I have the honour of taking Chester, the Team Squirrel Mascot, for his annual run this autumn and I’m looking forward to seeing you all – and running with you all - later in the year.
I only got into distance running a few years ago. I dived straight in at the deep end and started with a half marathon and being an ecologist and environmental planner I was drawn to the ethos of the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon with their high emphasis on putting on a fantastic quality sustainable race. I achieved my goal of running it in less than two hours and became hooked. Many half marathons later, The Royal Parks Half still rates as my favourite – it is friendly, well organised, has great support along the course, is beautiful (the autumn colours in the parks are lovely) and fun. Add in to this the amazing work the Royal Parks Foundation do in conserving some of London’s fabulous green spaces whilst educating and inspiring children about the natural world around them who wouldn’t want to support them by running through three of the Royal Parks?
There are people much more qualified than me to provide technical tips on running but below are a few things I have learnt on my running journey so far, which will hopefully be of help to you this year:
- Don’t be afraid of the weather. Running into the wind will be tougher than a calm day but it gives you a great workout and think of the payback when you turn round and run wind assisted! I used to find excuses not to run in bad weather but now I just amend my goal for that training session. Don’t worry though; it never rains for the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon so there’s no need to worry about that! I am not sure what would happen if I got Chester’s fur all wet.
- Anybody who takes on a challenge such as a half marathon is amazing and when you are out on your run, make sure you smile and say ‘hello’ to anyone else you see out training – it certainly puts a spring in my step for a few hundred metres after I have greeted a fellow runner or cyclist.
- Make things interesting. I tend to be a creature of habit and have a few favourite routes but it is great for your motivation if you run different routes, run your regular routes in reverse for a change or tag on a different loop somewhere along the way. I love running first thing in the morning when there is very little traffic around and I get to see some lovely sunrises and great views of wildlife.
- Don’t become obsessed with watching the clock. I have found things tend to work better for me when I am relaxed and don’t set myself a strict goal. If things haven’t gone quite as well in preparation as I had hoped then I will change my goal. For example, I may decide the goal is to have a great time savouring the atmosphere and thanking the amazing supporters around the route with a smile or high fives rather than trying to beat my personal best. If you take the pressure off yourself, I have found that things often go much better than you had hoped.
- For those who haven’t run the Royal Parks Half Marathon before, you will pass some amazing landmarks such as Buckingham Palace (twice), Wellington and Admiral Arches, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square. I completely missed the view of Buckingham Palace the first two times I ran the route so make sure you take some time to savour the atmosphere and the amazing route you will be running.
Chester and I look forward to seeing you later in the year!
9 June 2015