Helping a friend to PB

Last week, I had a text from an old friend I haven’t seen for months. The text read “Hi mate, running my 2nd Parkrun this Saturday (yesterday). Is 34 minutes to slow for you?”

After months of no contact, my first thought was, I am ok thanks for asking! my second thought was, yes it’s very slow for me …..  I think you can tell I was more annoyed he hadn’t been in touch for so long, but then I was glad he finally did and the bonus was he was talking running! Now, this friend is very unfit and recently decided to get fit, which is great, and wants me to help him on the way.

So, yesterday arrived, 9am Parkrun at the ready, we met there in time for a catch up and talk race tactics. The last time he ran, 34mins was his time, with now a target of sub30. So off we went …..

Southampton Parkrun is a two lap course before coming home to the finish line, and you could say it’s a challenging course as it goes uphill for roughly a third of the course. During the first km, we were going at a talking pace but I could see talking wasn’t helping him at all, so I told him to “shut up and run”! Mid 2km, it starts going up, probably with a 5% incline, no more, and maybe less, but it’s a long incline. This is where he started to suffer. “slow right down, but do not stop running” I said. What did he do ….. started walking! Ah man! Bless him, he was suffering but was trying hard which was the main thing and made me determined to help him even more.

Km 3 was pretty much downhill, and it was nice to see him actually enjoying it and his running technique was then relaxed and was using his arms well. Now ….. round two of the hill before the straight downhill 500 meters to the finish line. This is where I made sure he wasn’t going to walk again (mean maybe but I knew he would thank me later), and he didn’t. He slowed right down all the way up but didn’t walk, and I was chuffed for him. Nearly there! Now the downhill to the finish line! I started increasing my pace, and without saying anything, he followed me, pushed himself and ran his fastest km of the day.

Finish time = 31mins

Target not reached but nonetheless a 3mins PB. Although he was pretty annoyed that I didn’t have one bit of sweat! He should be proud ….. this is the man who doesn’t exercise much, but wants to make a difference, get fit and enjoy it. It has to start somewhere right? We’ve all been there. It might have been a 5k but to him it was a challenge. He now wants to come back next week! BRILLIANT!

It’s amazing what running can do. In this instance, it has brought two mates back in contact and I loved the experience of helping him round the course to a PB.

Until next time….