Bearman’s Beliefs and Magic Milers

Proud to wear the vest. Kate Sergent and Paul Hawkins.
This week we read about Paul Bearman’s belief’s and ethos when it comes to coaching, something he has been involved with for 27 years at our club and fascinating reading it makes.

Sunday was the first of this season’s ever popular Tempo Winter Series races, with Matt Burdus-Cook winning comfortably by almost 3 minutes and 20 of our members competing. I’d hoped to have a report on this but fingers crossed for next week.

I report on a truly magical night of 1 mile time trials at the Stratford School track last week and finally there is a report on Kate Sergent and Paul Hawkins, two of our international Masters athletes, who were competing in a 10k racewalking event at Stourport.

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones
A smiling Paul Bearman
27 Years and Counting.
Paul Bearman

When I took over looking after the SUAAC Junior section 27 years ago, I more or less had a blank canvas but wanted to hold true to John Dell’s ethos that SUAAC “is a club for everyone and to ensure every member, irrespective of their background and ability, will be valued”. That was all very well but the problem was I didn’t have any qualifications or training as an athletics coach, just a lifelong passion for athletics.

My main personal objective is to try to make an athlete as good, fast and as best as they can be and so not surprisingly my training programmes focus on Sprints, Hurdles and Jumps. My approach to coaching is firmly based on my own philosophy about what sport should be about i.e. enjoyment and being the best we collectively can be, helped over the years by the experience and learning from some of the best coaches in the UK and from abroad.


Over the years I’ve been extremely fortunate that so many volunteers, to one degree or another, have all combined to support the vision for the club and help transform the club into a highly successful competitive club whist still retaining the original ethos.


Apart from the expectation that we all work hard when we are actually training, we have also retained the “social” element that I always wanted us to have that makes it a fun and enjoyable club for all of us involved to be part of. Our ongoing retention rates over the years prove we must be getting it right.


Primarily athletics is about an individual athlete gradually developing and finding an event/s where they can be the “best they can be” and hopefully excel at. A major part of a coach’s job is to get to know an individual’s personality, motivation, aspirations, objectives, strengths and weaknesses etc. to help them achieve their potential and goals and so listening is a key component.


This will hopefully earn an athletes respect and trust and vice versa and the quid pro quo and challenge is that the better the athletes get the more we have to up our game as I’ve had to over the years e.g. Pozzi, Dwyer, Sumners, Byng etc. This has meant many more athletes and coaches throughout the club get the benefit from that improved knowledge, ability and experience.

We coach 49 weeks a year but every September I usually spend some of my holiday on a sun bed abroad with a cold beer reviewing the year and plotting the year ahead and thinking of new ways to enhance what we do to get the best out of all of our athletes. This year has obviously been an exception and so I had to spend a few days mulling over the programme and the challenges of the next year in my garden with a cup of tea instead!


The preparation for each session is based around my yearly training programme using the widely used criteria i.e.

  • Macro, the main overall plan focussing on the objectives for the year e.g. ESAA, England Champs, leagues etc.
  • Meso training blocks e.g. Autumn/Winter conditioning/technical, indoor, outdoor etc.
  • Micro activities e.g. specific training leading up to a specific event.

I very rarely programme the same session or activities in successive weeks to alleviate boredom and repetition for the athletes and coaches…. variety is the spice of life and I like to surprise them by not declaring what we are doing until we get there. The programmes also take into account the need to be flexible depending on who is training, weather etc. and as a coach this means thinking on your feet.


Since the coronavirus restrictions we have to have a ratio of between 6 to 10 athletes per coach. I coach on:-

  • Tuesdays with the main mixed under 17 plus age group with Carolyne Johnston, Sandy Green, Cait Davis, Dave Battersby and Mandy Bee using an outline programme which is generally a “catch all” for group training. The Masters athletes also follow a variation of the programme and I’ve recently started an invited U13 training group for budding hurdlers.

  • Thursdays is with an invited under 15 upwards group training towards potentially representative competitions from county to national level with Carolyne and Sandy with the throwers. The programme considers the specific athletes events, ages and the technical needs of the athletes aiming for the championships.

  • Sunday mornings is a closed session with Carolyne and Sandy with a small group focussing on specific conditioning and events.


Rest is absolutely critical i.e. a few days or sometimes a weeks active rest in the Meso cycles because a burnt out and jaded athlete isn’t what we are trying to achieve for all the obvious reasons. My coaching philosophy relies on us working hard but with an emphasis on quality of execution rather than quantity and with conditioning, injury prevention and appropriate drills to emphasise good habits. These are fundamentals and as coaches we all need to coach to get the best out of our athletes and always remembering that what we are doing as athletes or coaches is our hobby.


I believe Athletics is a relatively simple sport, i.e. run, throw, jump and that getting the basics and fitness right from a young age and then gradually introducing more technical aspects is in my experience the best way of keeping a young athlete healthy and improving. Over complicating things doesn’t necessarily lead to short or long term improvements.


I still try to learn at least one new thing every week from reading, watching, listening, chatting etc. from many different and varied sources. I would also suggest the things I aim for in my coaching is good communication, keeping things relatively simple and relevant, evolve by learning and be your own person, but to always remember that the athlete is the most important person irrespective of whether they are 8 or 80.

