Lockdown to Release

What a great indoor season, everyone really happy with themselves; PBs broken and new ground for most, everything and everyone on a high.  That’s where we were as a squad in February. 

Like everyone else, the sport as we knew it was halted and life as we knew it suddenly changed.  Covid was the new word of the day and suddenly Coach Paul had to take stock and work out how to keep the athletes spirits up and how to keep them fit.

Lockdown – Routine and Sanity

Phase 1 of the plan was to give the athletes some routine.  Focus was taken away from specifics to instead looking at the training each individual could do within their home boundaries without breaking the rules set out for all.  It had to be something everyone could manage on their own, or if they were lucky, with a collaborative sibling.  Sprinting was not on the agenda, but instead more general fitness work.  We added what was to be known as the “sanity sessions” – Cycle, jog, walk; anything that meant regularly moving and keeping the spirits up.  Lampposts were the new markers; running from one to the next with recovery to the next (Fartlek). Hills of any description that could be run up and down. 

Add to this the normal club evenings times which were replaced with a live club workout led by Coach Paul and daughter Faye.

These became so popular, not just amongst the club, but throughout the Athletics Community, with other clubs promoting it and joining in too and we reached and as far as the US.

With regular WhatsApp messages encouraging each other in the group, each athlete knew the others were doing the sessions and this gave us momentum. May and Phase 2 for training came along and the chance to be a bit more specific with sessions, but keeping it still focussed on work that could be done solo.  Changing from having runs for distance, for example 150m reps, this was changed to running for time, for example 20 second reps. Any suitable venue was used from grass tracks at local schools, blaze tracks, football pitches anything which was good underfoot.

Adding in more speed focussed hills…

…and some plyometric work

All still within reach of the athletes’ houses.

Club Workouts continued as we were into Week 7

June and we could finally have some small training together.  With a restriction of only three households, meaning only the coach and two others could meet up in a day.  

Two sessions of the week were now sprint focussed, one longer sprint session and one short one to work the acceleration and get sharper.  Still not distance focussed but time focussed.  This was found to be easier when running on non-marked tracks

The Plyometric session was still in there as well as the Club Live Workouts which had reached week 12…

July and the next step forward; back having some group sessions at the track.  Adhering to the social distancing rules meant picking times where there would be limited numbers at the venue. 

Despite being on the track, success was being had with continuing to run for time.  This concept is great, athletes get so worked up about the markings and where they should be as they run per rep as well as slowing down with 5m to go to the end of reps, running for time takes all that away.

Starting at any point on the track (randomly selected) and having to run till coach shouts stop meant no slacking off at the end.  Much better return was being had per rep.  With being able to be on the same track even with two lanes apart it was working to push each other on.

With the hope of some competition being back in sight in early August, there was a switch half-way through this block to run for distance. We practised the 60m and 150m race distances that were on offer by Scottish Athletics.  With also being back at the venue we could bring in some focus for our jumpers and multi-eventers on some more plyometrics and jumps (not into the pit or mats as these were not open).

The Club Live Workouts had come to an end after 16 weeks. It was fun, but nobody expected they would be on for that long.  However, it didn’t end for the group as we continued them ourselves to keep the movements, core and strength up

Sadly, the early August competition didn’t get granted the go-ahead and was moved to 22nd and 23rd of August (where we are now).

So, where are we now?  Well the Pitreavie track is officially opened for use again. This was a big step forward but brought plenty of other challenges.  We now have a 1 hour time slot on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get the session done; warm ups are completed early to be ready for the slot.  Everything has to be focussed and no time lost.  Weekend session can be more relaxed as we pick a quiet time away from others and yes, we have competitions. 

The sessions are based for racing as we have the potential of four weekends in a row to race.

We still have workouts, and we still have plyometric sessions if not racing at the weekends.

These open races are all about enjoyment coming up, be back in a competition arena and enjoy the buzz of being there.  Yes, it will be much different, only 3 per race on the track with lane gaps, face masks everywhere when not warming up or racing, hand sanitising the new norm.  But it is competition and it may be competition as we will now know it for a while. We can take part knowing we have done an amazing job to be ready to race again.

