Tang Tao, Master of Physical Education, Beijing Sports University.
More than 1,000 local and international amateur athletes have registered to compete in the VPBank Hà Nội Marathon (VHM) to be held in the capital city on October 20. Participants will run around the Old Quarter and six central districts of the city through various heritage sites in 10km, 21km and 42km races. Việt Nam News talks with coach Tang Tao, master of Physical Education, Beijing Sports University, who is holding a training camp.
Inner Sanctum: The VPBank Hanoi Marathon (VHM) - Heritage race will start in the capital city this October. What do you think of this event?
The route is around Hà Nội’s cultural heritage sites. It is a great combination of sports and history, which makes the race special and beautiful. I have seen several heritage sites which are located on the route, and really love them. I think VHM is going to be a successful international marathon race because of this and is bound to be a great success due to their AIMS – IAAF accreditation earlier this year.
Inner Sanctum: Is running popular in China?
Running is one of the most popular sports among Chinese people and marathons are booming, fueling the business for professional running products. In 2017, nearly 5 million people took part in 1,100 marathon races and running events in China, representing year-on-year growth of 77.9 per cent in the total participants. Forecasts show that the number could exceed 10 million in 2020 and the market size of the marathon industry could reach some Chinese RMB 120 billion (US$16.86 billion).
The marathon boom in China has further penetrated into lower tier cities since the second half of 2017, and is expected to accelerate further in the coming years. In 2017, over 900 marathon events were held in tier II and lower tier cities, representing year-on-year growth of over 200 per cent.
I have learned that marathon races are booming in Việt Nam, too. Although there aren’t any statistics to show the development of the industry in the country, if you look at how enthusiastic the runners are, you can be sure that it will grow in the near future. I am proud that I could join the development by providing professional training.
Inner Sanctum: A training camp was held in August ahead of the main event. Can you tell us more about it?
The training camp is just for basic training. Activities include four phases – building strong tendons, ligaments and muscles; improving endurance and running efficiency; building mental toughness and ability to manage the pace; and the hay is in the barn. It’s time to taper, rest muscles, and mentally prepare for the major effort.
The camp’s goals are to get athletes to the starting line healthy, physically and mentally prepared. Many runners are ill-prepared for the high demands of a marathon and half marathon or are having problems reaching the next level of performance.
Ideally, twelve-week half marathon and eighteen-week full marathon camps would help runners tailor their training to optimize their time and effort for their best records.
LIMBER UP: Tang Tao from China's Beijing Sport University trains amateur athletes before the VPBank Hà Nội Marathon to be held in the capital in October. Photo Hồ Hoàng
Inner Sanctum: What can you say about Vietnamese amateur runners after the pilot route?
Vietnamese runners have a huge passion for running; that’s really nice and that’s why I think the sport has a bright future in this country. If you look around, you can see many people – old and young, male and female – running around Hoàn Kiếm Lake in the city centre. The problem is most of them, both Vietnamese pacers and amateur runners, are not equipped with necessary knowledge and skills of this sport; they do not know how to get started properly or to improve experience.
It is even worse that some do not see the importance of those training lessons and they just ignore them in their daily experience. I could notice the attitude at the beginning of the training camp and things have improved after that.
Inner Sanctum: What was feedback like after the training camp?
Very positive. You could see how sweaty they were after the first training session; this means they were pushing themselves. During the break, some of the participants even called their friends to come to the second session. I saw new faces and I saw they realised the training is useful for them.
After the training, some participants approached me and said they never knew preparing for a run could be that interesting and exciting but also that complicated. Some even asked for videos or links showing those exercises so they could practise at home.
Inner Sanctum: Will you hold regular camps in Việt Nam in the future?
I came here this time with support from Xtep, the exclusive sportswear sponsor for VPBank Hanoi Marathon - Heritage Race 2019. And frankly, I don’t know if I will have more training camps in the future but I understand that Xtep and the organisers of VPBank Hanoi Marathon have a huge co-operation plan. They will have another training camp at the beginning of October. They are talking about regular training camps for Vietnamese amateur runners from next year. They also plan to exchange local and Xtep runners at major races in China. I think their plan will have a huge impact on the development of the sport in Việt Nam.
Inner Sanctum: You mean Xtep run club’s athletes will take part in this year’s race?
Yes, as far as I know, Xtep will send four professional runners to this year’s event. The race is also promoted in China by Xtep so that Chinese amateur runners can learn about it. Some may come this year.
To me, having such a professional race organised is already a great success. Xtep run club is one of the biggest running clubs in China and the brand has a lot of experience in helping marathon organisers to hold a good race. With their strong support, VHM could be a leading national, or even regional, marathon. VNS