“Or is it something worse / that sends me down to the river…” The leafy shires. Range Rovers and Toyotas, the odd horse box, but not many pavements. Hillier than I thought, should’ve checked the elevation (turns out to be 270 feet extra up and down). You don’t really want hills on training runs – unless you are specifically training for something very hilly – because the downs knacker your joints and the ups just knacker you out. Cross the water to the twee village of Marlow and onto the Thames Path, north bank. Rowing clubs. Best kept hedges. Twitching curtains on two-million-pound houses. The surface keeps changing in the drizzle; mud, dust, asphalt, concrete, gravel, flagstones, you name it.

Cross at Bourne End, hammer down the Cookham road, cross back again at the pretty bridge that takes the A4 to Maidenhead. The urge to abandon it right there at thirteen miles is almost overwhelming; I stop and toy with the idea for half a minute, but pull myself together. My legs are burning and protesting as I set off back downriver towards Bray lock and back for another four miles. I start jabbering to myself and yelping occasionally. Come on, dammit. Psychological as much as physical. Need to learn how to get over this. Went past Rolf Harris’ house, apparently…

Incredibly slow and riddled with walk breaks, but seventeen miles. Last big assault next week is also down the Thames. Go to Dom & Jen’s delightful, hearty, boozy wedding with spirits up and body aching.

Special thanks to Ed and Sarah for their wonderful hospitality.