Strength and Conditioning coach Maz Kaczmarczyk and Striders running coach Mick Wall represented the club at the England Athletics National Endurance get together in Leeds on Sunday 24th February 2019.

It was a day long series of interactive talks from coaches, athletes and physiologists involved in British Athletics with around 100 coaches from around the country there.

The speakers were heard were:

  • Trevor Painter, Jenny Meadows. Craig Winrow.
  • Rob Denmark, Barry Fudge.
  • Steve Vernon, Jon Brown.

Here’s a brief summary of the notes Mick Wall took:

  • Many pro athletes only have 2-3 hard/key sessions in a 7 to 10 day period. Quality sessions only when required and ready.
  • Recovery is the key to getting better/fitter/stronger. Think ‘days’ not ‘hours’ of easy stuff between hard sessions.
  • You work hard during hard sessions, cause damage the body and create a stimulus. Only during recovery do you adapt to that stimulus and grow stronger. If you go too hard/long in those ‘easy’ runs/workouts between hard session you’re reducing the chance of the adaptation. So in essence the hard session was a bit of a waste of time.
  • Recreational runners almost always veer towards ‘more hard must be better’, when in reality its the opposite.
  • Easy sessions between hard ones can be low intensity runs, swims or bike rides. If you’re obsessed over mileage give yourself 1 mile ran for every 10 mins easy on the bike.
  • The key to easy/recovery sessions is ‘add no further fatigue!’
  • Anyone can train hard, but most don’t give equal thought to their recovery.
  • Don’t be rigid to training plans, train by recovery/fatigue/feel, even if this means 3 to 4 days easy running between hard sessions.
  • Don’t be tied to conventional 7 day Mon – Sun plans, look longer if that helps (ie work in 10-14 day cycles).
  • You need more recovery the older you get.
  • Nutrition is a massive part of improvement. Pre-workout, post workout and a general all round good diet key to fuelling workouts and recovery.
  • Sleep is king. The best bang for your buck recovery aid there is, and its free.
  • Consistency is the number one way to improve. But you can’t train consistently if you’re injured or burnt out from too many hard sessions.
  • Improvement is not always linear, the body doesn’t work as simply as that. Expect peaks and troughs.
  • The body doesn’t know the difference between different types of stress; hard workouts, job, life, relationships, lack of sleep etc. So try to manage all external stress and ensure it forms part of your recovery profile. ie, too stressed to run a hard session today? Go easy then.
  • Strength and Conditioning underpins training.
  • Strength, Power and stability allows for harder training and makes you more robust to train and race.
  • Strength and Power can make you faster whilst stability/balance/range of motion give you a solid platform to endure upon.
  • All runners should place S&C somewhere in their training regime.
  • Look how you run, bio-mechanics. Are you wasting energy? Is there an injury waiting for happen because of how you run?
  • It took Jenny Meadows body 4 years to fully adapt from training 20 miles per week up to 60 miles per week. Adaptation to change takes a very long time. So only increase load and frequency slowly to allow the body to cope with the new stress.
  • Athlete belief and mindset is massive. Power of positive mental attitude. Dr Steve Peters book ‘Chimp Paradox’ was mentioned a couple of times as being very helpful.
  • Taper. The work is done in the proceeding weeks and months, all you can do is mess it up by doing too much. Maintain frequency, reduce miles and reps in the final weeks. Don’t change habits and routines.
  • Don’t waste time, money and energy on gadgets and gizmos looking for 1%. Put faith in the basics; hard work, recovery, sleep, S&C, nutrition and bio-mechanics. You’ll likely find much more than 1% by paying attention to those things.

It was reassuring to me that much of what I already believe in and preach(?) in my own coaching practice was confirmed yesterday, but there were some new things for me to go away and mull over and research.

Hope you find all this useful and can take some actionable points away in to your own training.

And yes, we were totally starstruck in our brief conversation with running royalty Steve Cram