...but not cold feet!

We had some fairly foul weather on Littlehampton seafront for my first run in November. In fairness, the forecast had looked bleak for the previous few days but organisers still hoped to go ahead with the regular 5km Littlehampton Prom parkrun. In the event, however, it was cancelled shortly before the scheduled 9.00am start as the conditions were deemed unsafe for a large group event on the promenade. Whilst obviously a disappointment for those who had braved the elements and gathered expectantly at the mouth of the River Arun, it was absolutely the right call to make!

With the formal event abandoned, several of us - already cold and wet - decided we had little to lose, and agreed that we'd like to run regardless. And so it was that an informal group of five intrepid runners (including my son) ventured inland for a 5km circuit with at least some shelter. It was for the most part quite bearable, but we did include a short section along the seafront; I can tell you that running in 60mph winds with the rain and sand being whipped across your path is no joke! The left side of my leg, arm and cheek felt very much like coarse sandpaper by the end, until the layer of salt and sand was finally washed off when I got home. Quite an experience.

There were two separate work trips in November, for meetings with Feba ministry partners in Stockholm and Istanbul. In order to maintain my pattern of three runs per week, I had to fit something in before breakfast - which meant setting off in unfamiliar surroundings before sunrise on both occasions. Both turned out to be reasonably hilly 10km sessions but one was markedly more scenic than the other: in Stockholm, I ran along a beautiful waterside woodland trail (see banner photo); in Istanbul, I ran multiple circuits of a rather bland urban park in the midst of high-rise residential blocks (below).

It's always a morale boost to achieve a new personal best (PB) or reach a significant milestone. In early November, I achieved my first sub two hour half marathon with a time of 1:58:29. Having planned my route from home and guesstimated distance/speed/time, it was good to be able to incorporate our local parkrun as part of that too. Later in the month, I set a new longest run to date - in terms of both distance and time, covering 25km in just under 2.5 hours. On another occasion during a shorter November run, I clocked 1km at 4:15. Over the course of the whole month, I ran just over 135km / 85 miles.

There were no formal race events for me during November but I did sign up for the Milton Keynes Winter Half Marathon, which takes place in early December. My brother has also signed up; I'm under no illusion - he is indisputably younger, fitter and faster than me, but I'm very much looking forward to this as our first running event together.

The past few months seem to have gone very quickly. I'm pleased and thankful that I've managed to keep going with a fairly regular schedule through the autumn, increasing my distances and speeds gradually, and staying injury-free. On balance, I am pleased with where things have got to so far and feel moderately confident. Looking to the New Year, however, I need to select and commit to a more structured marathon training plan that will require more time and focus. There are various different plans available, the most suitable being dependent on one's current ability, time available to train, and aspiration/target finishing time. It's largely a question of being realistic, and recognising the need to fit the running around other priorities. One thing is certain: without proper preparation in the next few months, April 26th could be a very painful and bitterly disappointing day!

Finally - I'm really pleased to be able to report that my fundraising had reached just short of the £800 mark by the end of November (plus Gift Aid). I'd like to say another big "Thank You!" to everyone who has supported me so far - it makes a tremendous difference, and certainly spurs me on during those cold, dark runs. Your interest and partnership in this venture is very much appreciated, thank you; if you're able and willing to sponsor me, then I'd really be extremely grateful.

PS: If you're a runner yourself and have any top training tips, feel do free to drop a note using the contact form. All advice would be gratefully received!

If you would like to sponsor me, please see my fundraising page.

To read more about my marathon efforts, please click here.

Thank you!

Photos: Stockholm Waterfront (banner) and Istanbul Park © Bob Chambers