One day, he just felt like running. Minus the leg braces and box of chocolates, UCF's own Forest Sutton, Knight Runners' president and a junior legal studies major, sure is fast.

Some members of UCF's official running club since 2009 laced up their sneakers and began their speed workout last Wednesday, also known as National Running Day.

Sutton said the day should be just like every other for runners. A day to do what they love — run.

"Summer training makes fall champions," said Ram Khalmuratov, Knight Runners' vice president.

The breakdown of weekly summer training starts with a tempo or a fartlek run, which is a time-based workout used to build endurance, on Monday.

For example, runners would do a two-minute hard run then a one-minute easy run, repeated four times.

Tuesday and Thursday's laid back run of three miles allow runners to recover from the previous day.

Knight Runners' members push themselves on Wednesday with a speed workout of a fartlek or a garage run, which involves running up and down parking garage stairs.

Weekday runs start at 6 p.m. outside the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center and all UCF students are encouraged to join in if they'd like.

About 15 to 25 runners are at each practice during the main season in the fall.

On Sunday at 8 a.m., the runners meet for a longer trek together.

Sophomore biology major Khalmuratov leads a stretching session at the conclusion of each run.

"Stretching is crucial for recovery and [is] overall a good habit if you want to be a faster runner," Khalmuratov said.

Training sessions prepare the Knights for runs they participate in as a team each fall, such as the UCF Campus Activities Board's Zombie 5K, Sigma Nu's Undie Classic, MidKnight 5K, U Can Finish 5 Miler & 2 Miler and more.

"Fall is when all the fun starts," Khalmuratov said. "We have plenty of 5K races, OUC (Orlando Utilities Company) half-marathon, social events [and] pasta parties before each race."

The day before each race, Knight Runners gather for a "pasta party" to load up on carbohydrates and build bonds.

Sutton said the club aims to create a competitive environment in which runners can achieve their own goals while making friends who have similar interests.

Running isn't all this club does together, though.

Camping trips, a formal banquet, friendly sporting events such as basketball or soccer and other events allow members to create friendships throughout the year.

Michael Fritz, Knight Runners' event coordinator, said that while running isn't commonly a well-loved sport, the club has a different mindset.

"It's not all about the running; it's the comradery," the junior finance major said.

He also said members cheer each other on at practices and during races, helping to boost morale.

"That little encouragement can give you your own second wind to push yourself," Fritz said.

Sutton said running by yourself can get difficult, which is why having a team behind you is important.

"Some people are there to get in shape and improve their body. Some people want to get faster," Sutton said.

Sutton's goals for Knight Runners include getting more members and having more races within the club to increase competition, all while helping people improve their personal records.

"We want to really branch out to the community more," Sutton said.


Paige Wilson is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @paigeshortstack.