I’m in Engadin and working out with Julia Bleasdale. The British track and field athlete placed eighth in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres at the London Olympics in 2012. Trail running with an Olympic athlete? Should be fun. Or grim, if the weather’s anything to go by.
It’s a Wednesday, it’s raining, miserable and cold. Thankfully, I’ve arranged to meet Julia Bleasdale in a café and we get a dry start to our trail run. In three hours, we’ll be soaked to the bone. But let me start at the beginning. We’re in Pontresina and are heading for the Morteratsch glacier.
In front of 80,000 people in London
Before we start running at the base of the glacier, I want to learn more about Julia. During her professional years, Julia Bleasdale was one of the best long-distance runners in Europe. At the Olympics in London in 2012, she represented Great Britain and won two diplomas. Running in front of 80,000 fans was one of the most impressive moments of her career, Julia explains during the interview.
And then we start running. But hang on a sec! There’s stretching to be done first. «How important is stretching?» I want to know. «I tend to stretch before running,» she replies. And afterwards? She smiles: «I’m usually too tired afterwards.» And off we go.
My trail running shoes
CHF 123.–was 154.–1
Sense Ride (44 2/3)
Every day, every trail, your go-to shoe for a better run
The contrast couldn’t be greater: In front of 80,000 people at world-class level in London vs. with a hobby runner lagging behind in Engadin. I stick to Julia’s heels and hope this isn’t too boring for her. After all, she could and would run a lot faster if it weren’t for me huffing and puffing behind her. I block out the thoughts and concentrate on her running style. She puts one foot in front of the other with incredible lightness and smoothness. Do muscles have a memory? If so, Julia’s muscles seem to remember precisely what will happen in the next split second. There’s no hesitation, no insecurity: Each step is steady. I’m impressed and need a break.
We keep going. Up and down the trail through an incredible landscape. If you’re wondering, why I run, I’d say it’s because running is humbling. A feeling I experience far too rarely in everyday life. But out here… I feel tiny and insignificant in between these ancient mountain faces staring down at me. Switzerland has so many beautiful spots to offer but this is something else. And with the tempo Julia’s setting, there’s even a bit of time to take it all in. Thanks, Julia!
Drenched and delighted
We reach our starting point but just keep on going because we’re both in the flow. We run all the way back to the café in Pontresina where we met three hours earlier. Dripping wet but happy, I order a cappuccino. Running over a mountain and drinking coffee – it’s the small things in life that hold the key to happiness.
Bis an die Grenze und darüber hinaus: Ein Leistungstest, der es in sich hat
The next episode of «Patrick gets active with...»
It’s autumn – outdoor pools are closed so indoor pools are the place to be. I’ll be meeting a young, up-and-coming Swiss swimmer in Uster and joining her for a swim. Crawl, breast, butterfly, back or stone. What will it be?