A series of national squads were held following on from the foundations laid in 2011 focusing specifically on juniors. The existing panel was maintained and added to and along with several attendances by personal coaches .Squads were well attended and feedback positive.
Junior Squad DCU February
Paul OConnor, Physiologist from DCU provided an informative presentation on V02 Max, lactate testing, blood profiling which was supported by a practical demonstration in the Laboratory for attending athletes and coaches to view and see for their own eyes what all the fuss is about and hopefully go some way towards taking fear of the unknown away from this valuable tool for coaches and athletes.
Subsequently, a Physiology testing package was offered for a reduced fee to juniors that had attended squad day which was taken up by a number of athletes and personal coaches.
Study choices and higher level education choices was also on the agenda with valuable contribution and practical experience given by Fionnuala Britton and Joe Sweeney who visited the squad in the afternoon. Both Joe and Fionnuala reflected on their experiences as Juniors and the challenges they faced at that time of their career, lifestyle balance with training, study, family and friends, preparing for races, study choices, dealing with international competition for first time etc.
The attending juniors and coaches (myself included) were delighted and privileged to be in such great company.
Declan Monaghan Certified Athletic Therapist & Trainer gave a comprehensive presentation on Injury prevention and followed with a practical demonstration on Functional movement screening with a willing volunteer.
A great introductory workshop was held in Santry with the help of Stuart Stokes, Olympian and Commonwealth steeplechaser with a pb of 8.23. The workshop was a balanced mixture of seasoned, developing and novice steeple chasers and their coaches.
The first session was a practical one using several group styled drills over hurdles supervised by Stuart giving each individual an opportunity to be advised on their technique. This was followed by simulated water jump technique allowing athletes that quite often don’t have water jump facilities to practice.
The squad moved indoors to an “in conversation with Stuart Stokes” talk. Staurt talked openly about his pathway to the steeplechase, how he trained as a junior right the way through to now where he is preparing to run the standard for London 2012 and answered the many questions directed to him. For those unable to attend Run Assist provided videos of the session on Flotrack Ireland and endurance section of AAI Website. Feedback from the attendance was acknowledged and resulted in an invitational steeple chase event being added to Dublin Graded meet.
Q & A session with Elite athletes and Coaches from Great Ireland Run
Endurance athletes, coaches and supporters were treated to a real insight into elite athletes and their world. A number of athletes and coaches travelling in for the Great Ireland Run made themselves available to a large turnout of the endurance fraternity. Many aspects of training, preparation, competition were openly divulged. Gemma Steele and Helen Clitheroe were joined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele .
Videos of the session are available via Flotrack Ireland on endurance section of AAI Website. Many thanks to Dave Hooper for facilitating the Q&A and to Peter Riley of Nova International for providing this opportunity.
Junior & youth Squad DCU October
After a summer of competition, panels were reviewed and extended to include both existing panel and new additions and also an opportunity to introduce youths into the scene.
Athletes and coaches were honored to have Br. Colm OConnell and David Rudisha join the National Junior & Youth Endurance Squad in DCU. It was inspirational and great start to a great day not to mention the great reward to those that turned up to attend. Br. Colm delivered an inspirational address to all present who in turn were enthralled by his wisdom
“Be patient, learn about yourself, become a better person before you become an athlete “
In addition and after some settling down, an intense day followed with Danny Mooney, Sport Physiologist presenting a comprehensive and detailed session “Sports Science for the young athlete “ He outlined alternatives Laboratory and non-laboratory methods of using science in sport. A practical demonstration of field testing with follow up results completed the workshop.
Eoin Everard, Certified Athletic Therapist, took up the next session and equally impressive workshop on Recovery Strategies / Lifestyle Balance incorporating a practical on the spot scoring questionnaire. We learned to understand the importance of Recovery, different types of fatigue, how to structure a recovery strategy, guidelines for Recovery and the recovery pyramid and where we are on it at each stage of our development.
Not to be outdone Evan Scully, Sports Therapist provided a broad and far reaching Running efficiency / style and link to injuries presentation and practical demonstration. He highlighted common injuries, their treatment and prevention. He explained efficiency/economy of running and how it impacts on the body from head to toe and making the link this into injuries
Long Term Athlete Development was the key message of the workshop and was reflected in all presentations and workshops.
