I have been wallowing WALLOWING, in injury and self pity. This blog is meant to be about running and although injury is unfortunately part of that journey I wanted to remember some happy running memories. I am aware that the title includes the word vomit and that the word happy shouldn’t necessarily sit alongside that but bear with me.
The other evening I was chatting to a patient about training and ways to improve strength, speed and endurance in a short space of time. My patient was talking about different types of circuits and interval training and I was trying to remember sessions that I had done to share with him. We were talking about fartleks and 800m reps when I recalled the Oregon Circuit session. Oregon Circuits you ask? Imagine having trained so hard that your legs feel like they might fall off. Your jaw is aching from the way you gritted your teeth, you have a headache from the mental effort and you feel nauseous and on the point of hurling. I know what I describe sounds horrible but this training session blew me away and made me think ‘Hell yeah, that will definitely make me a better runner’.
So what is an Oregon Circuit? The Oxford University Cross Country club have a word document on it with the words ‘Be afraid, be very afraid’ next to it. The Run Britain site has great advice if you want to try Oregon Circuits. Apparently they are named after the University in the US where they were invented (makes sense). Basically it is a session where you combine fast running with various circuit exercises and drills e.g. press ups, burpees, squats. I think the length of the run can be anything you want but the session I did went something like this:
A 400m run followed by about 10 circuit exercises, such as 20 burpees, 20 press ups, 30 squats, 40 squat thrusts and so on. Repeat this pattern 4 times. Rest for 10 minutes and then repeat 3 more times.
I’m not lying when I tell you I did feel like I was going to be ill during the 400m reps, after the 400m reps, during some of the exercises and for a little while afterwards.
The first time I did this session I was quite conservative with my 400m reps as I wasn’t sure how I would handle it and my aim was to finish the session. It’s always the unknown that makes me nervous with these things so second time round I felt more mentally prepared and my 400m rep times were much faster. I think I managed a 71s rep at one point. I haven’t been able to run that quickly over 400m for years!
The hugely experienced coach I have trained with recommends Oregon Circuits for improving your overall fitness in a short space of time. Plus the literature I’ve read points to Oregon Circuits as being a great way to build speed endurance and on improving your general conditioning. You don’t need any equipment for this session so you could literally go to your local park and use a football or rugby pitch as your fast run and select the circuit exercises to focus on the areas you want to work i.e. a mixture of core and legs or just legs.
So that’s the session that almost made me ill, known more readily as Oregon Circuits. Give them a go because doing these was the last time this injured runner felt amazing and like she was getting somewhere (goes back to grumbling about being injured).
Here’s a video I found online of a group doing a variation of Oregon Circuits: