Local running clubs are an important part of the Kitchener-Waterloo community.
They bring fitness, knowledge and competition to the local running community and we are proud to feature them. In this edition, we are catching up with Sean Delanghe of Health and Performance.
Sean is the head coach of H+P and a chiropractor from Waterloo with a keen interest in athletic injuries and performance. He has a BSc. (Hons) in biology, chemistry and philosophy, and is a NCCP trained coach. He competed on the national AG duathlon team in 2012 and 2013, has competed at the provincial level in track, cross-country running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, and was a member of the WLU varsity cross-country team during his undergraduate university years. He also writes the Training & Performance column in the RW Magazine.
Tell us a little bit about Health and Performance. When did you start it, why did you start it and what is your focus with it?
The club was established in 2011. At the time, I had just graduated from chiropractic school and was looking for a group to train with. I was also looking for a way to contribute to the community and encourage healthy living beyond injury management at my clinic. These two pursuits merged with my passion for the science of training and athletic performance to produce the early version of H+P!
At H+P, we have always strongly believed that we need motivation (social support, performance goals, competition, personal goals) to pursue healthy living beyond just the knowledge of what it takes to be healthy. Everybody knows we should eat well and exercise, but implementing these habits is not always easy. The original aim of H+P was to help our athletes enhance their health and well-being seamlessly, consistently, and without having to exert conscious effort to do so!
With the help of Coach Gillian Willard and the growing member base, we have gone from 5 members, 1 sport, and 1 practice/week to well over 170 members, 3+ sports, and up to 10 practices/week.
Who are your coaches and what are their roles?
I feel unbelievably lucky and honoured to have the help and support of these individuals who work 100% as volunteers. Without their help, there is no way H+P would be able to provide the same quality of coaching at such an affordable price, and I have no idea where the club would be. Here is a brief description of each person, which does not really do any of them justice in terms of how much they do for myself and H+P as a whole:
Gillian Willard: She is an assistant run coach who leads workouts on Thursdays and whenever I am not available. She also handles most things on the technical side, including website design, H+P apparel, and a huge component of our social media. Most importantly, she has been with H+P right from our inception and has played an integral role in virtually every decision and body of work that has led us to where we are today!
Kayla Ng: Kayla is a physiotherapist at Delanghe Chiropractic & Health as well as our head strength coach. She is in charge of our large group, small group, and personal strength training. I think we are extremely lucky to have somebody with 6 years of post-secondary education in the field, plus countless hours of continuing education to make sure these protocols are planned and implemented to perfection.
Emily Hunter: She is our awesome swim coach who, for a few years now, has gotten up to coach our Thursday 6:00AM swims, barely ever missing a day OR failing to produce a ruthless workout!
Greg Dyce: Greg is one of the original H+P members, and has been a reliable assistant coach for run workouts right from the beginning. H+P would not be where it is today without Dycemaster!
What has been one of your proudest moments as a coach?
That is a very tough one to answer. To start, there are some team performances that are easy to describe that are up there. A good recent example is the Fall 5K Classic where we had ~70 athletes competing, almost 40 PBs, over 30 people break 20 minutes, and 10 people beak 17 minutes.
While these days are great, I think there are many difficult-to-describe moments that surpass these high-performance races. Getting to know athletes well along with all of their personal struggles, battling alongside them for an extended period of time, and then seeing them persevere is absolutely irreplaceable. This does not always mean there has been an unbelievable performance on paper, but the more I see people dig deep, the more empowered and fulfilled I feel as a coach!
What are some of the benefits that are offered to athletes who join the club?
There are some key practical benefits for joining H+P. For $30-$60/year, you get discounts with New Balance Canada, discounts at Runners’ Choice Waterloo, discounts at partnered races (including every race at Run Waterloo) and access to all of our coach-led group training sessions.
More importantly, athletes who join get access to our community and training environment. There is no doubt that our personal well-being and level of performance is strongly influenced by the environment we are immersed in. We, as a club, have worked hard to make H+P welcoming and functional for athletes of all abilities while still implementing light-hearted competition and high-level training to ensure all of our members have the tools to reach their full potential. It would be much simpler to pursue only fun/welcoming runs or only elite level training; we will never stop trying to combine the best of both worlds!
