HSE Is Running

Coach of HSE Running Club talks about its foundation, trainings and how to join them.

HSE Is Running

Source: https://vk.com/runhsenn

Running has long been mainstreamed in Russia. If earlier it was only for professional athletes, today almost every third person runs. Some do it for the sake of a healthy body, others jogging helps to relax, and others use them for communication and socialization. Since the boom of mass races began, amateur runners have finally gained the recognition and respect of non-running fellow citizens. With the advent of the corporate relay race for organizations, having their own running club and performing at competitions has become almost a sign of good taste. HSE, of course, could not stay away.

HSE students were lucky twice with the running club. Firstly, its founder, leader and coach is «ultra-cyborg», iron man, winner of the most difficult ultramarathons and champion of three-day running Andrey Vasilenko. Secondly, guys run in one of the most beautiful places in Russia — along the embankments of the river "mother" Volga in lovely city Nizhny Novgorod. We talked with Andrey about how the club appeared, how jogging goes, how to join them and make running a part of life.

Hello, Andrey! I am very glad to have the opportunity to talk with you! You are one of the most outstanding runners with an incredible inspiring story. It seems amazing that a person with such a busy life finds time for a simple student running club. Please, tell us how you came up with the idea to create it?

Hello! To be honest, the idea was born out of a little bit selfish motive. HSE has Alumni Award, which is annually awarded to outstanding graduates. That's about me also. I was nominated for it twice, and twice I didn't get it. I didn't understand why for a long time and was really upset. But one day I found out that the jury very appreciates the applicants' contribution not only to society as a whole, but also to the life of the HSE itself. So, I decided to combine business with pleasure. I didn't have to think for a long time. Running is a part of my life. I have accumulated a lot of experience and knowledge in it, and I was happy to share them with others. Besides, there was no running club in HSE before. That's how I opened HSE Running Club in Nizhny Novgorod!

By the way, I won the prize next year. But I didn't need it anymore — I already had something much more valuable. The fact is that I have a great social responsibility. If I've created something, I can't give it up. Therefore, for the third year I have been an organizer, coach, showman and a real enthusiast of this running club!

How many members are in the club? Who are they?

Our record is 32 people in one training at the same time. Mostly the administrative staff runs, teachers and methodologists. Sometimes graduates join us. Students also come, but rarely — they mostly just study.

Are the participants constant or changing?

Both. There is a group of guys who run regularly. They sincerely love amateur running and see it as something special for themselves: pleasure, hormones of happiness endorphins, a way to distract themselves, have fun. But also, there are those who come for a while with a minimum task. For some, it's a "participation in 10 km race", for others — a marathon. And as soon as they reach the goal, jogging stops being necessary for them, and they leave. In their place new ones come.

Where and when do you train?

We meet twice a week. Once on weekdays and once on weekends. On weekdays, we meet at one of the HSE buildings at 7 pm, when everyone's work is most probably over. There we change clothes, leave our bags, and go running at the stadium or along the nearest paths. On weekends, usually on Saturday, when there is much more free time, we gather in the morning somewhere in the city center and run longer distances along the embankment and other tourist places.

And how do the trainings go? Are you just running together or is there some kind of program?

Both. You can't get in shape by simple running. Therefore, when we are preparing for race, for example, the Nizhny Novgorod marathon "Run, hero!" or the Absolute Moscow Marathon, once a week I provide speed and strength training or ask guys to run up and down the hill. They don't really like it, but they know that after these exercises, their legs will fly. I'm like a free personal trainer: I help them make training plans, tell them about equipment, nutrition, pace, tactics … There are a lot of erroneous opinions and amateurish reasoning on these issues on the Internet now. I don't want my guys to run into them.

When there are 5-7 of us on a run, I appoint them «guides» in turn. The «guide» adjusts the pace and leads the group along the route according to my assignment. In this way, I try to develop not only athletic, but also leadership qualities in them.

How do you deal with the difference in the level of training of runners? Do you run at an average pace or you give everyone an individual task?

