BVR Training Series Part 1 – Introduction

In this popular series of posts, club coach Lawrence Bookham gives us an insight into training, technique and explains what all that running jargon actually means…

As I take the Tuesday night training sessions I thought I would write a few words for people who are attending or thinking of attending my sessions.

First off, a few words about myself:

I started running with Blackwater Valley Runners in 2008 as a 14 ½ stone 10 a day smoker. I had been running a little before I joined BVR however I was quite unfit and wanted to lose some weight. I often found myself at the back of the peer group I ran with on Wednesday and Sunday club runs. I struggled every week gasping as I tried to keep up. I wanted to improve, and become a better runner. A couple of years on and I had improved and my race times were getting better, but the gains were diminishing to a point where I was no longer improving. There were a few of us who would sometimes meet up and go and hammer out some intervals, but none of us really knew what we were doing, and as these meetings were on an ad hoc basis, there was no consistency and no real sense of commitment in what we were doing.

I needed some focus, so I joined another local running club who offered speed training sessions. This involved meeting at an Industrial Estate on a Friday night and thrashing out 18 x 400 meters as fast we could! There was consistency and these guys were committed, no question, but the workouts were brutal  and we would always end up racing each other…. And I picked up injuries left right and centre (quite literally!).

So I joined another local club who hosted track sessions with qualified coaches. The workouts were ok, but they were essentially the same every week and had no purpose. I remember seeing the same girl running every week hunched over with her arms swinging wildly across her body, yet not one of the coaching staff said anything to her which I found this most odd. I decided to do a bit of research on training and physiology specific to running. This was when I discovered that the worst area for researching this kind of stuff was the internet. Although I have no doubt the people who post the information on the internet do so with good intent, so much of it is conflicting, contradictory and confusing or just complete nonsense. I read some books written by highly respected authors on the subject, and started training on my own on a Tuesday night.  I had a few people joining me and the numbers grew a little… and so the Tuesday night training session was born!

In October 2014 I attended a Leader in Running Fitness course run by England Athletics. This was a one day course and covered planning sessions, carrying out risk assessments and offering advice to new runners. 

Running is a passion that I enjoy sharing with others, and I certainly hope that everyone who attends my training sessions enjoy them as much as I enjoy helping others with their running. I train and coach using the Daniels system having seen huge successes with this method, and believe it to be a very safe and effective training method. It is based on doing the least amount of work necessary to achieve the maximum benefit.

At 38 years old I ran the 2012 Abingdon marathon in 3h16m13 using a generic off the shelf marathon training plan. The following year I trained using a Pfizinger plan –  over trained and developed shingles on race week and ended up missing my target marathon.  

This year (2015) at 41 years old, I ran the Padua (Italy) marathon in 3h 12m 37 – a Boston qualifier and beating my marathon PB by well over 3 minutes using the Daniels system. And I can honestly say it felt remarkably easy, furthermore since training under this system I have enjoyed my longest period of being injury free (touches wood!).   

Note for Beginners:

The less fit a person is when they start running, the more they will benefit from low intensity training. It is only after a runner attains a high fitness level that workouts will need to be a lot more demanding for improvements to be made.

 If you are quite unfit, you will not need to train very hard to gain considerable benefit.

If you have not been doing any running wahtsover, then beginning on 3 or 4 days a week will produce some very good results.

Where possible, try to spread the days you run over the week (so you do not end up with several days in a row of no running), however if your situation is such that you can only run 3 consecutive days followed by 4 days of no running for example, then obviously this would be better than nothing at all.