What does a typical week look like for your club?
It’s variable depending on the time of the year. In the summer, our basic week looks like this:
Monday 6:30PM: Quality run
Monday 8:00PM: Strength workout
Wednesday 6:00AM: Track workout
Wednesday 6:00PM: Brick workout
Thursday: 6:00AM: Swim workout
Thursday 7:00PM: Quality run or recovery run with drills
Saturday 9:00AM: Long run
These workouts will shift around depending on the time of the year, but that is the basic structure! You can check out our full training schedule HERE or stay on top of our schedule by adding yourself to our group e-mail HERE.
What events do you traditionally compete in throughout the year?
Our club race, The H+P TrackFest (formerly H+P Summer TT), is always a massive one for the squad. Locally, some key road races for us include the ENDURrun, Waterloo 10KM Classic and the Fall 5KM Classic. We also tend to have a large group competing in many spring and fall marathons. Occasionally we will send various H+P contingents to big city marathons (such as Boston and Chicago) as well!
We also have a large group of avid trail runners who hit multiple events in the Ontario Ultra and Trail series.
Finally, our multisport chapter of the club is growing quickly as well. We love our Subaru and Multisport Canada races, to say the least. We also always have a number of crazy athletes who tackle 70.3 and full IM events, especially in Mont Tremblant and Muskoka.
You have an impressive team with a lot of healthy competition. What are the World Rankings and Club Standards and what do they add to the team?
The H+P World Rankings is a one-of-a-kind data resource for all runners at H+P. It pulls our athletes’ results from the web, and sorts/manipulates them in fun ways that help to keep our athletes motivated and having fun. In one section, it converts an athlete’s top-3 performances to a 5K equivalent and ranks runners based on their average times. In another section, it ranks runners based on their well-roundedness, taking into account PB times from 5K – 42.2K. It also has PB rankings, multisport rankings, Strava features, team competitions and more. You can check it out HERE. Huge props goes to Sam Lalonde with the help of Gillian Willard’s designs in creating this site.
The club standards are just another way to honour our athletes who have worked extremely hard and have dedicated themselves to their craft. You can check out the full details of the standards HERE.
I noticed that you offer personalized coaching beyond the group. Who would benefit from this and what does that look like?
With all components of H+P, our aim has always been to make everything accessible, affordable, flexible and of the highest quality. To allow for this, we needed to make sure we had multiple options for athletes to choose from depending on their needs.
Our group training sessions are as customized as any coaching in a large group training setting can be. Framework and general guidelines are provided, but much of the onus is still on the athletes for structuring their own complete plans.
Personalized coaching is for athletes of any ability who require a complete plan including every detail of every workout customized to their personal situation and goals. Even within this category of coaching we have various options depending on the needs of the athlete. You can check out more HERE.
What are some of the big things you see for H+P in 2018?
From a performance standpoint, we are starting to reach exciting levels that we hope to continue to improve upon in ‘18. More sub-3:00 marathons, more sub-16:00 5Ks, more women under 18:00 for the 5K, more A-Standards, and more days where 30+ athletes break 20:00 for 5K and 40+ athletes hit PBs!
We are also excited about our growing crew of athletes of all different abilities, which make up the heart of H+P. In the club, we truly care most about personal improvement and conquering individual struggles through honest hard work, a positive environment, and true grit. This year we saw an expanding number of athletes who self-diagnosed as too slow for the club (they weren’t) but took a chance on us anyway. Seeing more athletes with 5K PBs slower than 30 minutes, and then seeing these athletes push their limits and improve shoulder-to-shoulder with our “quicker” athletes is incredible. The extreme example of this is Martin Chmiel, who went from a 38 minute 5K personal best to a 38 minute 10K personal best in ~2 years!
Finally, I personally am excited to see where the club steers itself. Virtually all of the best ideas come from where the passion in the group is directing us. It’s an absolute honour to lead this crew who is full of so many outstanding ideas and the motivation to make them happen. I can’t wait to see what adventures await us that will undoubtedly surpass anything I can predict in this moment!