Track and Train – Again !

Training for senior members resumed at the track on Monday and above we see John Raby appearing out of the mist during the interval session
The junior endurance group also recommenced training on the Welcombe Hills on Sunday, with groups of 5 plus a coach. Below are one such group. L to R : Lily-Mae Pagan, Rachel & Ewan Sparrow, Alfie Musk and Arthur Mansbridge.
Oh Happy(ish) Day. This week training resumed at both the track and on the Wecombe Hills, with the necessary Covid restrictions being strictly adhered to.

We have the latest of our age group coaching articles, this week it’s Rob Minton on primarily the senior’s.

Lewis Byng was voted into 2nd place in the British Junior Male category in the prestigious annual Athletics Weekly Awards. Emma Bexson was doing what she does, running 26.2 miles very quickly and finally there are my exploits in the recent World Masters Virtual Challenge.

Take Care

Best Wishes

David Jones
Rob Minton.
Over the last few weeks we have heard from various dedicated Age Group Leaders about the coaching structure within the club for our U11, U13 and U15 athletes. In future weeks we should hear about coaching for the Junior Endurance Group and also our Masters/Vets.

This week it is the turn of Rob Minton to explain his role in coaching primarily our senior members and to echo Paul Bearman’s earlier words, we find out how he has ” kept the training environment a fun and enjoyable place to come to and not just for the physical benefits but also to enjoy the social element that the club promotes”

Who are you and what is your role in your respective group in the Club?

My name is Rob Minton and I have been a member of Stratford-upon-Avon Athletic Club for about 14 years now, which is a scary number now I’ve sat down and worked it out. Around three years after joining as a member a few up us were invited to apply for the role of Senior Endurance Coach and I was given the job.

Within this role I provide coaching most Monday evenings across the year at the track and also two Wednesday evenings each month, which are mostly in the form of interval-based training.

Over the years I’ve also had regular involvement in being team manager for various events such as the Cotswold Hilly 100, which is such a special event and I’ve also contributed to the set up and organisation of the open races the club puts on.

Across the last couple of years it has been enjoyable and motivating for me to set up our own Coach to 5K Programme and to see people achieve things they never thought they could.

Who are the coaches/helpers in your group?
  • Sarah Bland is a fellow coach who also massively contributes to the club both from a coaching perspective but also all the things she does on the committee. We’re also so fortunate to have people who step up and give their energy and time for initiatives such as the Couch to 5K programme. People like Sally and Gavin Bliss and Chris Bloomfield (among others) have been incredibly active and positive in making the programme a success.
  • Do you have any particular coaching philosophy or ideas how athletics sessions should be run?
  • One of the trickier things with coaching the seniors is that there is such a wide variation in distances and events people are training for. It could be anything from 400m on the track to a multistage ultra-race. So, to provide sessions that cover all that range is difficult. But what everyone needs, no matter what distance they are running, is a basic speed/endurance level and the interval sessions I put on help to cover that.
  • It is also important that I try to help and assist everyone no matter what their running goals. Whether it’s folks that are super motivated to beat specific times or if it’s to enjoy running from what it gives on a physical and mental level. No goal with running is more important than another. We all run for a variety of reasons that are personal for ourselves but as a club we can be proud that we’re able to help and assist anyone no matter what their aims with their running and no matter the speed they run.
  • How many athletes are in your group?
  • At the moment, for obvious reasons, there is a limit set as to how many can be coached, which is a total of 12. But in “normal” times numbers can head up towards 25 depending on the time of year but the total number of senior members tend to be around 250.
  • How do you plan your weekly activities and what do you aim to achieve?
  • I plan each week based on a quarterly timetable so that senior members can decide across that period which sessions they want to attend depending on their training goals (if it’s a specific event they’re training for). The aim of each session is to help improve a person’s Vo2Max, which is the ability of one’s body to breathe in and transport oxygen to the active muscles. The more efficient one’s Vo2max is, the easy running becomes and the faster and further a person can run.
  • What have been the main challenges this year and how have you overcome them?
  • This has certainly been a year to challenge like no other but in some ways the instructions from England Athletics have been simple to follow and we can either run and train or we can’t and if we can then it’s been explicit as to the rules we then follow. I think the hardest challenge is how our Stratford-upon-Avon Club community has been missed, never mind not being able to train properly or to compete in the events we do. Being locked down and being limited to how many people we can see and spend time with has both been a challenge but it has also highlighted just how important community and good companionship is to our physical and mental wellbeing. Whether it’s the Wednesday night club training sessions or the social aspect of the Club Shakespeare Race Competition, which is just as important as the competition itself. It’s been great to play a small part in helping (alongside David’s amazing newsletters) by putting on some stretching sessions and some resistance based online Zoom sessions during the first lockdown period.
  • What if any have been the highlights this year?
  • Apart from watching Paul and Tony tuning into the zoom sessions and not take part but drinking glasses of wine while tuning in ?. The biggest highlight for me is how everyone rallied together with our virtual Shakespeare Races. They have never been so popular or so competitive (I fear my days of winning it again are disappearing!). Somehow during lockdown, we had several new members join who were competitive, which bodes well for our team events when races can begin to start up again.
  • Looking ahead and assuming Coronavirus eventually is under control, is there anything that you would like to change in the club?
    • There isn’t anything specific but iI hope the club can continue to grow and to adapt to that growth and provide its members with as many things as possible to support their needs. Compared to when I first joined, the club is a very different organisation and it has great leadership which has coped incredibly well with the growth and changes across the past 13 years and I’m sure will continue to do so.
    • What are your hopes for the club in 2021 and I realise that none of us are able to predict what the future will bring?
    • Like all of us, getting back to the regular consistency that we had before Covid had an impact on our lives. Being able to congregate in big groups and get that sense of community and togetherness back. Seeing yellow and black vests running and competing in events is something I’m really looking forward to seeing. Whether they are on track, tarmac or trail.
Following his record breaking year it was gratifying to see Lewis Byng has been voted in to second place in the British Junior Male Athlete category in the prestigious Athletics Weekly annual awards just behind 800m runner Max Burgin who was winning the award for the 2nd successive year. Congratulations Lewis.
Emma Bexson and an aerial view of the Oulton Park track

