Working with a range of different coaches who coachdifferent age groups and skill levels have really opened my eyes to the athletic community. From learning from Steve who participates with the athlete and motives them to further improve themselves to Dick Telford who sets out the purpose of the session and lets their athletes’ own motivation push them through it. These two different types of athletic coaching styles are what I had the pleasure in observing and getting involved with for my 8th week with the UC Ginninderra Athletics Club.
This week’s FAST sessions were full of experiences both from a coaching point of view and an athletes point of view. The two sessions for this week were held at the AIS track and the dreaded Governor General’s Hill (GGs). Both teaching the importance of individualising your training routine in order to suit the ever-changing needs of the athletes. As well as this how to further identify any inconsistencies with an athlete’s technique and try to figure out if its due to their own understanding or if it’s because of fatigue. At the end of the day the key message to take is something that I have fully understood the meaning of throughout my time which is that arms drive the legs. The arms are an essential component to running cause as you fatigue your arms carry your legs through the pain to finish. This is especially important when running in a session at GGs. Not only these technical aspects of training and coaching are important though, we as coaches are there to motivate the athlete to push through the pain and to achieve the most they can from the training session. From an athlete’s point of view through these two sessions I learnt the necessity of proper form and technique to help achieve the desired speed that the activity is designed for. As well as this it is crucial for an athlete to not only know what pace to run at for different intensities (E.g. 60%/80%/90%) but on how to maintain that speed for the full distance and how to repeat that speed for the same intensity. This is especially important for 200-400m runners as they are working out times to beat for each 100m leg of their race to achieve the best possible time.
I also observed and learnt from Dick Telford again this week who held his session at the arboretum. This venue was a tough one for the athletes to complete which involved a 5km run and some hill runs for a total of a 45min session. What I learnt from this session was what is the main focus of an endurance runner and that is control. Ok getting a bit technical here but what i learnt was that the least amount of homeostatic change in the body is the difference between 1st and 2nd place within a long-distance race. This being the amount of control that one has of the bodies reaction to chemical effects on the body when facing fatigue, for example, their tolerance to lactic acid. Someone who has a better control of their body and homeostasis is more likely to be first in a race. As well as that knowing when to increase pace and being able to maintain a competitive race pace for majority of the race is crucial for these guys to learn and apply. Dick, through his sessions is preparing the athletes for this and to endure a high intensity pace for a long period of time or distance.
Unfortunately, there was unpleasant weather this Saturday, so Tiger Cubs did not take place, but this gave us time to review our current program and to see if any changes needs to be made and so that we fully understand what is required of us to conduct the On Track program. I am looking forward to seeing all of the Tiger Cubs next Saturday for a fun filled session.
Whilst undertaking this internship, each week is providing me with opportunities to not only expand my understanding of athletes and their training regimes but also allow me to develop my own techniques and work on personal goals. Participating in sport is a huge factor in my life, therefore watching and learning from the coaches and other runners has been very beneficial and helpful towards reaching my goals and outcomes of my internship experience.
This week unfortunately our successfully and slowing building Winter Wonderland session had to be cancelled due to the threatening rain that was predicted. Just quietly this was a godsend as we could have a sleep in – yay! However, I was still scheduled to participate in my routine FAST sessions on Thursday afternoon and Sunday morning. Both sessions were very different which allowed us to work on various techniques to master our skills.
Thursday consisted of focusing on speed over shorter distances. Our intensity for this session was to be based at 90% which allowed us to focus on timing our take offs and holding a consistent speed for the duration of the length. On Sunday we were back at GG’s Hill. Whilst many of the runners looked to have been eaten alive by the hill, everyone soldiered on and conquered it once again. This session was focused on completing the runs efficiently without burning out too quickly. The best feeling about GG’s (yes there is one) is when you’re running up the hill and being able to overtake cyclists who are doing it hard by slowly riding up the slope. The look on their faces when they finally reach the top of the hill is priceless when they think they can do it better and faster than any runner. This week I ran with a younger runner who had never done the hill before, but she was very successfully in making me work harder to reach the top. We completed a pyramid structure of 230m, 200m, 150m, 100m and 50m. Each run became harder with heavy legs and oxygen deprivation kicking in.
Just like each week, I have once again thoroughly enjoyed participating in the training sessions and slowing learning and getting to know everyone from athletes, coaches, volunteers and parents.
