City2Surf Preparation Begins at Longevity

City2Surf is fast approaching and we will be sharing our wisdom that has allowed Longevity to assist inexperienced exercises become successful runners. The City2Surf is Australia’s largest fun run and entries are now open and our aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular conditioning programs achieve extraordinary results  for ordinary people. Here  running story as told by her personal trainer, Rachel Baffsky:

Early March, Louisa, a very determined 48 year old, asked me if I wanted to do the MS 5 km fun run at the end of April. Being a runner and an overzealous Personal Trainer, I immediately said yes. Louisa had been doing personal training with me twice a week since November 2016. She had the goal of weight loss and we were achieving this through a combination of interval sprints on the bike and weight-bearing strength circuits. In addition to the two supervised sessions Louisa was completing with me, she was diligently adhering to her weekly exercise plan which involved three additional solo programs.  Despite having a demanding job with changing hours, Louisa always makes time to exercise, something I really admire.

Running is a Skill That Everyone Can Develop:

After it was established that we were definitely running, I began to probe further. What was her running experience? She’d done the MS 10 km race back in 2012 which she completed in 1 hour and 45 minutes. She’d run part of the way and walked the rest, a strategy she planned on implementing this year. Her last race was the Sutherland 2 Surf which she completed in July, 2016. Based on these runs we set the ambitious goal of finishing the 5km in less than 50 minutes.

“Despite having a demanding job with changing hours, Lisa always makes time to exercise, something I really admire.”

First Run on the Treadmill: Baseline Testing

Louisa was a bit concerned about this target as she hadn’t run in 4 months and didn’t consider herself a “runner”. But I explained that the race was 14 personal training sessions away, and 14 sessions was plenty of time to make a “runner”. All we had to do was follow the rule of 10%. So in our first session, I tested how far Louisa could jog at a comfortable speed of 8kph. She did 300m straight. I assured her this was a great first attempt and that all she needed to do the following week was to run 330m, which was 10% longer. My strategy was to get Louisa to complete one long run and one interval sprint session a week. The first interval sprint session involved 6 x 200 m sprints, with a 1 minute break in between.

Since Louisa had only ever run outdoors one of the greatest challenges was getting her comfortable with the momentum of the treadmill. She’d often grab the side rail mid-interval, worried that she was falling off the machine. I assured her that she wasn’t; she had great balance and had run at speeds far greater than 8kph. She relaxed and let go and completed the interval with a strong upright posture.

“…in our first session, I tested how far Louisa could jog at a comfortable speed of 8kph. She did 300m straight. I assured her this was a great first attempt…”

Overuse Running Injury: Achilles Tendonitis

We faced another hurdle a month into training, when Lisa began to suffer Achilles tendonitis. This is a repetitive strain injury common in new runners who haven’t been conditioned to the movement.  We adjusted quickly and and translated her interval program onto the bike. We continued to train on the bike as her Achilles recovered and still gained cardiovascular fitness during this period. She was soon back on the treadmill and running faster than ever.

Race Day Preparation:

Like all athletes, Louisa had some pre-race jitters. She was worried she wouldn’t be able to finish in 50 minutes. I asked her why that would be bad. She said she’d feel like a failure. I said: “regardless of what time we do we’re going to be raising money for multiple sclerosis and spending a sunny Sunday morning along the shores of Pyrmont looking at Sydney’s greatest icons. It was going to be fun, and thus a success.

Mindful Running Makes it Fun:

And my goodness, it was. We had a picture perfect day and over 3000 people turned up in support of Multiple Sclerosis. The crowd‘s enthusiasm was infectious. I soaked it in as I stretched and waited for Louisa who was stuck on public transport. Excitement turned to nerves as the others started to marshal at the starting line and there was no sign of Louisa. Finally I saw her make a beeline for baggage check in and within seconds she was ready to run. We made it just as they were closing off the rope.

Determined to catch up to the pack we jogged along the boardwalk and down the first of many Pyrmont hills. After a short walk to catch our breath, we were back bounding towards Barangaroo. The adrenaline of race day had kicked in, and Louisa was going far quicker than the 8kph we’d practiced on the treadmill. She was flying to the cheers of some very impressed volunteers.

At the half way point it was clear we were going to finish well under 50 minutes but I didn’t want to put pressure on Louisa, so just held a steady pace. We were running 500m for every 50m we walked, something that’s impressive for a person of any age. As we rounded the corner towards the finish line Louisa started to protest “I can’t, I can’t”, but I caught sight of the clock which read 44 minutes and said “yes you can!! Look, look we’re going to make it in 45 minutes!!”. That was all she needed as she sprinted over the finish line.

“You did it, you beat your time by 5 minutes, that’s 10% faster than expected” I went into Personal Trainer mode and started dissecting the data. Louisa just turned to me and beamed “Can I interest you in some breakfast?”. We had celebratory eggs on the wharf and I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve shared with a client.

That was until an hour later when I got a text from the Event sponsor confirming that we’d completed the race in 39 minutes. I hadn’t factored in that Louisa and I had had a back of the pack start, meaning we were running 6 minutes behind the clock on display. We’d spent the morning rejoicing a 5 minute victory, which was actually an 11 minute feat. That’s 22% under target, I couldn’t have been prouder! I immediately contacted Louisa and we planned the next run. We’ll be doing the colour run in August with the goal of running the whole race. Stay tuned for what I’m sure will be another outstanding performance by this most inspiring lady!

Are you thinking about competing in the City2Surf this year?

Longevity can provide you with:

  • A complete individualised running program
  • regular assessments to track progress
  • injury prevention and management strategies
  • strength and power training to increase running speed
  • On the day a race plan, strategy and special advice from experienced runners who have “been there, done that”

Rachel Baffsky is a Cert IV Personal Trainer with an undergraduate Degree in Psychology (Honours) and a Master of Public Health.