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Hilly Fields Run Sessions FAQs

I'm not very fast, will I be left behind?

No, you won’t be left behind! The running we do in our sessions is not continuous, we run for short periods and then we recover, regroup and go again.
Every session has different options available for the run distances, some people run further and faster than others and they have a longer route option available to them. You choose the speed and distance that feels right for you that day and because the sessions cater for a wide range of running abilities there will probably be someone else who is choosing the same route and running about the same speed as you.

How far would I run in a session?

During a session we run a number of short intervals over a route that is either a loop or an out-and-back course. There are options of loops of different distances and different turnaround points so you can choose what loop or distance, and how many, feel right for you so frequently there is a wide range of distances run in a session. 
Some sessions have a speed focus, so distance covered will be lower but we’ll be aiming to run fast, and then have enough recovery time to make the next effort just as high intensity. Other sessions will be aiming to build running endurance so distances will be longer and pace will be lower. One of these endurance intervals or efforts is typically is between 500m and 1km, or 2-6 minutes of running time.
As a very rough guide distance covered tends to be between 3 and 6km (2-4 miles), but less in a speed focussed session.

How is it different from going for a run by myself?

It’s surprising how much more you find you are capable of when you are running in a group! The session structure of warm up, intervals of running and recovery, then cool down supports the development of running fitness really effectively and in a way which is different from the equally important running fitness gained from a continuous, perhaps slower paced, run you might do by yourself. 
Technique feedback and tips are an important part of the session too, which can be really helpful not only to improve performance but to reduce running injury risk. And it’s more fun to run together!

How do you make sessions suitable for all runners?

Our sessions have lots of options and choices in them; hilly & flat, longer & shorter, different number of efforts/intervals so our runners can make the session as challenging as they want it to be on that day.
There is often a big range in running pace between runners in a session but we always regroup after each interval and everyone is encouraged and supported through to the end of each effort.

I'm an experienced runner, how would I benefit?

Often when we’ve been running a long time our running can get a little bit lacking in variety, perhaps many runs are roughly the same pace, or the same length. Our sessions, and the notes that come with them, will give you ideas for some different things you could include in your runs eg shorter intervals, hill sprints, progression runs or fartlek. These should hopefully not only give your motivation a boost (if that’s needed) but will help improve your running speed and endurance due to the training benefits of higher intensity and interval based training.
Running technique plays a big part in not only performance but also injury prevention so the sessions are also an opportunity to get some tips from a running coach, and try some running drills, which you may find helpful.

How do you make the sessions different each week?

Hilly Fields may not be as big as some parks but it has an incredible variety of running options within it. There are flat areas, lots of hills of different lengths and gradients, grassy surfaces and paved paths; and we use them all!
Our sessions are never based around going for a single continuous run. They always have a series of run efforts within them and this gives us the scope to be really varied and creative to make the sessions as different and interesting as possible.

Will it help me train for a 5k/10k/half/marathon?

Yes! I love seeing the event photos that our runners share on our WhatsApp groups and cheering our runners on in parkrun knowing their times are getting faster. If you are following a training plan for your event it probably has some faster paced runs in it (even if it’s a marathon plan!) as well as some longer, easy runs. There are significant training benefits that come from higher intensity and faster, shorter runs which is what our sessions focus on. These are also the runs that it’s hardest to do by yourself - it’s much easier when you are running with other people and have a session structure.

How big are the groups? Are they friendly?

The maximum group size is 16. Frequently group sizes are much smaller, especially for pop up sessions so that’s an ideal time to try a session for the first time if you would like to start with a really small group setting. Our runners are not only very friendly but also really supportive and encouraging.

Can I try a session without any commitment?

Yes! Your first session is always free - choose the option to “Pay later”  or “Skip & book” on the online payment page. And while we hope you’ll come back to more sessions we understand that you may not, and that’s totally fine!
Dawn sessions (Tuesdays 6:15 - 7:15am) and pop up sessions (Fridays 9:30 - 10:30am during school holidays) are available to book singly for £8 a session so there’s no ongoing commitment associated with coming to those sessions.
You can try the first week of our 8 week series and make a decision after that first week whether to continue, as long as there are places left, but Early Birds who sign up in advance do get priority.

What can I expect when I come to a trial session?

Book onto a trial session and you’ll get a welcome email with logistics for the session and a link to an online form asking some questions about your current running and any relevant injuries so we can make sure the session is tailored to you and the rest of the group on that day. Each session starts with a short , flat, gentle jog, where you’ll be with someone who has been to the sessions before. We continue to warm up with active stretches, dynamic mobilisations and running drills and I explain what the session plan is. We then head over the the area of the park we’ll use that day for our main session and begin. We finish with a short cool down jog and static stretches

Are the sessions suitable for complete beginners?

If you are completely new to running I frequently recommend following a 0-5k or Couch to 5k plan at the very beginning as its structured approach is well designed. It builds running fitness gradually and also means that our joints, tendons and muscles have time to adapt to the demands of running, thereby reducing injury risk. Once you are running for 2-3 minutes 3 to 4 times within a run then why not try a session as one of your weekly runs.

I'm new to running, should I wait before starting?

Don’t wait to get fitter or feel more ready to join - just come along and  try a session. As long as you are running for 2-3 minutes 3 to 4 times within a run, or can run for about 10 minutes continuously then now is the best time!
Hopefully you’ll find that the variety and challenge of the sessions boosts both your running motivation and fitness and the technique tips result in not only performance benefits but reduced injury risk.

I'm returning from an injury/break, can I still join?

Yes! Our “Return to Running” 8 week series is specifically designed for runners who have had a break from running due to injury, pregnancy, general life stuff getting in the way or any reason at all. Those sessions will have shorter & flatter interval options, extra warm up, stretching, strength & mobility to help keep you running again.
If you can’t make those sessions then we’ll make sure the session you attend is tailored to you too, just make sure to include that you’ve recently started running again and, if relevant, your injury on the pre-session information form when you complete it.

When and where are the sessions?

All our sessions are in Hilly Fields. We meet outside the bowls club by the junction of Hilly Fields Crescent and Trywhitt Rd so we can warm up on the flat area also used as football and cricket pitches. After we’ve warmed up we head off to a different bit of the park for the location of that week’s main session.

Sessions are:

Dawn Run Sessions Tuesdays 6:15-7:15am

8 week series Fridays 9:30-10:30am (all running abilities) 11am-12pm (Return to Running)

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