First NI & Ulster Endurance Squad gets underway

21 September 2017

First NI & Ulster Endurance Squad gets underway

NI & Ulster Endurance Squad come together for the first coaching camp of the season

The first of the 2017-2018 NI and Ulster Endurance Squad coaching days took place on Saturday 16th September at Greenmount CAFRE Campus. The day was attended by fifty-seven athletes and many of their coaches and parents. Sessions were delivered by Michael Dyer, Bashir Hussain, Mark Kirk, Francis Marsh, Teresa McDaid, Jackie Newton and Allister Woods. Guest speakers were Olympians Kerry O’Flaherty and Breege Connolly.

Jackie Newton, Director of Coaching and Athlete Development for Athletics Northern Ireland, welcomed the attendees and explained the aims and purposes of the camps - for a select group of promising endurance athletes (and their coaches) to train together and learn key skills that will aid them in achieving senior success in middle distance and endurance events. She also spoke about how the camps will progress and build on each other as the athletes work through the autumn and winter months.

This first camp focused on preparing for the training year with particular emphasis on planning, strengthening and improving running technique. The subsequent camps will explore physiological capacity and tactical awareness before moving the focus to speed before the 2018 track season.

A ‘Review and Planning’ session followed the introductions where athletes discussed with their coach and/or parent the highlights and challenges of their 2017 season, their strengths and weaknesses and areas to address in the next training year. After discussing their 2018 targets and how they will balance their training programmes the athletes split into three groups and rotated around the other three activities.

Elite Athlete Q&A

Breege Connolly and Kerry O’Flaherty spoke to each of the groups about their own athlete journeys. Teresa McDaid facilitated the session and reinforced the key points that also related to the previous session. After the presentation, the athletes had the opportunity to ask questions.

One of the key points that came out was –

“Athletes in competition can experience more disappointing days than joyful days”

Discussions took place around motivation and the notion that you often learn more from failure than from success. This realisation keeps athletes motivated and determined to learn from every poor performance. There was also the recognition that

unsuccessful days make the successful days feel even better!”

(Breege Connolly).

Planning and building step by step towards your goal was discussed with several examples outlined and used as reference by both Olympians.

There was great appreciation for both athletes’ support teams - coaches personal and team coaches, family and friends and how junior athletes can start to build that support team around them.

Athletes were given an insight into life in an Olympic village with some great photographs to share.

A recurring theme developed around motivation and getting out to train. Both Olympians shared personal motivation strategies.

Becoming strong and preventing injury (as well as dealing with it, when it happens) was also discussed and Kerry and Breege encouraged the athletes to engage fully with the other sessions of the day that were aiming to make them stronger, more robust athletes.

Three practical sessions took place during the day and following each interactive resources to support coaches and athletes are now available at:

Developing your running economy - getting the most from your stride

Lead by Michael Dyer with support of Bashir Hussain and Francis Marsh, athletes were introduced to the concept of “running economy”. This is the energetic cost of running and refers to oxygen uptake required for a given velocity of submaximal running.  World class runners often have particularly low energetic costs (mL02/KG/KM.)  Michael explained that an efficient running action will have a lower energetic cost and will allow faster pace to be sustained for a longer duration. Athletes then began a discussion about the key aspects of running technique comparing good and bad examples. This lead athletes into a practical session of running drills.

Strength & Conditioning

The third session of the day was led by Allister Woods & Mark Kirk with a focus on physical preparations and increasing muscular strength-endurance.  Physical Preparation Lead, Laura Kerr, has explained the three objectives for this session:

A) Assessing critical factors and baseline measures of muscular strength endurance specific to endurance athletes.  

 "Research has shown that strength deficits in Hip Abduction, Hip Adduction, Knee Flexion and Plantarflexion (calf raise) are linked to increased risk of lower limb injury, groin injury, hamstring injury and foot and ankle injury respectively. Recording baseline measures early in the winter will allow improvements to be tracked. The movements assessed at the camp can be trained weekly.”

B) Recap of fundamental strength movements from previous squads named -squat and strict form push up.

C) Establishing a trunk circuit for completion at home.

Athletics NI would like to give special thanks to:

Irish Olympians

  • Kerry O’Flaherty
  • Breege Connolly

Guest Coaches

  • Teresa McDaid
  • Mark Kirk
  • Bashir Hussain
  • Francis Marsh

Athletics NI Staff

  • Michael Dyer-Athletics NI Every Body Active Coach
  • Laura Kerr - Athletics NI Coach Development & Physical Preparation Lead (who provided resources for the practical sessions ).
  • Jackie Newton – Director of Coaching and Athlete Development
  • Allister Woods-Athletics NI Running Participation Officer

’Cafe Cuisine’ for fuelling our athletes with healthy lunches

The next camp will explore physiological capacity and tactical awareness before moving the focus to speed before the 2018 track season.

 Athletics Northern Ireland also look forward to welcoming the endurance community to come together for the following coach development opportunities:

Athletics NI Endurance Coaches Network with Honoré Hoedt

Date: 6th October

Location: Crowne Plaza, Shawsbridge, Belfast

Time: 7.00pm-10.00pm

Honoré is one of Europe’s leading authorities on middle distance running and will discuss his coaching philosophy before answering questions from local coaches.

This seminar has 50 places available and registration is now open HERE

The cost for attending the Q&A is £15, however for the total cost of £30 coaches can enjoy a three course buffet style meal after the seminar.

Athletics Northern Ireland 2017 Coaching Conference

The 2017 Athletics Northern Ireland Coaching Conference will take place on Saturday 7thOctober at Ulster University, Jordanstown and will feature a range of experts including Dame Mary Peters, Toni Minichiello, Dr John Rogers, Honore Hoedt and Deirdre Ryan.

How to book

Tickets for this year’s conference cost £40 for licensed athletics coaches or Ulster University students and £50 for other coaches/individuals.

Online booking is now available and delegates may select their breakout choices HERE