Back to school

Well the last couple of weeks have gone super quick, luckily the weekend before the snow hit London “very severe weather” I managed to grab a spot at the running school in Chiswick.

Having never really spent much time learning how to run other than laps at school round the same cross country route and a brief spell in my uni triathlon club, it was always going to be a bit of a learning experience. Besides I have previously sought advice on gym training, various sport specific training and learning how to teach skiing so why not running too? Who taught you how to run? Have you run recently? How was it? Have a think and a read, you might start having a few questions yourself there is plenty of info out on the internet or you could be tempted to check them out.

I think most people, including my prior self, considered running to be a case of putting one foot in front of the other, generally faster than walking while others use it in a sport. However the one similarity is that little time is spent focussing on how we run but more on how fast or slow we are going, what we are listening to, looking at or playing. For some people this experience can be uncomfortable or even painful which doesn’t exactly encourage you to hit the trails, run round the pitch or take a wee jog for the bus you are running late for. My own experience has been a bit up and down like many runners, sportsmen and women or your average Joe. My logic has always been that to get fitter, faster and better I have to run more miles. This has sometimes been a pleasurable experience and others agonising and often resulted in frequent visits to the physio, which has also been a pretty painful experience. Does it have to be this constant up and down or could it be improved? What is the ideal situation or pinnacle to aim for? I hoped the day would answer or at least explain some of my questions, hopefully bring up more questions and maybe look at fixing them.

I rocked up at the headquarters in Stamford brook, based under the tube lines where I was greeted to coffee and croissants. Always a good way to start the day, followed by a briefing from the founder of “The Running School” who is an experienced runners and sportsman called Mike Antoniades. He briefed us on how the day would pan out and more importantly what they would work on. Just a point Im not going to reveal their tips of the trade as I don’t think that’s right but I will tell you how it felt, a little of what I had to work on and the info they provide on the net.

Finally we jumped on the running machine while they filmed our technique at the start of the day. Something I would recommend everyone to do, it’s easy to do with a mate or place the camera on a stand behind and to the side. You will be able to see where all your various body parts are going instantly. I was immediately aware of how I was running, did it look wrong or by some miracle could I be gifted with a perfect running style. No matter how positive I was thinking I was to learn that this certainly wasn’t the case! They didn’t say anything it was merely the first stage of our day’s assessment.

It was then time to get outside; it was chilly with snow forecast for the week to come. The group clad in an assortment of leggings, lycra, woolly hats and gloves we made our way to the local park. First up was a warm up, although it is the most obvious and correct place to start it is something that I hadn’t been doing before starting a run but instead opting to warm up quickly by jogging straight from the door. Lesson 1 noted and remembered.

It did help with every part of the body truly warmed up and raring to go. Time for the drills. Like many drills the aim seemed to be to go to the extremes to encourage the mind to remember the feeling so when out on the trails or pitch we could look to replicate this feeling. We worked on a few key areas, the motion of our arms, the motion of our legs, putting these elements together and finally working on how we would create the transition from our old style to new.

Like anything new it felt strange, at points bizarre and even just plain wrong, however the results told a completely different story. Rather than hearing my feet land heavily and thump into the ground I was moving across lighter and quicker than before, muscles that I didn’t normally feel ached having been used for the first time but most importantly the principles of the idea made sense. More filming took place, again the mind went into over drive trying to remember every little tit bit that had been mentioned and I tried, maybe a little too hard, to put them into action. I would have to wait and see if this worked as it was time for lunch.

Following a rather dry and boring lunch of cous cous and whatever was left in fridge that morning it was the time everyone had been waiting for. Video time, the lights went out, the room was warm and the seats incredibly comfortable after the mornings exercise. Perfect snoozing conditions but first the videos as mixed emotions went through my mind between hoping to have my technique ripped apart to dreaming that I had taken everything on board immediately. It was certainly awkward seeing myself run on the screen, put in slow motion to pick out the key areas. The pre and post workshop footage was incredibly useful though. It became clear that I had been trying too hard to think of everything that I had learnt that morning as my robotic like form swept across the screen. Yet there were improvements. My legs were beginning to resemble the technique that we had been working on and I was using my arms more effectively, now I just need to make it more natural amongst a few other corrections.

We looked at everyone’s footage which was a real benefit as we began analysing each other, asking more specific questions and helping our understanding of how we can ultimately improve our own technique. The session finished with some strength & conditioning exercises followed by stretching. At least one thing hand changed over the day and that was my flexibility, still as rubbish as ever. Now I just have to put the lessons into practise….

Following the course my advice would definitely be to work on your technique, it can make a huge benefit if you want to go faster or if nothing else help to reduce the forces through the body. It does take time though to make the transition but why wait for the perfect time as there is no time like the present. See what you could become....


It would be great to hear some of you stories of maybe a memorable run or maybe the first run you remember having to do?