Indoors or Not?

The year has rolled around once more to the indoor season. The question for many a coach and athlete is do we do an indoor season or not?

For me, thoughts always circle round:

· Will it detract from the main goal of an outdoor season for the athletes?

· If we focus on an indoor season, how much speed work should I bring in?

I for one have always used an indoor season, but not to the full extent of every competition. My main focus for the squad is to break up the long winter training (October through to April) and to get a gauge of where we are with training. At this time of year its good to throw in a time trial as a test but you can throw that into a race and get a more accurate gauge.

The indoor season for our group focuses on only 3 of 4 competitions:

· National Championships (Age group of athlete)

· Schools Championships (for those eligible to compete)

· National Open Championship

· Plus possibly another age group where appropriate, e.g. under 20s may also enter the Senior Champs, or in a few cases the National Multi Event Championships

I try to keep it limited to these. This gives enough races to get a good gauge of how well each athlete is improving as well as a short break from the winter training. It is fun for the athletes without being too long a period in general.

This year in Scotland there is an different challenge with the National Open, Under 17s and Seniors all being in January and early February which is great and gives us the short focus. However the Under 20 National Championships are not until the second week of March which means two months between the National Open and the Under 20s. This gives the new challenge of having to do a short speed block, back to winter training work, then come back again to another short speed block. This has to be timed perfect to ensure we get enough speed for each competition, but also to ensure we are progressing with vital winter work.

To do this we have programmed a block from this week to the Seniors on the 28th for top speed work, but ensuring we keep in the gym work as normal plus the normal Tuesday session which covers our sled pulls and shorter runs anyway. Sessions include 120s out of blocks as well as shorter 40m and 60m block practice. We then jump back to the normal winter program of 300s, 250s etc with shorter recovery at set paces until the week for the under 20s. During this week we bring back a short pure speed block of not many runs, but race pace for 120s and 170s (depending on event to race at) and block start practice. Still keep the gym in there but we will have less lifts that one week.

This will give each athlete the required speed we wish each time as well as ensure we don’t detract from too much winter work.

The indoor season started today with the National Open, and I’m happy to report all athletes in the squad performed as planned.