The running school came out in force to support the development of a select group of SLJs and Oak Blokes runners. In fact additional trainers had been flown in from London due to the highly technical level that running had reached within both groups over the past couple of years.
Still the group of SLJ and Oaks Blokes runners were fairly confident that they knew enough about running to get by, after all it can’t be that tough, you just need to put one foot in front of the other a bit faster than walking. Despite that we knew we had more to learn, after all we had all seen what David Brailsford had achieved at the Olympics with the Great British cycling team’s tally of gold medals, followed up by the Tour De France win for the Sky team 2 years on the trot. So we knew that small marginal gains were going to be important if we were going to reach that truly elite level. We subsequently found out that at our level, it was more about injury prevention, as there were in fact a couple of levels of running above where the groups currently run!
We met the team Jane, Caroline, Steve and Jess from Manor Clinic plus our special London Elite coach Verity on the ‘Lower Lawn’ at Hollybush. Verity started the lesson like all good teachers by telling us we had been a bit bad by not warming up long enough before we started our normal runs. I heard some of the blokes saying that the thought that might cut down on coffee drinking time, I thought there was going to be trouble right from the start, but then I heard someone say that it might also mean cutting down on the amount of those bl..dy hills we have to do. There was a murmur of agreement and we were back on track.
On track that was, until the warm up included some unusual dancing moves, with Sam on hand with the video recorder to capture the event for posterity. That is why we don’t often have mixed groups by the way.
Steve (from Manor Clinic) had spotted this second spot of possible trouble with the dance moves and came over to join the Oaks Blokes wearing his Tonbridge Tri Tea-shirt. If he could skip across the lawn like a girl wearing a tough man T-shirt, it must be OK.
The problem once again averted, we moved on to a series of running drills. We were told that most of us were likely to fall in to one of the standard four poor techniques, bouncing, twisting, slob’ing and so on. I recognised the descriptions of these failings and knew a few candidates – can’t name them due to client confidentiality (actually I think I might be able to get a free coffee out of a couple for not mentioning it here). Then followed another good teaching technique from the London specialist. Get people to pair up and have one of them pull apart the running style of the other. I got Richard P who is bigger than me, I had hoped to get David P who is a lot smaller (sorry Dave not having a go again, honest!), on the basis it might be safer to criticise a smaller guy. Anyway, I expect like most there, I went easy on my partner. I still wasn’t sure he was entirely happy, so I asked ‘Tough Steve’ to take over and sneaked off to get a quick coffee (before you tut, I had been running since 8am and it was now nearly 10). The advantage of this teaching technique then became clear – feedback on your personal running style from a kind, intelligent and knowledgeable coach (ie Verity ) is so much more acceptable after having a friend do it – so you actually listen to what she is saying.
Over the next 45 minutes though a series of different drills and advice the before and after effect became noticeable clear. Well, let me put it in the language of the Oaks Blokes 8am runners who were sitting on the balcony of the Lodge drinking coffee through out. When I popped in earlier to buy a coffee, I got asked, ‘were there meant to be blokes dancing around with the girls’. At the end those remaining (by now buzzing with caffeine) were saying, ‘it looks ok actually. Are you doing another one!’
In the end it was a really interesting session, enjoyed by everyone I spoke to. Jess topped it off by bringing an extra cake (a healthy version of course) to go along with my chocolate cake. I can tell you, both tasted great, but I think most people chose to go with the ‘marginal gain’ likely to arise from eating the chocolate cake.
Many thanks to the running school and all of you for your support to raising money for Help The Hero’s.