Is it a bird...? Is it a plane...? Of course not, it’s trainer Colin demonstrating the “inverted hamstring” preparation movement. *Photo by James Burton
Is it a bird...? Is it a plane...? Of course not, it’s trainer Colin demonstrating the “inverted hamstring” preparation movement. *Photo by James Burton
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It’s quickly obvious you’re in trainer Colin Ayliffe’s world.

A curtsey translates as a “drop lunge” and the “World’s Greatest Stretch” isn’t a beautiful coastal walk but a warm-up routine that reaches parts of your inner groin you didn’t know existed.

Throw in some “scorpion kicks” and “sumo squats” and you’re contorting into shapes not seen since you last danced at a family wedding. Crucially, though, you’re also ready to run... miles.

After the success of his Beach Boot Camp, fitness trainer Colin has started  Run Strong, designed to get its participants in shape for the May 24 half marathon.

Over the course of eight weeks, I — and a group of fellow devoted runners — will follow a strict regime designed to get us all in tip-top condition and ready to take on the traditional, undulating route from Somerset to Hamilton that is such a pillar of Bermuda Day, the unofficial start of summer.

The distances run over the first three weeks of training takes the group up to the 11km (6.8 miles) mark, staggering the increase in distance – see chart above – so your body gets stronger in coping with the extra workload.

Good job, too, because after trainer Colin takes  our first warm-up, I already had a sweat on.

Like many, I’m guilty of stumbling out of bed in the morning and thinking a full-body yawn qualifies as  preparation for haring off down Middle Road. 

Of course, the subsequent lack of mobility for the next two days disproves that theory. And that is the key to this programme — not just putting the miles in but also preparing your body correctly.

Trainer Colin’s Movement Prep Exercises — examples left — ensure we do just that. Throw in some strength and conditioning routines — one mirrors a peeing dog, I kid you not — and you feel loose and ready to hit the road. 

Colin explains the science: “Most runners experience some sort of pain and discomfort when they are training for long distance events like the May 24 half marathon.

“These flexibility exercises are known as movement preparation. This method of preparing the body for movement boosts the heart rate, blood flow to the muscles and body temperature. 

“It also improves the function of the nervous system and psychologically prepares you for the run ahead. It also increases our speed and output by 20 per cent compared to traditional static stretching.

“Nearly all recreational runners have at least one muscle group that’s completely shut off, which causes other areas in the body to compensate and leads to injury. 

“A typical example would be the small muscles of the outer hip known as the Glutues Medius. If these muscles are not engaged it will lead to lower back problems, knee pain and groin strain to name a few — all common complaints from runners.

“We generally go through 10 movement preparation exercises before any run commences. It requires no equipment and takes about five minutes to complete.

“Movement preparation can switch these inhibited muscles on in a matter of days, which will greatly reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.”

So, with newly-loosened limbs, we eased our way into the opening week — a gentle three-miler and then a not-so-gentle 4.3-miler, which took in a stunning run down North Shore.

After some required solo running at the weekend, Monday saw us all impressively deal with Palmetto Road for a 3.1 miler as we tackled the second week of the Run Strong plan.

So far, so good — but  tougher miles lie ahead under the soon-to-be scorching Bermuda sun.

Nevertheless, it definitely feels like the start of something as we all train our minds on May 24 — and maybe being a little slimmer when we line up for beach volleyball.

It’ll get harder — and hotter, of course — but it’s difficult not to enjoy running on this picture-postcard island, where the amazing vistas out to sea are enough to counter the most vicious fatigue. A total of 5.6 miles awaits me and the group tomorrow — after we’ve all cocked our leg and strengthened the hip flexor, or something.

In all seriousness,  preparing and strengthening the body as we up the mileage will be crucial, especially as I suspect our trainer won’t tolerate short cuts. There is, quite literally, a long way to go — but I’m up and running.

This is the first of three Run Strong features leading up to May 24. For more information about Run Strong contact Colin at cayliffe@courthouse.bm.