The session today was packed full of elements, and I’d sneaked a look at the weather and knew it was going to be sunny. I’ve been waiting for months for the beach to be warm enough to do some extra work down there; today was the day.
We started with a very slow jog down to the seafront to warm up our bodies. Drills today were A-skips, followed by B-skips. Working on your technique makes the difference between you running efficiently, saving energy and covering more distance – to that plod or lumber we all spot when we see runners going through the motion. Yes, every week I nag my runners about drills and strength work, but that’s what coaches are supposed to do!
The A-skips drill improves your coordination, activates your hip flexors, and creates large amounts of displacement between the feet and hips. Due to the level of coordination required there’s no denying it’s a challenging running drill. Keep practising it and it can be one of the most beneficial drills. Think of tapping the ground with a mini explosive hop.
B-skips are similar to A-skips, you just stretch your leg in front of you. Most in the group found these easier. We were thinking of pawing or scuffing the ground with our feet, to encourage our heels to get higher.
Then we did two minutes of shingle sprints, to activate our leg muscles, as well as the brain one. In pairs, each person stood either side of a groyne. When I shouted A, the A’s had to race to the next groyne, their partners chasing them. When I shouted B, it worked the other way round. It was a fun start and really raised the heart rate. Sue took a faceplant, but bravely carried on (I think that’s because she’s now a marathoner and can cope with anything!).
On to the body of the session; fast intervals. We did 1 x 2min, 2 x 1min40sec, 3 x 75secs, 4 x 1mins and 5 x 30secs. All at target 5K pace or above, and whatever your ability, you can push this pace as far as you want to. Our recoveries were about 90secs, although I did decrease these once the reps were shorter. The last two were on the sand, and it was glorious, with a few of the children that were playing joining in.
With the sun shining on us, and the beach calling us, we decided to do five minutes of relaxation and mindfulness on the shingle. This is my favourite part of coaching. Everyone lay down, connected to the earth and took a few moments to just focus on the moment, relax their bodies and feel gratitude. Which meant for a slow jog back after. But there was more fun once we were back in the park. We did two simple strength exercises before we stretched. The first was 20 seconds of maximum vertical jumps, bracing our core and exploding upwards. Then we did 180 bounds for 20 seconds. You lower into a squat, then jump forward while turning 180 degrees. Land in a half-squat and immediately explode upward, using the force of your legs and core to rotate your body another 180 degrees.
And today, Geri was back. We haven’t seen Geri on Fridays for a while, as she had to spend a whole month relaxing at home with her family in her native Mauritius. This was extremely tough for Geri; the sunshine, the beautiful trails, her stunning island and precious time with her family. Yes, we are constantly jealous of our island girl and we missed her so much. She is not only as glam as you can get when you run, she’s cheeky. Geri and John seem to work well together at keeping me on my toes.
The gentle stretch at the end seemed a breeze after the jumps. We covered a lot; drills, sprints, intervals, strength, relaxation and stretching, and Mother Nature provided us with the perfect environment. Everyone worked at the level they were comfortable with, but they all worked really hard. I’m so proud of my crazy tribe!