Mike Goes to Coaching School

The May bank holiday weekend was a busy one for me. Whilst the country bathed in glorious sunshine I was tucked away in a classroom with 13 other budding running coaches for two days as I began the formal part of my England Athletics coaching course. To be fair we did get to go outside a little to put in to practice some of techniques we were learning and fortunately the course led by Bashir and Steve was well paced so time flew and I never felt like napping! I was also lucky to be part of a group that had a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm which made the course really enjoyable.

Enjoying myself is all well and good but most important, of course, is what did I learn?

Well anyone observing the first exercise we did will know that I have zip coordination as my arms and legs demonstrated when I attempted to perform a hopscotch drill – fortunately all video evidence was destroyed! One to inflict on my fellow RAC members I think.

On a more serious note though I think the main thing I had re-emphasised was the importance of adding in strength, flexibility and balance activities / drills in to my training program to supplement the endurance and speed sessions. I don’t know what your training plans look like, but mine tend to have what runs I plan to do on which days, generally broken into long runs, speed/hill sessions, tempo runs and easy recovery days. No where does it mention doing strength work, drills to improve form, balance or coordination. How much time do you spend on these areas? Are you like me and just put the trainers on and go running or do you make time to work on these other areas? Definitely food for thought. I am currently re-working my plan to incorporate some strength exercises and some running drills to improve form.

I now have 9 weeks to put what I’ve learnt in to practice – watch out RAC members (or should that be guinea pigs) – before my next formal session so I’m looking forward to working with Coach Ian and one or two of our athletes to help me do this.

Bank Holiday Monday came and there was no rest for the wicked as I was fortunate enough to have a one to one coaching session with Keith and Heidi (the authors of Older Yet Faster) to analyse my running form and get some help with making it better. As Keith and Heidi are based in Australia, we set up a Skype video call so that they could watch me run and offer suggestions and advice to improve my form. My wife, Debra, kindly offered to act as videographer and to shout out the instructions from Keith and Heidi. Fortunately my style whilst far from perfect was fixable – sigh of relief. The main aspects were that I was toe landing not full foot (the main cause of my current ankle injury) and also leaning a little to far back causing me to be swinging my foot through and over-striding a little. We worked on some running and hopping drills to give me a feel for what it should feel like and 45 minutes later I was starting to get the hang of it. A big thanks from me to Keith Heidi and Debra for their help.

So a big weekend of learning and now its time for me to put all that I’ve learned in to practice – watch this space!


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