So what do you do with yourself when you go to “running camp” at Australia’s distance running camp-central, Falls Creek, but you can barely walk up stairs after the flu, and are never sure what “6 45s” means, anyway?
If you’re me, you tune into some spiritual, innate grandmother and just spend your time feeding the athletes in your apartment – which makes you feel useful (in that horrible way women always say they ’need to feel useful’). Eating with pleasure is a challenge in Falls Creek if you only source from the Foodworks, but a joy if you can venture further afield to the fish and blueberry farms – is it sick to say how pleased you can be with a rigour mortis rainbow trout to feed 8 (let’s not discuss how I beat that particular fish to death with my rod)? Between watching NBL or athlete bios, or a war-action movie, I’m going with gender type and would rather stir a pot of passata and bay leaves.
It’s an utterly lovely environment – where this season the snow gums are a brush of white skeletons regenerating from bushfires, where the trail unravels like tapeworm into the hills, and there are ample swimming holes of shatteringly-cold water to dip in. Go for the beauty, and not the cafes.
Tips for the non-runners: everybody runs the same route in Falls Creek so, blissfully, it’s easy to run in a different direction if you don’t want to run into 100 lycra-clad warriors. The biggest issue is the subject of conversation. There are a lot of runners who can speak to other people but a great many who cannot. It’s a case-by-case basis and usually best to employ meditation methods: if necessary, focus on the breath, think about something you have not worked through… given the athlete, it may give you more than enough time to focus and solve a problem. There is simply no point taking part in an athlete-on-athlete conversation, it is exclusive – and that’s the point of ‘runners’ camp’.