Valley Striders Running Club supporting all their members with Club Run
Valley Striders Running Club on the outskirts of Leeds are amongst the latest clubs to take part in the England Athletics Club Run programme, which aims to support the competitive club runners as well as club leaders and coaches.
CiRF coach and committee member Myra Jones stated "One of the main reasons we applied for Club Run was because we felt our sessions lacked variety and had become stale, this had contributed to a decline in numbers attending. One of the things we were hoping to improve was increasing the levels of attendance at club sessions of our fastest runners (who tended to arrange their own sessions) and slower runners (put off by concerns about being too slow at the back)."
Myra cites some common challenges for off track clubs looking to provide for a wide range of running abilities. Club Run connects clubs with experienced endurance coaches who can help provide clubs, leaders, coaches and the club runner with a fresh perspective.
David Lowes (Regional Endurance Lead for the North) was on hand to support the Valley Striders with three club visits over a three-month period. The idea being that between visits the coaches, leaders and runners can try out some of the ideas.
Each of the three sessions that David ran started with a thorough warm up followed by a ten minute, low-end tempo run, which was designed to enhance the runners’ aerobic capabilities and also acted as a pre-session “higher intensity preparation” for the main body of the workout. All the rep sessions involved work at around an 8-8.5 on the RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion, 1-10 scale) with recoveries kept short to keep heart rates high with an active recovery being encouraged. The intention and hopeful outcome was that they would feel the benefits in their races. One runner said, "On the face of it the sessions weren't too dissimilar to our usual ones. Same place, same amount of running. Just by varying the efforts though they felt like new sessions, and David's input was valuable in helping to manage the effort levels and understand the purpose of each rep."
The final session finished a week before the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash and England Athletics 10k Championship which many of the club’s runners had entered. Jones reported afterwards that, ‘many of the runners specifically commented that they felt stronger in the closing stages of the race and had been able to maintain or increase their pace. They attributed this to the format of the Club Run sessions, particularly the increasing intensity of effort at the end of the sessions. A number achieved personal bests, including achieving long term targets of a first sub 32 and a first sub 40 minute PB. This was certainly true of one club member, "I found the sessions very insightful; I didn't realise I could run that fast and they encouraged me to push harder when needed. As a result of the sessions I have raced better, achieved a marathon PB, a course PB by over two minutes and got close my parkrun PB that I'd nearly given up on beating."
Coach deliverer, David Lowes clearly enjoyed his visits to Valley Striders stating, "There cannot be as many friendly clubs as this one." David has stayed in touch with the club who now have a point of contact to occasionally bounce ideas off. With an average of 35-40 runners at each of the sessions the runners took the opportunity to David’s brains about a whole range of running related topics post session. And the athletes enjoyed it too, "The coaching refocused and re-energised our Tuesday sessions. He explained why he’d structured them the way he did. It was very useful to get his views on what we already do well as a club, and also what we can do to improve."
Myra summarised, "Club Run exceeded our expectations and has given us lots of ideas going forward."
Go to www.englandathletics.org/clubrun to find out more about Club Run.