Keep­ing It Fresh

WE TRY TO HOST new, fun and cre­ative events and work­outs that cost our par­tic­i­pants noth­ing at all. Here are a few of our favourites.

Runner's World (UK) - - November Project -

We had 350 RSVPS for this night­time event in Jan­uary 2013, an eight-mile out-and-back race with 20 burpees at the turn­around. Tem­per­a­tures dipped well be­low freez­ing and many as­sumed the race would be called off. But those who were close to the NP move­ment knew the ter­ri­ble weather was a gift. Run­ners dressed in head-to-toe black, and ice formed on the eye­lashes of many and seemed to freeze zips and hands, mak­ing the process of thaw­ing out at the af­ter-party some­thing to see.

An­other night­time race – this one in Novem­ber 2013 – in which the theme was bright, blink­ing, neon, glow­ing and vis­ually stun­ning. It brought rac­ers around two loops of Plea­sure Bay in South Bos­ton, cre­at­ing a five-miler – or was it a 5K? It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter. The point was that it was cold and dark.

There were cos­tumes like we’d never seen. And the ban­quet hall for the af­ter-party was stand­ing-room only.

One Fri­day in Jan­uary 2014, the weath­er­man was pre­par­ing us for an­other Snow­maged­don. We saw a golden op­por­tu­nity: clear some pave­ments and drive­ways as part of our work­out. So the tweet went out to the tribe to bring shov­els. And about 70 mem­bers turned what was sup­posed to be a 40-minute ses­sion into an hour-long run-shovel-run event. We got a good work­out – and brownie points with the neigh­bours.

In May 2014, we loaded 100 plas­tic eggs with strips of pa­per. On each were typed di­rec­tions: ‘Bear crawl across the court­yard,’ ‘Bray like a don­key for 30 secs while spin­ning.’ It was happy chaos as ev­ery­one dashed, sang, crawled and jumped across an out­door court­yard on Bos­ton Univer­sity’s cam­pus. Peo­ple were hav­ing in­sane fun with the eggs and it wasn’t even Easter; just an­other Mon­day morn­ing.

This event was some­thing to train for and would re­place a work­out. In Fe­bru­ary 2015, all 16 mem­ber cities across the US raced 6K for time. Why 6K? Be­cause why 5K? Why 26.2 miles? Ev­ery­thing is made up. So why not 6K? And why not at­tend a full-on race be­fore work? Work­outs are great, but later in your nor­mal day, when some­one idly asks, ‘How’s your day go­ing?’ and your an­swer is, ‘Amaz­ing’…well then, that’s why we do what we do.

Th­ese days, run­ning Full Frontal hills is the least ex­cit­ing, most bor­ing work­out in our reper­toire. Yet for the first few months, that’s all we did. And we loved it. The work­out orig­i­nated from our row­ing days at North­east­ern Univer­sity, where Coach Po­jed­nic would pile the 40-plus team into vans, drive to a hill and have us all con­tin­u­ally race each other all-out to the top un­til he said it was time to stop. There was never a case of ‘We’re do­ing six re­peats’ or ‘You have three more to go.’ The only time we knew we were al­most done was when he said, ‘This is the last one.’ And even then we weren’t 100 per cent sure. It was straight-up bru­tal. Ev­ery. Time. Who­ever dreamed up the acro­nym K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sim­ple Stupid) def­i­nitely had Full Frontals in mind. All you have to do is run up the hill, turn around at the top, come back down, and re­peat that five times as fast as you can.

We even­tu­ally moved the start/fin­ish line to the top of the hill. Be­fore, with the fin­ish line at the bot­tom, in an ef­fort to post fast times, peo­ple would bomb down the hill with no re­gard for human life. Lighter run­ners had a big ad­van­tage do­ing this, as their weight didn’t cause as much stress on their joints as it did on the big­ger run­ners. We both have 14-plus-stone frames and we can report it was an un­nec­es­sary strain. So in order to level out the play­ing field (and pre­vent po­ten­tial in­juries) we dis­cour­aged reck­less down­hilling and in­stead fo­cused on the up­hill push.

Once we brought the start­ing line to the top of the hill, we re­alised there were two sides to this hill. Who could have imag­ined? A hill with a front side and a back side! Mind-blow­ing! Aside from this amaz­ing dis­cov­ery, we also recog­nised the fact that our group wasn’t get­ting any smaller. So to keep run­ners safe, we de­cided to utilise the full hill (front and back sides). This gave us the chance to spread out the group, al­low run­ners to en­joy the slightly less in­tense gra­di­ent pro­file (the back side of the hill we use is much shorter and eas­ier to tackle) and put in longer mileage.

In­di­ana Jones forces teams of five to 10 peo­ple, or­gan­ised in a straight line, to push each other up a hill. The per­son at the back sprints to the front, break­ing up the long hike up the hill into shorter, higher-in­ten­sity in­ter­vals. Once at the front, that per­son slows down to a nor­mal run­ning pace. Run­ners are teamed up ac­cord­ing to speed, so ev­ery­one is push­ing to the limit.

This started as an op­tional de­tour across a grass patch off to the side of the hill. Ini­tially, we placed a few cones in the cor­ners of the patch and asked peo­ple, as they were com­ing back down the front side of the hill, to make a cross-coun­try de­tour around the cones. Even­tu­ally we started cre­at­ing ob­sta­cle cour­ses, us­ing any­thing from re­cy­cling bins and haz­ard tape to minia­ture flags and, of course, car tyres.

To keep our work­outs fresh and cre­ative, we throw in small, quirky ele­ments to get peo­ple to meet new friends and some­times even for­get about the watch on their wrist that’s count­ing out splits. Hello burpees, old friend.

Sprin­kling in burpees as a penalty for run­ning with­out a part­ner dur­ing a ‘No one runs alone’ work­out was a per­fect way to get peo­ple to in­ter­act with strangers. We’d also play var­i­ous it­er­a­tions of the game of tag, in which each run­ner at the top of the hill had to run through the tag area. If touched by a tag­ger, the run­ner would have to do five burpees. Some of the smarter run­ners would calmly run up to the tag­ger, take their burpee penalty and con­tinue with their work­out, while some run­ners would try what­ever they could to es­cape tag­ging, as if the tag­ger was in­fected with the Ebola virus. Most of the time, the chase even­tu­ally re­sulted in tag­ging, so not only would the tagged run­ner have to do five burpees, they’d also spend 20 sec­onds dodg­ing the tag­ger, tir­ing them­selves even more than if they were just to do the burpees. Not a sin­gle per­son in­volved in this work­out ever had a grumpy face. Why? Be­cause we all loved

play­ing tag as a kid!

GRIN AND BARE IT NP ses­sions are tough but fun

The in­spi­ra­tion for the In­di­ana Jones work­out is In­dian Runs, an ex­er­cise ses­sion of­ten used in US high schools.

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