The Impromptu Half Marathon

With less than seven weeks to go until the London to Brighton 100K Challenge, I figured it was about time I started to get some decent miles on my legs. So, last night after work I decided to run an impromptu half-marathon.

2014-09-04-SummaryIt was still light when I headed out, so I thought I would take a slow jog from Hove, along the seafront and along the undercliff path to Saltdean and then back again. I knew that it would be dark by the time I finished and, as the route is pretty much unlit beyond Madeira Drive, I decided to limit my walk breaks to one every 5K for the first three quarters of the run to ensure that I wouldn’t be running in the dark for too long.

It was fairly quiet along the seafront, with just a few of the usual joggers, dog walkers and after work drinkers having a well earned beer on the beach after a hard day at the office, but once I reached the undercliff path, the place was pretty much deserted.

While it was nice to have the path to myself, I did find it a little bit unnerving as I approached my turning point. My legs were feeling pretty tired and sore and my pace had dropped considerably by this point, but I decided to keep jogging for as long as possible so that I could get back to the better lit part of the route a bit sooner.

Apart from a couple of boy racers speeding along the otherwise deserted Madeira Drive in the distance, however, the darker part of the run was fairly uneventful and I emerged unscathed, other than the aching limbs that is.

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to go out for an evening run on that particular route, but it was good to finally get a half marathon under my belt.

The pace itself was very slow for me, averaging out at 7:16 mins per kilometre, but if I’m going to complete the London to Brighton Challenge, I’m going to have to learn to go even slower than that. So, with less than two months to go, my goal is now to run as slowly as possible so that I can keep going for longer and, hopefully, build up my endurance levels for the challenge by the end of May.

What’s the furthest distance you have ever run? What precautions do you take when going for a run in the dark? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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15 responses to “The Impromptu Half Marathon”

  1. Keith says :

    An impromptu half? That’s brave.

    Longest I’ve run is a half marathon and I only ran 11 miles in training.

    I always ensure I have a bright top or coat on so I’m seen in the dark. My trainers are fluro yellow too so that helps!

  2. 2 Cups 'N Run says :

    I’ve never run more than 25K so I still have a long way to go.. However at this point I’m pretty comfortable with that distance so anything up to that I can easily do.

  3. Sam says :

    I tend to run somewhere with a bit of lighting, I avoid traffic where possible and if need be wear a head torch. I usually have my other half meeting me at the end point, and they know when to expect me, so I suppose if I didn’t arrive they might worry.

  4. Girl Runs Wild says :

    Wow, well done! It’s really great that you managed to run this on a week night – I know that I’d really struggle with that, energy wise.

  5. artisticsharon says :

    wow…that’s really amazing! you’ve really caught the running bug to do an ‘impromtu’ Half on a weeknight! You go girl!!!

    • theblogrunner says :

      Thanks Sharon. You know, I was thinking about how addictive this whole running thing is and then I figured (as I shuffled past people getting quietly drunk on the seafront) there are worse things to be addicted to. 😉

  6. jamhunt says :

    Sounds like we both like to live dangerously lol too bad the sun can’t work around our runs. Nice stats even if it were ‘slow’ for you 🙂
    Longest for me 21.7k, can’t wait to have time for more.
    Thoughts for running in the dark – run faster lol

    • theblogrunner says :

      Ha ha! Yes, I was trying to get off that path as quickly as possible, but the sun went too quickly for me. Still, it should slow down a bit as we move towards summer. 🙂

  7. getgoing-getrunning says :

    Way to go!
    The furthest I’ve run non-stop is a marathon, but I have done L2B100k before.
    I always wear hi vis clothing when I run in the dark and I have a Petzl NAO head torch. It’s good because it auto-adjusts as your view changes from short to long, and you can click it to low power when you pass people. As another precaution I always carry my phone, and my lock screen has my name and my I.C.E. details on it. Just in case but I hope never to need that one!
    Training wise I didn’t do mega mileage for when I did L2B100k. We did it as a walking group (but managed a sub 21 hour finish) and training was comprised of 26 to 30 km sessions on the weekend and normal running during the week. The big recommendation I would make is wear your backpack that you plan to use for the event. It alters your stride significantly and you will need to strengthen your back and upper body to take the weight. It will also show up any points that rub so you can tape up your skin in those parts for the race.
    Pack your backpack with the items you intend to have with the race, including food and water and then weigh it. For training, I would approximate the same weight through putting bags of rice of water bottles in my backpack, rather than packing it with all my various kit.
    And one last hint, which you can completely ignore if you don’t think it’s right for you: I would try to do the 100k as a run-walk strategy. The reason I say that is that as you slow down your running your gait changes dramatically and becomes very inefficient. At a certain point you are barely faster than walking, but burning a lot more energy than walking. If you learn to run at your ‘easy’ pace with the pack, you can then run at your most efficient, and add walk sections to bring your average speed down and allow you to extend your range. As I said, feel free to ignore if that doesn’t gel with your plan. With only a little while to go to the event you don’t want to make massive changes to your routine if you’re not comfortable/sure they will help.
    Hope that helps and all the best for your prep!

    • theblogrunner says :

      Hi Bernie. Thanks for the advice. I took my backpack out on this morning’s long walk and realised that I need to get a much smaller one if I’m going to be able to do any running – the one I have was way too big and bounced around a lot. I’m hoping to run/walk a lot of the course but still need to work out my ratios. There’s a lot more to training for this than I expected, but it’s a lot of fun figuring it all out, and it’s great to get some tips from someone who has done it before.
      Thanks again. 🙂

      • getgoing-getrunning says :

        I had a 30L backpack, by Vaude, which had space for camelbak, various compartments, external compression straps to cinch everything up tight, along with waist and a chest straps. However, I found it still a little large and had a bit too much movement. I’m looking at around 20L size for the Thames path challenge, possible a little smaller as I’m only going 50km.

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