Couch to 5K
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Sunday on Hampstead Heath. Where did all these people come from? Week 9 Run 2

A glorious autumn day, bright sunshine illuminating the last golden leaves against a cloudless, blue sky.

The perfect day for a run, especially Run 2 of Week 9.

On the weekend, especially on a day like this, it seems everyone in North London flocks to the Heath. The weekend walk is the nearest we Northern Europeans have to the Italian passagiato - in which the whole town parades up and down in their finest clothes, admiring and being admired. Except that in North London in autumn, everyone is wearing duvet coats, fur trimmed parkers and Hunters wellingtons.

While I love the fact that the Heath is so well–loved and well-used, I do rather resent that my beloved weekday vistas are suddenly as busy as the M25. So many people, their children and their dogs spreading over the paths and meadows and woodlands, and all apparently competing in the World’s Slowest Walker Competition. I feel like a gazelle in comparison. It seems like the whole world is here; just on my warm-up walk I heard Russian, Japanese, French and Italian, as well as one man shouting into his phone in a language I didn’t recognise (and was quite glad I can’t understand.)

Having accidentally stumbled off my usual route this week (see How Obama got me lost in the woods) I’m glad that I’ve ventured off-piste where there are less people, even at the weekend. I turned off through the woods and meandered a bit further to try and increase my distance. Since I’ve been listening to my own music (Springsteen’s actually) and recording my runs on mapometer I know that I can run for longer than 30 minutes, it’s distance that is my challenge. I passed a huge fallen tree swarming with small children looking as if they were posing for a Mini-Boden ad, leapt a few puddles, splattered through mud and fallen leaves, narrowly avoided a broken leg when I spotted one of those lethal invisible extending dog leads stretching across the path. One of the advantages of there being so many people around is that I am occasionally forced to put on the odd burst of speed to overtake them or out of sheer embarrassment as the move aside to let me go past. I made it up the hill, (which, rather puzzlingly, mapometer insists is downhill) avoiding death by several diving giant kites, then down to the drinking fountain, then back on the flat path beside the ponds and then up the lane to the Ladies pond. It might be chilly but swimming through fallen oak leaves up the goldren reflection of the sun is worth every goose bump.

Back home I worked out I’d run 4.27k in 42 minutes. That’s a huge improvement in distance, if not time. Just one more run to go. I’m wondering whether to plot out a 5k route to see if I really can make it Couch25k rather than Couch 2 42minutes.

2 Replies

I think your wonderful "Obama got me lost in the woods" blog has inspired people to go running your route :) x


Really? Isn't the internet incredible?


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