Juneathon 2015 Day 9: The One With The Deceiving Run

A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to observe another coach’s session as part of the England Athletics Coach Development Programme.  Tonight I put myself, and my Tuesday night group through it.  Who knew ten-and-a-half minutes of running could be so challenging and rewarding.

For me, an important part of being a coach is continually seeking information about methods, techniques and sessions.  The difficult is sifting through the myriad of unresearched, generic and general-opinon that (some) magazines and (most of) the internet peddle.  That’s why I take up any opportunity to meet and observe other coaches and running professionals.  It doesn’t mean that I agree with everything they say but having the chance to ask questions and pose scenarios is helpful in making a judgement.

As part of the Local Coach Development Programme run by England Athletics for aspiring coaches I hopped across to the Abingdon track to watch Coach Bernie put his athletes (including my mate Steve) through their paces.  And boy, did he do that!

After hearing what the session was going to entail I wasn’t sure it was going to be much of a session:

  • 2 minutes at 1500m pace
  • 2.5 minutes rest (walk back to the start)
  • 1 minutes at 800m pace
  • 2.5 minutes rest (walk back to the start)
  • 0.5 minute “fast and fluid”
  • Then 4 minutes rest (including walking back to the start) before starting the second set
  • Repeat for a third set

Just ten minutes and 30 seconds of running.  Sounds simple?  And then I saw it unfurl in front of my eyes.  Speaking to some of the athletes just confirmed that this was one hell of a session!

So tonight, I decided it was time to unleash it on my Tuesday night group.  I’d had a practice to make sure I could translate the session from an athletics track to our local park.  Turns out the boundary of the cricket pitch is 450 metres round – that’ll work.

My group aren’t used to running on tracks or at distances of 800m and 1500m so I had to try to translate the effort levels for them.  Listening to them through their recoveries tells me they’d understood!



Coaching usually means sacrificing my own run but this session gave me the opportunity to join in too.  Not only did it mean a quality session for me before the City of London Mile at the weekend but it showed the group that I’m happy to practice what I preach.

Each athlete used cones to mark where they got to on the first set of each rep, giving them a target to aim for for the second and third sets.  Something they responded well to, confirming that having the visual target helped them to keep going.

I was a little concerned that the session might not sit well with the group.  How wrong I was; they seemed to love it!  The group unanimously agreed that it was good to go faster.  So that settles it, definitely more speed work to follow.

As for me, I’m feeling a little more prepared for the mile at the weekend.  That’s a good few runs that have got my legs going.  They’ve almost forgotten about the marathon a few weeks ago!


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