The Front Runner


Another military dit for you.
When I first wanted to become a APTI (Army Physical Training Instructor) I didn’t really feel that I was fit enough.  For our entrance test in becoming an APTI we had to perform a set amount of Pushups and Situps followed by a 2.4km run in under 9mins 30secs.  My current best was 9min 45secs. Which, as most will know is no where near enough to be able to pass an entrance test.  You see, when we went through our selection phase there were only 30 spaces on the course with applications of upto 80 attendees, which meant that even if you did make the grade you could be dismissed because of numbers.  So, I figured that to be in with a chance I needed to run a sub 9.15.
The problem was that I really didn’t feel I could go any faster, I was running regularly and trained everyday but still couldn’t seem to break the 9.30 mark.  My sit-ups and especially my pushups were getting MUCH stronger, to the point were I was told I would probably need to slow down as I may get pinged for showing off and having a load of them discounted!  But my run time had no change.  For all the training that I was doing, I couldn’t for the life of me do it on my own. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
I decided that I needed some help and told one of the APTI’s my dilemma.  He listened to what I had to say and then, (with a smirk on his face) answered by telling me that I could run 2.4km in under 9.30 right now if I wanted to.  I wasn’t sure what to say and was a little baffled at the time, but he challenged me to meet him outside at the start point of the 2.4km route that we had on camp first thing in the morning, where he promised that all I had to do was keep with his pace and I would run a sub 9.30 2.4km.
The next morning came and I met him out on the start point in my running kit, ready to go.  He looked at me and said “just keep with me and you’ll run a 9.30. Ready? GO!”.  We set off at steady pace.  Not a problem I thought, I can keep this going, after all I’d been training and I was pretty fit.  So we kept running at this steady pace up until around the half way point, I was still feeling quite strong at this stage so I decided to push the pace a little faster. To which the PTI matched my pace with ease and we both maintained this increased pace right up until the final straight, the last 400m of the course.
At this point I felt my lungs starting to tighten up and my smooth steady pace was becoming more like a gallop than a run! I slowly started to fade backwards and the PTI seemed to glide ahead of me by a meter, then by 2, then by 3, 5, 10 meters ahead. My running was still the same but he was way ahead now! I couldn’t believe it, in my mind I was thinking “he’s running a 9.30 pace, I MUST keep up”. So I made the decision to accelerate, even just a little more. At this point there was no chance I was going to catch him, I thought, but I didn’t want to be embarrassingly far behind and I certainly couldn’t afford to slow down right now. So with everything I had I upped my pace, my front runner and the guy who was supposed to be helping me, was over 100m ahead! He had bolted around the last corner and cross the finish line and was stood there with his stopwatch in hand waiting for me to drag my sorry excuse for a run across the line.
My jelly legs, my pumping arms and my weezing lungs cross the finish line in disappointment with my ability to keep up, but also knowing that I had given it everything I had. I looked over with embarrassment at the PTI, waiting for him to tell me how close my timing was, and how I just missed out. He looked at me with a big smile on his face and said
“I knew you could do it”
“do what?” I said
“9mins flat”
I was stunned, shocked, excited, happy, couldn’t believe it. It was a strange feeling, not that I was any fitter than I was 10 mins previously, but that my confidence had just soared, permanently, because I knew that I could recreate that again and again. All that I needed was a front runner to help me realise my boundaries weren’t real.
Who’s your front runner?  Who do you have helping you punch your boundaries?
Alexis x

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