I talked to Alexandra Radványi regarding the plogging held on 14 September. Alexandra, as a captain of the AR Budapest, plays an important role in the organization and coordination of the event. In addition, she talked about the formation and activities of adidas Runners, their base, and their relation to plogging. Interview by Noémi Szabó.
I met Lexi, who was helpful since the very first moment, thanks to a common acquaintance (Ildikó Szántó, one of my favourite trainers, you can read her articles here). She invited me to the RunBase to have a talk so I can see this place that’s so important to adidas Runners.
Noémi Szabó/abitbetter: I checked the adidas Runners website, but I still have a lot of questions about your activities. Where does AR come from and how did it arrive in Hungary?
Alexandra Radványi/AR Budapest: It’s an international initiative. A runners’ community which can be found in numerous cities all over the world, for example in 22 locations across Europe. The idea of AR came to Hungary in 2017. If yo go on holiday to a foreing capital, you’ll find an AR community in most of them, and you can join their trainings, too.
N.SZ.: How was AR formed in Hungary? Who were the members of the core team?
A.R.: We had our first community run in May 2017, but we date the establishment of AR Budapest as a functional runners’ community to June. The founding team consisted of two trainers (Balázs Darabos and Áron Kiss) and one captain (Dóra Debreczeni).
N.SZ.: Today’s team is much bigger than that. When and how did the current lineup develop?
A.R.: I was next to join, as a trainer, in July 2017. Then came the others, so the team expanded to 10 members altogether. We have 7 trainers and a yoga teacher. Currently, the AR Budapest team has two captains: after opening the base, we needed one more person to handle RunBase affairs and to assist in AR’s day-to-day tasks. Then the selection process started, which eventually resulted in quitting my previous job. The change wasn’t too big since I’ve been working at AR as a trainer before, so I knew what was going on. I was already immersed in the liveliness of the place, so I knew how I was going to spend my days. Since then I’ve been working as the project manager of RunBase and a captain of AR.
N.SZ.: Don’t you do trainings anymore?
A.R.: I do, I’m still a trainer as well. Dóri and me both have our own courses – we conduct trainings just like the others.
N.SZ.: What is the aim of the team?
A.R.: It’s important to highlight that AR isn’t a runners’ club, it’s an international community, and it was created for those who, outside of running, like to come together and experience life’s important moments together. Our aim is that our members find companions, friends, and a community where they enjoy themselves, and where they can do various things together, in addition to running. This also works in practice: many of our members go on holidays and different running events together; we see friendships that have been going on for two years.
N.SZ.: We’re currently sitting in your base. What happens here on an average day, how much time do you spend here?
A.R.: A very important point in AR’s life was the launch of RunBase on July 22, 2019 (10-12 Váci str. Budapest – ed.), this is our headquarters. Twenty sessions a week await visitors, more than half of which are running trainings. In addition, we’ve included sessions in their training plan which complement running, like strength training, yoga or stretching. There are indoor trainings which are conducted here, at the RunBase, and running sessions are held outside. As an outdoor venue, we currently use the Margaret Island Athletics Center, where, along the beginner course on Mondays, there are pro runs as well. However, 90% of our sessions either start or is held here at RunBase.
N.SZ.: It’s in an easily accessible, central location, which is obviously no coincidence.
A.R.: Yes, ever since AR Budapest exists, we’ve been trying to find the right place for RunBase, and in the end we chose this. It is in a very good location with easy access to Margaret Island, the City Park or the pier. This way, we can easily establish running paths. So in multiple ways it proved to be an ideal choice.
N.SZ.: How does someone who wants to do sports get access? Is it like any other gym where you need to buy membership?
A.R.: No, it’s much better! It’s completely free, but subject to registration. Anyone can come and train with us, you just download an application and sign up – it’s called adidas Running by Runtastic (formerly Runtastic). Inside the application you can easily find adidas Runners groups from different cities – you need to join these if you want to take part in one of our training sessions. You will then automatically see sessions you can register for. Each session has a limited headcount. Unfortunately, if a session full, you’ll no longer be able to apply to that one.
N.SZ.: It sounds great that it’s free, but the question arises: is there any obligation to have the lessons available for free?
