An excerpt from an interesting IAAF article by Pat Butcher about the apparent decline of European distance running (with emphasis added):
At an individual level, the British international runner, Mohammed (Mo) Farah has shown his contemporaries the way to face up and address the situation. Farah, now 23, and current European cross country champion, was an excellent junior runner, with five English Schools titles, both in track and cross country to his credit. But like many talented youngsters, he found the transition to senior ranks, with its attendant distractions, very difficult. "I was living the student life, going to lots of clubs at night", says Farah. "I had lots of mates outside running. Inside running, I was known as a bit of a 'party animal'."
After a series of poor performances, Farah accepted an offer from his management to go and live in a house with a group of elite Kenyans who train in London. "It was amazing", recalls Farah, describing a collection of athletes including Olympic and world champions. "But they're humble people, they don't pretend to be anything good. Living with them, learning from them, that's what did it (for me). It was a big shock but I learned that athletes live differently from normal people - they have to eat, sleep, train and rest. At the start, the Kenyan's weren't sure of me. Now they see me as one of them, because I work as hard as them. They say I run like a Kenyan."
I also learned a lot when I went out to Australia before the Commonwealth Games (early 2006), and trained with Craig Mottram (world 5000m bronze medallist). Just seeing what he does blew my mind. I said to myself, 'I don't train as hard as this. How can I compete against these guys?' If I want to be as good as him, I've got to do this and more".
Within a year, Farah brought his 5000m best down to 13.09, won silver in the European Athletics Championships in Goteborg, beat middle distance specialist Ivan Heshko in a mile, won the Dunquerque Cross against one of his Kenyan friends Micah Kogo, the fastest 10,OOOm man of 2006, and took the men's title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. Then after a steady start, earlier this year he finished 11th in the torrid heat of the World Cross in Mombassa.
Even though we're winding down for the holidays, we're already looking forward to training in January and beyond. Here's some quick info for the Swim Camp (Jan 2-4) and Training Day (Jan 6). More detailed info will be sent via e-mail shortly.
SWIM CAMP JAN 2-4th
We're back in action on Wednesday January 2nd with the second of our three swim camps. I will contact the invited athletes individually, but please note that the dates are January 2nd to January 4th (not January 5th). Swim Camp III is still planned for February 1st-3rd. We'll have coach Lee Hart back again, and we'll swim twice a day, with seminars and video analysis between sessions. We will also be fortunate to have National Development Team member Colin Jenkins joining us for one day of the swim camp.
OAT TRAINING DAY JAN 6th
The first week of the new year will also feature our third OAT Training Day on Sunday January 6th. Building on our two previous Training Days, we'll put KOS and Junior athletes through a full day of swim, bike, run and core work as we get ready for the 2008 race season. Note that we're changing the start time slightly; we'll start registration and set-up at 7:50am, and plan to be swimming by 8:20am. This change will ensure that we're not standing outside in the cold, waiting for the doors open at 7:30am.
Juniors and KOS athletes (minimum age = 12 years old) should contact me for registration information if they are interested in attending. Athletes who have already attended a training day should also contact me to let me know they plan to attend, but no additional registration forms are required.
We survived our first real snow fall of the winter (~30cm), and no one called in the army to dig Toronto out. The only casualty was the cancellation of our swim camp on Sunday. We had half of the athletes attend on Sunday due to the storm, and we got as far as reviewing the video footage from Saturday, before UofG pulled the plug and sent everyone home. Safety first. Thankfully, the roads were drivable, the drivers were smart, and everyone got home safe.
(The equivalent of the entire snowplow fleet of Victoria, BC
takes a second pass down Aberdeen St. in Hamilton, ON)
It was great to see the progression that some of these athletes have made from a year or two ago. After they got hooked on triathlon, they channeled their enthusiasm into hard work and dedication by joining their local swim club and getting to work on developing their swim strokes. We happened to have some old footage on file from previous years, so we were able to compare their current swimming with footage from 2005 and 2006, and the results were incredible. Congrats to the athletes and coaches on their work.....now keep going!