Grand Prix Marathon Oulton Park

Report – David Jones

Oulton Park has been home to many motor racing events since the 1950′s and has previously hosted the British Touring Car Championship, British F3 and British Superbikes Championship. This was a unique opportunity for competitors to choose from a 5k,10k, Half Marathon, 16 Mile, 20 Mile or Full Marathon and enjoy the thrill of running a brand new course on a smooth traffic free tarmac motor racing circuit!

Triathlon specialist Emma Bexson took on the challenge of the full marathon option, finishing in 34th place overall.

Emma was the 5th female to finish and won her age category comfortably by over 30 minutes. Her time of 3:30.38 was a couple of minutes quicker than her time in the Malaga Marathon exactly 2 years ago.

122 runners completed the race which was won by Joseph Baker in a time of 2:37.56. The first female finisher, in 8th place overall, was Gill Bland in a time of 2:53.25.

Results in the 100m, 800, and 1500m categories.
Yours truly competing for Midland Masters earlier in the year.

Worldwide Virtual Masters Challenge

14th August – 1st November.

Report – David Jones.

I hadn’t planned to write anything about this but Paula Williams told me I should and as we all know, you ignore Paula’s instructions at your peril.

Over 500 athletes from 46 nations across 6 continents took part in a Worldwide Masters Virtual Challenge between the dates of 14th August and 1st November.

Having rather stupidly missed the cut off for the previous challenge I made sure to get my submissions in on time for this one.

There were three categories of submissions

Category A : Organised competitions at an athletics facility like a track with all applicable WMA Rules being followed and with accurate results. Only fully officiated performances were eligible for this Category

Category B : Officiated competitions at an athletics facility. Officials could be friends or fellow competitors. WMA Rules should be followed.

Category C : Road, car park, field or wherever else the athlete can compete safely except on equipment like a treadmill. WMA Rules followed wherever possible.

I was lucky enough to be able to submit 3 category A performances from races I had competed in at The Pingles and Leamington tracks and entered the 100m, 800m and 1500m events.

Much to my surprise and delight I managed to finish in 1st place in both the 800m and 1500m categories and somewhat embarrassingly 2nd place in the 100m. It was my first 100m race for 6 years and a race I didn’t even finish as 1st M70 in it, which perhaps says something about the calibre of 100m runners taking part in the challenge. Funny old world.