Monday, 13 December 2010

A Running Friend

I've been walking around like I'm 82 today, making fittingly appropriate, age-related noises everytime I go up or down stairs, or stand from a sitting position! Obviously, I haven't magically aged 50 years overnight, but instead have been hit with the aforementioned affliction because of the ridiculous hills, I thought it would be a good idea to run stagger plod up, in the 10 mile race yesterday!

As a result, I began this evening convincing myself I didn't need to go to running club, then...


'Mince Pie' Guilt...
'Christmas Cake' Guilt...
'HOW MUCH have you eaten today?!' Guilt...

Call it what you like, all that guilt leads to is me looking like this:
Mince pies + no running = Homer Simpson belly!
 in my next race... so out I went.

However, a good thing happened; we were given an out-and-back session: out for 20, then back along the same route but in 18. This was a good thing because I was able to give myself a nice recovery run, whilst also feeling guilt-free, as I paced Natalie out and back.

Natalie is not only my very close friend - which obviously also made for a convenient gossip confab on the way out - but is also the newest member of our running club, having joined only a couple of months ago.
The thing is, I really enjoyed running with Natalie today... and no, not just because I got to take it easy! but because supporting someone else through their running, made me more aware of my own. The nature of the out-and-back is that the effort increases on the 'back' element due to the attempt to return in less time, the route we took is also on a slight incline on the way back, so that adds to the increase in effort also. Running a strong 1.5 miles 'out', we stayed equally strong for the first half mile back again, picking the pace up just enough to warrant the end of the gossiping! As the final mile loomed upon us, Natalie started losing a little bit of confidence, but kept pushing on, taking us into the final 1/2 mile. All of this is on an incline, and as Natalie started to lose a little confidence, and I inevitably ignored her, I began to think how much our ability to push ourselves is more about what's in our heads than what's in our legs!

The thing about running is, as we all know, that so much of it is a mental challenge as much as a physical one; we have to teach our brains how to win in the battle against our legs. Running with Natalie, it was clear to me that she could continue running - she had the strength, and the ability, to do so - but despite this, she truly felt like she may not be able to do it. As I encouraged her to keep going despite this, as so many others have done for me, I was struck by the thought that, for me, running is not a solitary activity at all; but quite the opposite.

When there is someone alongside for encouragment, support and company, the act of running not only becomes more enjoyable, but it also becomes more achievable. If it hadn't been for my friend Paula tricking coaxing me into running with her two years ago, I never would have started; if it hadn't been for the fantastic atmosphere at the Great North Run, six months after that, I never would have kept it up; and if wasn't for my running club, I wouldn't be addicted to running now!

Natalie and I -
but a lot less sweaty!

Today, Natalie was my running friend. Her company (and pace) was exactly what I needed; and, although she didn't realise it, she was as much as support to me as, she claims, I was to her. In fact what's more, apparently we're both going to be brainier (as well as braunier - true word!) as a result of running together, as Princeton University scientists have 'determined that running with friends, rather than alone, produces better results and is better for the brain'. Now, you can't get better than that!

Of course, sometimes it's nice to get out there alone, and sometimes, for whatever reason, we just don't have the luxury of an encouraging partner... but then that's where you come in, isn't it?

Distance: 3.2 miles
Weather: Just right for running: dry and +3 degrees.
Feeling: achey, but better for running it out


  1. Now you know why I do it Maggie! You were coaching Natalie tonight and encouraging her so well done and you also found that you get as much out of it as they do! Well done and you weren't the ony one feeling tired and achy today - me too!

  2. What a fantastic blog Mags, that was lovely. Ive always wanted to do it but after seeing how interesting you and Pete make it, mine would be a dull drone. Keep it up!

  3. I totally understand Pete... I loved running with Natalie and it felt really great to be the person helping someone else. You're right, I definitely gained as much from it.

    Dom... I would be more than interested in reading your blog! I would be your first follower!! :-) x

    PS... I've tried to make it easier to comment on here... not sure whether it's worked or not!!

  4. Awww that's a lovely blog,well done to the both of you for getting out there and doing that,you have clearly inspired each other!!I ve just read your blog in bed ,while I was arguing with myself to get out of bed and complete day 14 and this has inspired me too!!keep up your blogs(and your running)!'xx


Thanks for reading... feel free to leave me a message. Maggiee x