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.


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.