Two weeks ago I suddenly realised there is only one month left of 2016 and therefore just enough time to squeeze in one last challenge for the year.

So on Monday 5th December, I’m going to run alongside the River Thames from its source near the Cotswolds to London’s Thames Barrier. The entire Thames path is 184 miles so I will try and run the equivalent of seven marathons in seven days (aka the Craig David of adventures).

I’ll watch it widen from a tiny trickle into the magnificent snaky serpent we all know (from Eastenders). It will be tough but I’m excited about setting off on my own with just a little running rucksack. Each night I will check into riverside b&b’s along the way and learn something new about this brilliant body of water and the towns and villages that flank it.

There’s one small thing to mention – I haven’t run longer than 5km since Spring. This summer I have covered plenty of miles, but they’ve all been on my road bike. I certainly don’t recommend launching into a multi-day marathon on little running training but part of me is curious as to how much I can rely on my stamina and push my limits. I am hoping all my cycling has built up at least an endurance base and there’s nothing quite like jumping into the deep end (of the Thames).

I am hoping that the path is clear all the way to London and there are no obstacles to hold me up like flooding or boggy ground that will suck my weary legs into the depths of the underworld where Old Father Thames will transform me into a human/ fish hybrid creature with gills and webbed toes. I also have the world’s worst sense of direction so I am really relying on the fact that there is clear signage along the entire 184 miles route. I am taking an OS map with me but there is still a very high chance of the Thames snaking off without me. Finally, I had plenty of opportunities to run this path in the summer but instead I decided to do it in the chilly month of December to add an element of meteorological roulette to mix. Basically, I’m going to be cold most days and will be against the clock with the number of daylight hours available.

I haven’t done a solo challenge yet this year and I want to experience what it’s like to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle and complete a distance with only your own mind and body to motivate you.

I am seeing it as an excuse to take myself out on a little solo staycation, giving myself a break from my freelance business and treating myself to overnight sleeps in the little villages I will pass.

With the barely any time to prepare for this challenge, I’ve instead focused on what I am going to enjoy about this run rather than getting my knickers in a twist about the sheer distance.

But on that note, here are the numbers…

The day to day route

Monday 5/12/16 – The Source to Lechlade – 23.25 miles
Tues 6/12/16 – Lechlade to Oxford – 29.5 miles
Wed 7/12/16 – Oxford to Goring – 30.5 miles
Thurs 8/12/16 – Goring to Marlow – 28.5 miles
Fri 9/12/16 – Marlow to Chertsey – 25 miles
Sat 10/12/16 – Chertsey to Putney – 23 miles
Sun 11/12/16 – Putney to the Thames Barrier – 20 miles

What to pack

As this is self-supported, I need to carry everything with me, on my back. This worries me slightly as I’ve had a weak left shoulder for about eight years after damaging it in Australia doing manual labour on a pearling boat (that’s another chapter). So, weight management is key although I’ve decided to do this in December, typically not the warmest month so layering will be important. Apparently the first few days of the Thames path are pretty rural and therefore I will also need to take food and plenty of water with me so I don’t run out of energy. This is what I plan to take (with a little bit of hand washing liquid so as not to offend anyone after seven days of running in the same kit….)

Merino base layer
Soft shell
Water bottle
Light down
Packable rain jacket
Go Pro

I am sure that by Sunday 11th December, I will be pretty excited to swap my trail shoes for my road shoes and run the last 20 miles from my house in Putney to the Thames Barrier where I will leave the river to make its way to the sea and beyond!