Hertford Union Canal makes up one side of Fish Island and the River Lee Navigation another side, I turned left here and was soon into uncharted territory. The river is bordered on one side by Hackney Marshes and on the other side by housing estates. I was tempted to nip off into the playing fields of the ‘marshes’ and run on a softer surface, but really did not want to get lost at this stage.

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At one stage the path crosses the river and was a little concerned as my pre-look on Google Maps didn’t show this and I didn’t want to end up on the wrong side of the river, though I did stop to take a photo of a barge moving slowly northwards. Not quite as slowly as I was moving at this stage though!

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I had no choice but to carry on and luckily path soon crossed back over the river again and then I was back to familiar territory and into Walthamstow marshes.

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My left ankle has long been a problem for me when I run after not running for a while and it started to join my hip in giving me some grief as I worked my way up the side of the canal through the marshes. Fortunately I knew there was only a couple of kilometres left once I left the marshes so I knew I could put up with the pain for a wee while. El and I had been here a few weeks before and I was happy I sort of knew the way, luckily it was actually more straight forward than I thought, though the kilometre or so of very gentle gradient up through the market was pretty bloody awful. I was glad when I finally arrived at my destination, red faced and sweaty – a real sight.

That fifteen km took me almost two hours. The slowest fifteen km on record. I was sore, hot and tired and sort of regretted making the over-eager decision to do it. However, after a shower, food and a couple of pints I was feeling as perky as normal and even better, I had no pain at all the following day. Something good I guess.

I will wait a week before doing it again !

Well maybe a shorter run wont hurt in between…

* OK, I know for some of you two hours is what you do on the way to a long run, but it has been a while !

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.