Should you join a running group (part 3) ?

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This is the 3rd and last part of our post for new runners and joining a running group. You can read the first part here: Should you join a running group (part 1). and the second part here: Should you join a running group (part 2)

My experience joining a running club

I’ll relate my experience joining the Puma Running Club in Desa Park City about 10 months ago. Prior to this, I had a disintegrating running buddies group: we started 6-7 runners running at Lake Garden in January 2014 with the objective of running SCKLM 2014 Half/Full Marathon and 6 months later, we were only 2 remaining… my buddy Frank and I. All the rest dropped after injuries, loss of interest, lack of time, family commitments, …

What’s the Puma Running Club ?

I joined the Puma Running Club (PRC) for the first time on August 20, 2014, about 10 months ago. I didn’t hear about it until I had a chat with one of my friend (Zi-Shen Hong) at the office who happened to be a pacer for PRC. He proposed me to join one wednesday evening to see how things go. I went there and had a good workout. I saw many people I didn’t know, which was good though quite intimidating… but you got to step up ! I’m sure I was their first Wai Lao (is it written like that ???) !

I joined regularly when business travels and meetings allowed, but I managed probably to come 75% of the time. The workout were organised by the pacers (they had quite a few of them). Over the last 10 months, I have only seen the number of people coming for the club growing ! It started small probably with about 30 people (pacers included) and now it’s over 60 !

 

The pacers

The club relies a lot on the pacers. They are people passionate with running and willing to spend their time helping others get better at their running. Think of it, they have to spend 1 to 2 evening a week. One evening is the actual training and the other one is the preparation for it. Not to talk about the social media aspect, as they manage the PRC Facebook page and have to represent the Puma brand sometimes. Ok, they get free gears (shoes, shorts, shirts) but that’s a pretty big commitment for every single week of the year ! Kudos to them. Initially I thought they were all super good and super fast runners. Well, not everyone is a super fast runner. The pacers are picked for their passion and commitment. Moreover the group is quite big and you have all levels (beginners, regulars, elite people) and pacers are there to help each group achieve their goals.

It’s a hard commitment and some pacers come and go. Zi-Shen for example left right after I came there (and he is the one who brought me there !!!!). Some new folks came, some others left. Recently as the group became more than 60 runners, it became necessary to recruit new pacers, which the current pacers did. They took runners from the group (waw… promotion lah !). This is great also because it brings new blood, different style, … They all share the same passion for running and interacting with people 🙂 One of them, Adele did not yet realise she is an ultra-marathon runner born 😀

First 4 months

It was more of a discovery for me. It took that time to get to know more people from the club. Well you don’t speak Bahasa or chinese, it’s tougher to get it. I can bet you I didn’t know many but all remember the old wai lao coming running 😀 The training was not really structured, more of a gig between friends. Today let’s go run… tempo ! Next time, lets do some hill repeats, … It was good, I progressed quite a bit and learned about the various workouts. Also after each session there was warm up and a core workout session (most of the time). Name it: planking, stretching, other core exercises, … The club was lead by Adele following the departure (boohhh) of Zi-Shen.

Coming New Year/Christmas, we all took a break and I could see that I improved quite a bit. I also had structured more my training in between the PRC sessions having my long runs, shorter runs, faster ones, … but not something VERY structured.

I did not mention, but Puma is the brand sponsoring this. They sponsor the gears of the pacers, they offer drinks for runners, but you do not need to use Puma gears to come here. I went there with my Nike, Newton shoes, then my Merrell shoes, … I did bought however some Puma shirts (good for them) because I saw them with the pacers and then went to the shop. They were good quality and twice cheaper than Nike ones ! Deal ! Per the shoes, for my style of running with minimalists, Puma is not offering anything worth it. Their shoes are for more classical runners (not to say hill strikers 🙁 ).

Last 6 months

Over the last 6 months, the club started to be more structured with sessions oriented around improving our performances and reaching our goals. The training programme was actually prepared by Adele and the rest of the pacers. Adele went for a fitness trainer certification at that time… I guess a more structured and scientific approach to the training was good for the club !

We had a first 3 months where we ramped up the hill training (repeat, intervals) running on the hill of Desa Park City going toward the bungalows and the water reservoir. That was tough but good. We also had speed, tempo and intervals sessions on the main Desa Park City area (the 2.2km loop around the lake and shops). Also we had some circuit training with stair cases, …  I remember going there and coming back home very tired (a sign of a very good workout) but overall it kind of became easier with time. You would be surprised how your body adapt. I became more lean, faster and resilient.

