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Saturday 10 November 2012

Born to Run ... Without Getting Lost

I’m listening to Born To Run again as an audiobook on my iPod. It’s great to listen to while running as it’s an interesting subject and without fail it makes me run quicker on my training runs. Unfortunately only while I’m listening though – it’s not a long-term strategy!

I don’t know whether it’s the author’s descriptions of the races, that make you feel as though you’re competing with the Tarahumara and the American Ultra Runners or whether it’s just the topic making you aware of your running style but I always end up running about 30 seconds a mile quicker on training runs while listening to it. Shame it’s not a tactic that would work in a race!

There’s something tempting about the thought of running an Ultra. Maybe I just don’t like my toenails that much, but the thought of starting slowly and just running for hours, for as long as I can, sounds like something I’d like to do. 

I hit a point a couple of months ago when I didn’t seem to have enough time to run as I wanted so I booked a day of work just to run. To enjoy the freedom of not having to dash home within the time I’d been allocated for training and without the need to get back within my lunch hour. It sounded like bliss just to run ... and run ... and run.

Near the start of my route
The light in the tunnel isn't the end ... it's a canal boat!

It was at the end of August and the weather was hot. It was beautiful – that kind of summer day where you have to wear sunglasses or squint your eyes almost shut. I slathered myself with suncream and packed a running belt with a £20 note and a phone.

I’d decided to run along the canal path as even I wouldn’t be able to get lost on a path with a hedge on one side and a canal on the other. Also and just as importantly there would be pubs every couple of miles. So I could stop for water and food as and when I needed them and wouldn’t need to carry much.

It was amazing. It felt like complete freedom. I walked when the path was too overgrown and stopped to chat to people and ran when I felt like running and walked when I wanted to walk. There were no time limits or paces that I felt I should stick to and I stopped when I wanted. I had a brief break at a pub when I stopped for a baguette and chips for lunch and a tall glass of coke with ice and after I’d finished I got back on the canal path and carried on to see what was around the next bend of the winding route. 

I carried on running on the canal path until I got to the bridge over a road next a white pub and then turned around and ran back to a canal side shop where I stopped for an ice lolly. Which I ate slowly and with maximum enjoyment. Nothing quite beats an ice lolly on a hot day when you’ve been running. I chatted to the family sitting on the bench next to me as we all sat down watching the barges move slowly through the locks and enjoyed our ice lollies. 

I covered nearly 30 miles that day, but every step was different and every mile was enjoyed. I had no blisters, aches or chafing and I just took it slowly. There was no Evil Sarah sitting on my shoulder saying “you should be going faster” or “you need to go further”. It was lovely.

29.27 miles
5hrs 10 minutes


  1. Sounds like a brilliant run, love the idea of a canal path you lucky thing :)

    1. It was just a perfect day for it ... it might not have had such a happy ending if it had been pouring with rain :) ! You should definitely try to run some canal paths if you get the chance - lovely and peaceful. And with pubs! :)

  2. Wow, what a day (and what distance!). I think you should definitely shoot for an ultra, you'd rock it!!!

  3. I'd love to have a go at one, Jen ... I'm really tempted! Although I think they frown at the runners stopping at the pubs though which might spoil the fun! :)