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Half marathon training day with Laureus

by Editor
Monday 28th September 2015

Race feature: Run247 columnist Paul Hayward joins in the Vitality Run Series Oxford Half marathon training day with official charity partner Laureus

Vitality Run Series Oxford Half marathon training day with official charity partner Laureus

With less than four weeks until the Vitality Run Series Oxford Half marathon, I checked out the official charity partner Laureus’ training day, in order to be ready and ensure that I enjoy every step of the new route. The training day was held at the iconic venue of the Sir Roger Bannister Running Track in Iffley Road in Oxford and part of Oxford University.

For those that are unaware, Laureus (or the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation) has been around for fifteen years and operates throughout the world with the focus of improving the lives of our youth through sport. Laureus’ programmes support young teens to young adults from underprivileged backgrounds and are reliant on fundraising and donors to facilitate over 150 projects across the world.

In the United Kingdom Laureus’ programmes range from trying to encourage young people to leave gangs, to addressing youth unemployment (by empowering them and allowing them to develop skills for the workplace). One programme is their “Street League” whereby Laureus recruits young adults out of work and attaches them to a football team, to allow them to play for a team and / or help coach the team, and encourages them to attend development classes or give them work experience.

The football takes them out of an intimidating environment, where they are made to feel wanted and provided with an opportunity to grow.  A £100 fund raiser, such as those running for Laureus at the Oxford half, can pay for a coach to take part in the programme and provide the help these young adults need.

Vitality Run Series Oxford Half marathon training day with official charity partner Laureus

All of the Laureus’ runners were treated to two fantastic running coaches, giving a host of tips on nutrition and training, and some time with Victoria Pendleton to ask any questions, before taking part in an interval session.

I decided to sit in on the nutrition session and was really pleased to pick up a lot of good tips such as:

  1. try and train before breakfast if you can for 30 to 45 minutes. This will allow you to use the stored fats in your system and allow your body to become used to drawing on this energy; and
  2. when using gels try not to have a “jager bomb” moment and down them in one. Take a little on and slowly; this will avoid stomach cramps and allows the sugar into the body slowly for more effective use. 

The question and answer session revealed that a lot of the runners at the training day were nervous about the race and asked Victoria questions such as how does she deal with nerves before race day (always do your best, you cannot criticise yourself then) and how does she prepare for a race (take your pillow with you, always sit down or even better lay down - why sit if you can lie?). Victoria also took time to discuss, with open honesty, how being an athlete affects her (she misses out on so many social functions, time with friends and moments) and just what a mental battle it can be at times to put training before her family.

With this in mind everyone was treated to an interval session and I decided to catch up with some of Laureus’ runners after to see how the day had gone. Firstly there was Gabriella who is 25 and is working as a doctor in Oxford. I asked her why she was running the Oxford Half and what she had taken away from the training day.

“I am training for the Bath to Bristol marathon and I am using the Oxford Half as a training run. I came today to see if I can get any tips on how to better my training and in particular nutrition." Emma explained.

"My top tip that I have taken away is the 'run on an empty stomach in the morning'. I am a really busy person with work, so when I have done a morning run I have felt energised all of the day and this must be due to using the fueled fats. So it is a case of making time I think due to the benefits of running in the morning.

"I was really pleased I came today as I have taken some great tips to help my training and what a great location!”.

Vitality Run Series Oxford Half marathon training day with official charity partner Laureus

Photos: Gabriella (blue top) and Michelle (in white)

Secondly I spoke to Michelle who has been running for six years and who was diagnosed with cancer five years ago.

Michelle was able to get through this difficult time and her treatment through her focus on running and this struck a chord with Laureus’ aim that they use sport to help people. By being in a group with people that all wanted to run, she was able to leave her worries behind and find support to ensure that she could deal with the stress that was thrown at her. Michelle stated that she was really pleased to be contacted by Laureus and she cannot wait to put the tips that she has learnt today into practice such as threshold training! 

More information on Laureus and their fund raising opportunities can be found here: www.laureus.com/fundraise

and more information on the Oxford Half marathon can be found here: oxfordhalf.co.uk

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