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Running is not a team sport…by Helen Elmore.

Accelerate Supported Athlete and Dark Peak Fell Runner Helen Elmore shares her thoughts on how you might breath new life into your running – once you’ve ‘found yourself’ so to speak:

(Thanks Helen)

Running is not a team sport.

A lot of people seem to drift into running through a dislike of team sports.  Having seen the standard of some of the UK’s top fell runners while playing Rounders at Debs and Stu’s recent wedding I can see why! (not mentioning any names, oh well, Stuart Bond). The individual nature of our sport appeals to many off road runners, but if you feel in a bit of a rut with your running, overcome your anti-social loneliness of the long distance runner tendency and get involved in a team event. There are lots of relay events in the off road running calendar from low key local events like the Sheffield Way relay or the Round Rotherham relay to the more prestigious national events like the FRA relays or the Ian Hodgeson Mountain relay.

My regular relay partner is Nicky Spinks holder of the Bob Graham record, the Lake District 24 hour record and the Paddy Buckley record. We are really good mates and love running together, but our strengths are really different. I am good on the flat and runnable hills whilst Nicky is one of the very best climbers and descenders in the mountains, so on the initial track section at the Ian Hodgeson I was feeling great whilst Nicky was huffing and puffing. She soon got her revenge as the hill became too steep to run up and so Nicky was race walking with her customary smooth rhythm whilst my little legs were doing a strange combination of race walk and a few little running bursts as she pulled away. Things got worse as the clag came down and the rocks got slippy. I chased Nicky down the hill with the Ikley Harrier girls closely following in the mist. My hamstring and ankle were really hurting and in any other race I might have given up but I was running for Dark Peak not just for me! Three other pairs of girls had run their hearts out, those Ikley girls were not going to overtake us. And they didn’t!

Me on the left, with Nicky on the right at the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay 2013.

Me on the left, with Nicky on the right at the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay 2013.


At last the race field came into sight and we hit the track and then the road I was feeling comfortable again. Running in a pair helps me analysis my weakness, learn from other runners and also find new levels of motivation in a season where I have struggled with injury, so if you are losing your running mojo team up with someone either in an event like a mini mountain marathon (try or if you are in a running club let your club captain know you are available for upcoming events. Don’t worry if don’t think you are fast enough as a Ladies Captain I would always rely on solid runners who I know will always turn out for their club rather than a glass legged super star!

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