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Hi all!! I am an Advanced Rec Runners Coach living and coaching in a lovely little town, Dunsborough, in Western Australia; though I'm originally from Cornwall, UK. I write running programs and deliver group sessions for both children and adults, in addition to teaching in a Primary School.
I thought it would be helpful to share favourite sessions with other running coaches as I am creating a 'bank' of sessions and it is always good to have some tried and tested ones to deliver and keep things interesting. Especially the ones that are slightly more creative and inventive to maintain beginner or seriously recreational runners' interest!!
If anyone is interested in contributing their favourite sessions to this thread let me know and I'll post my top 5!!
Where to start? There are so many workouts. For recreational runners, where there is a huge range of abilities, the best are probably time-based and/or handicapped.
Threshold session - run out for "x" minutes, turn around and come back quicker. This can be very easy to do if they go out easy, but that's not the point. They should go out at the fastest pace they could hold for 2x"x". For example, run out for 15minutes (at a pace they could hold for 30) and then come back in 13.
Sprints - do a series of handicapped sprints and modify the handicap as you go along with a view to making each sprint an honest race. You will need to have lots of rest between and probably make each sprint shorter (eg 100, 90, 80, etc). Some athletes "game" this by not going all out early so they can then beat the handicapper and/or have enough energy left at the end.
Pick your effort - the coach chooses the distance depending on what they want to achieve. Work out what each athlete's "fast" time would be, then calculate their medium and low times by adding 1 second per 100 to the fast to get "medium" and 2 seconds per 100 to the fast to get "slow". Give them 9 reps and tell them they can do 3 fast, 3 medium and 3 slow in whichever order they like. You can make this more challenging by taking their watches away from them and getting them to judge their effort by feel. Maybe have a competition to see who gets closest to the pace they were supposed to do. For example, you want them to cover ~ 4500m in the session. 4500/9=500. A fast 500 might be 91 seconds, a medium would then be 91+5= 96, a slow would be 91+10=101 (This would give an average of ~14:24 for 4500m, or the equivalent of a ~9:15 3km). You could do 100m efforts or efforts up a short hill or longer efforts - it's limited only by your imagination.
A fun session is a coin toss - give them 2 coins of different values - at every cross road they have to toss the coins - 2 heads = straight ahead, 2 tails = U turn and go back the way they came, lower value coin comes up heads = turn left, higher value coin comes up heads = turn right. This would be a recovery run but could be turned into a fartlek by adding some additional rules like a 2 heads also means go fast etc OR you could give each person a turn of being in charge and they could go as fast or as slow as they want.
Follow the leader - each person takes a turn at the front and they can go where they like (uphill, short cuts across ovals, etc) at whatever pace they like. You only need to set rules such as how long each person leads for, how to keep the pack together (eg jog on spot) and boundaries (eg stay within the park)
You can do card games where each suit means something or each face value means something or a combination of the two (eg red Queen or Queen of diamonds). This can be used for anything - I've used it for drills,agility, strength, sprints. It's just limited by your imagination.
That's 6 - the extra one was just 'cos it's Christmas :-)
Great sessions- I use the out and back session with mixed ability groups as it works well with slower runners trying to stay in front as long as they can on way back before the speed merchants catch them up!
With beginners I do relays in teams of two so they get recovery and chat time while their partner runs which helps build camaraderie within the group with everyone supporting each other.
Another one I use is a timed hill pyramid with 30s, 60s, 90s, 60s, 30s up hill then walk/jog down recovery. This can be extended as they get fitter and everyone works to their own ability.
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