Reach For The Next Level: Xempo Performance Day

Back in May I attended a running/blogging workshop called Write This Run.  It was an inspiring day but one delegate criticised my choice of running top.  I’m sure it was a throw away remark but it has stuck with me and made me conscious of something I’d not given a second thought.  This month, thanks to The Wife and the Xempo Performance Day, I was able to regain confidence in my Xempo top.

I was waiting with fellow delegates prior to going for a “run” with Team GB athlete Scott Overall.  The day had been a friendly one of like-minded people.  We all loved running and loved writing about it too.  I was explaining the significance of my Xempo top – The Wife had bought it as a present to celebrate my half marathon PB at Oxford Half last October.

Xempo is a brand of running tops that I liken to karate belts: if you meet the standard of a particular level you can award yourself with that colour of top.  The scale starts at white, for just getting out running, before moving to yellow, the first of 8 time-bound levels, finishing with the gold level for the super fast.

For me, wearing my Xempo top was a matter of pride at what I had achieved and the next colour gave me something to work towards.  Given that I was wearing an Orange top, only the second timed level, I hadn’t even considered that someone would think I was trying to show off.  That was until I was accused of “willy waving” by a particular female delegate.

Perhaps if she’d chosen to speak to me when I was in civvies, she would have not leapt to such a judgement.  I am passionate about running and as a UKA Leader in Running Fitness I just want to encourage others to find that passion irrespective of pace.

I enjoyed my post workshop run and drove back to Oxfordshire to get on with my life but that throw away remark meant I have hesitated before pulling on my Xempo top since.  That is until my latest running workshop experience.

The Wife has always told me of how proud she is of my running, especially for raising money for causes very close to our hearts.  Back in August she found a public way of sharing her pride.  Xempo had launched their Hype-A-Runner competition:

“Most of us have a friend or a family member that never takes the credit we think they deserve. So Xempo are giving you a chance to hype-a-runner on their behalf and win great prizes whilst you’re at it!”

Her nomination summed up what running means for me, ending with the all important paragraph:

“He has become an encyclopedia of all things running and loves nothing more than knowing he’s encouraged someone else to hit the roads. And in the coming weeks, perhaps he’ll take on the biggest running challenge of them all… convincing his wife that she can run!”

And then the voting began!

Our friends and family saw a chink in her previously impenetrable non-running armour and actually started to vote to “encourage” her into taking her first step towards running.  Needless to say, between us we collected enough votes to be rewarded with two places at the Xempo Performance Day.

There was no turning back now.  Her life as a runner had begun.  Well nearly.  First we had to get some running shoes!

The Xempo Performance Day was being held at Lee Valley Athletics Centre (what an amazing and apparently, underused facility – get down there if you’re local; it’s open to the public) and I was nervous for The Wife who undoubtedly would be the “youngest” runner in the room.

I needn’t have been worried, from arrival we were made to feel welcome and the informal, friendly nature of the Xempo team and their speakers put everyone at ease, including the nervous novice.

We first heard some inspiring stories from some of the fellow hypers and hypees.  It is amazing how running can touch people in such different ways.

Then it was the turn of Nick Anderson, a UKA Level 4 coach and one of the coaches behind runningwithus.com, and Scott Mitchell from Move Clinics, a physio and running technique coach, to talk about key elements to training and injury prevention.  What these guys don’t know about running just isn’t worth knowing!

We then got to learn a little more from two top quality athletes: Steve Way (a man who lost 5 stone, gave up smoking and went on to run a number of 2:19 marathons and who, in August, took on a 100km race and won) and Paul Martelletti (another ex-smoker who found running relatively late and has gone on to establish himself as one of the top endurance runners in the country).

Both Steve and Paul were down to earth and their relatively short but successful running careers made them all the more inspiring.  When we hit the track for some drills and technique tips they were both happy to join in with all of us making fools of ourselves at the command of Nick and Scott.

I was having a whale of a time and what’s more, so was The Wife!  For someone so new to running a running workshop day could have easily overawed, and even discouraged her but she was truly excited and enthused about running.  This was a day of inspiration and encouragement for each person to take their running to the next level, whatever that may be.  And no willy waving in sight!

Thanks to Dan Afshar of Xempo, host Simon Freeman and everyone else involved for making it an amazing day for all abilities of runner.  Thank you for giving me confidence in the Xempo brand again, I should have never doubted you!  I shall be using the tips to help me on the attempt to reach my next level next month at this year’s Oxford Half.

And we couldn’t leave without having a go on a proper indoor athletics track – I am proud to say that it was not just me who wanted to run my legs silly for the 200 metres; the newest runner in my life gave it a go too and I’m even more proud to say that she loved it (almost) as much as me!

You can see more about the Xempo Performance Day in this little video – look out for my Lego notebook!

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