I started writing run notes last September, as a way to keep track of my performance and progress. Here’s what I got up to in November 2021.

I ran

  • 275km in total (+132km on the previous month)
  • 25.7km for my longest run (+7.6km on the previous month)

Marathon training

I took a huge step up in mileage in November, in total and in single runs. Lots of interval training and strides amongst the easy runs. As we had moved back to London that month, I took my morning runs around Clapham Common, which is flat and undulating, meaning you can dial in a pace and focus on form without shifting gears much. Boring really.

After two weeks I was sick and tired of running around the common, breathing in all the car fumes, so one Saturday morning I took my long run down to the Thames, at Battersea Park, and went along the river to Barnes. A much nicer way to spend 19km.

‘Trail’ running

First of all, I can’t stand the phrase ‘trail running’. Even though I really do love running in the countryside, calling it ‘trail running’ feels way too American. We don’t have trails, we just have…paths?

Anyway, having all that countryside on your doorstep in North Wales was truly a privilege, and if I’m honest it’s what I loved most about running. Getting to explore the outdoors without needing tarmac underneath you.

So for my long runs, I took to the paths (or ‘trails’, if you must) of the South Downs: a 22km jaunt from Hassocks to Brighton, and a 25km loop from Hassocks to Burgess Hill.

Hassocks to Brighton

A really lovely route that felt incredibly rural but actually wasn’t far away from civilisation at any point.

I pushed it a bit too hard on Ditchling Beacon and had to walk for a bit, whereas had I slowed down I’d have trotted all the way to the top.

Didn’t need much fuel. Took a litre of water and one Snickers bar, which I ate around the 15km mark. I need to remind myself to eat every 10km though.

Smashed my way through a packet of crisps and cloudy lemonade from M&S at Brighton station.

Hassocks to Burgess Hill

Temperatures were 1–3℃, with winds of ~29km/h, which meant it felt like -5℃. I was wearing a lightweight packable jacket, the Zephyr from Janji, that did a good enough job of keeping me warm. And the route had both hidden and exposed sections, so there was some respite from the wind.

However, around halfway before the descent down to Pyecombe, I had to help an American lady navigate as she’d lost her way. I stood around for about 10 minutes, and my legs started to get chilly. I was only wearing shorts (as that’s all I owned).

The short, sharp 100m descent from Wolstonbury Hill – which has to be walked as it’s a -45% gradient – meant more chill to the thighs, as the cold wind battered the hill from the north, the direction I was heading.

By the time I reached Hurstpierpoint College, my legs started seizing up. I often had to stop and do some warm-up exercises, or rub my thighs with my hands to get some heat in. Those last 3 miles were tough!

5K personal best

Aiming for a sub-20 minute 5K, I whipped round Battersea Park on a frosty morning. It was stupidly tough as I set off way too fast, rather than going for negative splits. Regardless, I managed a new personal best of 20 minutes and 12 seconds, laughably close to securing my target! Not bad for a month with very little speed training though.

What I learned

  • I need leggings for cold weather running – which I bought and have been lovely for chilly days
  • Outside is where I want to be
  • South London is a gateway to the countryside

What’s coming up

More marathon training.