Can you remember where you were when you first saw Rocky? Not the one with Mr T, not Dolph Lundgren but the first Rocky, the one where he punches the meat in his mate’s freezer.
Two things about that film, which I watched on Guy Groves’ snazzy new Betamax, stand out for me. The Rocky Steps music, which always plays through my head at miles 12 and 16 on the Southside Six, and Mickey, the coach, played by Burgess Meredith.
Every runner could benefit from a Mickey. A coach who’s been there, done that and got a multitude of race t-shirts. Someone who, with a nod here, a wink there, and a bit of sage advice can just lift your training and draw out that extra 10 per cent you didn’t know was there.
At Giffnock North we have our own Mickey, but he’s called Bernie. Let me give you an example.
This afternoon I ran 25.05 miles (one short of a marathon) on an undulating route starting and finishing at Mearns Asda, taking in Uplawmoor, Dunlop, Stewarton and Eaglesham. It’s my longest training run and my last with a Giffnock North clubmate I’ve been doing my long runs with. He’s doing Manchester in four weeks, one week before The London.
We were pleased with the time @ 7.33 pace in 3:09, 1410 feet height gain. Very good you might think, the sort of detail only committed runners find of interest.
But what really marked this slog out was the third member of our party, Giffnock North coach Bernie Campbell, who had not only shared his secret training route with us (anything under 3:15 and you’re guaranteed a sub-3 apparently) but also joined us, every step of the way. Coach Bernie gave up his entire afternoon guiding us along the route, stopping in his car every mile to hand out gels, isotonic drinks, water, encouragement…and Minstrels.
As a result, Jason Steele and I had the chance to accurately check out our marathon fuelling strategies, nailed a difficult run which has loomed large for the past few weeks and got a real fillip and sense of belief in the possibility of achieving what for both of us will be our first sub-3 marathon.
Amazing really, it’s not as if we’re elite athletes, just a couple of decent runners trying to achieve a personal goal.
So, thanks to all the Mickeys/Bernies out there, people who give up their time, selflessly, to let athletes in Scotland of all ages get the most out of themselves.