What’s with that bunch of runners?

Shiraz & Nick Roberts
LEASIDE members Shiraz Roberts and husband Nick, a club coach

Have you occasionally come across a large group of runners on a Tuesday night somewhere in Leaside, circling the same residential block repeatedly and wondered, Who are these people?

These are the members of the XSNRG (Excess Energy) Running Club doing their weekly interval training.

Founded in 1988, XSNRG meets every Tuesday night at Leaside High School at 6:30 p.m. before heading out for that night’s workout.

You might see them on Rykert Cres. near the entrance to Serena Gundy Park, or running a loop in the Hanna Rd. and Glenvale area, or in the Mallory Gardens area south of Moore Ave., or at any of about a dozen other regular workout locations around Leaside,  Lawrence Park and nearby Sunnybrook Park.

About one-third of the 75 club members live in Leaside or close by. Members are of all ages and speeds and about half turn out any given week.

“The club is great for anyone who enjoys running and has thought they could get faster,” says Michael Brennan, race director of the Downsview Half Marathon, a leading runner in Toronto and the longest continuous club member (1989), who used to live in the area.

The workouts take the form of interval training, which “is based on the idea that the only way to get faster is by speed work,” says Brennan. “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. This saying definitely applies to running: you need to shake it up. If you can push yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while, you will absolutely get faster.”

North Leaside resident Nick Roberts is one of two coaches who share responsibility for leading the club’s workouts.

“We alternate between a flat loop one week and an incline the next,’ he says. “Building in hills adds an element of strength training. The benefit of interval training is that in a short period of time (18-22 minutes of hard work) you can get the same benefit as from a longer 1.5 hour run.

“This kind of workout is hard to do by yourself, especially in the winter, so running in a group really helps.”

Brennan says Terry Fox’s younger brother Darryl Fox, who now heads the Terry Fox Foundation, got his running start here in Leaside and was a member of XSNRG from the early ‘90s until about 2004. www.XSNRG.org/