Monday 10th December saw Queen’s Park Harriers, the 100th club to complete the England Athletics Club Run programme, being put through their paces in their final coaching session at the Willesden Sports Centre in North London, with England road racing international Dani Nimmock and Nick Anderson, England Athletics’ Marathon Event Group Lead.
Sophie Barnard, President of Queen’s Park Harriers, says; “It has been fantastic to be part of England Athletics’ Club Run programme. The whole club has benefitted from help with training and club development and we're honoured to be the 100th club and have Nick and Dani visit us to mark this celebration. Queen’s Park Harriers is a grass roots club that welcomes runners of all abilities, from kids to joggers to fast, promising runners so it’s really inspiring to meet elite runners and coaches.”
Over 40 people attended this training session and were able to gain an insight into Dani’s training regime and pick Nick’s brain to improve their running skills. Dani adds; “It’s a real honour to be invited to be a guest at the 100th celebrations of the Club Run programme. As someone who has come up through the club environment I have always valued the importance of the club training environment and the volunteer coaches and the massive part they play in athlete development. What I love about this programme is that offers support to club members as well as leaders and coaches in a really practical hands-on way.”
Club Run is free to participating clubs and provids clubs with three coached sessions with one of the thirty experienced coaches to support the volunteer coaches, leaders and club members in road running clubs competing at distances from 5k through to marathons.
Since launching in spring 2017, over 600 coaches and leaders and over 4,000 club runners have benefitted from these free coaching sessions as a service offered through their affiliation to England Athletics. Clubs small and large, urban and rural, with and without facilities have benefited from the programme. Sessions have taken place in all weather, from the winter snowfalls to the heat wave of the summer, at a variety of locations up and down the country, from seafronts, to town centres, parks, tracks, industrial trading estates, moorland and farm fields.
Other running and athletics clubs wanting to access this coaching support can contact England Athletics via firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest for 2019 sessions. Participating clubs have reported wide reaching benefits of England Athletics’ Club Run in helping individuals towards achieving personal bests, facilitating small changes to enhance club night training structures, motivating and inspiring leaders and coaches to progress their coaching qualifications and learning, club and team competition success, and an increased attendance at club night training sessions:
- 73% reported a direct improvement in performances as a direct link to the Club Run sessions
- 73% reported that leaders or coaches had either gone on or were following up on coach education or coach development workshops as result of Club Run
- 86% reported having made some small or larger positive change to the structure of the weekly programme or club night session as a result of Club Run
Leeds based club, Chapel Allerton Runners were supported by Andi Drake whose coaching expertise has helped steer race walker Tom Bosworth to world class level. Run Leader Suzzi Garnett who is working towards completing her Coach in Running Fitness qualification said, “People have responded really well to the sessions. I think the importance of a good warm up was a big takeaway for us and the stuff about ‘technical pacing’ rather than just smashing up the hill!”
The runners themselves have also found the sessions beneficial in understanding better how to maximise the returns from their training. “I thought that I only had one pace, but after tonight I know that I have different paces and how to find them,” said one runner at Berkshire based club, Burnham Joggers.
For leaders and coaches volunteering week in week out, the programme provides a great opportunity to work alongside more experienced coaches. “As a volunteer coach in my own club I know that coaching can at times be a lonely business and one of the benefits of the Club Run to leaders and coaches is simply some reassurance and validation that we are doing the right things by our training groups.” said Charlotte Fisher, Road Running Manager at England Athletics.
Coaches at Eastleigh RC commented on working alongside Geoff Watkin who has coached numerous England and GB internationals over the years and brings with him many years of running and coaching experience to his Club Run sessions
Melvyn Holloway of said of their sessions with Geoff Watkin “I found Geoff easy to listen to and I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to be coached in a non-judgemental style with plenty of ‘can do encouragement’. It was great to connect with a like-minded coach; I came away feeling more confident that my own coaching style was going well. As Coaches we were complimented on the running form of many of our athletes, which was great to hear and vindicates the effort we place on trying to get runners to run efficiently. Geoff's sessions, reassuringly, confirmed we are heading in the right direction as far as our coaching is concerned, but Geoff has provided a few snippets that we are now incorporating within future training plans.”
For club Chairperson’s and Head Coaches the Club Run sessions have helped to model what can be possible within the constraints of a specific club environment with many clubs making changes, both small and large to improve their club night sessions.
“The sessions with Bryan were brilliant and thoroughly enjoyed by all at the club. Both leaders and members learnt a great deal and we are excited about where we can take aspects of the club’s training from here. Many thanks to you for giving us the opportunity to benefit from this great initiative.” said Craig Rumble, Corsham RC.
And it’s not just the clubs and their members that benefit from Club Run. The visiting coaches have also found the experience hugely rewarding. Whilst the majority of Club Run deliverers are balancing their Club Run with commitments to their own coaching clubs and athletes, they have also enjoyed the new challenge of working with new faces in different coaching environments. Richard Owen (Tonbridge AC) who has enjoyed great success this year with his squad of female athletes and got to work with the Brighton & Hove Women’s Running Club summed up his experience: “Wow! What an experience that was. Exceeded my expectations and enjoyed every minute of it. You certainly did get the match right and I found it a valuable learning experience too. It confirmed to me in many ways why I like to coach female runners”.