I’ve spent approximately 92.7% of my 35 and a half years on Earth in Cheltenham.
When I was a kid I walked to school, by the time I was in my teens that was an hour commute each way. I used to walk everywhere. To friends, to family, to rugby practice. If I wasn’t walking the streets of Cheltenham I’d be riding my bike on them. I’m not suggesting I was a street child, but I was definitely a child of the streets. I didn’t bother getting a car until I was 32. I didn’t need one. I could walk everywhere. So I did.
3 years ago I started running. I ran on the streets of Cheltenham where I used to walk. For 3 years now I’ve been running around this town, from my first faltering steps through joining a running club and training for 10ks, halves and then the full marathon. Anywhere between 10 and 30 miles a week on these hometown pavements.
It’s safe to say I’ve run Cheltenham and by jove am I bored of it!
The hardest part of this latest marathon training plan has been hitting the same streets yet again. Trying to string together twelve, fifteen or more miles around a town that it turns out is surprisingly small. You can change direction or put bits together in a different order but the fact remains you will still cover the same tarmac at some point in your run.
So, I’ve had to get creative.
Recently I managed to negotiate a lift to Sharpness Docks, some 27 miles outside of town. From there I ran 17 miles along the Sharpness to Gloucester Canal. 17 new, exciting miles with views and no traffic and wildlife and fun. It wasn’t all perfect, but it was certainly an improvement.
I’ve been thinking of some other long runs I can enjoy, and here’s what I’ve got so far…
- A day out in Bristol following the Gromit Unleashed trail. Not sure how useful it is as marathon training if you stop every mile to take a photo, but if I cover 20+ miles in the day I’d call that a success.
- London, from Victoria Coach Station to the Olympic Park to visit a friend. Can easily stretch that in to 17 miles or more and I do love running around London. Plus I can follow it up with drinks and dinner with cockney friends.
- A training run along the Malvern Hills (if I can rope in a willing partner to make it fun). It’s a great blast across the hilltops, the ups and downs like a natural interval session and the return journey around the edge of hills is like running through Lord Of The Rings territory. Should be able to rack up a tapering run of 11-12 miles out there.
So, that should just about make up for the midweek runs around the all too familiar streets of the ‘Nam. Of course, with another marathon planned for April I’m going to have to find even more creative ways of covering the miles.
How do you keep your long runs interesting?
What is your most creative run route? Is it a point to point or maybe following a mountain trail?