Guildford 9bar9x9 and pacing Kate for the last 25 (ish) miles on the Centurion Autumn 100. Doesn’t sound like much does it? These two events were not run for myself but had me helping and managing another runner. I urge everyone who runs to pace/help another runner. Not just for the sheer enjoyment value of getting out there and helping a fellow runner but to see the brutal internal war going on within all of us.
Helping a slow runner
I’ve heard so many excuses to leave someone behind. I’ve been one of those people telling, no urging, them to just run their own race and leave me to it. I’ll be fine plodding along at the back. Enjoying the views at a leisurely pace. Yes…. That suits me perfectly fine. For a slow runner having someone who looks as fresh as a daisy bobbing along next to me can be incredibly infuriating but being polite there’s no way I’m going to rant at them to just look a bit tired, shuffle your feet or something, groan, complain about your tired feet!!!! SOMETHING!!!! Or just run your own race….. not irritate me with your superb fitness and athleticism!!! ARGH!!
Yes – I do have that irrational tirade whirling around my mind creating all kinds of negative scenarios. However, I’ve learnt to tell that side of me to just sit in the corner and wait for me to come back from my run. There will be companionship, laughter, memories, distractions a plenty. I just have to LET SOMEONE HELP ME!!
Sound familiar? I can’t be the only person out there having a complete internal conversation with myself !!
At Guildford 9bar9x9 I was helping a fellow slow runner. It was tough. Tough for me but I’ve had loads more training for tough. This runner had not. Not long after starting the negativity started creeping in. I could hear the muttering. The reasons for me to carry on and do my own thing. The burden of slowing me down just for them. I’d heard it all before…… from me!! There were times I was tempted to run my own race, yes. There were times I wanted to run/stomp to the top of the hill and wait there, yes. There were times when walking would have been faster than bobbing along next to the person I was helping but I knew from my own experience that it’s infuriating to see someone walk at the same speed I’m RUNNING!!! There’s no answer to the infuriating nonsense that rolls around a slow runners head. However – having a good rant about stupid rocks/hills/sunshine/fog/rain/feet/shoes/socks/clothes – ANYTHING is a much better distraction and that’s what we did for as long as we could. Eventually I made the call to quit. Plus, because it was my call to quit I would also stop. My decision would affect both of us which made it fair. So for all those people who’ve run with me whilst I’ve been slow and stayed with me through all that negativity pouring from my slow running self. I thank you sincerely for sticking with me.
Autumn 100 – The last 25 (ish) miles.
To someone looking at those prime athletes complete a 100 mile event it would look like there’s a huge difference between the slow runner and those runners who are on their last ounce of energy, dragging themselves around that last bit of the course. 100 miles is something I’ve not attempted yet and having helped Kate over the last section twice now I’m really not sure I even WANT to try!! I have no words to describe the sheer awe of how these people manage to push themselves to such limits. There is one similarity though – the slow runner negativity! The pain and world weary look is completely different!! Kate came into the aid station ready for me to take over pacing for the last 25 miles and she looked wrecked. Sorry Kate – you really did look like quitting right there would be bliss. How the hell could I push this woman to her limits, to keep her moving, to support her and just be there for her when I have NO IDEA of the pain she is managing????? By dealing with the same negativity us slow runners have. That evil little voice in your head that says – just stop, slow down, THE PAIN is too much, there’s NO GOOD reason to be doing this……… Distraction works best but it all depends on how awake or mentally aware the runner is. Night time Kate was in zombieland. Moving but not quite aware. So the stats were being calculated – time, pace. Do you know how hard it is for me to do math on the run!! Then when the awareness returns the reasons for doing that mental distance. The fact that distance has been done before. Pain? It’s already there – how much worse can it get? And yes….. I may be as fresh as a daisy but that’s what I was there for!! To be that irritating fresh runner, bobbing along beside you, waking you up and getting you moving. The fact that I turned into the slow runner and Kate’s speed increased on the return journey to the finish line was probably to get away from me! I consider that a job well done haha!!
For all you slow runners out there – yes that negative voice will still be with you, no matter what distance your running. Can you remember your first mile? The first time you got out there to start running. The struggle, the torment, the pain, the determination to get through that first mile. It’s just the same as the last mile. The distance and fitness will increase over time but one thing remains the same. That negative voice that tries it’s hardest to keep you sat on the couch. That negative voice is there for a reason, survival. Listen to that negative voice and give it a good strong answer to each reason it tells you to quit! Your feet hurt too much, you’ve got blisters, that feels broken so you’ll have to stop now…… Yes my feet hurt but not enough to stop. Could be a blister but it doesn’t feel hot enough so I’ll wait till the next checkpoint to check my feet, thanks. Broken? No, that’s not broken. Just a bit bruised. I’ll give my feet a good massage afterwards to work out the bruising. Thanks again.
Think of that negative voice as constructive criticism on the efficiency of your body. It wants to keep everything just right. No pain, no strains, no breaks, no tears. So if you’ve got good answers to all those negative thoughts you’ll easily keep moving.
Good luck out there – YOU CAN DO IT!!