The most impressive factor through all of this has been the willingness of the athletes to keep the routine to keep their self-motivation and to not give up on themselves. To reach this stage in shape to race is testament to their drive and passion as athletes, hats off to them and their families for encouraging them to keep going even when it was tough during the many long weeks of lockdown.

Indoor Season Rolls Round – The balance with Exams and Prep

It’s that time of year again when the indoor season approaches.  This year most of the squad has the added strain of exams to balance into their competition schedule.  Both can be stressful in their own rights; but used together one can help alleviate the stress of the other.  If an athlete has a study plan in place well ahead of their exams, then their competition and training plan can work around it.  Training or competing can help clear the mind and provide focus to the athlete for their study and their actual exams.  With good planning, training can help provide good study breaks.

This year our preparation for the indoors has been our best so far.  We are in a fortunate position as our local facility at Pitreavie also has an indoor 60m running track, and this is used when focussing on our speed phase. The final part of the preparation jigsaw however is the 200m indoor track with the banking which can’t be practiced without being on such a track.  This year we ventured to the actual venue, the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, to get the best preparation possible allowing us to practice the bends as well as the cut in for the 400m/300m.

The 400m runners, Ben and coach Paul, performed three runs; 350m, 250m and 150m.

The purpose of each:

350m – Practice the first lap in lanes then the cut in and allowing the majority of the second lap to be performed at race pace.  The final 50m is not the priority in this case, it is to ensure each marker is hit on time for the race, those being 200m and 300m.

250m – Practice the first lap in lanes then the cut in again to have it nailed on the perfect race pace finishing after the third bend.  Again, ensuring the 200m marker is hit on time.

150m – Pure speed practice in lanes, run at top speed for the majority of the 200m, providing race practice for the 200m.

Ben running 150m

Similarly the 300m runner, Beth, performed an equivalent session, 250m, 200m, 150m.

Paul and Beth running 150m

The shorter distance sprinters, Cameron, Sinead and Sarah were practicing for both the 200m and 60m.  Their session was 2x150m and 3x40m at top speed with the purpose being:

150m – Pure speed practice in lanes, run at top speed.  Key is the drive phase from blocks to get into the pace and drive off that first bend, taking it into the second bend and completing that bend at speed.

40m – Block drive phase specific to drive-out hard and get up to top speed by the 40m mark to ensure sharpness for the shortest event on the track.

Cameron over 40m

Sarah and Sinead over 40m

A fantastic session and all target times hit bang on…next stop the National Open on the 12th January.


Time to move on

Within all partnerships there are times when athletes move on. It is with sadness I report Taylor has chosen to try a different path, but it is with pride that we send him on his new journey knowing we’ve had a hugely successful partnership. With our final act as a team we managed to gain selection for the Scottish Under 20 Team for the up and coming Welsh U20 International. Impressive as Taylor had only a few weeks to show fitness and get the standard post-injury.

Over the past 5 years working together, Taylor has recorded a successful record in both hurdles and flat sprints.

6 Scottish medals, 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze
7 Scottish Schools medals, 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze
9 East District medals, 6 Gold, 3 Bronze

Selected 3 times for the Celtic Games teams
Selected for the SIAB International
Selected for the UK Schools Games
Selected for the Scottish U20 Team

The whole squad wish Taylor all the best for his next venture in the sport and hope he continues his record and picks up more successes.

Day 7 -Tenerife Warm Weather Training

The final day has arrived and we are all a bit sad it’s coming to an end but excited for the last two sessions.

As always a good breakfast consumed before heading out into the sunshine for the last track session.

Today’s session was block starts for most and hurdles for Taylor alongside guest athlete Cameron Keelan. They had 1 run over all 10 hurdles and twice over 3 hurdles

The rest of the squad had 2 x 120m and 1x60m from Blocks.

A great session to finish the track session on. For more pictures of this session visit the Facebook page.

Lunchtime rolls around and they all eat heartily after all the energy spent.

