The workout plan for the evening was to run a few warm up miles then go down to the beach for exercises on the sand.
The trainer was my husband Piero (in our house known as “Supreme Commando” when it comes to running workouts) and running with me was one of his marathon athletes, Domenico.
I usually feel uncomfortable running with elite runners but Domenico was coming off an injury so he started off slowly. Very slowly. We chatted for about three minutes, marvelling that this was the first time we’d ever run together… then he took off and left me in the dust. We continued with our respective warm ups and met up on the beach fifteen minutes later, curious to see what tricks Piero had up his sleeve.
It was 7.30 PM and the day’s heat was starting to dissipate. Groups of families and friends were still laying on the sand, waiting until the sun set into the sea. It was that magic glow moment when the sunlight amplifies the colour every object.
Piero lined up a stack of coloured cones on the sand. He instructed us to jump over each cone in sequence until we got to the end of the line. Recovery was an easy jog back to the front of the line. Repeat until you die. It’s an exercise that engages every single muscle in your body. Try it if you don’t believe me… you’ll have DOMS on your toes!
I had Domenico go first (so polite..) and he hopped over those cones as if he had springs in his feet. Remember: young male elite marathon dude working out. He made it look easy, as if he was actually having fun.
I don’t know if it was the cones, their colours, the hopping or the evening light, but within thirty seconds we had a crowd around us not only watching but wanting to join in.
Now it was my turn. I didn’t do it as well or as gracefully, but I did it. Domenico lapped me a few times and after seven rounds I was done. Kaput. Domenico went for a five minute run on the asphalt and while he was gone the crowd went bananas. Everybody wanted to try it out!
Adults and kids alike started hopping over the cones. Piero set up a special course for the smaller children so they wouldn’t get hurt by the adults falling over them. After a few minutes Domenico was back for more punishment. The cones got rearranged, the game was changed to hopping sideways and the crowd stood watching, mesmerised. As soon as Domenico left again to run strides on the adjacent street everybody went back to the cones, giving their best go at jumping over them.
This may sound silly and overly emotional, but it was a beautiful moment. People were laughing and talking to each other about their past athletic feats. Children were running back and forth on the cones yelling “I wanna try it! Let me go first! Pleeeaaaase!”. Noone wanted to leave but eventually it got too dark to see. We stacked the cones together and headed back to the beach house.
It gave me comfort to know that even in this crazy electronic culture our innate nature is still yearning for fun, play and movement. And that makes me happy.