For the last 3 months, the pacers put in place a 12 weeks programme where runners are evaluated after the first 3 weeks on a speed workout of 5km (essentially a race of 5km where you go as fast as you can). I missed that one… lol I was travelling. Then over the next 7 weeks, it was hills, speed, tempo, intervals, … less core workout, only for the competition element by having everyone say trying to get points doing the longest plank, the longest squat, the most lunges, … In the middle we had a speed workout session with a relay race over 100m. That was great to bind the group 🙂 Lastly, this week we had the final 5km evaluation. Many did progress and got faster. I can’t say how much faster I got, but I did get faster. I did not run my 5km all out (I’m an endurance runner somehow, I struggle with short distance and giving everything) but I ran my 5km in 23:56, which for me gave a PB on 1km and on 5km. So definitely, the training program helped many runners.

It’s also obvious that people are happy with it (except DPC residents maybe !) as there is more and more runners coming. To my knowledge, you do not have other running clubs doing such a structured training program. You have small teams like 2XU that organise the training of their runners but not for the general public as far as I know. You have individuals or buddy groups in some running club that organise runs. The most effective are Cari Runners (many are also in PRC… which explains why) or elite runners in LYN for example. They structure their training, but again it’s a small setup. PRC is really stepping up here and providing great value and valueS to the running community.

To all pacers, thank you for your passion, time and efforts… from all of us that come on wednesdays !

Why you should join a running club/group ?

Unclesamwantyou

We spoke last time about the bad effect of “peer pressure” however if you are in a controlled and structure environment like the training and group put by PRC, the peer pressure is having a positive impact. Try to do a speed workout alone and to do one with a small group of 3-4 persons at around your level and one pacer who is driving the group slightly faster than what you would. It’s pushing you forward which you would not push as hard alone. And that works because you have a well defined warm up session (log enough, activating all key muscles) and then you can go for the workout. Same goes for the cool down. I remember doing an interval speed training – all out – after only 5mn of jogging as warm up ! Recipe for disaster !

This being said, if I had to list out the reasons why running in a club/group is better:

  1. You can use the peer group effect in a positive way
  2. You have a well structured training/warming up/cooling down program
  3. There are experienced runners willing to share with younger ones
  4. Meeting new people is fun. If you’re like me close to 40, it kicks your ass with all these youngsters 😀
  5. You can discuss with many people quite different from you, yet sharing the same interest for running. It’s humanly enriching.
  6. Your weekend LSD will be less lonely than when you go alone or with the same usual buddies
  7. You’ll discover new routes and places to go run
  8. When you go racing, you’ll meet many people you know which is cool and better than the “I arrive, I race, I leave fast” !
  9. When you race, the more people you know, the less time you have to spend looking for your photos, your buddies will tag you (but you still need to look and tag them when you see them !)

There are other running clubs around KL. Pardon me if you are not in KL, I do not know for other areas. I would be happy to update this post with other clubs if you send me a note with the information:

  1. Cari runners – You can see their folks with jerseys “I’m possible”. Infos at http://carirunners.blogspot.com or https://www.facebook.com/search/str/cari%20runners/keywords_top. The Facebook does not seem very active but they do meet regularly at Padang Merbok and Desa Park City
  2. Wind runners – Similar to Cari runners from my point of view, they do meet weekly. They have a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/196426680503224/
  3. LYN Runners – Lowyat Network Runners. Don’t know much about the group, but I do know many people wearing their t-shirt ! They do have a web site at http://lynrunners.com. You can find them on Facebook too.
  4. Pacemakers Malaysia – Another big running club. You can find more infos at http://pm1.blogspot.com. They are quite famous also for the relay race they organise in Lake Garden every year (PAR XI this year).
  5. Run89 – Another running group. They meet once a month. Infos at https://www.facebook.com/run89crew?fref=ts
  6. Pacesetters & Terrence Poon Running Club (TPRC) – Pacesetters is also a very big running club. I never heard about TPRC but it’s mentioned on their page, so I would assume they are part of Pacesetters. They have weekly activities at various places (Permaisuri, Padang Merbok). I joined them for the double/triple hill from Padang Merbok to Hartamas and one time for a LSD in Permaisuri. Infos at http://pacesettersmalaysia.blogspot.com/p/regular-activities.html. They are quite famous for their 3030 races (30km between lake garden and hartamas via the double/triple hills)
  7. Running Kaki Malaysia – Another big group of runners. There are quite a few groups called running kaki, but Running Kaki Malaysia seems to be the biggest one. You can find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningkakimalaysia

I think that choosing to join a group, it depends a lot on where you can go for training with them. You don’t want to spend hours in the car driving there. During week-end if you run LSD, then you need to wake up even earlier to drive far but the most difficult is during week days evenings I think. I live around Hartamas and for me going to Desa Park City is good; going to Lake garden also but going to Permaisuri or Kota Kemuni… too far !

Final thoughts

Your training and the plan that you follow reflects your commitment to achieve your goals whatever they are. It’s better to be modest in the short term (yet ambitious on the long term) and have goals that you can manage and achieve with some regular work. Once you get there, set the bar higher. If you are too ambitious, you’re out for some potential disappointment in yourself if you do not achieve most of your goals, beware ! Running changed my life in a good way, I’m sure it can do the same for you !

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