We encourage competition. The club was founded on this principle and over 40 years later we still have a very healthy competitive ethos within the club. We have a junior grand prix running throughout the year comprising a number of local races where young athletes can score points and see how well they can do by the end of the year. We also aim to be well represented at county athletics level and many go on to represent the county both regionally and nationally. However, the thirst for competition must come from within the athlete and above all it must be rewarding and enjoyable (most of the time!).
We have five training groups sorted by ability. Our way of sorting the groups out first of all is to keep roughly similar numbers in each, otherwise managing the sessions becomes problematic. There is room for migration down through the groups as well as upwards and we aim towards nice balanced groups within which everyone gets a worthwhile training session.
Our sessions follow a monthly rolling program. The first Monday of the month we concentrate on technique, racing theory and strength training. The second is a time trial when it is light or stopwatch speedwork during the dark months. The third is speedwork and the fourth is hill training. If a month has five Mondays then the fifth is whatever we can come up with. In the summer this may be meeting elsewhere and going round a local race route or something similar.
Our coaching team is made up of volunteers from within our club. Some of them are excellent athletes (or might have been once upon a time) who will be able to pass on a wealth of knowledge about racing. Others have strength in getting a remarkable amount of work out of people and all should be thanked for their efforts. DBS checks are carried out through our governing bodies (England Athletics and the Association of Running Clubs).
A few things we require are that the children wear clothing suitable for going outside. They may not go out every week if they are in groups 3 or 4 but, then again, they might and they may well get wet. Also they should wear brightly coloured clothing and in the dark months we insist on a top which has reflective qualities (a tabard is ideal).
Sausage, egg and chips are best left until after a training session. The body doesn’t run well on a full stomach.
Good behaviour is essential. We try not to confuse enthusiasm and high spirits with bad behaviour, but don’t feel offended if a child needs to be quietly spoken to if they are acting in a way which is hindering the progress of the training session.
Runners do get injured from time to time. Niggles, if not rested or treated, can sometimes develop into bigger problems, so we ask that children are not sent along with injuries, which will prevent them completing the full training session.
Finally, running by its very nature is hard work. However, it should also be enjoyable. Be prepared for an intense hour and enjoy the benefits which come from it. There are new friends to be made, new places to be discovered and something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other will help you find out a lot about yourself.