Plans for European Cross Country, selection policy criteria and preparation races were outlined from a junior perspective.
Athletes finished the day by using the fantastic facilities at DCU Sports for training and availed of lactate field testing earlier demonstrated. Many thanks to Ian Chaney for bringing Br. Colm and David to meet us.
As National Event Co-ordinator, I attended national championships and various competitions. The diversity and magnitude of endurance competition is immense, National Senior Indoor Championships, National Senior Outdoor ,National Junior & U23s,National Half Marathon, National Marathon, National XC championships , National Juveniles, IUAA & Schools, Dublin Graded meets, Irish Milers Club, Morton Games 2012, Brian Dowling Int. Meet 2012, NI Championships, BMC Watford and BMC Sports City and Cork City Sports.
I want to acknowledge all competition organisers, who provide necessary competition when we need it.
Also I welcome the innovative opening up of the AAI Indoor Games and recognising the potential to have a high class meeting in the exciting new indoor facility in Athlone IT. I look forward to continuing this development with Georgina Drumm, Bernie Dunne , Ian Chaney. I am also encouraged at new competition opportunities such as the Karrimor Great Trail Challenge which incorporated a Home Nations elite match between England, Scotland, Wales & the Republic of Ireland and welcomed the partnership with our friends Irish Mountain Running Association.
COACHES - Continuing Professional Development
Twenty endurance coaches from around the country attended the University of Limerick for a two day Continuing Professional Development course over two weekends. “The Practical Application of Exercise Science to Endurance Training” was expertly presented by Peter Francis with very positive feedback. Topics covered included Nutrition, Hydration, Lifestyle, Functional Movement, Circuit Training, Physiological testing, Gym based training sessions.
Investment in coaches and coach education are some of the most powerful days we can have as an association in devolving knowledge that will spread to many athletes in different parts of the country. Thanks to university of Limerick for the use of their excellent facilities and to coaching Ireland for their support.
Coach investment theme was continued through the year as all coaches were invited to attend all of the squad sessions.
Being a point of contact , providing support, information and answering a wide range of queries continued and developed further in 2012. Particularly Face Book private messaging facility and email were universally used by athletes, parents and coaches. Endurance coaching squads/ activities and associated links, resources etc. are available on a dedicated page accessible through the coaching section of the AAI website.
Links with various groups to create a communication channel to help athletes access opportunities to get good quality competition in preparation for major championships was initiated. Eg. Nova International, UK athletics, British Milers Club, Athletics Agents advanced further and hopefully will continue to do so.
The revival of the marathon and the significant rise in depth of performance and the role marathon mission is playing in this is remarkable. FIVE Irish athletes achieved A standard and three achieved B standard for London. There is increased awareness and interest from athletes towards this event. A strong group of women with potential to win medals in Europe in 2014 is emerging.
Marathon Mission in its efforts to “nurture an environment that will lead to Irish runners qualifying for and competing in major championships and being competitive on an annual basis in the Dublin Marathon in the years ahead.”(mission statement) has provided travel and support for training & competition, squad sessions, sports science back up, physical therapy, altitude tents and other tools.
In addition phase two of the MM in an effort to improve the competitive depth in quality of times being run by Irish Marathoners and raise the standard amongst top ranked Irish Marathoners, Marathon Mission have extended their reach and opened up the door to continue the progress already made in a series of workshop training days around the country which were largely well attended and benefited of the inclusion of the venture. It will also involve recruiting and education of coaches to lead out in various locations around the country.
A successful application to the Capital grants project has allowed us to purchase a number of lactate pros which will be distributed in 2013.
As I come to the end of my term, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported the program and have helped me along the way over the last two years. I am seriously indebted to many people in the athletic community who gave their time, presence, facilities and personal presence free of charge.
Personally, I have learned, gained experienced, shared and listened and benefited as a coach on this journey and hope that others have found something positive to contribute to raising the standard of middle distance running in Ireland.
I wish all endurance athletes and their coaches a successful year ahead.
Endurance Coaching CoOrdinator
“Champions are everywhere; all you need is to train them properly”…Arthur Lydiard