The clocks have gone back an hour and that means only one thing from now onward - darkness. Dark nights followed by the creep of dark mornings and before you know it you're going to work in the dark and then coming home in the dark - sounds pretty depressing doesn't it? Well, if you want an adventure in the dark then I can recommend trying to run through an unlit park on your first run home from work with a really faint head torch as that's exactly what I did on Monday night!
I've recently started to run to work on a morning a few days a week as I haven't been able to use my bike and I've really enjoyed it as I find it gives my run a purpose. I ran into work Monday morning and for some crazy reason decided that I'd run home that night for the first time. I was slightly prepared in that I'd brought a head torch as my route goes through Richmond Park and over Wimbledon Common, however even though I've walked and ran this route many times, everything changes in the dark. For starters I realised pretty quickly that my head torch doesn't really light up the trail enough for me not to trip over logs etc. and even though I knew where I wanted to go, after 10 minutes I realised I wasn't where I wanted to be and so headed for the nearest road which would at least allow me to run without falling over. The only problem with this is that the road skirts around the park which adds distance....better than falling over? Yes!
The roads are closed to vehicle traffic after dusk in the park so my only worry was getting hit by a cyclist, which I managed to avoid thankfully. After a while I knew I was headed for a very long run unless I took a hard left and out of the blue a cycle path appeared going left - well timed! Hoping it would bring me out somewhere I actually recognised I took the turning and kept pounding the pavement. I did wonder at this point whether I would end up circling the park all evening racking up the miles trying to find my way out but it was quite exciting as I've never been for a run in the dark before. I could hear the calls of the deer and the whizz of an oncoming cyclist and that was it, lovely and peaceful. The path ended at another road and from here I knew where I was headed and within another kilometre I was out of the park and crossing the A3. Given that the park has more open land and was dark, going through Wimbledon Common is very enclosed with the tree canopy and would be much darker so I made the decision not to run through it as I knew it would be too much for my candlelight head torch. Unfortunately that meant I now had to run alongside the A3 for 3km and again it would add distance to my run...oh well, better than breaking my neck or ankle in the woods I suppose.
I got to within 2 kilometres of home before I made the decision to stop running. My legs and knees were hurting and I'd managed to run the furthest I've ever ran before, 12km!! Usually I run 10km a day and I had already ran 10km on the way to work so didn't want to push it too far and risk injuring myself so I gave in gracefully, happy in the knowledge that I'd just achieved a PB and had a bit of adventure along the way. The lesson of the day was that I need a brighter head torch - cool, time to hit the internet!