The London Winter Run has been in my diary for the best part of 12 months. Yet, somehow, I have failed to run outdoors for over 6 months, haven't run the distance in longer and none of this once spurred me on (enough) to get training.
On the morning of Sunday 31st January, I woke up around 6am and had all the best reasons to stay in bed. My tubes were not working so travel consisted of rail replacement buses, trains and multiple tubes. I had a sore throat. My feet were tired after 8 hours standing on them for work the previous day. I was tired. But you know what, I made a commitment, and I'm a woman of my word (or at last trying to be!).
Lesson 1: The Long Term Reward Is Much Greater Than Instant Gratification
In this case, my instant gratification came each time I chose not to run outdoors and enjoyed an evening tucked up warm indoors. Those moments felt great when they took place but they didn't benefit me on race day. I've been here so many times, where I spend a lot of time in the moment (of the race) kicking myself about not having put the training in. I know how good it feels to run with weeks or months of training behind me...
The Solution: Put your training schedule in your diary. Even if you don't stick to it 100% do something. Something could be just 1km or a run round the block ...then chances are you'll continue for longer seeing as you're in the swing of things. Results will come after you practice just "showing up".
Lesson 2: Mind Over Matter
It's so cliche, but oh so true! I put mind over matter for the race and opted to go GPS free and follow how my body felt. I used the mantra "one foot in front of the other" to keep myself going. I walked when I needed to, I sped up when I could.
The Solution: Remember why you are running. If you're aiming for a PB, write down your target pace for each milestone and track yourself using a GPS. If you're running for fun, make sure you do just that! Ditch the music, ditch the GPS and soak up the atmosphere!
Lesson 3: The Power Of The People
I ran the first 3km or so with Lily of Lily Lipstick; then I felt I had a little more in the tank so I picked up the pace as much as I could. Once I got to 7km though, it was feeling tough (expectedly so, huh, with no training!). At that point, a guy ran up next to me (I'm walking) and said "keep going, we've only got 3km to go!" ...he literally was all I needed! I got back into my stride and ended up next to him... I liked his pace too, so I stuck with him. Then he said to me "I like your pace!" and I said "I'm sticking to your pace!" ...so we realised we were sticking together to the end! Chatting to Richard (don't quote me on his name!) for the next 3km was enough to take my mind off the challenge of finishing the race... We talked about everything - previous running, races, future races, travelling to the races, training, not training, friends... and before I knew it, WE WERE DONE!!
The Solution: There's always that one person who seems to hold a steady pace so just stick to them! ...or as I've done in the past, get a friend (miss you Bethan!) to pace you to a particular time!
The Finer Details: The route changed significantly from 2015; they most definitely would've mentioned it, I just didn't read any of the pre race bumph. The route no longer took in the river Thames (which I kinda missed) and instead went through the City after starting at Trafalgar Square. No idea how the waves worked in reality - I started in wave two I think and this may have affected the amount of "snow" on the course. Supporter numbers were low, but who would wanna be out there when it was cold and raining?! The supporters that were on the route were full of energy though and I high fived numerous tiny people!
One water station at approx 4km ...another would've been just perfect (as per last year). I didn't need the toilet but I didn't notice any queues at the portaloos on the route. Everyone running was super friendly, not a moany sod in sight! Lots of extra polar bears and penguins on the course and at the finish ...but not enough snow, snow zones... nothing that stood out. I did however see pictures of photo op areas etc which I missed!
The end lacked countdown signs, bar one 500m to go sign which felt like a mile!
But eventually, after crossing the finish line, I got my bling... (and some water / coconut water but not a banana or snack in sight?!) ...oh and then the walk from the finish line to the bag drop area... it was so long, I became disorientated and couldn't even work out where I was!!
Did you run the London Winter Run?! How did you find it?!
p.s Huge Thanks to Human Race for my place in the London Winter Run. Also a shout out to to Nuffield Health Covent Garden for putting us up before and after the race. All opinions are my own :) some photos though are not - they are from SportCam!