Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Fitness Challenge: Faith moves mountains

Each week Rachel Grunwell tries a new sport to bring you the lowdown

Expert guidance will get you going in leaps and bounds. Photo / Michael Craig
Expert guidance will get you going in leaps and bounds. Photo / Michael Craig


What is it? This place prepares you for a marathon or half marathon. It's a group training environment run by Gaz Brown who, with Kerre McIvor, wrote the books Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner and Short Fat Chick in Paris.

What's needed? Running gear and shoes.

The experience: If you remove "G" from my surname Grunwell, it leaves "run well". If only.

Actually, I can race to the freezer for icecream. The thing is that I'd always reckoned runners were born different. Or crazy.

Then last year I revved up my walks (pushing my bub in a pram) to a run/walk/stop routine. After a while I could run around Mt Eden without collapsing.

At this point I rang Gaz. I told him if he could get me running to 23 minutes (my Mt Eden circuit) then he wouldn't be a PT (personal trainer), he'd be an MM (miracle maker).

He obviously likes a good challenge - he let me join. At the start, he tells me: "Don't have your music too high - you've gotta be able to hear traffic. Stop before crossing a road but, hopefully, your mum taught you that already." And "never forget the duck rule" - if a person crosses a road ahead of you don't automatically think there's no car coming."

After getting all that mother-hen stuff off his chest, Gaz goes all technical. Like how to run less like a goose: tuck the hips into the correct position, lean forward from the feet, and don't forget posture by imagining there's a cord pulling me up straight from above my head.

One of his staff, Kiri (who has run 53 marathons), also quietly tells me to stop flapping my arms about. It wastes energy (it probably looks goose-like, too).

Gaz then recommends I go to SportsLab, a rehabilitation and performance clinic where they film me running and assess how to help me improve my technique.

Then he pulls apart the layers of me, reminding me too much alcohol or bad kai maketh not a runner. Plus: "Please respect running ... do too much, too soon; you'll come unstuck."

Gaz's running courses are Auckland-wide, in stunning spots. There are drink stations for longer Saturday training and the roads are chalked so you don't get lost.

GetRunning also provides pilates, circuit training, nutrition talks, workshops and yoga.

I've now been training four times a week for three months with GetRunning and can now "run well" for 90 minutes.

The group training spurs me to try harder and not slack off. It's also social and full of top sorts: they're in their 30s to 60s, ordinary types all just aiming for personal bests. Gaz tells me it's a thrill helping runners reach their goals - and then often exceed them. Anyhow, turns out this running malarkey is a tad addictive. I've found the runner's high and I've signed up for a half marathon.

How much? Membership varies on how long you sign up for and how often you train. It's $47 a week for unlimited group sessions for 12 months. There are also casual or concession rates (buy 10, get 1 free).

Worth it? Top outfit.

Try it: GetRunning, 19 Auburn St, Grafton, Auckland, ph (09) 377 0672, getrunning.co.nz

Rating: 10/10

- Herald on Sunday

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