A long run to Southwark parkrun – and the start of Chicago marathon training!

It seems an incredibly long time ago now, December 2019 in fact, since I heard I had been lucky enough to obtain a Chicago marathon place. This ticket has been rolled over, deferred and reclaimed numerous times, but finally, hopefully I will be able to attend the race this year in October. Which means it is time to start training! I’ve kept myself busy in the intervening two years, even completing five ‘virtual’ marathons, but nothing beats the experience of taking part in a real life World Marathon Major race.

The cornerstone of any marathon training plan is the weekly long run. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to these on my fortnightly Monday off work (the origin of the Monday Running name!), but on the alternate weekends I will be trying to combine the long run with my Saturday morning parkrun. Sometimes that might just entail a warm-up run before heading along to my local Walthamstow venue, but I’d also like to see how many other East London venues I can reach on foot, as an eco-friendly form of parkrun tourism.

This weekend was the perfect opportunity to try out the strategy for the first time as a friend was visiting Southwark parkrun in South London. My first look at Strava to plan a potential route suggested running through the Rotherhithe tunnel – which sounded rather claustrophobic and fume-filled – so I opted instead for a slightly longer route that would cross the river via Tower Bridge: much more scenic!

I left home at 6:15 on the Saturday morning, with the sun already beating down on this particularly sweltering June day. The route was everything I had hoped for, winding through the picturesque Hackney Marshes and Victoria Park before picking up the Regents canal all the way down to Limehouse. I find the canals a real lifeline for running, how wonderful to be able to run so far around East and Central London without seeing a car or crossing a road! I had been watching the clock the whole way down; I am one of those people who HATE to be late, so part of the fun for me was planning the run to time a perfect arrival before the parkrun start at 9am. Things were looking good as I turned westward towards Tower Bridge, so I slowed down to enjoy the scenery. Definitely a better choice than the tunnel!

I arrived in Southwark park to meet Ali at 8:35. I had definitely driven in this area before but never realised such a lovely large park was right there just out of sight. I had covered around 19.5km in mainly direct sunshine by this point, so took the parkrun nice and slowly, grateful for the tree-lined paths providing shade. The run was three laps, with around 350 runners when we visited, some no doubt were tourists picking up a ‘south’ for their compass challenge, one of the parkrun running challenges. After such a busy morning, it was great to have a bit of a sit down at the cafe, watching the swans paddle by and making the most of the excellent ice-cream selection!

Today marks exactly 16 weeks until the Chicago marathon, so I can’t wait to get stuck into the training plan, and see which other parkruns I can get along to by foot! Happy running to you all, and best of luck to anyone training for autumn marathons!

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