Tuesday’s workout revealed that everything is going well early in my 14-week marathon preparation. My leg speed is adequate so the focus now is stepping up the total running volume. This means slightly longer workouts in my long runs on Wednesday and Sunday. Wednesday is the tricky one given that it’s a working week and it usually means an early start. Thankfully in recent weeks I have been invited to meet one of the athletes I coach, Bridey Delaney and husband Ben Toomey at a mutually agreeable location and punch out the best part of an hour together. Bridey is usually the one pushing the pace, obviously a morning person, while Ben and I struggle.
Whilst it’s a struggle for me to get ready for such and early start I am thankful on such days that I have company as it gets me out the door in time to cover the distance I need to run. In short, I place a high value on the training partners I have and have had in the past and similarly I hope my attendance has in turn assisted them.
A major reason for my success in the 2015 Berlin Marathon was due to the excellent training partner I had in Vlad Shatrov. In November 2014 during a group training run we were knocking around ideas of what marathons would be cool to do. I mentioned Berlin because it was clearly the fastest course in the world and two days after my 40th birthday in 2015. I remember Vlad’s response clearly;
â€œYes, let’s do that!â€
The idea was nice in my mind but I didn’t think I could possible score the ’leave pass’ from home to make it happen. It seems completely self-indulgent and I was sure it could not work for my family.
Time passed and in February 2015 Vlad was fresh from a 2:20 marathon in Tokyo and declared he was close to booking flights for Berlin and that he and Cheryl (Shatrov) would both be going. The idea sounded wildly out of reach for me but history says that my family gifted me with the opportunity and I indeed ran Berlin and had the wonderful company of Vlad and Cheryl while I was there. More’s to the point, I had the company of Vlad in the race itself. We ran a good way together and Vlad finished in a new best time and Olympic Qualifier.
The success of both Vlad and I at Berlin was the culmination of months working together towards a common goal. We did all the important marathon sessions together including the 25km Wednesday long run starting in the dark. Vlad is like clockwork in terms of punctuality and never needed a lazy 6minute opening km. I was forced to run a bit quicker during these runs than what I felt was comfortable but the challenge was just what I needed, similarly on a Sunday long run where I am a bit too much in the ’relax’ mode at times. We did much of our speed workouts together along with two or three ’monster workouts’ which are a combination of a long run and a speed session. Such workouts are not nearly as achievable when tackled alone.
So all that to say that I appreciate everyone who has trained with me over the past 20+ years. While the life of a long distance runner is a lonely one, I have found more friends on this road than I ever thought possible. There is indeed something special in the relationships that form, â€œwhile running to a common beat.â€