ATLETA Fitness

How to run the City 2 Surf; Tips from VIP Trainer Neil Russell

The second Sunday in August marks a particularly special day in Sydney; it is the date for the City 2 Surf. A 14km fun-run taking you from Sydney CBD up, down and across to beautiful Bondi Beach, it is also the largest participation Fun-Run in the world.

With only 14 weeks left until the City 2 Surf (C2S), we chatted to ATLETA VIP trainer Neil Russell, for some event tips, training advice and reminiscent memories of the City 2 Surf past, present and future.Optimized-IMG_0302

I’m sure you’re looking forward to another great event this year. Tell me though, how long have you (and ATLETA) been training clients to achieve their best in a C2S event?

This year will be our 10th year of training corporate groups for the C2S, including one team win. I love seeing all the faces of those we train as they cross the line of the C2S and they achieve their goals. It’s also always a great atmosphere in Bondi post event, with many stories being traded over a recovery BBQ (and often a swim in the surf).

I certainly remember it being a great day! What are some of the most exciting personal memories of the C2S?

In the 2009 City 2 Surf I was lucky enough to run the event for myself, and achieved my best time of 55:54. That put me in the top 1% that year, so I was pretty stoked with that achievement. I’ve also only once raced my brother, Ian, and we tied in exactly 57:35! I also paced ATLETA client, and Miss Universe competitor, Laura Dundovic, as well as TV and radio personality Jules Lund. It was great to be able to pace these guys and help them achieve their goal times.Optimized-Neil_Running.opt.3747b40695

That’s some pretty exciting, and fast paced, action! Are you planning on running the C2S again this year and, if so, then what’s your goal time?

Yeah, it definitely makes the day more fun if you take part in it, I get massive FOMO if I don’t and there is nothing like creating an instant connection with 90,000 people people who are trying to achieve something special. I don’t think I will race it, but instead help a friend or client achieve their PB or even just complete it; I have other training goals this year. One year I’d love to give it another crack and try to run a sub 52 race, but not this year.

With all that running and training, you have a lot of experience with the City 2 Surf event. What are some tips you would give to newer or first time runners of the C2S?

Firstly, let’s start with the training. If your goal is just to complete the race, make sure you start building on your long slow runs and getting used to the distance in your legs. If you’re going out to achieve a new PB then interval and hill training is a must! A well structured and balanced training program can maximise your performance, and significantly improve how you feel on race day.

Neil Russell - Atleta TrainerOnce you get there on the day, make sure you don’t set out too hard from the get-go. Heartbreak hill is the third hill that you hit, and not the last…Similarly, heartbreak hill is not the hardest part. Provided you’ve paced yourself well and done adequate hill training, heartbreak hill should be a manageable challenge. It’s the hills in Dover Heights and the final 1km that are the real challenge. Make sure you run your own race as well; don’t feel pressured to pace against someone else and burn yourself out early. Keep to your race pace, and if that’s still manageable in the last 2km, then pick up the pace and finish the race strong.

Finally, if you’re brave enough then have a change of clothes ready and go for a quick swim after the race. It’s fun with your mates, and it’s also great recovery!

So there you have it. As you can tell from Neil’s recollections and advice, the C2S is one of the best fun events put on by Sydney each year, and one that you should be part of too! ATLETA is running our 10th annual 10 week C2S training program, starting Tuesday June 2nd and running until Saturday August 8, in Centennial Park. It will run Tuesday mornings 630-730am and Saturday mornings 730-830am. Come along and let Neil and the team help you achieve your C2S running goals, set a new PB and have the best run possible.

Interview by Johann Ruys

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