Just under a month ago I travelled to Bath to take part in one England Athletics’ Regional Technical Workshops. The Regional Technical Workshops are designed
“To provide technical ‘what to coach’ material with the aim of supporting the content contained on the Athletics Coach or Coach in Running Fitness qualifications, but also adding to the knowledge and practice base of established coaches. The content will be delivered by National Coach Mentors and National Coach Development Programme coaches” (England Athletics)
I had seen that this one day course was on offer and thought it would be an excellent way of building existing knowledge, bring some confidence back into my coach, and help with my support coaching role. The increased focus on the technical aspects really appealed to me as well as it is something I’m always interested in and found the CiRF course a little lacking in. Having undertaken most of the modules of the Event Group Qualification I felt that this would be a good way of underpinning some of the learning from that.
The course, held on a Saturday, took place at the Sports Training Village for Bath University. Entering the main building, I was amazed by the extent of the facilities they had; a large gym, numerous indoor tennis courts, dojo, indoor sprint track and other indoor spaces for a wide range of sports. It was impressive walking along some of the corridors and reading the names of the offices and rooms on the doors, such as GB’s Bobsleigh and Skeleton team.
The day was divided into 2 parts:
- A morning session comprising of a talk and presentation around nutrition for performance (by Renee McGregor)
- An afternoon theory and practical session delivered in event groups
Renee McGregor is a Sports Nutritionist for Team Bath and a wide range of high performing athletics in the UK. She gave a really good presentation about the nutritional requirements for successful training and performance. It was really informative the way that she went through each area in turn (carbohydrates, protein, fats) and really made me think about the content of the food that I eat. When discussing carbohydrates, Renee showed a number of different foods and asked us to think about the carbohydrate amounts in each. For most of the foods I was quite close with the figures but some really surprised me such as the bagel containing 60g of carbs. She also discussed the effects of having insufficient carbs that can arise from faddy ‘no carb’ diets (depressed immune system, disruptive sleep patterns etc).
There was also a careful consideration and explanation of the general amount of carbohydrates, fats and protein needed each day and how this changes depending on the intensity of the training and the training to come in the next 24 hours. The tips and ideas for ensuring athletes have enough protein was really useful (some examples of 10g protein snacks between meals were 100g of greek yoghurt, 2 scrambled eggs and 30g of peanut butter). There was also a number of ‘hero foods’ that she suggested that should be in every athletes cupboards and fridges: Eggs, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, tinned oily fish, beans and pulses as well as soups which could be used in a myriad of ways.
Since the course I’ve downloaded her book ‘Training Food’ which goes into more detail and offers lots of interesting recipes to try out at home with suggestions of when they could be used in the training day or week. Some of my favourites that I have tried include the sweet potato brownies, moussaka and the chicken quinoa salad.
After lunch, the technical specific session was led by Martin Rush (Head of Coaching and Athlete Development for England Athletics) and Chris Jones (National Endurance Coordinator for Welsh Athletics). This gave a real importance to the sessions and allowed us to benefit from their knowledge and experience.
The first part of the session was in a small room and focussed at looking at the technical model for running, watching videos and analysing technique. There was a great emphasis placed on a quicker recovery of the heel under the bum. Throughout the discussion, physical preparation was key; without building the strength, co-ordination and mobility in the athlete then they will not be able to develop their technique as well.
After a short time we went out on onto the track where Martin demonstrated some warm ups and drills to help build on what had been discussed. What was really good about this part of the session was having him go through the drills and mobility work with 3 of the young athletes he regularly coaches. This had 2 benefits:
- Lots of opportunities for us as coaches to observe and analyse technique and suggest changes
- Martin demonstrating the ‘soft skills’ of coaching and his questioning and comments to help the athletes themselves address any issues
Throughout this session there were plenty of questions asked and discussion of the range of technique we were observing and helped to sharpen my coaching eye.
Not only did the session focus on endurance running, but also spent some time looking at mobility exercises with hurdles, building into jumping over steeplechase hurdles. This is something I’ve not had any experience at all so it was really interesting to see this. We also had some time to try out some race walking and a few drills related to that. Martin showed great enthusiasm in his area and promoted the idea of using race walking within running clubs as an alternative session idea.
A very full day with lots of knowledge gleaned and ideas to put into practice to improve both my coaching and support others with their coaching journey.
Some of the resources from the day in March (and the previous one in November) can be found here. http://ucoach.com/blog/regional-technical-day-course-resources/. If you area a coach or run leader then it is also worth looking at the CPD events (such as the movement workshops) on offer by looking here: http://www.ulearnathletics.com/cpdEvent/index