I went out running with a friend this weekend. He's one of the most optimistic people that I know, and he told me that he was planning on running the full Robin Hood marathon in September. He's a casual runner, but he's got a baby daughter who is only a few months old and he's not been able to get out much recently. So he's decided he's going to run a marathon. After all, how hard can it be?
He asked if I'd help him and talk to him about a training programme. Of course. He told me that he'd run a little over 10 miles the week before, so I suggested that we head out for a run together on Sunday. As she's been in Romania most of the week, C. asked if she could come with us. She brought her headphones with her in case we ran too fast and left her on her own. Fine.
It was ok for the first six miles. We weren't going especially fast, but we were running at a steady pace. It was a lovely day. It was nice. And then I noticed that we were slowing down as my friend started to drop off the back. From about mile 6 to mile 8, we got slower and slower and slower until we were basically shuffling along at about 13 minutes per mile. It would have literally been quicker to walk. At this point, C began running ahead of us and then running back, or stopping for a while and then running to catch us up again. My friend seemed oblivious. He was chatting away about how he felt like he could run at this pace forever.
This pace? The one where we're BARELY MOVING? Great.
He's got time to train, but I honestly don't think he has a realistic concept of either how far 26.2 miles really is, or quite how much work he's going to have to put in to get into the shape he's going to need to be in to get around.
Still. We did 12 miles together and it was a beautiful day.
At one point, with a mile or so to go before we finally stopped and with my friend lagging behind again, my wife turned to me:
"You're a saint. Do you know that?"
I was a touch confused. "Why do you say that?"
"Because it's really, really hard to run more slowly than your natural pace, isn't it?"
"Yes it really is. This pace is between gears and it just seems so much harder to run at this speed. I suddenly have a new found appreciation of what it meant for you to run the marathon with me last year."
Naturally, I said nothing and just smiled.
I KNEW SHE DIDN'T KNOW HOW BLOODY HARD IT WAS! I KNEW IT!
One of my colleagues was saying today how he was thinking of running a marathon with his wife. His half marathon PB is about 1:40 and hers is about 2:10 and he was asking me about how we managed it when we ran at such different speeds. I told him that I absolutely loved spending all that time training with my wife and sharing the experience of the race with her, but that it was really bloody hard. Physically, it is really hard to run at a pace that isn't your own. In some ways, it was much easier to run 40 minutes faster on my own this year than to run all that was at a pace that was awkward for me. I crossed the finish line in 2015 knowing that I needed to run the race again on my own.
It was funny (and also kind of nice) that it took an interminably slow 12 mile, 145 minute plod for her to realise that. Better late than never.... although I think that what she hasn't realised yet is that, if I had taken to running ahead and then running back to her as she trotted along, as she was doing on Sunday, then she probably would have killed me. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. I asked my friend if he fancied a run, and I wasn't about to start complaining about how quickly - or not - he was doing it.
".... but I was never this slow, right?"
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