Monday, 2 January 2012

Parakeets and the cure for procrastination

They say fortune favours the brave. It certainly favoured the woman who ventured out in the rain yesterday. 

Today’s run had it all: brilliant blue sky, a bit rural, a bit Downton, and a parakeet.  

Parrots in London, yes really

Today I ran the Tamsin Trail in South West London’s Richmond Park During King Edward's reign (1272-1307) the Richmond Park area was known as the Manor of Sheen, and the name changed to Richmond Park during Henry VIII's reign.

And it’s the park recently made famous by Fenton

If you don’t know it, the Tamsin Trail is a little circuit around this most beautiful of London’s Royal Parks. I say little circuit, but size always depends on your perspective. 

The trail is 11km long with a couple of hills, so perfect for a beginner to do one lap for their long run, and there are some off-route bits that can be added on for the more seasoned marathoners.  
It’s a traffic free route, although the trail is shared with cyclists, and connects park entrances at Richmond Gate, East Sheen Gate, Roehampton Gate, Robin Hood Gate, Kingston Gate and Ham Gate around Richmond Park, 
Richmond Park was originally a deer hunting park

My run today was a typical multitasking session. Get some miles, or in my case kilometres, on the clock, exercise the dog and pushing Baby B past some fabulous sites in the buggy, while listening to something motivating. Today I ditched my tunes for a podcast by writer, speaker and broadcaster Merlin Mann.
Merlin is probably best described as a cool geek. Among other things he writes about life hacks, and I started his podcast wondering if it might be possible to hack a marathon. If I find out, I’ll write about it.
Just when I was wondering about giving up on this running lark, and skiving off for a cappuccino and a bun, I was listening to Merlin talking about what he cleverly calls doing v 1.0. In essence, Merlin’s v1.0 is about getting something tangible out there. It’s surely the ultimate cure for procrastination. “Just get through it the first time,” he says , “you can try that stuff you read about in magazines later.” 
As a first time marathoner - I have run before, but mostly for buses - it really hit a nerve. Just how true this has been of my running. How many times do I avoid going out because my kit isn’t quite right for the weather, or because I’m feeling unfit, or tired because Baby B has been up all night, or unmotivated or just plain lazy. But without a v1.0 run, there’s nothing to improve on. It’s just talk and good intentions. 
So because you can’t build on something you don’t have, I bypassed the tea shop (also the queue was prohibitive, but hey, that’s what happens on a blue sky Bank holiday), and decided to make this The Long Run v1.0. And at the end of today’s run, with Baby B in the bath and the formerly monochrome dog brown with mud, I can think of plenty to build on, but I’m also very happy to have a long run on the chart. 
So go on, get out there, and do a v1.0 run of your own. We can always improve, refine and upgrade later. 
And suddenly I’m thinking of other non-running things I’ve been procrastinating on, and am curious to see if the motivation for running has an overspill effect and gets me back on the proverbial road in other areas. Let’s see.
Now because this is v1.1 of blogging for me, I've been reading up on how to blog for beginners. There's almost as much daunting advice and jargon as there is for first time marathoners. 
What I have been told is that it’s good to blog a top ten, so, these are my top ten reasons to run the Tamsin Trail. V1.0
My Downton moment
  1. Richmond Park is huge, 2360 acres, and incredibly varied, and this trail gives you a sweep of the best bits. It’s the sort of run I can imagine wanting to add extra bits to in future, just to explore. Once my legs are less sore. 
  2. There are cafes. The one I skipped was next to the bike hire place Parkcycle, near Roehampton Gate. That would be a good starting and finishing point. Or you can come over all Downton and have tea in Pembroke Lodge
  3. It’s easy to get to if you don’t have a car. Mortlake, Richmond and Sheen stations are all about a mile away. 
  4. Views. I hate hills but the views on the Tamsin make it worth every effort. You can see over to the South Downs and right across the City of London. There’s even a special bit cut out of a plinth close to Pembroke Lodge that gives the most incredible view of St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s like a secret window in a rural idyll, a reminder that you are actually still in London. 
  5. It’s a truly family friendly circuit. Almost every runner that passed me today was with someone else. Children on scooters, partners on bikes that you can hire at Parkcycle, lots of babies in buggies and dogs. All well behaved and not a Fenton among them. 
  6. There’s a shortcut if you get tired. If the full Tamsin gets too hard, not on you of course, but on any of the family who’ve come for support, there’s a shortcut through the park. If they get tired of walking, you can send the children exploring in the Isabella Plantation 
  7. No cars. The trails are a mix of gravel, paved, and mud.
  8. If you’re feeling keen, you can do some hill training either before your run at Richmond Hill, or do some at the end.
  9. It’s easy on the eye. There’s always something new ahead, and the varied landscape kept me going. Woodland follows grasslands and for much of the hills you’re under a canopy of trees.Several ponds add interest to the flat sections. 
  10.  While the official park brochure talks a lot about the deer and mentions 100 species of wild beetle, I wasn't expecting to see  a mini flock of three green parakeet as I came past Sheen gate. The RSPCA estimates 20,000 wild parrots, including parakeets, are now living in England, with the largest concentration around South West London. There are lots of rumours about where they have come from, including an urban myth about Jimi Hendrix setting a pair free to an alleged mass escape from an import container at Heathrow. Does anyone know the truth of their origin? Answers on a post comment please.

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