Finally we reached the last session of the week and it was a cardio, core and Plyometric session. This involved warm up and then a pyramid session of press ups, sit ups and squat thrusts. Then on the plyometrics with jumping in the stand. Finishing off with a hip workout which is always excellent but hard.

For more photos of this session visit the Facebook page.

Back to the hotel and they’ve had a great week of training which means they’ve earned their evening off and they’ve decided to head out to treat themselves at the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.

Mini Disco and Karaoke for the coaches 🎤

Day 6 – Tenerife Warm Weather Training

Sunrise and the excitement of back to training after our day off. Everyone was up and raring to go at breakfast and then over to the track we headed.

Today was the day we settled the bill and the ease of training here is great. We get a sheet to fill in as we go marking up who trained what days and we pay the bill at the end or near the end. So simple nothing like back home where there is such a fuss over it all.

We bumped into a lot more Scots this time with Kenny from Inverclyde and his squad plus Michael Olsen from Edinburgh.

Today’s session was all about sprint mechanics. Arms having to be correct driving full swing from “cheek to cheek”, learning to run tall when is full flight and when from start getting those legs driving in a more piston action. Great learning for them all and well executed.







It was a very pleasing session to see them all developing and the older ones looking smooth in their action.

Katie had a great session on movement and core as we adapted to cater for her injured ankle. The session was 3 sets of 30 secs with 10 secs recovery. The exercises were

  • Squat Pulse and Reach
  • On back leg kicks
  • Press ups
  • Marching High Knees
  • On back legs curled at chest and lower to straight legs then split
  • Dips
  • On back side to sides
  • Forward leg reach
  • Sit ups through legs

Back to the hotel for lunch. Had to be sharp as we had our afternoon session at 3pm.

Afternoon session was our pool session and some aqua running.

We were joined for this session by Michael Olsen from Edinburgh. The session was 5 minutes warm up jogging then 6x30secs with 30secs recovery. Then 2 lengths swim of the pool swimming. Then 4x1min with 30secs recovery. Then 2 lengths of the pool swimming. Then 6x30secs with 30secs recovery then 2 mins rest and 5x10secs blasting as hard as you can with 20 secs recovery. Finishing with 1 length of the pool swimming. A tough session but a good one. Michael’s first time aqua jogging and he said he couldn’t believe how hard and knackering it was. A lot think aqua running will be easy but it’s not and it is a great workout. The only time you’ll sweat in the water.

Evening rolls around and time for dinner and another excellent spread and some goat on offer this time 😁

Time to chill and the mini disco for some and the others a wee stroll to get some fresh air all ready for their final training day tomorrow.

Day 5 – Tenerife Warm Weather Training

Today was rest day and a trip to Siam Park.

If you’ve never been it’s one of the best water parks available. Not too pricy to get in and even the food on offer isn’t a total rip off like some of these places.

Breakfast first to charge up then the short walk down to get the free bus. Katie managed to get there on her sore ankle which was good she didn’t miss out.

We based ourselves at the Beach Area which also doubles up as a fantastic wave lagoon with the largest man made waves from what I’ve heard.

Everyone got stuck into the rides and had a great time.

Lunch was a decent choice and something for all.

More rides and fun then home on the free bus again.

Dinner rolled around and it was Oriental night tonight. Another good spread and plenty for our vegetarians as well tonight.

The day was then the final time to relax before we’re back on it with training tomorrow.

Day 4 – Tenerife Warm Weather Training

The day kicks off with breakfast as normal.

Unfortunately we start with two injuries. Aimee managed to slip on water on the floor and banged her knee and Sinead hurt her heel in the pool. Simple non training accidents. Adaption required for both to train. Aimee will do some warm up exercises that are at easy slow walking pace and Sinead feels she can do it so we had to constantly monitor as the day went.

First set session was back at the track. Today for Craig, Taylor, Cameron and Ailsa we had

  • 250m at 90% pace then 2 mins rest and 50m top speed. Then 15 mins rest
  • 180m at 90% pace then 2 mins rest and 50m top speed. Then 15 mins rest
  • 130m at top speed then 2 mins rest and 50m top speed

Ben, Joe, Sean, Beth, Katie, Sarah and Sinead did the 250m, 180m and 130m with 15 mins rest between each. Sinead managed only the 250m till we stopped there so not to aggravate the heel any more.