The start of the A race at last week’s time trial. The front two of Alex Adams and Taylor Stubbins were to stay pretty much that close to each other throughout the thrilling race.
Junior Endurance Group 1 Mile Time Trials.

Stratford School Track.

21st October

I was fortunate enough to witness 3 hugely entertaining and competitive 1 mile time trials at the Stratford School track last week with 36 of our junior endurance athlete taking part.

I came way feeling a warm glow and with a smile on my face. It was a magical night.

There were so many great memories. I have seen two hugely competitive middle distance races at the track this year. The first was the 1500m at our Club Championships and the second was the A race last Thursday. Both consisted of epic two man tussles and both featured Alex Adams.

In the club champs Alex narrowly lost out to Ben Kruze and on Thursday he just edged out Taylor Stubbins. Alex finished in a time of 4:42.2, a 6 second improvement on his August time trial time. Taylor was just 7/10ths of a second behind him in 4:42.9, a massive 16 seconds improvement on August and he tracked Alex, stride for stride, throughout the whole race

Apparently Taylor ate 3 bagels before the race. I really need to know what the fillings were.

Other memories of the night include 13 year old William Mayes leading his race from gun to tape to win by a 10 second margin ( 5:29.6). Seb Hillard lowered his August time by 10 seconds (5:51.8) and Sam Plumb dipped under 6 minutes (5:57.9).

Ellie Deaner (5:38.3) ran a magnificent last lap to try and close the gap between her and the race winner Olivia Robinson (5:33.8) but Olivia had opened up too big a lead, eventually finishing 5 seconds ahead. Maisie-Joy Spriggs managed to dip under 6 minutes with a time of 5:59.8. There were 10 second improvements in both Niamh Hillard (5:47.6) and Maddie Linfoot’s (5:52.1) August times. Caleb Spriggs dipped under 5 minutes with a time of 4:57.6.

My biggest smile of the night was reserved for Ned Campbell’s attempt to catch his sister Georgie in the home straight. Ned appeared to have something left in the tank as he sensed family glory but it was not to be, with Georgie finishing 1.2 seconds ahead. 5:17.7 v 5:18.5. Ned’s time was 11 seconds quicker than August.

Other runners showing big improvements over their August times included Josh Dobedoe ( 5:27.5 – 8.5 seconds quicker ) Ben Stockhill (5:28.9 – 12.1 seconds) and Adam Taylor (5:29.3 – 10.5 seconds )

However, what impressed me most about the night was the tremendous team spirit, friendship and camaraderie.

Paul Bearman’s piece in this week’s newsletter states “Apart from the expectation that we all work hard when we are actually training, we have also retained the “social” element that I always wanted us to have and that makes it a fun and enjoyable club for all of us involved to be part of”

He absolutely nails it.

To witness the encouragement the athletes gave to each other before, during and after the races was truly heartwarming. To hear Alex encouraging Taylor during his race, even as he battled to stay in front, to see them both after the race laughing and joking together. Wonderful. I know Alex was 1st and Taylor 2nd but to me they were both winners in the way they carried themselves on the night, as were all of our athletes.

Many of these juniors join the club aged 8, maybe knowing only a couple of school friends but to see the way they then go on forge friendships over the years is wonderful to behold.

Thursday night’s group proved themselves to be not only wonderful athletes but also to be a true band of brothers and sisters and to be very much a part of the SAC family.

The full list of this month’s magic milers is shown in the link below. There have only been a couple of seniors to date but we still have a couple of days left.

Kate Sergent.
Midland Area Winter Racewalking League
Race 1

Stourport on Seven

Reports – Kate Sergent and Paul Hawkins.

Kate’s Story.

This was the first of this season’s fixtures with two more to hopefully follow in November and January.

Having completed my virtual London Marathon I decided to revisit racewalking and entered this 10k race at Stourport with the master of this event Paul Hawkins.

I first got into racewalking when doing Track & Field events for SAC. I decided I should be quite good at it as every single time I take part in a race, whatever the distance, someone always passed me saying “ great racewalk style” leaving me muttering “ I actually thought I was running! “

It is actually a lot more difficult than it looks and you have to be very careful about locking your knees and always having one foot on the ground. Suffice to say Paul hasn’t got to where he has got to without a great deal of training!

Luckily I had the endurance of marathon training on my side on Sunday, as I hadn’t trained for racewalking for a long time so I did get a warning about my knees .

This was my 3rd race at this distance over a 4 year period. and my times have all been within 17 seconds of each other, so at least I’m consistent and I don’t seem to be getting any slower, which is good news. My last race over this distance was in March 2018.

I recommend anyone to have a go and Paul is a great teacher!

My hips were complaining on Monday but I still managed the Monday night track session.

Paul’s Story.

” My time was 63:45 which on the face of it was not too good (my PB is 61:45) but this was a new course and everyone thought it was long. I made it 10.46k, Kate was 10.4 and others agreed it was long.

I think I went through 10k very unofficially in about 60.40.

I was happy with it. There weren’t many others racing but I was 2nd overall and 1st in my age group.

There was also a handicap race and I was 1st male and Kate was 2nd female

It was fantastic to be competing with club vest and number again.

I really battled hard to get the guy in front for the last 3k but just couldn’t get back to him. I think he was about 20m ahead at the finish.