The ultimate running question: how do you know if a run will be a good run before you set off?

If you do then you’re a wiser one than me. You must share the secret. I’ve had some odd runs in the last week. I’m talking odd in a ‘running feel’ kind if way, rather than running backwards kind of odd.

Let me explain. I only had chance for a couple of easy lunchtime runs during the week last week and both of them just felt a bit bleeuurrggh, if you know what I mean. Everything about them suggested a lovely run: the weather was great (well, UK great so not raining or long sleeve inducing), I’d picked some interesting trail routes and I even saw a guinea fowl. I know, how can you not be joyous about that?!

My legs were just not feeling it. I mean for goodness’ sake, I had this guy following me for the whole of Monday’s run. I can only assume he’d been watching me for a few days and decided this pursuit would definitely end in lunch:

Beautiful red kite. Beautiful as he watches hopefully for me to drop

My long run on Sunday was the same. A great route planned, aiming for about 20 miles of which about 7 were along the Grand Union Canal towpath. It totally lived up to expectations too. It was a calm, warm morning with high, hazy cloud and I set off before 6am. It was so peaceful and this is usually the time when I lap it up. Here’s a couple of shots to show you what I mean:

Beautiful swans along the Grand Union Canal
Idyllic sunshine, isolation, calm, scenic…just try telling my body that

Again though, my legs were somewhere else. Despite the fact I could tell it was a glorious morning and a beautiful route, I just couldn’t convince my legs and body that was the case. I ground out the 20 miles at a slow pace and had the most achy legs for the rest of the day.

Imagine now, after that last week, how I felt coming into the Monday lunchtime recovery run. On top of that, I’d had a morning full of meetings, a highly recommended nutritional routine of a coffee and slice of victoria sponge and a disturbed sleep the night before. Perfect. Every bone in my body was telling me to stay at my desk and have some lunch. Luckily my mind was as stubborn as my legs had felt the day before and I dragged myself out there.

If anything deserves a totally-uncharacteristic-for-me OMG it was that recovery run. My entire 7km felt infinitely better than at any point during the 20 miles the previous morning! Everything felt good, my legs, my motivation, my breathing, even the poppies suddenly seemed to sprout overnight in all the fields:

Even the fields tried to make it as pleasant as possible, poppy fields near Brackley. Mon 3/6/19

So explain that?! Being scientific by nature I’ve tried to put my finger on what, when you least expect it, can make a run suddenly feel great. Is it a change in pollen levels, hydration, food over the previous couple of days, crop circles? I’m not sure and I’m not complaining but I will keep an eye out over the next few weeks if it happens again. And I probably won’t have two glasses of prosecco the night before a long run in future.

A new week starts tomorrow and I’m as motivated as any week, ready to kick it off with one coffee, not quite enough sleep and no doubt a cookie or two in the morning. Well, if it ain’t broke…


  1. I can never tell. I’ve literally started a run having a cry on my friends saying I know it will be a disaster and then wheeee. I mean, sometimes I know – yesterday, still only 2 weeks out from my marathon, a hot close day and I was in black for some heat training and with a back pack on, I sort of knew that was not going to be the best run ever. But you do never know, and it comforts me that no one does!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is odd. Granted, as you say, some you just know are going to be tough but then, as long as I know they’re going to be tough, I don’t mind when the turn out to be tough. It’s the surprises that catch me out!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I could figure that out too. I’ve heard “every run is a good run” but I’m not convinced: some are definitely better. Even a slow old guy like me can feel like running longer when runs are good…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good job for getting out there and getting that long run in. These pictures are gorgeous. I think we’ve all been there when we are having “off” days with our runs. It’s a new week!

    Liked by 1 person

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