In the second installment of our monthly running column, in cooperation with HeyRunning, we look at how a bit of variation in your training scheule can stave off the dreaded runners' fears. Read the first installment here. It's not too late to sign up for HeyRunning's Spring 2015 Camp – scroll down for details.
Every runner has a fear, or rather multiple fears. Fortunately, since starting a more regimental running regime in this – the ‘year of the sub-four marathon’ – a number of those fears have been allayed.
Fear of the treadmill: since running out on the streets with the HeyRunning crew, my treadmill usage has been down 50 percent. Treadmills are for lab rats – for every ounce of fitness created, a part of your soul is lost forever.
Fear of the black lung: I only deemed nine of the last 30 days to be too smoggy to go out running. Yes, Beijing’s air is bad, but in February at least, it was more of a minor hindrance than it was a mortal enemy.
Fear of being left behind: if you run with a club, surely the faster runners (and I’ve seen HeyRunning head coach Randy sprinting around Beijing like a luminescent gazelle) are going to leave the weaker runners behind? How does that work exactly?
Well, a Monday night session at HeyRunning showed me how. Instead of just jogging off into the night aimlessly with little more than a podcast to keep you company, a few companions makes all the difference. After a five-minute warm up, we arrive at a crossroads in the Liangmaqiao embassy maze, where quiet, wide roads make a great spot for running.
To make sure no one gets left behind (or lost), we run intervals – everybody leaves the starting point and runs along the same route at their own pace for, say, three minutes, then runs back to the starting point for the same amount of time. Then repeat, varying the times to mix it up a bit. Result: we all run along the same route and start and finish in the same place, assuming you can run at a consistent speed. (Bonus: there’ll be someone faster than you to try and keep up with on the way out – and they’ll be chasing you down as you return to the starting point.)
As well as providing much needed variation, running intervals gets you fitter, quicker. Randy explains: “The growing body of evidence in sports science points towards interval training being a more efficient approach than traditional distance-based training. Intervals push your body to fire on all cylinders, it makes for good pre-race training and it’s a quick and sure-fire way to lose weight.
“Each of the different running sessions focuses on a part of the HeyRunning 4S (Speed, Strength, Stride & Stamina) Method. So on that Monday session, for example, we focus on stamina and strength. Stamina workouts train your body to run longer distances. Strength workouts are the ones that burn the legs, prepping your body to maintain running at race speeds over longer distances even though you may already be tired.”
Being chased around Sanlitun at night sounds like a nightmare situation ending with a night in a police cell. And all that technical jargon – is there a fear that this isn’t a fun as I hoped?
“One of HeyRunning’s principles is to make running fun by keeping it simple – we never bombards runners with all the science (unless you ask),” Randy adds. “Is it fun? I would say yes – you don’t have to think about the theory since the HeyRunning coaches do it all for you.”
It is fun – not least for the self-congratulatory gloating that regular exercise allows you over your partner/friends/colleagues. But that gloating might come back to haunt me, as a fear that affects all (serious) runners surfaces: injury. The arch of my foot is feeling tight after the increase in training volume. Have I overdone it? (Unlikely, Randy is quick to tell me, dishearteningly.) A physio appointment calls (all HeyRunners are entitled to a free 30-minute consultation at ParkwayHealth): is the year of the sub-4 marathon over already?
Next month: a trip to the clinic?
That’s Beijing readers are entitled to a special discount for the Spring 2015 HeyRunning camp. The eight-week camp entitles you to four sessions per week (including a HeyRobics session), and is suitable for all ranges and abilities – from first-timers to 100km ultra-marathon runners. You can find out more and sign up for the camp online (it started March 1, but it’s not too late to register!): www.heyrobics.com/heyrunning. (View weekly session schedules on their site, too.) Availability for the Spring camps limited to 100 spaces!
> Register as a That’s Beijing reader using the ‘irunthatsbeijing’ promo code for a sign-up cost of RMB400 (a saving of RMB200)
> Drop-ins are always welcome at individual
(HeyRunning sessions – RMB30 per session)