2XU Running Clinic

2XU Running Clinic

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A few weeks ago I saw an invitation on Facebook for a running clinic organised by the 2XU Malaysia Running group. After some consideration, I decided to go there… is it useful ? Should you go there ?
What’s a running clinic ?
But first what is a running clinic ? I’ve been already talking about the Puma Running Club in the past and of the 101 ultra-running clinic organised last July by some ultras Race Directors. Well, a running clinic is different. It’s a program put together by the organisers over a period of X weeks. This training program consists usually in a mix of running sessions with strength/core training and stretching. The ultimate goal is to enhance the attending runners knowledge of running and performance. In some ways, you can see the Puma Running Club as a mix of weekly budy running gathering and running clinic. Their last 12 weeks training program was in fact a running clinic.
If you’re a newbie or if you are an experienced runner, it’s always good to “go back to school”. There is always something new to learn and ways to improve. If you don’t take opportunities like this to learn, you’ll likely stagnate in your running practice. And last but not least, like the Puma Running Club, the 2XU Running Clinic is totally free of charge (a compelling argument in Malaysia !).
The running clinic landscape
There is a lot happening in the running scene in the last 24 months. Many races, many new people starting running. Some good things, some less good things (let’s be real !). I’m talking about 2XU Running Clinic here but there are other running clinic ran by other folks. I tried here to list the running clinics I heard about in Malaysia.
A first group consists in the running clinics that are not related to any races. They are organised throughout the calendar year:
  1. Team 2ndSkin/Garmin – Ran by the athletes (runners, bikers, triathletes) from the 2ndskin team. Garmin is one of the sponsor of the team and they run for Garmin 2 training programs a year. In 2015 one started in February I think and one is ongoing right now. They have limited slots and I think they charge a token fee. These guys are all very good and know their stuff. Their running clinic is on my go to list 🙂
  2. Puma Running Club  –  I wrote about it before in this post.
  3. 2XU Running Clinic – That’s the one we are talking about in this post.
The second group consists in the running clinics organized by companies putting the races together. As such their running clinics are only focussed at supporting runners and leveraging on the profile of their specific race. They will organise just few sessions (3 to 5 usually) for the runners registered to their race in the months preceding the race. Sometimes it’s free of charge, sometimes you have to pay a token fee. I didn’t see so many but the key ones I saw were:
  1. Brooks Running Clinic – focussed on the Penang Bridge Half Marathon race that they are sponsoring. Not sure where the clinic is ran, likely in Penang ! See more info there.
  2. KL Marathon (SCKLM) Running Clinic – happening in the 3 months prior to the race (October), free of charge. The training is ran by the famous Mark William, who is coaching a lot of very good (understand local elite athletes) runners. However it caters to all level of runners.
  3. MPI Generali Running Clinic – really a running clinic for beginner who are registered for this race. See more info here.
Not every races is organising running clinics. In fact this is the opposite, the running clinics are usually organised to make a difference between the various races/events and help/support the runners. It also reflects the mentality of the organisers: do they want to contribute to the running community or do they just want to make money… The quality of the training is also important: throwing a quickly planned training plan and calling it a running clinic is easy but it does not bring much to runners…
The 2XU Running Clinic
… and that brings me to the 2XU Running Clinic. Just a few days I decided to attend it. Call it curiosity, willingness to learn something but mostly it was because one of the organiser is Karsten Korbel (you all know the German precision crafted running machine). He is now a professional trainer (understand, he would not put his name behind something crap !). So here I go on a saturday morning to Kinrara Residences in Puchong. This is a newly developed area, the infrastructure is quite recent and there is not many people living there yet. It’s just beside the Puchong hill as you can see on the picture. (for those wondering if you can go the Puchong hill loop from there I asked and was told you can hike there though it takes a bit of time – see my Blackwater run post).
I arrived early and immediately met…familiar faces ! Well if you’ve been around running ultras, you know some of the 2XU runners. The guys were quite organised and brought cones to put on the road at key intersections to signal runners where they should go. So they went for a prep run to put the cones. I had 30mn to kill, so I went running in the area.
At 7am, all runners were there and we were welcomed and gathered at the futsal field. There were probably a good 30 runners. A quick introduction to 2XU and to the team of “running ambassadors” (left to right on the photo: Barkley, Kelvin, Seng Heng, Jimmy, Karsten, Yew Khuay, Renee, Darren, Wen Kiat (aka Tea Chua), Wai Hong – missing on this picture in that session Choi CC and Zheng Norah aka “Sharon”) then we were explained what the training program would consist of:
  1. Running Clinic sessions every saturday until the end of the year for sure and after depending on runners demand
  2. The goal of the sessions is to give back to the running community (and increase 2XU brand awareness for sure – I’m the one saying that)
  3. Another objective is to prepare runners for the key races in Q4 2015: SCKLM (unsaid), 2XU run (on 1st of November) and other big races in November/December (Newton, …)
  4. The program is built around key workouts structured to improve runners (provided you’re coming regularly and really work out there !): tempo run, hill repeat, speed workout, core training, easy runs, …
All the 2XU runners are supporting the activities (I guess depending on their availability too) and the part around warm up/cool down, core/strength workout is ran by Karsten. The plan for the coming weeks would be announced on their Facebook page and that first session was an introduction and a benchmark of each runner’s current level. To assess that we would be doing after some warm up a 5km time trial.
The plan for the day was:
  1. Introduction
  2. Warm up run (2.5km) – discovery of the place we would run
  3. Muscles warm up on the futsal field – Dynamic Stretching and Active Isolated Stretching
  4. 5km time trial
  5. Cool down short run
  6. Stretching on the futsal field
  7. Makan (no I’m joking)