Cracking session today a bit more cloud cover so not roasting which made training good.

Accidents happens and today seems like we got struck by it. Katie unluckily tripped over the inside track railing and twisted her ankle. We had to get the ice out and onto it. They say things happen in threes so hopefully that’s the three unlucky moments out the way.

Thankfully none of the three are badly burst just minor sprains and aches and with a day off tomorrow we can adapt later in the week if required. This will ensure everyone enjoys and gets the most out of their week training.

Back to the hotel and a wee dip for the legs for some in the pool. Katie got more ice and we strapped up the ankle.

Lunchtime arrived and a huge spread awaiting which was delicious as always. As Joe described it it is like eating like a king 😀🤴

After a bit of rest the afternoon session rolled around. As they’ve all worked hard we changed this to an easy stretching and mobility session. Only 45 minutes and again at the track. Katie we left resting her ankle and time to relax so we have her back soon.

Worked top to toe starting with shoulders which involved:

Arm raises, rotational work, mini band work all to stretch those tight shoulder out. Then onto torso, back and hips with work on the ground moving in all planes of the movement pattern to get things really loosened off. Finishing with those calfs at the bottom to stretch it out. Really good and easy to get the body feeling good again.

Back to the hotel and some had a dip in the pool while others chilled at the side.

Evening rolled around and we were onto the dinner. Tonight was Mexican night so the fayre involved fajitas, chilli con carne and lots of other classic Mexican dishes and some less known in the Uk.

Night finishes with downtime for everyone with the knowledge they have a day off tomorrow to let the body recover and have fun at Siam Park.

Today as coach you learn that no matter how well planned everything is there’s always factors that catch you unexpectedly and it’s how to ensure the weeks plan is adapted to ensure the squad learn from everything and have the best week possible.

To finish on a positive we’ve had another day where the squad are bonding strongly and everyone is working brilliantly together.

Day 3 – Tenerife Warm Weather Training

Day 3 and we’re all excited to finally get to the track. Breakfast kicks us off at 8:30am then we’re fuelled and ready for the track.

Today’s opener was nothing too heavy due to it being the first session. 2 x 80m top speed sprints from standing start them 2x 60m top speed sprints. We have two guest athletes Alistair and Cameron K who were working alongside the squad but doing their own sessions today of 3×120 varying speed runs.

The track had many good athletes at it today and our squad fitted in nicely alongside looking professional and buzzing.

Warm up was our normal track effort of 3 60 strides. Skips, lunges, squats and then crucifix front and back. Hurdle walkovers to get those hips loose. Then onto drills of 3 x skip blinds with arms swings, walking high knees, gradual high knees, 1-2-3 up and 1-2-3 Under, single legs and the stick drill all twice.

Onto the sprints and the team were looking sharp as the enjoyment of sprinting on the sun was really kicking it. All looked like they were flying today.

After cool down and a little bit of posing for photos and the boys doing a bit of macho pull ups as they do. We headed back to the hotel for a dip in the cold pool. All jumped in and let the body calm back down after the heat.

The lads tried some team building of a different kind.

Lunch was an excellent fayre with plenty to refuel with.

Chill out and ready for the second session.

Weights for some and the others core and movement

Coach Nicola took the core and movement session and Coach Paul took the weights. They all warmed up together first doing 3x60m strides, skips, lunges, weight walks

Then the core session involved crawls – caterpillar, Spider-Man and Bear. Then it was hurdles 6 times walkovers then up and unders then up and unders spinning. The final part was the multi movement and core workout of

  • Crawl out press up and crawl in
  • On back legs in air and rotate side to side
  • Squat and reach
  • Bear crawl squares

3 sets of 30 secs with 10 secs between each exercise. A great sweat in the sun

The weights session involved two different sessions depending on level. The experienced lifers did

  • Step ups on box with barbell
  • Single arm dumbbell shoulder press
  • Cleans

The developers did

  • Dead lift
  • Side flys
  • Split snatch from chest

All finished with core covering double leg drive sit up, opposite leg and arm lowers and side to sides

Great sessions all round

Time to then head back get washed up and ready for dinner.

