Even I get bored with my own company sometimes.
Most of the 120 miles I ran every week last year in preparation for the Spartathlon took place along the banks of the river Thames. Through the winter, while it was still dark, I would arrive at work early and follow the river upstream to Kew Bridge, before turning back in preparation for another day in the office. At weekends I would take a train to Hampton Court, or sometimes as far as Windsor and run the 20 or 40 miles home before starting the day.
To begin with I loaded up my iPod with a curious mixture of Moby, Led Zeppelin, G’n’R and Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto and would set the playlist rolling for the three or six hours it would take to get home. However, I quickly tired of playing air guitar to myself to Sweet Child O’ Mine as I passed unsuspecting Sunday morning strollers, and soon looked elsewhere for distraction.
I should have realised earlier that audiobooks are the perfect accompaniment to a morning in the peace and quiet of the riverbank. John Le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was a perfect three hour set, although in the dark and under the canopy of trees by Richmond I got spooked more than once thinking I was being followed. And that is without it being narrated by Richard Burton.
The final scenes in Berlin played themselves out as I made the last turn into Battersea, and I could tell if I had run faster that day if I had to sit on the wall outside my house waiting for the story to finish before walking through the front door.
Last Sunday I cycled out to Windsor plugged into Robert Harris’s Fatherland, a book that I would probably never have bought to read. It is fantastic. The roads were empty at 6am so there was no noise of traffic to interrupt me, which is just as well since I had to concentrate on the cast list of German names to keep up. And when I returned four hours later, exhausted, drenched and ready to go back to bed, I was already planning the next trip to knock off another lump out of the remaining seven hours.
I cycle to work every day, but the route is too short to make it worthwhile picking up the story, and probably too dangerous, but I have been wondering all week what fate is going to befall our hero, who seems to be digging himself into all sorts of trouble.