Earlier this year I wrote about a great run I did down in Newquay, making my way along the spectacular cliff tops between the town centre and Watergate Bay. Like most of my runs it was an early morning job, making the most of the peaceful surroundings and fantastic sunrise. Also, like all of my others, I did it on my own.
When I was younger I used to do loads of team sports: pretty much every weekend was taken up playing rugby, football, hockey, cricket and the like, and I always loved that team spirit that helps bring out the best in you. But as I got older, I gravitated towards more solo sports like swimming and running, with the pinnacle of these being long distance triathlons, were even those where there are loads of other competitors, you will always find yourself alone at some point, often for long periods of time. None more so for me than the Avenger, where I must have ridden for the best part of an hour towards the end of the bike leg without seeing a soul!
Although I have recently got into exercise class training such as the Les Mills stuff, most if not all of my triathlon training has always been done on my own, whether outdoor swimming (there is nothing better than having the pool to ones self!) or getting my head down on the bike or run, with headphones to drown out any distractions.
But on visiting Cornwall for the second time this year, further along the coast in St Ives, I had a different offer: my brother-in-law asked if I wanted to go for a run with him. Now Matt is what I see as a ‘proper’ runner, who has completed a number of marathons over the years, and is definitely a lot faster than me. This immediately made me slightly nervous that I would be left behind, despite his protestations that he was out of practice having spent the past two years up at all hours of the night with his baby daughter!
On a side note, this is one of the main reasons I like triathlon, as I am fully aware I am not the world’s best swimmer, rider or runner, and there are plenty of specialists around who could kick me ass around the track or pool in their sleep; however, there are fewer folk who like doing do all three in a row which tends to help me out in races. But I digress…
We agreed to go for an early run the next morning, for me a relatively early 8am (I was on holiday!) although Matt had of course been up for hours (not so much out of choice!). Like my last run down here, our route of choice was the South West Coastal Path, although we were about 30 miles further west than before.
Fortunately it was just as beautiful in this part of the world, and we had a fantastic run, following the train line along the estuary, taking in lovely views of Lelant & Carbis Bay beaches, eventually reaching St Ives itself. It was what trail runners would probably call a ‘technical’ course – an off-road route designed more for hiking than running, with some overgrown parts and a lot of steps – but we were more than up to the added challenge.
One reason I had always been a bit nervous about running with someone else is now being able to run at my own pace (and not listening to music, but actually it was nice to just have the natural sounds in the background) but I soon realised that was fine. At points Matt did start to disappear into the distance, but he was a great running buddy, having done this a lot more than I, and at points casually slowed down without making a fuss to let me catch up, without making a big deal of it. To be fair I held my own pretty well, and I realised it was actually less me slowing down Matt as him motivating me to run faster and longer!
We reached the halfway point of St Ives station in good shape, so rather than retrace out steps back we decided on an alternate route back along the main road, which turned out to be a bit of a killer. After our tricky off-road path into town, this was a pavement job, but with a good 2 km of steady climbing on the way out-of-town. Again it was good to see we were both up to it – although it was not easy – and it did come with the old benefit that what goes up must come down, meaning the final part of our run was a nice gentle slope back to our starting point.
All in all we managed just over 11 km in not much more than an hour, which was a fantastic time for me, and it was here I realised how beneficial it is to be able to run with someone. Yes, you might feel bad about making them stop occasionally, but in the long-term you with both spur each other on and end up achieving more as a team than you would individually. Certainly food for thought for future training sessions, and thanks again Matt!