Dinner again was an excellent spread with lots to choose from.

Evening swung around and the athletes got to be entertained by Faye and the other kids who put on a show.

Day 2 – Tenerife Warm Weather Training

Day 2 kicked off with breakfast at 8:30am. So much choice for the athletes they couldn’t fail to get a nutritious start to the day.

The facilities in Tenerife aren’t available on a Sunday so it was time to adapt and use the benefits of what you have available.

The first session of the trip was on the beach to do some Sprints. As it was the first session after travel the key was to get loosened off ensuring all the stiffness from the journey was shaken out the bodies. A good warm up therefore undertaken covering skips, lunges, squats as well as more standard sprinting drills. The sand was well turned over for us in time for the sprints after all this. 4 x 40m sprints with mixing up the runners in each race so they get to race various team mates.

For the videos check out the Facebook page.

Session done and they all got the body cooled back down by jumping in the sea

The lads all then did the inflatable assault course. This is actually a tough workout.

Overall a great start to the training element of the trip.

Back for lunch and after a good session the athletes fairly tucked into the feast on offer. You name it buffet had it.

Afternoon had a bit of relax time and study time before the second session in the late afternoon. This involved movement work to get the overall body working as well as loosened off from this morning. We used the hotel area in the shade where we could stretch out and not get in anyone’s way.

This session involved warming up of marching and arm swings then into on the spot high knees, jumping jacks and skiing 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off; twice of each exercise.

Then onto our favourite crawls. We love crawls, a great overall body movement. Caterpillar, Spider-Man, Bear, Crab and then the huge multi movement of caterpillar press up burpees.

Then we had a mini band workout. Side walks, monster walks, press up position arm movements, arm pull downs, shoulder extends and chest extends

Finishing with a wee boys against girls racing round the squares. Great fun session that got the athletes loosened off from earlier as well as a good set of movements.

Time to get washed up ready for dinner. Dinner was a local buffet special Canaries cuisine. Delicious too.

Evening had the mini disco time and Faye was joined by the some athletes for a bit of fun. They kept their promise to her and got up there 😀👍

Final downtime for everyone then off to bed.

Arrived and settling in

Blog Day 1 – Tenerife Warm Weather Training

We’ve arrived and everyone is excited. By the time we arrived we didn’t have time to do any training but then it’s not always wise to jumps straight into it after the travel. The time is better spent just familiarising yourself with the surroundings.

For some it is the second time back here for warm weather training, but for the majority it’s their first time so ideal to relax.

Weather was a welcome 25C at its highest today a huge jump from what we left behind.

The pool was a welcome sight for all as everyone jumped in and had a bit of fun.

Our youngest two Faye and a Cameron (Not Sinclair or Keelan but Provan) were the two who lasted the longest in the water till the sun was going down.

Coach Paul headed to the track just to check in with the staff to ensure all time slots for both track and gym are going to work out and was given the thumbs up for the plan by the friendly Mario.

It was onto dinner and we were all hopeful of a great spread as last time the food was superb and it didn’t disappoint. Chicken, Tuna and even Sirloin Steak on offer with a huge selection of vegetables and a massive salad bar to pick from so our non meat eaters didn’t struggle. I’m happy to report the athletes all tucked in.

Evening rolled around and a wee bit of team fun with a short quiz the Coach Nicola had put together. Teams were randomly drawn so to make it more fun.

Winners were Al, Cameron K and Katie.

The rest of the evening is downtime for all and the athletes get a chance to do what they’d like to relax. For the older boys Craig, Taylor and Cameron S that’s off to watch Anthony Joshua hopefully defend his World Heavyweight titles.

Tomorrow we get started in essence with the actual Warm Weather Training and a beach session as none of the facilities are open on Sunday. So it’s using what you have in abundance to your benefit; one thing we are always good at.