Monday, 20 April 2015

British Athletics Mountain Running Camp

On the weekend I attended the British Athletics Mountain Running Camp in Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. British Athletics organised the camp to focus on those athletes who have the capability of making the British team for either the European and/or World Mountain running championships this year. During the camp we stayed in The Royal Oak Hotel in Betws-y-Coed situated at the foot of the World Mountain Running course. We were very lucky that the Welsh weather played its part and remained dry and mostly sunny for the duration of the weekend.  
I had never been invited to attend the British Athletics Mountain Running Camp before, but it has been running for five years. Attending the camp was very beneficial to me as it has helped me to focus on my preparations for the 2015 mountain running season.

17th April

The athletes and coaches that attended the
 British Athletics Mountain Running Camp
The camp was kick started with a talk by Sarah Rowell who gave a review of the 2014 mountain running season for the Great Britain team.  Last year the team was the second strongest in the World behind Italy and the team behind mountain running at British Athletics are hoping to build on that this year with it being a home world championships.  David Walsh covered the importance of anti-doping for any athlete pointing out that all sports people have a responsibility to monitor and check what they are putting into their body and are 100% responsible if when tested the results are positive.  There is no guarantee that any nutritional supplements are not contaminated with performance enhancing drugs so David made it clear that athletes should only take nutritional supplements if they have undertaken thorough internet research, and the product is batch tested and contains no banned substances.

18th April

After a light breakfast we were all anxious to get out of the hotel to do some hard training on the World Championship Course. I really enjoyed this hill session in the sunshine, as although it was tiring I felt strong and it was inspiring to be running alongside some of my running idols such as Emma Clayton and Mary Wilkinson. For me being able to run on the course before the camp during the Christmas Holidays when I stayed with my family in Betws-y-Coed was a real benefit as I felt sure of my footing and was aware of what was to come around the next bend and so was able to push myself.
After lunch we had a number of talks from keynote speakers.  Firstly Kate Spilsbury discussed the physiology of endurance training highlighting the fact that for all endurance runners, recovery is important so that the body can adapt. Kate also talked to us about tapering before major races in order to achieve the best results possible.
Sarah Rowell then challenged us to identify what we were going to do differently after what we had learnt. Sarah also gave us an insight into her early career as an athlete which was very interesting.
For the next part of the afternoon we all split up into respective groups in order to fit in with what we wanted to do. Some people went to practice their downhill running technique whilst others did a quick run, I along with a group of athletes went to a workshop run by Graeme Everard, a physiotherapist, about developing a prehab routine designed to develop overall body strength and proprioception. I found this part of the camp very helpful as I was able to identify weak spots that I need to work on in order to become a more efficient athlete.
After a busy afternoon, a few of the girls and I went to a cosy cafe and had a slice of cake and a coffee which was well deserved after a long day. Sitting outside the cafe in the sunshine with a delicious slice of chocolate cake was lovely!
The last talk of the day came from Malcolm Brown; Alistair and Jonny Brownlee's coach, covering their preparation for the London 2012 Olympics and the importance of not letting the pressure of a home Olympics unnerve them in any way. This was applied to the World Mountain Running Championships being in Wales this year and really inspired me to try to achieve my best and aim to make the team.

19th April

On Sunday we all got up fairly early for our long Sunday run. Our run took in the British Inter-Counties Fell course and the Worlds' course. There was such a great feeling of friendliness on this run and I think that that is one of the best things about mountain running. 
Long run Selfie! (Photo courtesy of Emma Clayton)

Finally, to finish the camp Duncan Richards gave an insightful talk into taking responsibility for your success. Having a positive attitude about your sport, yourself and others around you makes for a more positive and successful athlete.

I really enjoyed the camp as it has inspired me for the up and coming summer of mountain running and I am very grateful to have been invited by British Athletics to attend. It was great to be talking and training with my idols in mountain running. The camp re-emphasised to me that mountain running is a social as well as a competitive sport as everybody is so friendly. I will now continue to put the hard work in so that I have the best chance of qualifying to run for Great Britain at the European and World Mountain Running Championships later in the year!


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