A home run

Battersea Power Station

Today I tried running home from work for the first time. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for ages – first, looking up all manner of routes on MapMyRun, then obsessing over what kind of runner’s backpack I’d need to minimise chafing.

But yesterday I caught up with two colleagues who are also running the London Marathon to compare training strategies. Both are taking a similar approach to me – a weekend long run with a couple of runs in the week – and we chatted about the logistics of fitting in running around our busy jobs.

On my way home I realised the obsessing with routes and kit was yet more procrastination, and I should Just Bloody Do It. The struggle with hills on my last two long runs have left me feeling a little downbeat about my strength, so I figured I ought to try some running on the flat to cheer myself up. And the run home from work is exactly that – right along the Thames from the City westwards. None more flat.

Attempting to set off early, I changed into my kit then had a minor panic about what I did and didn’t need to take home. Eventually I stuck my iPad and personal phone in my bag along with my Oyster and bank cards and a bottle of water, and stuck my work clothes, shoes and the handbag full of crap I usually carry around in my locker in the office. I strapped on my Pebble and my little rucksack, fired up Spotify and Runkeeper, and headed out of the building.

I headed vaguely south-west, hitting the riverside at Blackfriars, down the embankment to Westminster and my old workplace, the Houses of Parliament. I ran past the bus stop opposite my old office on Millbank, and felt a pang of guilt at the number of times I’d hopped on the bus from there to Vauxhall rather than do the 15 minutes walk.

From there I kept going along the river, past Millbank Tower and the Tate, and headed for Fulham. There I was stuck on a corner for five minutes while police stopped traffic in all directions until a car and motorcycle outrider appeared.

It passed, and I was off again, heading along the embankment. When I stopped to take a picture of Battersea Power Station, I noticed my Pebble – which I’d thought I’d fixed after its recent fail – had died again and was giving me the error 504 sadface.

Strangely, this didn’t bother me at all. I was actually really enjoying the run. I kept going, ticking London bridges off in my head as a passed. Vauxhall, Chelsea, Albert (site of my very first snog, fact fans), they seemed to pass in a blur as I processed the day’s stresses and mentally wrote the first half of this blog post.

This is the point where the Thames Path veers quite spectacularly from the actual river and gets quite confusing, so I made for the relative safety and simplicity of Kings Road, which gets progressively less glamorous as it extends west.

Outside a kebab shop, some twats with bikes shouted something at me. I expect it wasn’t very nice. I didn’t care. Right then, I felt fucking brilliant. Strong and healthy and happy.

Soon I reached Putney. It was just before 7pm by then, so I decided to head for the station and take the last couple of stops back from there, else I’d have been ridiculously late back, and the route from Putney home is through parkland so I wouldn’t feel safe at night.

I jumped on the train a couple of stops, then sprinted the last half a kilometre back from the station with a huge grin on my face. I haven’t felt so alive in years.

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