Running has no language

So it’s been about 4 weeks since I began to train with Quarke Saudé e Performance (health & performance). It’s a great training group and I’m wondering why we don’t have more of these in the U.S.  If you go to Parque do Ibirapuera you’ll see many training groups set up their stands at various points and people training with them. They run/stretch/exercise in groups or individually in the park. Importantly, there are several trainers that provide individualized attention to the trainees. This beats the 40-something marathon training group at Rogue any day!

So I have 2 coaches, Rodrigo and Jõao alternate on various days of the week. Rodrigo designs my training plan based on the info they collect after every workout. 

I work out with them three times a week, which is quite a challenge on weekends. I am always conflicted by the desire to go out and drink on Friday nights, something which Bharath and I regularly argued about in Austin (he would gripe about me ruining his Fridays). But I’ve somehow figured out I need to do both and can’t lose out on night outs in Brazil but neither can I stop running. As a result I’ve had some really painful runs. Eh!

Here’s a sample training plan:

Quarke’s Weekly Individualized Training Plan

Some of the sample workouts include a time trial where I ran 2400 meters as hard as I could. My time for 2400 meters was 14.43, which translates to about 10.30 minutes a mile. That’s the best time trial I’ve done, assuming I ran the correct course, which brings me to the issue about running with no language barriers.

 Training with the group here is a minor challenge because very few people speak English and I don’t speak much Portuguese except the nominal stuff. So it’s always an exercise for the coaches to figure out how to explain my workout to me. Fortunately I understand numbers. So this morning I ran 8 iterations of 4 minutes at 175 bpm and 1 minute walk at 140 bpm. My (cute and bashful) coach João strapped the heart rate belt onto me and embarassedly indicated I should wear it under the “err….”, which I took to mean sports bra. He strapped on the heart rate monitor onto my wrist (yes, that is the level of individualized attention everyone gets) and off I went. I’ve done this workout before but today it felt harder (probably because a meal of shrimp coxina, a deep fried breaded cutlet of cheesy/creamy shrimp salad with smattering of vegetables) drove me to run 5k after dinner right before bed: bad idea if you plan to run hard again at 7 AM the next day.
Things sometimes get lost in translation when the coaches need to explain my workout to me., but are somehow quickly found. João is absolutely adorable when he tries to speak English. He wants to say everything correctly and so painstakingly formulates his sentences and asks me if he’s correct. I on the other hand am impatient and just speak poor English with him just so I can get going- almost phraselike – “I go run now?””, “all ok?” , “what time tomorrow?” etc. When I have to explain my workout I just wildly gesticulate to various body parts which ache and try to figure out how to explain cramps versus soreness versus joint pain. I don’t want them modifying the training based on misunderstood pain! Sometimes I theatrically act out how I felt – hard or easy, tired or fine. But the conversations are unhindered by language – we discuss running technique, latest research on running styles (to stretch or not to stretch pre-run/post-run; heel vs forefoot strik etc.) and never has translation been an issue.
Overall, it’s been absolutely fantastic. I’ve never received so much individualized training before – it’s like having a personal coach for running! Sometimes they run with me, and after I’m done they stretch my legs (which is acutely painful if Rodrigo does it). There are no super long runs yet so most of them are like doing speed workouts – the interval training on the heart rate followed by shorter, faster runs. I noticed that by the end of the month I’d be running 10k. I’m really hoping this translates into some serious PR on race times eventually.
They’ve also sent me a list of 5ks and 10ks that I can do while I’m here. Signing up for the race also takes a while because registration is in Portuguese. But what else do I have to do here? Eat, drink and run!

With Coach João


Runners on the course in the beautiful Parque Ibirapuera


10 responses to “Running has no language

  1. Ah, I see you have graduated to working with HRM! You will be amazed about how much you learn when you workout while monitoring your HR. I trained with it through the summer, but dropped it for the race. It gets too distracting sometimes. The key is to first learn from the HRM then try to tune yourself to certain comfortable pace based on your threshold.
    It was good to see a sample of your training schedule. It looks like lots of interval work. Like you said, you should get faster on the shorter distances. Have fun!

  2. During the race (or any point for that matter) you would want to know your anaerobic threshold. Some athletes work of “feel”, others work off HR – making sure say they are in Z1/Z2…etc. Complicated stuff, I am not an expert at it, but I try to follow my HR during trainings. But yeah, essentially to pace yourself. Now you could just ignore the HRM and use the garmin for pacing/timing. 🙂

    • yes i cannot wait till it gets here. miss training in Austin though! i wish i could combine the training system here with Austin. they slowly increase the distance but it’s completely individualized – the brazilians have to do a medical check up but i didn’t do one because of insurance issues. based on ur health, goals etc. they design something for you. it’s really fantastic and very scientific. all the coaches are personal trainers at local gyms and do this additionally. one of the coaches is an ultrarunner and just ran a 3.05 marathon last week!

    • hey! I pay about R$110 per month which at the current exchange rate is 54% of that or some 60 bucks per month? it is pricey but effectively feels more value added and hence cheaper than the marathon programs in Austin. in Brazil, it’s cheaper than going to a gym which is some ridiculous R$ 300 per month! there is a LOT of support they provide in addition to individualized training. i’ve asked them to give some strength exercises also as part of the plan.

  3. oh my Coach João does make the heart flutter 😀
    Sirsh I ran the Vibha 5k in 35 mins..time not that great coz I was sleep-deprived, tired with volunteering and ate upma 2 hrs before the run but it was so enjoyable through the lovely Georgia-tech campus! Really remembered you throughout the race though, esp at finish line 🙂 mmmuah Ehh what’s up with Pujo in SP?? I thought you found the bengali assn?!

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