This week’s lot of sessions consisted of many hard training moments and important learning curves. The sessions for this week involved speed maintenance, adjustments and explosiveness which are very important aspects of running. The Tuesday session for this week was split into two groups in order to meet the needs of all athletes. The groups were split in regard to what events the athletes would likely be competing in, one group was the 100/200m runners, and the other group was the 400m runners. I had the pleasure to run with the 400m guys for this session and to tell you the truth this was one of the hardest session I have ever done. Our group had to run 3x250m sets with only 30 second recovery in between at an intensity of 80%. The second group also had a challenging session ahead of them with doing short sprintsover 150m at 90% and then 100m at 80% with a recovery time of 4 min between each set. Participating in this session really opened my eyes at the importance of maintaining a particular speed and the negative effects even going a little too hard can have when completing the remaining sets. This was clearly evident in the last set of our run where I struggled to finish the full 250m. This session was a difficult but an awesome training experience where I learnt the importance of speed maintenance, how to pick up on when the athlete is running at a higher intensity then what was set out and how to individualise the training to suit the needs of different types of runners.
As well as this the Thursday session was 10x100m sprints with just a walk back as recovery and at an intensity of roughly 80%. This training session had elements of explosiveness where the athletes from the start had to reach what they felt was 80% and maintain that for the duration of the 100m. With only a walk back as recovery this training session was designed to become harder once you reached the 6-8 set as that is when lactic starts to affect the legs. A little different to what was done on Tuesday, but the same principles are still being taught and learnt. These principlesbeing the importance of speed maintenance with some element of explosiveness and the notion of when you start to feel tired don’t stop swinging the arms as this is what will carry you through the remaining sets.
The Sunday session was different again to the other sessionsthis week with this training being more centred around speed. This session involved running 5x120m runs with varying intensities at every 40m block. The first 40m block was to build up to 80%, then to drop down to 60% for the second 40m block and finally explode into a 90% sprint for the last 40m. This session in itself was teaching the importance of having that explosiveness in a race and was also teaching about how to vary your race pace mid run.
I also had the absolute pleasure in observing another squad this week which was Faye’s squad that train on a Monday and Wednesday night. Faye is an awesome coach that trains athletes from the age range of 10-15 years old in sprints, hurdles and jumps. This weeks Wednesday session was focusing on long jump with some easy plyometric work. This was an awesome experience learning new ways of coaching from a different perspective. What I learnt from this session was some of the technique behind the long jump and how important it is to be ‘down to earth’ with your athletes. The different ways that coaches conduct their warmups and technical components of the training session. Also, just from observing I learnt the importance behind having a friendly and positive personality while also being able to be strict when you need to be. This was an amazing experience and I hope to continue learning from Faye and her squad in the future.
This week also involved our weekly Tiger cub On Track session for kids within the age range of six to eight years old. This week we were teaching the fundamental movement skills behind hopping and vertical jumping. This week was also the first week taking on the Tiger Cubs session without Alex being present. This session was a tiring session for all the kids as each activity involved constant movement, but all the kids looked like they were still enjoying and having fun in each designed game. It was awesome to see how much talent and understanding that the kids at that age had for these skills and how they were able to apply it for each activity. As well as this it was amazing to see how much the junior coaches were doing in leading and helping to coach the kids through each of the activities.
This week provide me with new insights into skill development and mastering techniques from an athlete’s perspective. Over the past few weeks, training with Steve and watching both adults and kids participating in the Winter Wonderland sessions has opened my eyes to understanding the commitments and routines that are imbedded into mastering techniques and achieving each athlete’s best performances.
For the Thursday session we headed back out to the Charnwood Ovals. This week we started off with our usual warm up, but added in new exercises of grapevines, aimed at stretching and moving the quads and hamstrings before running, and arm swings performed in the motion of the freestyle swimming stroke then turning around and performing a backstroke movement. This allowed us to open up and rotate our shoulders. We then did our quick run throughs and got into the sprinting. For tonight’s session we completed 10 reps of 100 metre sprints with a slow walk back as recovery. This was performed at an 80% intensity level. This allowed us to think about how to manage fatigue and how to stay focused and keep going when fatigue takes over. We finished up with our normal cool down.
