I love running, you know I do, but I’ve been finding the long runs during our training for the Yorkshire Marathon quite taxing. Not the running itself particularly. That can be tough at times but, hey, I’ve read Chi Running so I’m good at being Zen about it. I know it’s temporary and can zone in on that and remember that I’ll soon be home with my feet up. Om, om etc.
I’ll admit to struggling though. Without race day crowds, bands playing and little kids to high five, I’ve been mentally thumb-twiddling. Not bored exactly, but not scintillated either. It’s easy to get friends to run up to about 10 miles but beyond that, for obvious reasons, there’s not much that will persuade even the best of buddies to get their trainers on. I recently did 18 miles by the Leeds-Liverpool canal. It was perfect running weather, the scenery was pretty and it’s a fabulous, traffic-free trail. I listened to 2 episodes of Marathon Talk, 3 Spanish podcasts and part of Locomotive, our A Man Called Adam running mix. Even with all this entertainment, by the end I was thinking ‘Blimey, am I still running?!’
What I need is some company, I thought, which is how I came to do my long run last Sunday with White Rose Runners. Brought together by personal trainer Babs Shiells, the WRRs are a group of women all new to marathon running, all running for charity. Babs has trained them from scratch, supporting and encouraging them all the way. Not that she would say this; they inspire her, she says, not the other way round. She deserves plenty of credit – she’s a mine of useful training information and a well of positivity – but I do see where she’s coming from. The women are incredible. Read their ‘About us’ bios on their website and I guarantee you’ll sponsor at least one of them.
They have Harry Gration training with them too, a BBC Look North presenter and resolute Yorkshireman. I have no idea how he ended up being an honorary White Rose lady but he seems to be enjoying it. Or maybe he’s just being Yorkshire and saying nowt…
The 22 mile run we did on Sunday was the longest any of the group had ever ran. Babs had covered all eventualities though. Having mapped the route, she’d driven it and put buckets of water, sports drinks and gels at key stages. She and her daughter, Jess, had also planted arrows along the way so that people like me – I didn’t have a clue where I was! – knew where to go. As the runners set off, they clustered into smaller groups, keeping a steady conversational pace to take their minds off the miles ahead. It was a gorgeous, flat route through the countryside around York, which bodes well for a scenic marathon, and Babs drove it several times to make sure everyone was OK.
Back at Bab’s afterwards, there were mats out for stretching in the sunshine, plus (bonus!) tea and cake. When everyone was safely home, she gave some pacing tips and yet more encouragement. I have to say it was absolutely brilliant, exactly what I needed to motivate me for the final push towards the marathon finish line. If you’re flagging and a bit fed up of your training, I’d thoroughly recommend finding some fun buddies like this; even one long run with them completely shifted my perspective. I’m raring to go now. And addicted to lemon drizzle cake.