Coaching is a Joy

I was too knackered to run tonight. Seven and a bit hours in the car and three early starts after three late nights will do that to a chap. I got back from Halifax in plenty of time to get changed and have a warm up to loosen off my legs and stretch before the session of K Reps and Kettlebells I had planned for the half marathon training group. However, I sat in the car fighting the weight in my eyelids and thought “Fuck it.” Luckily, my training partner and chum asked for a hill session in the morning so I thought I would give my limited energies to the athletes tonight and coach properly.

Coaching is a joy and a refuge for the tired athlete. Instead of a wasted evening jogging round a track for the sake of it, I can help other athletes achieve their goals. I set them off for a warm up and laid out a speed ladder, a couple of kettlebells, some resistance bands and a med ball while they ran and loosened up a bit. We ran through a warm up routine including some dynamic whole-body stretching and squats just to wake up the glutes and then I sent them off to the other side of the track to start their first 1k rep.

The track was busy with fizzing speedsters this evening. Another group was down doing 400m reps and they were flying, all of them. The youngsters have the Cambridgeshire Schools Cross Country Championships on Saturday so their session was shorter and slightly less intense than the multiple reps the adults were running.

My group was not moving as quickly but they were still working hard. I watched them pass the finish line on each lap, giving a cue here and there or just encouraging as best I could. “Keep working! Close that gap! Arms!” I noticed one of the athletes wasn’t moving well. I thought she might be having a problem or carrying an injury but when I asked her, she said she was fine. I asked her if she knew that she wasn’t moving equally on each side and she didn’t.

I have found that it’s difficult to think about what your legs do. It’s easy to look down and watch them instead of just running. Instead, I suggested she think about positive arm drive and getting her legs so follow the arm movement and balance out that way. When she came past on her next rep, she was moving much more freely. I asked her at the end of the rep and she said her shoulders were aching a bit but otherwise, nothing was untoward. Small intervention, big result. We’ll watch again next and keep on until her shoulders no longer ache and her stride is balanced on each side. It might take a few weeks but it should work over time.

I get a lot of satisfaction from coaching. It’s not just writing training plans and shouting. It’s a collaboration and exploration with an athlete or group of athletes. There have been weeks and months sometimes when I have lacked all motivation to run but I have seldom not wanted to coach. It’s almost always been a source of joy for me. The athletes I coach each week work hard. I want to give them my best because that’s what they give me and I want to thank them publicly for that.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re brilliant. Thank you.

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And Panic Starts In…

Do you have a place in the Cambridge Half for next March? Are you panicking just a bit because you had a place last year and you don’t know how you’re going to improve on how you did then? Panic no more, because Coach Rich is here to simultaneously save the day and beast your legs until they bleed. Sort of. 

I’ve put together a training plan for runners with a bit of experience who want to get better. This is not a beginner’s plan. I can do one for you if you want, but this one is for improvers. I’ll be following it myself and we’re going to start on Monday next week, 5 November with the traditional rest day after a Sunday long run. Those of us who are members of C&C will be doing the Tuesday night training sessions and I’ve copied them out below each week so you can see what they are if you’re not a member and you want to follow along at home. 

Some items may require explanation, others are optional, such as the Wednesday easy run. I like that as a way to shake Tuesday out of my legs and get ready for Thursday. You might find it too much and need to rest. That’s fine. 

We’ll get together on a Thursday night at the track most weeks and head out onto the West Site for that session. The Thursday hills will be done either off Chesterton Road or between Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn depending on the size of the group.

Friday evenings swimming, cycling or easy spinning are entirely optional too. Again, I find them useful but you can rest, or do some yoga or stretching and rolling.

I’ve given Saturdays as rest days but you can do a parkrun if you want. The Sunday long run is not an option though and we’ll be meeting up to run together if you want. I’ve given it in time instead of distance because we’ll mostly be doing out and back along the Roman Road, Fleam Dyke or other quiet and off-road parts of the world. You might want to give yourself a set distance and I’m happy to discuss that with you if you want.

We’re going to meet for the long run at the end of the first week in the Gogs car park at 9:00am. I’ll set up a Facebook group and a weekly email if you want encouragement or support. Running a good half marathon is not an easy thing to but it can be easier with some support. We can support one another. 

Cambridge Half Training Plan

WC 5 November2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Wheel of Fartlek

Track: Long WU; 5-7x 800m w 3 minutes recovery

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (2:00 cruising at race pace, 4:00 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 60 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly

WC 12 November 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Indian Running – Jesus Green
Track: Long WU; 4-5x 1k hold and kick (800m, 200m) w slow jog

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Hill Session (venue TBA)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 60-70 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly (or St Neots HM)

WC 19 November 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Parlauf – Parker’s Piece
Track: Long WU; 3-4x 4 x 400m, w 90 secs and 3:00

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (1:30 cruising at race pace, 4:30 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 70 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly

WC 26 November 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: City Fartlek
Track: Long WU; 5-7x 800m w 3:00

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Hills (venue TBA)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday Jingle Mile!

Sunday 70 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly

WC 3 December 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: 5 x 1k West Site
Track: Long WU; 3-4x 1k hollow (400m, 200m, 400m) w 200m slow jog

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday K Reps and Kettlebells

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 75 minutes long run or Frostbite

WC 10 December 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Storey’s Way 700m hills
Track: Long WU; 6-9x 600m, w 200m slow jog

Wednesday 40-45minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (1:00 cruising at race pace, 5:00 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 80 minutes long run

WC 17 December 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: 5 x 1k Jesus Green
Track: Christmas special (or Long WU; 7 x 800m w 3:00)

Wednesday 45 minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (30s cruising at race pace, 5:30 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 85 minutes long run

WC 24 December 2018

Christmas Eve Optional Roman Road Social Run

Christmas Day REST

Boxing Day C&C 4 or 30 minutes easy

Thursday REST

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST or parkrun

Sunday Buntingford 10 or 70 minutes easy run

WC 31 December 2018

New Years Eve Ely 10k or REST

New Years Day Optional Roman Road Social Run

Wednesday 30 minutes easy run

Thursday Hills

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST or parkrun

Sunday 70-75 minutes long run

WC 7 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Paarlauf, West Site

Track: Long WU; 7 x 800m w 3:00

Wednesday 35 minutes easy run

Thursday K Reps and Kettlebells

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 75-80 minutes long run

WC 14 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Wheel of Fartlek, West Site
Track: Long WU; 2-3 x cut downs (1k, 600m, 200m) w 200m slow jog & 200m walk

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday 30:00 tempo

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 80-85 minutes long run (or Folksworth 15 if you’re marathon training as well)

WC 21 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 40 minutes easy

Thursday 40:00 tempo

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 75-80 minutes long run

WC 28 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday 3 x 12:00 tempo

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 80-85 minutes long run

WC 4 February 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday 4 x 13:00 tempo

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 90-95 minutes long run

WC 11 February 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 40 minutes easy

Thursday Hills (venue TBA)

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 95-100 minutes long run

WC 18 February 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 7:00 (1:00 race pace, 6:00 harder)

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 90 minutes long run (30 minutes easy, 30 minutes harder, 30 minutes race pace)

WC 25 February 2019 (Race Week)

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday REST

Thursday 30 minutes easy, with 6-8 x 50m strides

Friday swim or spin

Saturday Bike Ride recce round the course

Sunday RACE DAY

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