We meet three times during the week for training, and very often at the weekend for longer runs. The sessions during the week are structured so that Tuesday night is the primary club night and there is a strong social focus on the running. Wednesday and Thursday night are focused on improvement and Saturday/Sunday long runs are also normally available for many different paces and abilities.
Tuesday nights are all about getting the club together. We meet at the clubhouse first for a few words, before heading out on a run. The runs fall into one of the following categories;
- Pace Groups
- Out and Back
- 5caKe evening
Pace Group nights are all about run leaders taking out small groups of runners on known routes based on similar abilities. We typically have groups that run at sub 8 min/mile, right through to 11 min/mile and social runs on the same night. The distances covered reflect the ability of the groups, but generally speaking its a chance to run a distance and a pace according to your ability, and gives runners the option to push a bit harder if they want to in a more demanding group. The run leaders carefully choose their routes taking into consideration the available light, traffic and the potential number of runners and include loop-backs and stops to ensure that the various groups stay together.
Out and Back runs are where the club heads out together on a set and known route with the objective of running 25 minutes out and 25 minutes back. There are several club routes used for this, so its not the same each time. Additionally the evening works for a variety of runners because it gives rise to sub-objectives, for example some runners try to run 25 minutes out then get back to the starting point in less than 25 minutes - simulating a negative split. Others try to push to see exactly how far they can go within the 25 minutes and use that as a yardstick for the next time to gauge their improvement. Finally there are runners who use this as a social run and run at their own pace with friends for set amount of time before returning to the start point.
5caKe evenings are a lot of fun. The idea behind this is that the club meets to run a set 5k distance, albeit a winter or summer version of the route. After clapping in all runners, everyone makes their way back to the clubhouse (mainly winter) or the start venue (summer months) for drinks and light conversation, hence its often referred to as cake night, 5k night, or these days 5caKe. We try to time the runners that want to be timed and now post timings on the website so they can see if they have improved over time. If being timed is not your thing, or if trying to improve is not your thing, this is not a problem, as this evening suits all camps. 5caKe evening
Social runs are exactly what you think they are. The group(s) head out with a run leader at a social pace dictated by the group. If people want to stop, they stop, then start again. The theme is to run at a jibber-jabber pace and catch up and socialise with other runners.
Off-Road running is very popular, especially in summer months, but also in winter. That said its more difficult to run off-road at night in winter but specially-trained run leaders do take groups out from time to time on well-known routes at night in winter. These 'headtorch' runs are very popular, however, in the summer months the club often runs off-road on Tuesday night, making the most of the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside, often starting from and meeting back at a countryside pub.
Each Wednesday and Thursday night we have a performance-based training session. These sessions are aimed towards anyone at all that is interested in improving as a runner. We have all levels of ability at these sessions, from beginners, to the very experienced, and it also provides a unique opportunity to train with people that you would not ordinarily train with and for that reason the sessions have been described as being highly sociable.
The high-level aim of the sessions is to improve running performance over time, through high-intensity training. On Wednesday nights this is 'fartlek' training and on Thursday nights this is training that we call 'Speed and Stamina'. The sessions each week are run by individuals who are passionate about running performance and helping others achieve their best. To keep interest levels high, the locations, leaders and types of session are all varied. In the weekly communications email we normally publish a list of who is running the upcoming sessions and where they will be.
Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. Fartlek runs are a very simple form of a distance run, and we run 5 miles with varied routes. Fartlek training is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.
For some people, this could be a mix of jogging and sprinting, but for beginners it could be walking with jogging sections added in when possible. When the whistle goes, all runners do their best, when the whistle goes again, all runners regroup and continue jogging at recovery/social pace.
Thursday Improver Session
We try to make this fun as well as challenging and each week at the Thursday improver session we nominate a 'star' of the session to recognize the person that the leader thinks has worked the hardest. By involving a gaming or competitive element into some of the sessions, we find that we maximise involvement of all, whilst making it challenging and fun.
The group normally meets at the clubhouse Thursday evenings at 7.15pm then there is a warm up jog to the intended workout location so as to start at 7.30pm. Sessions are normally quite intensive, so the ideal duration is 30 minutes, then a warm down.
Thursday Session Activities:
We try to vary the activities from having track nights, to short hill reps, longer hill reps, mile loops, and also games and finally fitness-enhancing core exercises to complement the running, such as star jumps, planking and squats.
Some descriptions here:
- Short Hill Repeats - Running fast up, then jogging slowly down shorter, steeper hills will improve finishing ability and assist with race times for shorter races by developing the body’s aerobic system. The aim would be to start by factoring a set of between 3 and 9 reps into standard runs depending on ability. Because of the increased difficulty, each rep will be shorter than it would be with longer Hill Repeats.
- Long Hill Repeats – will work all the heart, lungs and legs. Running fast up, then jogging down longer, less steep hills will build stamina for races, especially undulating ones. Ideal sessions would be to have uphill bursts lasting between 45 and 60 secs. You can increase the length of each rep or the number of reps as you progress.
- Pyramid Session – sprints of increasing, then decreasing duration from 50meters up to 400 or 800 meters, then brought back down to 50meters. Same for pyramid hill repeats but different distances. This works well at the strack or park and can equally be applied to hill repeats too, in order to vary the intensity of the reps.
- HIT Session. High Intensity Training. Designed to delivery short bursts of very intensive training.
- Games night. Capture the flag, Ultimate frisbe, or Carrie's mad sticker game have all been successfully held this year
- Caterpillar session. Maximises aerobic output in a fun and competitive way by pitting runner against runner to get to the front of the caterpillar.
- Track session. We try to include track sessions where possible, which proves to be very popular. The cost is usually £2 per runner for the track booking.