Many couples meet through running. Team Iffley Ambassador Steve Skinner, talks about how he met his partner Lorna through running and the joy they experience running together...
I have been with my partner Lorna for nearly three years now, we’ve trained, raced and explored together. We met through a social run club, as we spoke about race plans and personal bests I knew she was competitive and passionate about running.
Our “first date” included taking part in the Orion Forest Five trail race before a lovely brunch. This was quickly followed by another “date” where I paced Lorna around the Harry Hawkes 10-mile race. Having only run together a few times I wasn’t too sure what pace to run at, but we achieved a great time and I soon learnt what motivates Lorna. We were 400m from the finish line and a runner was just ahead of us, I said, “you can beat that club runner”. She didn’t reply but our pace was increasing, we ran straight past the other runner and through the finish line.
Running together we have learnt a lot about each other and we share the enjoyment whether we smash a PB on the road, take in stunning views while trail running… or eat some food in a tent midway through a 24-hour team relay.
Training for races together
Over the last few years, Lorna and I have taken part in a lot of races of varying distances. During the week we tend to run our own specific sessions, but we try to run together at least once or twice a week.
Often, we are both training for a marathon at the same time, so we always do the long runs together. It makes such a big difference having someone to talk to especially on those runs lasting over two hours. From experience, as I don’t follow a specific training plan, whenever I get tired I would be inclined to stop when running alone as opposed to with someone. You definitely work together to get a session done and offer words of encouragement, quite often; “think of how good the food/drink will be once we’ve finished”. To keep motivated we use our long runs to explore London and spend time with friends.
In recent months, Lorna has started working with a coach and I have been doing more research into various training methods, so we often share tips/advice. I feel as though we know each other well and support each other whether that is cooking a nutritious meal to aid recovery or prioritising sleep to make sure we’re feeling fresh for our next session or race.
Helping each other improve
Our running has improved a lot over the last few years. In the past, I have probably been guilty of doing too much and not looking after myself in terms of nutrition and sleep, Lorna has made sure I prioritise rest. Having paced Lorna in a few races I hope that I have helped her improve and push herself more. We ran the Paris Marathon together in 2016 and finished in 3:25, a new personal best for Lorna, which was even more impressive in the heat.
As we have different goals it isn’t very often that we race together. However, when we do it is a lot of fun and there is a greater satisfaction in finishing a race alongside Lorna. We help each other through the ups and downs of races. As I mentioned earlier, we ran the Paris Marathon in 2016, Lorna was racing to get a PB and as I had London a few weeks later I decided to wear a bag and carry nutrition/drinks to help her.
In 2016 we took on the Zagori Marathon in Greece. With the route taking us through incredibly technical terrain and including 2,500m of elevation gain it was a huge challenge for us. The views were stunning, it was a fun day out in the mountains. Unfortunately, living in London, we hadn’t done a huge amount of specific training (this is a massive understatement) but we made it round in 8 hours and 45 minutes. After the race we enjoyed relaxing on the beach, it was a great adventure.
Supporting each other
Towards the end of 2015, Lorna picked-up an injury, which meant she had to stop running for a few months. As we had signed up to races in Cologne it was frustrating that she couldn’t take part but with the Boston Marathon lined-up in 2016 she knew it was best to rest for a while. The injury made us both appreciate running more and it was nice to swim together and include strength and conditioning in our weekly schedules. As I was taking part in the Cologne Marathon and her brother and a friend was doing the Half Marathon, Lorna supported us. Having not done many long runs between the London Marathon and Cologne the plan was to take it easy and enjoy the event. It was great to see Lorna at regular intervals around the course, it breaks the race up mentally and gives you something to look forward to.
I think as we both run we are empathetic, we generally know what to say and how to help before and after races. For example, when I completed the London Marathon in 2016 I was freezing cold and my legs were really fatigued. Lorna got me into warm clothes straight away and knew I needed food quickly, some of my family members who had seen me look fine after half marathons were wondering why I looked so tired.
On a similar note, because we both run we understand the “need” to round up the distance or why we would want to squeeze in another 5k to hit a big weekly mileage. This makes us both adaptable, we manage our time well to ensure we fit our training in around work and socialising.
Enjoying running together
Being competitive with our running we have travelled lots over the last couple of years. Last year we took part in the Boston Marathon, explored places like Barcelona and Chamonix and Lorna ran the Lisbon Half Marathon, while I completed the Marathon.
I think Lorna and I have a very similar approach to running, we both enjoy being competitive and racing but on the other hand, we like to explore and see how far we can run. I’m really excited to see how fast and how far we can both run over the next few years and see where our running takes us.