I just divide them into three groups according to their level. The first group is for advanced, the second is for continuing. The third one — the «seal squad» — is for beginners, they have the simplest tasks. «Seals» run a maximum of 2 km at a pace of 7-7.5 minutes per km by the rule "not to get tired and watch the technique". Their goal is to gain the condition to move into the continuing group. And the goal of continuing group is to move on to advanced ones. But if someone from the older groups does not cope with the workload, I lower him to a weaker group. It is impossible to conduct a high-quality training for everyone at once, because for some it will be too easy, and for others it will be too difficult. So, I'm torn between three groups.

Do you run during winter time?

No, we just don't run in winter. All stadiums, embankments and sidewalks are buried under snow. Our runners are like snowdrops: they appear as if from under the snow in spring and run until it snows again. And then, like bears, they fall back into hibernation. They get up on skis, but by themselves, without me.

Who can start running with you and how? Are there any restrictions?

Our doors are open for everyone! We don't have any filters. For me, all people are peer. Information about us and how to join us can be found in our VKontakte group and Telegram channel. From time to time we also send out invitations and announcements by corporative e-mail.

Do you plan to develop the club in any way in the future?

From my point of view, we have already had a great success! There are several dozen people in the club, that is, now every tenth person in HSE runs or ran. That's a lot. Besides, in addition to the running group, we have a reserve. This is a whole team of people who, for some reason, do not run with us themselves, but very actively support us. They see us on the streets, follow us on social networks and cheer for us at the races. Such latent fans: very friendly, encourage us, but are not ready to run also yet.

Does anyone come to join because of you? For example, to gain experience from you and develop as a runner, knowing your history.

Yes, they do. But for many people, running is a temporary hobby. Being an amateur, it is difficult to jump above the level of an amateur. Therefore, when an amateur wants to become a professional athlete, the first thing I ask is: «Do you want it or can you do it?». After all, «to want» and «to be able» are two completely different concepts. It is better to decide on them right away, soberly assessing your resources and capabilities.

With me you need to be ready to work for real. When I train myself, I turn into a robot, ruthless to myself. If I have a goal — to win, to improve the result — I will stop at nothing on the way to achieve it. The sport of high achievements always requires sacrifices, a lot of health and free time. Many, in addition to sports, have job, family, friends and much more. Combining it is not easy and is fraught with lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, under-recovery and, as a result, decline in all spheres of life. And the competitors at the races are not amateurs at all. These are professionals for whom training is a job and a way of earning. They don't have any external distractions. Therefore, it is difficult to compete with them even psychologically. Not everyone can withstand such a double load.

How do you integrate running into your life? I read that, in addition to the club, you have two or more jobs and a family.

There are even 3 jobs already! And combining everything, of course, is not easy. But I found one way out. When I finish training with the club, I stay and continue to train for myself. My daily mileage is 30-35 km. Amateurs, of course, will not stand it. And they don't need it, I forbid them such workloads. I'm just combining two workouts. Also, I run around for work, literally. I put on sneakers, a uniform and run to customers! Earlier they used to be surprised. I also was a little shy myself at first. Just imagine: one CEO run to another CEO in shorts and with documents in a running backpack on his back! Not solid. But in a few years, everyone got used to it. Even, on the contrary, they are surprised when I come in casual clothes. So, I'm on my feet all the time: running around the Nizhny Novgorod like Will Smith in the movie «The Pursuit of Happiness». But in contrast with him I have much more comfortable clothes.

Andrey, thank you very much for the conversation! Good luck to you and your club!

Running has a lot of advantages. It is the most accessible sport of all. Football players need a field, hockey players need ice and equipment, basketball players need a playground with a ring. But runners need only a pair of good running shoes. You can run in nature and in the city, in spring, summer and autumn, in company and alone. It doesn't matter how old you are and what kind of experience in sports you had before! In addition, running improves health and protects against many diseases. And, most importantly, it gives you an incomparable charge of energy and positive emotions!

Therefore, if you have not yet decided to go out for a run, now is the right time to start doing it!

Details about the the HSE running club in Nizhny Novgorod can be found in the official VKontakte group.

Interview by

Margarita Mayorova