We all went running the 2.5 km “loop”. In fact we run on the side of the road for 1.25km back and forth. The road is relatively flat (short small climb the first 250m then flat). It’s a good way to wake up muscles (boy mine had already done that they were starting to be impatient for action !).

Back to the futile field, Karsten started to explain the importance of the warming up the muscles and preparing them before a big run. The easy jog helps wake them up but you still need to activate them. This helps get maximum performance and prevent potential injuries.

Then we went for the 5km time trial. That’s basically running 2 times the initial 2.5km (2 times you – 2XU, I wonder if that’s was an hidden joke). A time trial is supposed to help benchmark your max performance on the distance, so you need to give everything you have. However for many new runners, it’s very subjective. We were explained that a good benchmark of that pace would be the ability to say in one breath the alphabet letters from A to G. If you can do it, you’re too slow. If you can’t you’re at your time trial pace. Essentially you need to keep it to the limit. Believe it or not, it works.

Move forward, I ran my time trial in 23mn 22sec. I gave everything I had at the moment but was definitely not trashed after that. Maybe I could have pushed more ? My face is a proof I was giving a lot in the last 500m. The key thing to learn over time is how to manage your effort: when should you start pushing higher than the limit because you’re close to the arrival ? 250m ? 500m ? 1km ? 2km ? There’s no magic answer, it depends on you (you fitness, training, the race distance and course profile, how you ran in the first part of the race, how you feel, …).

I don’t usually run 5km distance for racing, hence I don’t know much how to manage my effort there. I do sometimes 12km to 21km distance, which is different. Over time I noticed, I tend to give all I have too late. You;re trashed for 2mn but if you recover at minute 3… you had a lot more to give ! I also tend to start to slow (due to too many long distance races). So for this time trial, I tried to push myself at the beginning then try to follow some of the folks ahead of me. I overtook 3 or 4 guys but could not get to the front runners (too fast). Yet 23mn 22sec is a 4:40mn/km pace for me is not bad, that’s close to 13km/h. I would never have dreamed of running  at that pace for 5km just a year ago (thanks Puma Running Club !). By the way, if you don’t know about pace and speed, you can read my previous post or simply look at the conversion table on that website.

We waited for all runners to be finished. There were all kind of level in the group, which shows the broad interest in that kind of clinic. After this we had some refreshment (100+) and went to the futsal field again for some stretching. We started with a short run round the field. It is actually important to do this very light easy run after your training or racing to kickstart the process of getting rid of lactic acid that builds up in your muscles when you use them running hard. Usual me, I removed my shoes 🙂

After this, stretching led by Karsten with some interesting move and a bit of Yoga blended into it. It’s key to stretch after a run to relieve tensions and start the recovery process. It helps avoiding bad muscles the next day after you race.

Conclusion

This running clinic is good stuff ! A well recommended place to go to. The workout provides opportunities for everyone to learn and improve (from beginners to experienced runners). A key difference I would say is the fact that they have a professional trainer with Karsten, so you learn more stuff during the pre and post run than usual. For the rest of the training, I’m due to see how they run the other sessions but with a good start that should be quite good. Ah, I forgot one thing, these folks are also fun (though German people like Karsten tend to do bad jokes about French people…).

If you want more information, go to the 2XU Runners Facebook page. They have the schedule, location information, … Oh and I forgot to mention, the guy in the 2XU ad was not there, but Kartsen was very popular with the girls. People will want my picture when I grow up 😀

 

Minor correction on the names of the 2XU Runners 🙂

Photo credit to 2XU Runners Facebook Page and Barkley.

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