by Kara Goucher | Apr 07, 2010 |
Imagine being a basketball player and getting to shoot hoops with LeBron James every day for three months. Or being a cyclist and training alongside Lance Armstrong daily for 12 weeks. That’s the sort of experience I just had, except I’m a runner, of course, and I just had the opportunity to train with Paula Radcliffe seven days a week for three months.
At first I didn’t want to. When I learned that Paula was coming to Portland to train for a while, and that she was specifically interested in having me be her training partner, I started to freak out a little. I was sure she would completely destroy me. I was worried that I would always be holding her back. But I couldn’t really turn down the chance to rub shoulders with one of my biggest heroes in the sport, and I’m glad I didn’t. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a runner and I’ve gained an amazing friend.
First of all, I was able to keep up with Paula (although neither of us was in a period of very intensive training), so that was good for my confidence. But more than that, it was great for me to learn what a normal person she is. I consider myself a pretty normal person too. The only unusual thing about me is that I am determined to be one of the best runners in the world. So to see that the best female marathon runner in history likes to talk about things other than running, likes to eat some of the same normal foods I like to eat, and so forth was pretty encouraging.
I also learned that there is no magic potion. I’m doing all the right stuff. Paula is good because she does the hard work, takes the time to rest, and never cuts corners. That’s what it takes to be the best in the world: hard work day in and day out.
Paula left for home last Wednesday, and when she did I cried like a baby. I had so much fun with her and I was so sad to see her leave. I did my next run completely alone (my normal running buddy, Amy Yoder-Begley, is away in Albuquerque), and it was a total drag. But Paula and I have plans to meet and train together again, and more seriously next time. I can’t wait!