Pulling off a Wednesday night training session

Last night I lead my 2nd Wednesday night Lordshill training session and it was one that had me worrying more than I’d expected. 

My Saturday morning sessions have an ‘envelope’ that I have some control over as I know each of the group members, their ability (and that the ability of each member is similar) and that the group attendance is unlikely to be more than 10. Wednesday evening sessions are open to all members of the club and that means they can be of any ability and the group could be of any size. 
Given the popularity of the physical prep circuit element of my coached sessions, I was keen to include this within the session but was worried that this may not be liked by all. In fact, in a recent Run Leader meeting, the Vice Chairman of the club said that the club’s faster members didn’t see any benefit of S&C and just wanted to run and run and run.  Given that I was expecting at least 1 or 2 of the ‘elite’, I was expecting a bit of a mutany as soon as I mentioned such favourites as squats and lunges. 

I was also worried that if I discussed technique that those same runners would baulk at the idea that I, a 23 minute 5K runner when in PB shape and certainly not recently, may have some skills knowledge. to impart to those that were running well under 18 minutes for 5k. 

Putting my worries aside, I ‘threw caution to the wind’ and started work on my session plan for an ‘Oregon Circuit’ session which comprises of an interval session where the recovery consists of S&C rather than rest, walking or jogging. 

Having a repetoire of possible S&C exercises to throw at the group, I decided to include the following:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Single-leg balance
  • Rope skipping 

To cater for the range of abilities, I had some progression options too:

  • Squats or squat jumps
  • Lunges or walking lunges
  • Single-leg balance or SLB with medicine ball
  • Rope skipping with or without rope

To ensure that there wasn’t overcrowding of the circuits stations, I decided to pair up runners of similar abilities and one of the pair run 400m (2 lengths of 200m out and back) while the other did a circuit station. The running member of the pair would then swap with their other pair. 

To give me time to set up the circuit, I’d get the group to do a warmup without me. 

My plan also included some tech skills associated with running for endurance and speed (relaxed shoulders, tall posture, positive backward arm drive) and a cooldown with stretches. 

What could possibly go wrong?

Having given lots of thought to the session plan (and lost some sleep over it), I decided that I could adapt the session on the fly if there was a mutiny. 

Wednesday evening arrived and I packed my bag with all the equipment I needed and headed for the Sports Centre. The bag was laden with my circuit station cards, medicine balls, skipping ropes, cones and hurdles. I was hoping I’d not have to run far with it on my back!

Having negotiated the traffic caused by roadworks on almost every road along my journey, I arrived at the Sports Centre 25 minutes before its start to find the car park almost full. Eek. It seemed that the Sports Centre was the most popular place in town. I may need to scrap all my plans to deal with having lots of other footfall at the venue. Luckily, early arrival meant I had time to check things out and make changes to the session where needed. 

Fortunately, it appeared that much of the venue ‘traffic’ was centred around an area away from my planned session so as long as everyone took care, the session could continue with no changes. 

As 6:50pm approached, I returned to the meeting point for registration. 

In total, 24 runners turned up. This was a typical recent attendance for a Wednesday evening session. It was great to see some friendly faces from a wide range of abilities. It was also great that Alison, Gary and Loraine were helping out with the session. Many thanks. 

Having explained the session to the group, there were a few puzzled and bemused faces. No one left though so maybe a mutiny had been averted. 

As I sent the group off for their warmup, I headed up to the boating lake to set up the circuit stations with the help of Gary. 

Once the group were warmed up, I gathered them in to further explain the session. To help the session flow, I skipped the tech skills unit and got the group into pairs, introduced the circuit stations and off they went. 

It was clear from the outset that the session was going to be a tough one to participate in! However, there were some smiles between the grimaces. 

It was interesting to see how the ‘elite’ struggled with the S&C as much, if not more so, than the rest of the group. This was particularly apparent on the single leg balance. 

However, morale was good amongst the group and it was good to have some banter. Fortunately, I knew a good percentage of those taking part by name and could interact with them injecting humour where possible. 

10 minutes into the session and there were lots of tired-looking faces. A break was going to be needed. I decided to give everyone another 5 minutes before drawing everyone back together for a breather and an opportunity to go over some tech skills. I used a couple of the fun demos from the first weekend of the CiRF course and asked how everyone was getting on. 

Having completed that unit, I sent the group out for 12 more minutes of Oregon Circuit fun before the cooldown and stretches. 

The feedback at the end of the session was very positive. Participants had enjoyed the S&C bits and had felt that the change from a typical session was a positive thing. Several of the group said that they knew that they should be doing S&C but never did (particularly by themselves) and that the session was a good way of incorporating that into their training. 

Overall, I was really happy with the way the session had gone. It was a slightly difficult concept to grab, explain and deliver but I think I got away with it. Just!

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