Hi East Wales athletics coaches
This is a very challenging period ahead for everyone. The priority is of course doing everything we can to keep ourselves and others safe, which obviously includes social distancing and not training in groups. However it is also important to keep physical activity going through this period, both for physical and mental health.
As club coaches, obviously you will not be seeing your athletes at your regular club nights for the foreseeable future as there won’t be any regular club nights. However, if we want to keep athletes in the sport during and after this period, and if we want to provide athletes with some structure which could be helpful for them (both physically and mentally) during this period, then I think it is important to provide them with a training regime they can follow during this period. It is also more important than ever to contact athletes if possible (remotely obviously) in order to show them support, to provide them with feedback, and to show them there are people thinking about them. It is down to you how you do this, whether it is phone calls, text, watts app, social media or e-mail. However I think it is very important.
The following suggestions are fairly common sense, and things many of you will already know. However the key will be to provide this information in a clear format to your athletes which they can easily follow when doing their solo sessions and training.
In terms of the weekly structure junior club athletes can follow during this period, the following is a recommendation for what you can send to athletes. Of course these are all just suggestions, please feel free to adapt accordingly and for the athletes you work with:
Monday: (optional) easy run (20-25mins) and conditioning
Tuesday: session (longer intervals followed by sprint work)
Wednesday: (optional) easy run (20-25mins) and conditioning
Thursday: fun alternative aerobic activity (e.g. fartlek, orogen style circuit, aerobic video online, skipping)
Friday: rest
Saturday: session (quicker intervals followed by sprint work or hills)
Sunday: long run (double length of longest xc race)
I would recommend at the start of each week giving your athletes the sessions you recommend for each day during the week ahead. It is vital you provide your athletes with suggestions for appropriate places for sessions where they will be safe and where they can keep social distance. Many parks are probably still muddy, but there is supposed to be good weather coming, so hopefully they should dry up soon. The following are examples of sessions you can set your athletes.
Examples of longer interval sessions could be as follows:
6x2mins (1min jog recovery)
5x3mins (90s jog recovery)
4x4mins (2min jog recovery)
3x5mins (2.5min jog recovery)
5min, 4min, 3min, 2min, 1min (all with 2min jog recovery)
1min, 2min, 3min, 4min, 3min, 2min, 1min (all with 2min jog recovery)
Examples of hill sessions:
10mins of 20s hill sprints with jog back recovery, 10min easy run, 5mins of 20s hill sprints with jog back recovery
5 x 20s hill sprints with jog back recovery, 5min easy run, 5x1min hill with jog back recovery (or the other way around and start with the 1min efforts and do the 20s efforts later)
Examples of shorter interval sessions:
8 x 1min off 1min jog recovery
10 x 45s off 45s jog recovery
12 x 30s off 30s jog recovery
For the intervals, for those athletes with garmins, I would recommend you provide the athletes with paces they should be following during the session. If unsure on what paces to recommend for a particular athlete for a sessions, always feel free to ask and I can give recommendations based on their current PBs.
Always good to finish longer interval sessions and shorter interval sessions with some sprint work. Examples include:
3 x 10s sprints with very slow walk back recovery
4 x sprint between lampposts with very slow walk back recovery
3 x 5s sprints, 2 x 10s sprints, with minute between each effort
4 x sprint length of penalty area of football pitch/22 on rugby pitch with slow walk back recovery
Also ensure you tell your athletes to do a warm up and a warm down before each session. The warm up should including jogging to build up heart rate, drills and active stretching to activate the muscles, and some strides (for example 3x80m) to get the body ready to start the session. Warm down should involve easy jogging and static stretching.
For the Thursday session, fartlek means the following. Athletes get to choose the efforts they do while running. Perhaps they will go quick between lampposts, or up a hill, or until the next turning. Recommend a period of time the athletes do the fartlek session for (first time perhaps 10mins and gradually build up as get more used to it), and recommend they do a mixture of long and short efforts. It is different and could provide some fun. They will learn quickly whether they are over pushing themselves early on. This could provide them with a good learning opportunity about pacing and what efforts they are capable off.
An orogen circuit session is one where you do a circuit exercise, then run to the next point, where do another circuit exercise. An example would be as follows:
20s squat thrusts, 20s run
20s dead bugs, 20s run
20s push ups, 20s run
20s high knees on the spot, 20s run
20s plank, 20s run
20s tri-cep dips, 20s run
20 star jumps, 20s run
20s crunches, 20s run
20s burpees, 20s run
Perhaps do two sets of that with 4min recovery and easy run before and after.
A skipping rope session could involve intervals where they skip. This could be 2 sets of the following:
1minute skipping two foot – 1min recovery
30s skipping hopping left foot – 1min recovery
30s skipping hopping right foot – 1min recovery
1min skipping alternating feet – 1min recovery
20s skipping as fast as possible
Practicing such a session now could be a good idea for if athletes have to self isolate at home or if we go into full lock down later on.
This could also be a good time for athletes to do some conditioning and mobility work. Recommend them a yoga or pilates video they could follow online. Or, to make it more social, use an app such as zoom, where you can set up a conference video call between athletes in different places, and get everyone to do a conditioning workout together. This way you can keep some interaction between the athletes and yourself. With conditioning, ensure you work on core, leg strength, mobility and movement patterns.
I hope that helps. Bob Smith has shown me an example of a club he works with in England providing their junior club athletes with such information on how they can train and keep fit during this period. I think it will prove very useful if clubs and training groups in east Wales provide similar instructions for their junior athletes on a weekly basis during this period when they will be unable to come along to club training. I also have suggestions for work which can be done for athletes having to stay in the house as self-isolating or if we have full shut down. However I think I have given enough information in this e-mail, so will happily send out another e-mail in couple of days if there is any interest.
As always, please feel free to ask if you have any questions.
Steve Mitchell
(East Wales Welsh Athletics regional coordinator for endurance)