Running fitness! Have I gone over to the darkside you may be asking. Well… no of course not, my boobs do not enjoy running. However, there is a lot of crossovers between running and power walking, and when it comes to leading a group, they are pretty much the same thing.
So it was that I found myself getting up very early on a Saturday morning and driving to Bristol to take England Athletics’ Leadership in Running Fitness course (LiRF). LiRF is a one day course that leads to being certified as a group leader, and as I keep getting asked to start up power walking groups, I thought I’d better get qualified!
Everyone else taking part was a runner, we even had an ultra runner amongst us (several of us went ooooo when we found out). And of course everyone had chosen their t-shirts carefully to demonstrate their running prowess – good job I’d worn my Marathon du Medoc one, but the ultra runner won hands down with his Mont Blanc one).
The day was a mixture of practical, theory and group work, with each of us taking the part of ‘leader.’ We did warm-ups, cool downs, warm-ups, cool downs, over and over to get down the patter of a leader and make sure we were asking those all important open questions. And the other wannabe leaders were great with me, adjusting their sessions to take into account a power walker, and of course I got to show off the proper power walking form – lots of ‘great posture’ and ‘perfect arms’ comments to kept me going.
I learned plenty of great ideas for improving speed, strength and coordination (all of which are important whether you are a runner or a walker), but one of the most important things I learned was the importance of not talking when you demonstrate stretches. If you are talking then people watch your mouth, not what your arms, legs and back are doing – this was very hard for me, and I kept starting to say something, then having to bite my tongue. I also picked up loads of points about running form which I will be using on Mr CT when he starts training for his next marathon – whether he wants it or not.
The course was great, but I did feel a bit guilty about missing my training session for the day. But I needn’t have worried – several hours of stretching, high knees, side steps and a final competitive session that involved me going all out and sprinting, and I had done more than enough exercise. And oh how I felt it, for several days afterwards. Not kidding, I felt like I’d walked a marathon and had to walk sideways up and down stairs! But I passed, and I will definitely be incorporating what I’ve learned into my fitness and Nordic walking classes.