As trailed in my last blog post, this morning I tried out the audio activity package that I bought from Audiofuel the other day. I even went out in the falling snow to run with it too; I was that keen to try it out! 🙂
Audiofuel has many specially designed packages to suit all levels of ability – including one that’s tailored for, and officially linked to, this year’s London Marathon. In the end, the one I settled for is called Pyramid 180 BPM MAX Interval training & coaching.
When you make a purchase, you download an mp3 of the package you’ve bought which you can then sync with your preferred player. In my case, I put it on my iphone so I could use it with the Runkeeper app.
“BPM” = the Beats Per Minute of the music they use for the session. In this case, 180BPM is the maximum level it goes to.
After a brief introduction, you begin a 5 minute period where the music is a gentle 155 bpm to allow you to warm up. The voice of the coach starts you off by counting the pace (“1,2,3,4”). This matches the beat of the music and therefore the speed at which your feet need to hit the floor: “Feet to the beat!” The coach’s voice cuts in to tell you when you’ve got half way and then eventually counts down the last few seconds of the warm up.
From there, you’re into the interval training mode so the music is cranked up to 172 bpm and you do a 30 second sprint. Again, the coach’s voice counts the pace, when you’re halfway and then the final few seconds. After that you’ve got a 60 second breather, during which you can either jog or walk – I chose to walk.
The pattern then continues as follows:
- sprint for 45 seconds at 175bpm
- 60 sec recovery
- sprint for 1 minute at 178bpm
- 60 sec recovery
- sprint for 1 min 15 secs at 180 bpm
- 60 sec recovery
Then you’re brought back down through the gears to the 30 sec sprint, at which point you get a final 5 minute cool down and you’re done!
I’m pleased to say that, although it wasn’t my fastest run, I did complete all the sprints and I ran for a FULL 5 MINUTES at the beginning!
So, a couple of things I liked about using this:
All my previous runs have basically been up to me as to when to run and when to walk (unless I was being chased by zombies…!) Knowing when and how long the intervals would be during this run, took the guesswork out of it and, as a result, I felt far more comfortable. The light 5 minute jog I did at the beginning is basically the longest time I’ve run without stopping and it felt fine!
2) The coach.
I run on my own but figured out early on that I couldn’t run to music alone. I needed a voice. To that end, I turned to an audio adventure that mixed music with storytelling – but that still left it up to me as to when to run and when to walk and for how long.
Having the Audiofuel coach’s voice in my head, telling me at what pace to run and for how long and then how many seconds to go was a real help. Counting the pace out loud to myself also helped. Incidentally the coach’s voice is British and male. He’s not some pumped up, shouty American who verbally high-fives every step or who declares (I’d imagine) that unless you feel on the verge of having a heart attack, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough!! No. This coach is encouraging in a calm and sensible way.
Anyway, the point is that when faced with doing a 75 second sprint at 180 bpm, I thought “I can’t do that!!” but when I got going and heard the voice telling me I was halfway through it, I thought “have I really run non-stop for just over 35 seconds at that speed?!” Suddenly it didn’t seem so bad.
3) Knowing my BPM
When I created music playlists to use with my running before, I just went for stuff that I reckoned sounded fairly quick or inspiring. I didn’t pay any attention to beats per minute because I had no idea what would suit me. Well now I do. Knowing I can jog comfortably for 5 mins at 155 bpm and sprint for 75 seconds at 180 bpm, gives me a useful scale I can apply to any future playlist choices using my own music collection.
The session lasted 22 minutes which wasn’t quite long enough to allow me to do my usual 2 miles – so I kept going with the light jogging and walking until Runkeeper told me I was done. It wasn’t my fastest run, but that wasn’t the point of today’s outing…..and it was snowing.
I think my next goal is to try the session again but instead jog lightly, rather than walk, through all the 60 second recovery periods (or at least as many of them as I can).
I may well end up buying more packages when I feel ready. For now though, I can really recommend giving it a go. For me, it’s helped me realise that I was maybe trying to do too much too soon on my own and didn’t appreciate that I needed more of a helping hand.
But then.. I was the kid at junior school who, when the swimming teacher asked who could already swim, stuck up my hand…. then had to be fished out of the pool when it was obvious I’d never swum before in my life!!
I ended up becoming a strong swimmer. I reckon I can end up becoming a strong runner 🙂