Academy Newsletter

Since January 2014 our runners have received a regular “newsletter” designed to inform, educate, and inspire. These newsletter have included a look at different training methodologies and have profiled leading runners (both old and new). Where possible, we have tried to focus on the training and profiles of athletes of a similar age to our leading group members.

The current “Academy Newsletter” is presented below:

BHS Academy Newsletter: No.81 (17/01/17)

The Fundamentals of Training

Recently I subscribed to a free video lecture by US coach, (former) athlete, and exercise scientist Steve Magness. This video, entitled ‘The Fundamentals of Training’, is available on Steve’s highly informative and interesting ‘Science of Running’ website:

In this Academy Newsletter I shall focus on (& provide a brief perspective upon) five themes raised in the lecture. Moreover, I shall provide for each theme a key message to all aspiring coaches/athletes. … If you find the following of interest, and would like to explore these themes more fully, I suggest that you subscribe to the full lecture, by accessing the link above.

Theme 1: Coaching as a Creative Process:

Coaching/(Self-coaching) is an ‘art’ as well as a ‘science’. There is no single formula to develop a distance runner. Each coach – once they understand the basic fundamentals and principles of successful running – needs to apply these fundamentals/principles creatively to address the individual needs of each athlete under his/her care. A creative approach is needed as a formulaic approach, stressing the same workouts ad infinitum, will lead to an athlete becoming stale and uninspired. In order for an athlete to develop over time, he/she must be provided with new and more challenging stressors/stimuli in order to adapt and progress. … 

Key Message 1: Be bold, creative, an innovative in developing training inputs.

Theme 2: ‘Build and Maintain’

All training elements (whether to enhance speed, endurance, or race-pace related work in between) should be present to some extent whether one is in a base (non-competitive) or competitive phase of training. Everything is important. The training in any given period should at the very least maintain – if not build upon – an athlete’s capacity for speed, strength, endurance, or stamina. Each training phase should include: a variation of stresses; diverse stimuli; and a little of everything. Thus, even in the competitive phase when the focus would be on race-specific workouts, pure speed workouts (e.g. hill sprints) and endurance work (long runs) should remain a fundamental part of the programme. … 

Key Message 2: In each training phase, do not neglect any important element of training.

Theme 3: Consistent Training

Coaches should not be wedded to a high (or low) volume programme, or indeed a high (or low) intensity programme. What is key is that the training should reflect the athlete’s capacity to absorb and benefit from the training performed. For some this may mean high volume training, but for others it may not. (Individual differences must be respected). The training given to any athlete must enable the athlete to progress to where he/she needs to go. The first task (especially with young athletes) is to develop a consistent pattern of training, initially looking to move towards 5-6 days a week of regular training. … 

Key Message 3: In the first instance, become consistent in your training behaviour; don’t focus on unrealistic levels of volume or intensity.

Theme 4: Key Workouts

Most workouts should seek to cement adaptation. As such, they stress, but do not over-stress, the athlete. Occasionally, however, the athlete will need workouts that challenge them to progress to a new level of competence. These key workouts (‘See God’ or ‘Go to the Well’ training sessions) should be few and far between. In any given (3-4 months) training period/phase, the athletes may need to do no more than three or four such workouts. These workouts are likely to be highly (race) specific in terms of volume & intensity/(pace). … 

Key Message 4: Only a few sessions in any training period should be highly demanding of the athlete.

Theme 5: Psychological Factors

Psychological factors are important. Athletes perform best when they feel good about themselves. Individual training/competition practices that support this should be accepted. Coaches should seek to not only establish good training patterns, but to keep athletes motivated and hungry for success. There is a need to occasionally ‘freshen-up’ athletes, and maintain interest through small spices of fast work. Workouts can be manipulated to leave athletes feeling positive about themselves. In this respect, it is often the last repetition in a training session that the athlete remembers. … 

Key Message 5: Manipulate workouts and training practices to keep athletes engaged, motivated, and happy with themselves.

Be inspired!

More soon …


Alan Maddocks (January 17th., 2017).