Text messages have been exchanged, the route is set, so is the time to meet. You head out the door looking forward to getting some quality training with a group. Good conversation and shared workload allow the miles to tick by.
You arrive at the meeting location and only one other car is present. Everyone else has bailed due to the chilly air and steady rain. Looks like its just going to be you and Fast Eddy today. Your quality group run has just taken an ominous turn. Fast Eddy is faster then you, much faster (Fast Eddy is a generic name for any training partner who loves to push the pace, every runner knows someone who is Fast Eddy).
In truth, on most runs I am Fast Eddy, I’m the faster runner. There are many a run in which I chatter nonstop, discussing the weather, current events, life’s problems, current training (b/c all runners love to talk miles); its a general stream of conscienceness. My running partner for the day nods occasionally but otherwise is largely silent. They are working, air is a precious commodity that can’t be wasted on verbal pleasure. Inevitably, I find myself a few steps ahead, accidentally ruining our friendly dynamic. As the quicker runner, its my job to get things under control soon, or this run is no longer going to be friendly, and my running partner will soon be an ex-running partner.
Sadly, as I slowly drift back, my slower friend offers up these words, “its okay, just go ahead.” Now I’ve abused my power and messed up the entire friendly dynamic, I’ve gone to fast, and now by obviously slowing down, I’m showing pity. No one like to receive pity.
On this run, my Fast Eddy didn’t show me pity, and I was to stubborn to ask. The route started and finished at Oregon Dairy. Its a hilly 11 miler, with the option of adding the beastly Log Cabin hill, if you’re still feeling fresh, and making the run a nice and neat 14 miles. We planned on doing the 11 miler but agreed to consider adding on if we felt good. I knew right off, one of us would feel good, and the other would not, adding on would not be my choice this day.
We all train at different paces, and what seems fast for some runners is rather easy for others; but almost all runners start with a slightly easier pace before getting faster as the workout progresses. These first couple miles are called the warm-up. So you can imagine my alarm, when we left the parking lot at a brisk 6:15 pace, this was most definitely not my warm-up speed. Fast Eddy began to chat, I pretended to listen while actually calculating my chances for survival.
They were not good.
Luckily, at some point I manged to coolly slip into the conversation that I though the pace was good, maybe a bit quick, but good. I did this before he accelerated, post warm-up, and also prior to his asking how I felt. Thus I avoided acceleration, and pity. Apparently some oxygen was still reaching my brain, maybe I’d be okay after all.
We continued up one hill and down another, the pace a metronome like 6:15 -6:20. The only good news was that the miles were accumulating quickly, my agony was intense, but the duration would be modified.
To no ones surprise, Fast Eddy felt good, so we elected for the long route. I practiced my listening skills and attempted to find ways to interject thoughtful comments using 3 words or less. Occasionally, I opted for hand motions, as all my oxygen was in use.
On a positive note, the effort kept me warm.
I was hurting. My muscles ached, and I was requiring greater and greater amounts of mental energy to hold the pace. At times I would fall a step or two behind only to grind my way back. If you can’t appreciate the effort required to close down a two stride gap then you have yet to push yourself to your limits. And yet, we were quickly approaching the finish, I knew the roads and we were almost there. Confused, I glanced at my watch only to see about 90 minutes or so had passed, that couldn’t be right? But it was – we ran that day!
Finally, within the last mile, I lost my edge. He surged ahead to finish strong, while I allowed the accumulated fatigue to pile on slowing me to a stagger.
We lingered at the cars for only a bit as the damp chill from the rain quickly cooled our warm bodies. “Nice run today,” I wearily offered as I headed to the car. “You too,” he said, “you can really hang on.”
Here are a few tips for running with someone faster then you.
- Run with faster people – it makes you faster
- Establish the pace pre-workout
- Let them know you’ll hang on as long as you can, but you’ll need to slow eventually
- If in a group, simply split into smaller groups and meet up again post run
- Lock your eyes onto their heels and don’t let go
- If you are the slower runner and start out too fast, expect the pace to stay there as you are rightfully punished for your foolish ambition