Monthly Archives: November 2012

On your shoulder

It’s been a while since my last post, but there’s been a lot going on. Weddings, new jobs, some freaky Norfolk weather which made me look outside and go URGH, NO!

I now write from my friend Jenny’s apartment in Pamplona, Spain. I arrived last night in order to spend the weekend and run the Behobia 20km. It’s like the Great North Run of Spain: a bit tough, super popular (25,000 runners) and finishes by the sea. The only thing it doesn’t do is raise a tonne of money for charity. They’re not accustomed to that here. The one thing it does do is finish in San Sebastián, gourmet central of Spain. If there’s anything that’s going to get me up those hills it’s the thought of fine Spanish wine, fantastic tapas and a dip in the water post-run. If I can get in that freezing lake after Day 1 of Cruce de los Andes, a cool-down in the bay of San Sebastián is going to be a breeze. And the wine, the wine will be waiting.

Anyway, Nando (Jen’s boyfriend) and I have just got back from a run along the river bordering Pamplona. This is the second time in two weeks that I have run with someone so I thought I better write about it; so used to running solo I now am.

Last week, I ran 8 windy, sunny, cloudy, muddy miles with Martín. Actually, that’s not quite right. He ran with me, which was a new experience. There he stayed, on my shoulder, 5 millimetres behind. Enough for us both to know it was my run, my pace, my route, my sprint, my ‘Come on!’ to get us up the hill in the wind. I was expecting a solid run, but fairly sedate and slow. I knew I was running faster with him on my shoulder. And him staying on my shoulder, lessening the pressure to keep up, but keeping up the pressure to stay at that pace helped. I finished stronger and quicker and felt a gratitude towards him becoming a runner that I never have before.

So, today it was with Nando, a very decent runner who  especially loves mountains, and Mario, a Cuban guy more at home pumping weights in the gym than using his legs to move him more than walking pace. I ranked somewhere in the middle. I needed a run; it had been just over a week and with Sunday’s run looming I also needed a buddy, someone on my shoulder. Nando is a pace specialist. After about 15 minutes he said, “We’re doing about 5-minute-10, 5-minute-12 seconds per kilometer.” How did he know that?! Anyway, it worked. It was good to have someone there, making me talk, being at my shoulder which means no going back, only forwards. It was a lovely 6-miler along the river and parks and am I looking forward to Sunday’s endeavours.

Running is a great way to get alone time, a space to think, to leave the pressures of the day behind. But running with someone on your shoulder can give you a certain amount of good pressure, a little push which gets you to the end.

And that can be one weight off your shoulders.