At the Saturday session we had approximately 50 kids and adults participating again this week, which is showing that the new Winter Wonderland session has been a success for all ages to get involved and work on skills without having the added pressure of competing and trying to achieve their best times or distances. Walking around and taking photos each week has allowed me to watch each age group and coaches get involve and really focus on improving their techniques and understand what the purpose of each session is for. Through all the excitement, over the past few weeks I have noticed that many of the kids are becoming really engaged, listening to both the interns and junior coaches through understanding the skills that are being demonstrated and getting involved to demonstrate these skills. Looking back on the photos taken each week showcases just how involved the interns and junior coaches are with establishing a connection with their group and developing the skills and each participant getting involved and having fun at the same time. At the end of the session, the tiny tots and their parents lined up and sang a big ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of their amazing coaches, Deb. This was a wonderful gesture that showed how much of a family orientated club we are and how much each participant appreciates the coaches.
Sunday was a beautiful sunny day that soon becoming very warm when we were completing our session. This week we had a huge turn out of 10 runners. After completing our warm ups with the added new exercises, we completed our run throughs then headed up to the start line to start our sprints. We got into two heats and performed 120 metre sprints at 3 different intensities, over 5 reps. The first 40 metres consisted of an 80% intensity, which was aimed at mastering our take off and holding a fast pace. The next 40 metres was at 60%, which was aimed at holding a steady pace when running over a longer distance. Then the last 40 metres was back up to a higher intensity of 90% aimed at an explosive finish. The purpose of the changed intensities was designed to focus on transition from each intensity through not losing speed and continuing the same momentum. I found it harder to transition from the 80% down to 60% as you had to really focus on not pulling up to quickly and smoothly transitioning into each intensity. My preferred was the last 40 metres as it was challenging to drive quickly off a slower pace. Transitioning from various intensities is an area that I need to work on when on the football field, so completing this session was very beneficial for me. Our recovery for the session was a slow walk back whilst stretching out our calves to avoiding tightening up when fatigue was kicking in. The cool down consisted of a slow jog around the track to wrap up the last session for the week.
Although this week challenged me towards working on technique, it was also very enjoyable and beneficial.
This week was full of new learning opportunities from Steve’s FAST sessions and Tiger Cubs, to this being my first week observing Dick Tedford’s distance squad. This lot of FAST session involved improving the athlete’s acceleration and strength when it comes to running. The Tuesday session was an acceleration session completed over 150m. The idea of this session was to increase your speed from 70% in the first 50m, to 80% in the second 50m and finally to 90% in the last 50m. Each athlete was timed at random in order to give them feedback about keeping pace and accelerating appropriately throughout the 150m. The idea was not to run to get the best times or go all out in one set but to gradually increase race pace and to be able to complete all sets with consistent times.
As well as this there was the Sunday FAST session which took place at Parliament House Hill. This session involved running up the hill at 80% four times with only a walk back as the recovery. The training was individualised to meet all the athletic capabilities of each athlete. This individualisation took place in the form of the amount of recovery each athlete had between each run. Athletes were allowed to choose whether they wanted a longer or shorter recovery depending on the event that they would most likely be involved in (E.g. 400m runners shorter rest, 100m runners longer rest). I learnt a great deal from the session as it opened my eyes to the different ways the training modality can be altered to suit the needs of every athlete and that not only can the amount of reps/distance of the activity be changed but so can the recovery time.
I also had the pleasure of observing Dick Telford’s squad this week which involves a lot of middle distance runners and pretty successful runners at that. Dick Telford is an impressive coach and researcher with many achievements. He has trained many athletes who have gone on to win a number of medals in a number of competitions. Throughout this session I learnt a different view of coaching as Dick supplies the athletes with the avenue to improve and that it depends on the motivation of the athlete to gain the most beneficial outcomes after each session. As well as this, I learnt that they have a different warm up and session plan as to what I have typically been involved in which is not surprising as these guys are running a greater distance. The one thing that I noticed is that these athletes definitely had more of a rhythm with their run and the control they have when running is phenomenal. I also learnt that these guys do not always train on the AIS athletics track, but they vary their training over different types of terrain in order to further condition their bodies. The different terrains that they train at are rotated in 3-week training blocks and each athlete runs at their own pace letting them take the intensity of the training session into their own hands. This was definitely an awesome experience and I am looking forward to observing and learning more from this squad.
Finally, we had our tiger cubs’ session that was held on Saturday morning focusing on passing and receiving objects. This was a challenging week as a lot of the games designed around these two important fundamental movement skills do not involve a lot of movement which proved to be hard as it was a freezing morning. Regardless of this, it was a fun morning with much being taught and much being learnt. After the session I learnt how to better manage the kids and that being on the same level as the kids does help when explaining the fundamental movement skills involved in each focus area.