A.R.: If downloading and application counts as obligation… (laughs) Anyway, there’s nothing like that!
N.SZ.: Can I, for example, join a training session in January, then I skip half a year and then I join again?
A.R.: Of course. Sometimes, for example, someone goes on Erasmus for half a year and then continues training as if nothing happened. Or maybe they go on vacation abroad and join an AR training there. We get foreign guests like that, too.
One of our dear members is moving to London and she is already preparing to train there. They tell stories like that, and we always like to listen. They regularly share the accounts of their travels in our Facebook group. :)
N.SZ.: Which age group visits your trainings the most?
A.R.: It is very mixed because anyone can join – there’s no restriction on this either, but still, young, active, urban people typically attend our sessions and other events.
N.SZ.: What time of day do you usually have training sessions?
06:30-07:30 Morning run
17:00-18:00 Cross training
18:00-19:00 Petraflow yoga
18:30-20:00 Island training
06:30-07:30 Functional training
18:00-19:00 Easy run
19:00-20:00 Tempo run
16:00-17:00 Body shape
17:00-18:00 Petraflow yoga
18:30-19:00 Power run
A.R.: Currently, our weekly schedule is structured in such a way that we have trainings mostly before and after work. In the morning, the earliest session is from 6:30 am to 7:30 am, and in the afternoon, the latest one is from 6:30 to 8:00p m. The schedule isn’t fixed, we contantly monitor the rooms’ utilization, based on which the schedule may change. We try to tailor it to your needs.
N.SZ.: Besides the schedule, is there anything else that motivates those who want to exercise?
A.R.: All of our runners can find the type of training that is best for what they want to achieve in the future. We always try to come up with something new. Currently, we have a program – in addition to our own trainings – that prepares people for their first 10 km run. For this we’ve prepared a training plan for them which we follow. At the end we take part in a race which we complete together, helping each other, almost hand in hand.
I see our situation fortunate, as being an international runners’ community, we often get the chance to take part in events abroad. Our runners also frequently get the chance to win entries to races abroad, further motivating them. This is how many of our runners got to visit Warsaw, Berlin, London, Milano and so on. Together with the trainers, we often accompany runners to these races, too. I’ve been to Warsaw and Berlin myself, and in the first week of October I’ve been to Sao Paulo, which was a great experience!
18:00-19:00 Easy run
18:30-20:00 Pro run
07:00-08:00 Easy run
08:30-10:00 Long Saturday
N.SZ.: Nowadays we can read a lot about adidas’ campaign against plastic pollution and its new, environmentally friendly manufacturing technologies.
A.R.: Making shoes and clothes of recycled materials is very important to adidas. Recently, several shoes, made mostly out of recycled plastic collected from the ocean, were introduced to the market. By 2024, the plan is to make all of their products of recycled materials.
N.SZ.: How did you end up among of the organizers of the plogging on 14 September?
A.R.: Telekom contacted us, saying that they’d like to organize such an event, and that they’d like us to provide professional support. For us, this is an extremely important issue, we were no strangers to this event, we did plogging before. J This June and a year before adidas organized the Run For The Oceans initiative, where various adidas Runner communities could collect donations for charities fighting against ocean pollution. Therefore, it was not a question of whether we would commit.
N.SZ.: So you did plogging before…
A.R.: Yes, our first plogging event was in 2018. As part of an international initiative called Parley (Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization and global network for saving the oceans – ed.), we picked litter across several locations in the city for nearly two weeks. We went plogging in the City Park, along the pier, and in the downtown area too.
N.SZ.: If I understand well, you had running trainings at these times anyway, you just connected running with litter picking.
A.R.: In some cases, yes. We organized separate events, and during that period we changed many of our regular trainings into plogging.
N.SZ.: I’m glad to hear that so many people are interested in plogging!
A.R.: We were very excited about that too! People really liked these runs, because it’s a noble cause, many people joined us for this very reason. I hope we will have the opportunity to stand up for similar causes in the future!
Lexi is a friendly, cheerful and lively girl who welcomed me as a friend and answered my questions professionally, so we had a very useful and pleasant conversation, during which I already decided to join one of their trainings as soon as possible – an in the future, even more!