Hoka Highland Fling training blog 11: The loneliness of long distance running

Originally posted on Runner’s World

In the eleventh week of her training our Online News Ed Rhalou goes in search of inclines and company.

Rhalou and Ed Prince

Week 11 and my training plan for the Hoka Highland Fling stipulated two 35-minute tempo runs in the morning and evening on Tuesday, an interval session on Wednesday, some strength and conditioning work on Thursday, a fast 5K followed by a 25-minute cool down on Friday and a long paced run for 3:30 on the Sunday.

My training has been going remarkably well and I feel fit and strong. It really helps that the sun is out and spring is in the air. But there has been one niggle in the plan. I may feel fit as a fiddle and ready to tackle those monstrous Scottish hills, but after 11 weeks of training my ass off, I’ve also started to get a bit bored.

The lonesome long distance runner

By bored, I don’t mean fed up of running (God forbid!) I love training and the feeling it gives me, and nothing makes me happier than a long day out in the world embracing the sky. But after nearly three months of intensive training, I have started to feel lonely. I’ve listened to my favourite disco soundtrack a thousand times, dragged my usual running buddies around the block so much they’re stopped answering my calls and I feel like I could draw every pathway on Hampstead Heath in my dreams.

I have also been panicking about proper hill training and can’t keep pretending Primrose Hill is a mountain. Sadly I just don’t have the time to nip up to The Highlands and a pre race recce is not an option. Those Scots will definitely have an unfair advantage come race day. So what does a lonely southerner do when in dire need of mountainous fun? I decided to find my own elevations and head down to Box Hill to run around the North Downs Way. The problem being, left to my own devices, with my preference for shunning gadgets there was a strong chance I would get horribly lost or fall off a hill and die.

Running buddy

Thank God for Twitter. A fellow runner (who has been reading this very blog as he’s also doing the Fling) tweeted me about training, and before I knew it I had a running buddy for the weekend. It’s probably not advisable to meet total strangers off the internet in the wilderness, but I have always been very lucky. I credit Twitter with introducing me to some of my best friends from the running community.

I had an absolute ball with my new pal Ed Prince. I’m also glad I ran with a new Twitter friend, because now there will be a familiar face on race day, making the Highland Fling a bit less intimidating. We had lots in common; his wife is from where my family live in Scotland, and he was happy to run at my pace and laugh like a teenager instead of taking training very seriously. He also has a fancy watch and a keen sense of direction, dramatically reducing my chances of dying.

Thanks to my new running buddy I managed to get a long day of hill training in (Box Hill is a monster) which was great for the legs and my running confidence. Making a new friend also reminded me why I’m doing this in the first place. I love running and training makes me happy, but the real reason I put myself through insane challenges has nothing to do with sporting prowess. I know I’m never going to be particularly fast or win any prizes. I like entering crazy events for the adventures, but most importantly the amazing people I meet along the way.

If your running has hit a stalemate or your solitary runs are driving you mad, go and find a new running buddy, or Tweet me! @Rhalou I’m always up for an adventure.





Leave a Reply