Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Training Partners

It’s funny how you go through training partners. I’m not talking about group running (which I’ve blogged about previously), where we all meet on a Saturday and do XX distance and you end up running with someone because they are the same pace as you. I am talking about the training partner which you semi regularly run with. I can tell you from experience that some people are better suited my “style” than others. 
When Jason and I first started to run together in January 09, we shared a number of similarities. We work in the same profession, we have the same degree, we listen to the same music etc. So when we ran, it was like there was an instant connection. We really gelled and from our first run and from there our friendship grew. Our personalities are also pretty similar; we are “all or nothing” type trainers, which for rookies is a recipe for disaster.
 At the start our paces were similar but Jason just kept improving, so by the start of last year, my “hard” runs became his recovery runs. Our marathon PB’s are separated by 31 minutes! By that stage we just didn’t run too much together, but the miles we did run were awesome.
When you run with a regular buddy you learn a lot about what makes them tick, what motivates them, what drives them to be out logging the miles. You learn about their partner or family and how they fit it all in. With Jason I learnt about Type 1 Diabetes and saw firsthand how hard it is to do endurance sports with it.  Over the running years we also shared a lot, it seems like yesterday when Jason’s shin “snapped” – his shin pain was so bad that he couldn’t run any longer, or walk. You have the good with the bad you share positive moments like when Jason and Vik got engaged and not so positive when Bel’s dad passed away suddenly.
The other thing is that you share in their success and failure. Massive PB’s at the Brisbane Marathon last year were so great, because we both did well on the same day. Sharing that moment is very satisfying.
Over the past 31 weeks during my TNF training I have also run with a few people, mainly for long runs to break it up. Most of them have been great and selfishly have suited my needs more than theirs.
Some of them haven’t worked, so I will start with those first.
Paul – Running with Paul always feels like you are running with an Olympian. Paul is so super nice and has asked me to run a couple of times down the beach, but honestly I get nervous about running with him and Alice. They are so much faster than I am, and it is so hard for me to talk and keep up. Plus I always feel like I have ruined their session. I know that is dumb, but I feel like I am the running retard. The other difficult thing about running with Paul is that he lives in Yeppoon, logistically it is super hard as I am a morning runner that means I lose an hour getting to the beach and back. Maybe one day if I get good enough, I will be able to run with them both a bit more.
Nev – Nev is great for a laugh and at various times provided me with a good measuring stick for my progress. I call Nev the “Anti Masters Athlete” – every piece of guidance Pete would say about nutrition, hydration and training Nev would be doing the opposite. We did a 30k trail run one Saturday morning in 35 degree heat, Nev brought nothing. Not a gel, no water, nothing. He ran with no hat, or shirt in his Dunlop KT-26ers. I couldn’t believe it. I was sure he was going to die. BUT he made it back with some generous help from Benny, who gave him some water and a gel. Nev is great for a laugh, but I couldn’t train with someone so opposite to me! I am a planner, I need to be sufficiently prepared for the long run!
Dean – A couple of weekends ago I ran with dean and it was an eye opener and really is the catalyst for this blog! Dean is 20+ Ironman finisher, accomplished runner and tough as nails trainer. Last week Rodney and I were running with him for a couple of hours and I realised he just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but to me Dean just came across as too negative. I don’t mind bagging the shit out of someone if justified, but Dean pretty much just was negative about everything. He was dismissive of The North Face, saying he is doing it as a “training run” and saying that I will be crushed and walking up hills backwards. When I really think about it though, the main difference has been our alternate lives. I am married, 2 young sons, work full time and have HRE on the side. Dean works part time, trains full time and lives at home with his parents. Besides events, there was little that we had in common. I know I am guilty of putting the shutters up on someone because I don’t understand them, maybe I could work harder at getting to know him but as training partner Dean’s off the list.
For the positives there have been 3 major training partners who have shared the load the past 30 odd weeks. These are my “Jason Replacements”! Seriously though, without them I simply would not have improved as quickly as I have.
Rodney – I have known Rodney for ages from the gym, where we both “worked our pecs and delts”, I knew we had sons around the same age but that was about it. When he won the 5km at the Spring Classic we touched base via Facebook and started to run together. Rodney was just keen to do a bit of trail running, get out of Gracemere and do a few longer runs to prepare for his half Ironman this year.
As it turns out, he is a gun runner, and went from the longest run being 21km to finishing top 10 for the 54km Hares and Hounds! I couldn’t believe it! It was great to share his success, and although I had a shit day it was so awesome to see him progress from struggling to do 10k of trail to smashing 54k! We have a similar pace, although he pushes himself a bit harder than I do, so in training he makes me “work” a bit more, which is good. Our lives are also pretty similar, young kids, mortgage, work etc. We are both so proud of our kids that we can spend hours just talking about the crap they do or say. It is great. When he snapped his arm recently it was tough, I was worried that he might drop off the face of the earth (which you normally do when you are injured). No he kept training. It was inspiring to see him keep running with his arm in a cast! He is as tough as they come!

Pete – Running with Pete is like playing backyard cricket with Ricky Ponting. Initially I expected it to be done at an insanely fast pace (which it never is), I also expected Pete to know all the answers. Pete never comes across as the guru, never makes you feel like your methods or knowledge are inadequate. His advice is always from the point of view that “experience is the best teacher”, you need to try things out for yourself, experience it, learn from your own successes and failures. An Australian Age Group Ironman Champion – Pete is extremely modest. He never talks up his achievements, always trying to keep a lid on it. Pete has been so generous with his time, and advice, my current improvements are a direct result of his expertise.   
Benny – Benny has been my main source of info for my The North Face trip. He ran last year’s event, so has been 1000 times better than trying to find out from online forums. Ben has been running Ultras for the last couple of years and so has given me invaluable guidance with the training which I would need to be doing. He has been so super honest and where I am making improvements he is giving me feedback which really spurs me on. As a wannabe Ultra runner I had a million questions for him in the beginning, shoes, bag choice, fuel etc. It has been great to bounce ideas off someone and get direct honest feedback regarding your progress. Yesterday morning for example I was asking about the mandatory gear check-in, what the process was, how long it takes etc.
Ben’s son and my eldest are at school together so we have heaps to talk about, similar to Rodney some runs we just crap on about our kids. Other times it is about the races and places we want to go, and the planning and logistics of how to get there. I have a great respect for the racing he has done, he is super modest and as a Hawaii Ironman finisher, he has been there and done the work. He has had his ups and downs with ultra’s and I am very lucky to have him as a Jedi Master guiding me through this journey. The more running we do, the closer the connection. Like with Jason once connected I share the ups and downs of Ben’s racing.

There are of course some honourable mentions, including Leah for her awesomeness in getting me to a sub 3.50 marathon last Friday night and Jen who I have run with a couple of times, Jen provides me with a kick in the arse if I take it too easy! Both ladies are much better marathoners than I am and are a great source of inspiration!
Running buddies provide that fuel on slack days to get you out the door and committed, if you plan it right and run with someone a little better you can push yourself that bit harder than you normally would on a run by yourself. I owe a lot of my improvements to them.

No comments:

Post a Comment