Training For 1000 Hills

Over the last couple of months, people have been asking me how I’m training to run across Rwanda, a country slightly intimidatingly known as the ‘land of a 1000 hills’.

Rather worryingly I don’t have a concrete answer for them.

I’ve always enjoyed training for the adventures I undertake, but I often struggle to pin down a long-term training routine. The inconsistent hours and frequent travel required in my day job, means I squeeze in training where possible and I tend to plan only a week in advance.

However, as I take on the most challenging run of my life in just over 3 weeks time, I was keen to share my training highlight so far!

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend and I embarked on the Capital Ring Walk, and what was originally planned as a simple chance to get some decent mileage covered, turned into one of the best micro-adventures I’ve ever been on!

For all you Londoners, chances are you’ve walked passed one of these signs countless times, but like me, never really took notice.

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There are literally hundreds of Capital Ring signs across London

They are in fact signposts that map out a 78-mile, scenic hiking route around outer London. The route is divided into 15 sections, with a detailed itinerary available on the TFL website (

The 78 mile Capital Ring Walk

With our backpacks bulging, walking poles at the ready and cheap and cheerful airbnb’s booked across London, we made the short journey from home (London Bridge) to our starting point, the mightily impressive Woolwich Foot Tunnel. Our plan was to cover the entire walk over 3 days, but the majority of hikers spend many months, walking a section at a time each weekend. The latter is a far more sensible and relaxed way of taking in a selection of London’s finest scenery.

Day 1 took us from Woolwich to Wimbledon and we quickly found ourselves walking through deep woodland and lush fields before passingly directly by Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium, on our way to Streatham. With 30 odd miles covered we dived into a greasy burger joint in downtown Wimbledon before getting some much-needed rest at a slightly dodgy and dirty local airbnb.

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Hiking through Falconwood on Day 1

Day 2 was the most scenic day of the hike. After tackling the stunning hills of Richmond Park at sunrise, we snaked our way along the Grand Union Canal before heading up to Harrow, a characterful and proud town, and home to one of the UKs oldest public schools. Finishing the day at a strangely deserted hotel in Hendon ( we powdered our feet in preparation for a final 27 miles back to Woolwich.

Day 3 had a very different vibe as we hiked into the heart of East London, passing through Highgate, Stoke Newington, Hackney Wick and onto the inspiring venues housed within the Olympic Park. Pushing through a fairly cold and rainy last 8 miles, we slowly made our way back to the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, stopping every now and then to nurse our blisters and stretch some pretty sore legs.

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The start and finish line at the Woolwich Foot Tunnel

Entering the tunnel for a second time, after walking the complete circumference of London was a surprisingly rewarding experience and a good lesson that often the adventures we’re looking for can be found right outside our front door.

This August, John will be attempting to run across the entire country of Rwanda. He’s raising money for local Rwandan Entrepreneurs and if you’d like to support him, you can make a donation on the link below. All donations are hugely appreciated!

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