Probably the biggest reason I signed up to be a run leader was to chat with new runners, and encourage people at the back of the group. I love how Truro's a club where nobody gets left behind, and I wanted to be part of that.
But in the process, I've had an unexpected bonus. I've watched as faster runners loop back, and see the huge impact that simple action has on the morale of the rest of the group.
Usually, I manage to say thanks. But sometimes, between telling you how to cross the road and half-dying as I drag myself up Uplands Crescent, I probably forget.
So, if you loop back, this is for you: THANKS.
Thank you. You're a great human being, and I wish you years of speedy, injury-free PBs, shoes that never blister and gallons of tasty race podium wine.
And here's why...
Just waiting isn't fair
It's all very well to wait at a street corner or the top of a hill, but that's not much help to the slower runner who has to work extra hard to catch up, while the fast runners take a cheeky breather, then gallop off as soon as they arrive.
When you loop back, you stop the crazy situation where the quicker runners get more rest than the people who really need it.
You get a training benefit
A little jog back every so often acts as recovery for you - so you can push harder in the main bit of your run, and effectively get the pace benefit of a few intervals.
I'm no coach, but I reckon it also stops your muscles cooling down and you risking injury with lots of stops and starts. (Plus, hey: free mileage.)
It helps the club offer more variety
We only have so many run leaders. When you loop back, it keeps everyone within sight - and that means we don't need so many leaders to look after each group.
That, in turn, means that Adrian can schedule more runs for you to choose from each week. Just because you looped back. Thanks!
It helps people to improve
Whether it's your first week, or you're stepping up a group, we all remember how scary it is to venture out with runners who are that bit faster than we are. But that's how we all improve, and it's one of the main ways that being part of a club helps us to get quicker.
Knowing that Truro is a friendly club where people loop back and support the slower runner, rather than sneering at them and zooming away, makes it easier for people to take the plunge and try to step up to a new level, whether in terms of speed or distance.
It stops you getting cold
I refuse to believe that standing around in day-glo lycra at the top of Moresk Road in the howling wind and rain, getting funny looks from all the dog walkers, is anyone's idea of fun.
Running in the wind and rain is OK. Standing in it is not. That's why looping back rules.
It's good to run as a team
Nobody comes to running club to run alone.
Running in twos and threes is fine, but running in a GANG is brilliant. There's really something about talking Tregolls Road en masse, that's inspiring and lifts everyone. Likewise, there's something about getting back to club, and warming down, all together, that really sets a seal on the run.
The Monday night posse, in particular, are great at this bit and that's why it's hands-down my favourite run of the week.
...But, most importantly of all...
It shows respect for your fellow runner We all had to start somewhere. We've all come back from injury. And one day age will slow all of us down (except Tony Berry, obviously). So if you've never been towards the back of a group, don't worry, you'll get there soon enough.
When a speedy runner loops back to encourage a back marker, it shows you recognise that they're a fellow runner, and they're working hard too. Maybe even - dare I say it - they're working harder than you are.
The point is, from the fastest to the slowest, we're all part of the family of running. And the runner at the back of the pack has far more in common with the whippets at the front than they do with the people at home on the sofa. We all have basically the same love-hate relationship with running. We're all cut from the same cloth.
And seeing the moment when the quick runners loop back to run with the group - where we really see that teamwork in action - is without doubt my favourite thing about being a run leader.
So, (in case I'm too out of breath to say it on Uplands Crescent) thank you for looping back. It does make a real difference.