Despite the snow and the brief University shut down, we're back in action today (Monday) and looking forward to our last week of PTC training before the x-mas break. Our swim had a mix of band, IM, and free today (just rolling through and working on some technical elements) and everyone has a (snow)run this afternoon. In the words of Tom Lokody, we are "feeding the baby", to which he added "you don't feed a baby a whole steak", as if that clarified the issue. I'm sure there's some wisdom in there somewhere - if you can figure it out, let me know.
Watch out for the yellow snow, and enjoy the winter wonderland.
The PTC is hosting an OAT swim camp this weekend for targeted runners aged 14-18. We're in the pool twice a day focussing on freestyle technique, with video analysis and technical seminars between sessions. These same athletes will return for two more camps in January and February, as we work towards swimming more efficiently, and ultimately making them stronger in the swim portion of the triathlon.
We have coaches Lee Hart and Danielle Dickson working with us this weekend, and we were very fortunate to have National Team athlete Kyle Jones visit us for the day. Kyle, from Oakville, Ontario, is a former University of Guelph student who now lives and trains in Victoria, BC, under coach Joel Filliol. Kyle worked with the athletes during their swim sessions, shared some stories about his training, and even anchored the silver medal fly/free relay at the end of the day. A huge thanks to Kyle for his work today with the group - we'll be watching and cheering you through the 2008 season.
(Kyle Jones and the swim camp athletes)
In other news, it's been a busy week for the PTC athletes as they complete their exams and wrap up the semester. Dorelle Hinton is back in Kingston training with her home club, the Kingston Blue Marlins, and Angela Quick will be going back home to train with the Brantford Aquatic Club. We'll continue PTC training through next week with James, Tom, Danielle and Rachel, before we take a break over the Christmas holidays.
The recovery champ shirt is firmly in Craig's possession, after a dismal week of recovery by all athletes. The athletes will be stepping up their recovery habits over the holidays, so they can be ready for the next training block in January.
Due to the brutal, humiliating and poor photography skills on the part of Coach CT, we (Dorelle and Ang) have decided to edit the last photo-op. Hopefully this pic captures the true feelings of this past weekends job well done. Top Notch governor!
We've just concluded a busy week-end in the big smoke of Guelph, where the Guelph Marlins did a great job of hosting the "Dash for Cash" swim meet. It was fun to see so many KOS and Junior triathletes at the meet, with most setting PBs, including PTC athletes Angela Quick (BAC) and Dorelle Hinton (KBM). As you can see, Dorelle and Ang are thrilled with their results.....
Congrats also go out to the following athletes and their coaches for some great performances:
David Mackie (GHAC) Austen Forbes (GHAC) Taylor Forbes (GHAC) Alexander Hinton (KBM) Jeremy Leite (LAC) Sasha Boulton (OAK) Tyler Bredschneider (STARS/C3) Mark Bechtel (STARS/C3) Kristina Stojadinovic (STARS) Travis Goron (WEST)
If I've missed anyone, let me know. Full Results for the Dash for Cash.
These guys will be hard to beat on the race course next summer! If you are an athlete or a parent looking for a swim club in your area, check out the links above, or e-mail me for a referral in your area.
Although we've only introduced a full time triathlon program this year, the UofG has been the designated Provincial Triathlon Centre for several years. In that time, some impressive athletes have churned the water in the Gold Pool and carved out the trails in the Arboretum. Over a series of posts, we'll link to a few of them.
In the red corner, fighting out of Victoria, BC; he's a 130lb tornado of muscle and pain packed on to a towering 5'5" frame, we give you Jasper Blake!
I know everyone was very excited to see the first offical winner of the ROCKSTAR recovery points soccer winner. Drumrolll pleaase......ANGELA!!! She would like the thank Dorelle for all of her support while she chowed down on the fruits and veggies. Stay tuned for this week's winner...
Guelph played host to the 2007 AGSI National Cross Country Champs over the weekend, and coach Dave Scott-Thomas and his Speed River/Gryphons crew put on a great event. Check out Guelph Running for more info on their great program.
Despite the cold, wind and snow, some triathletes came out to play. James Loaring took 3rd in the Masters Race, while the Junior Girls race was full of triathletes: Paula Findlay(AB) 5th, Rachel Edwards(SK) 26th, Abby Miller(SK) 32nd, Kaitlyn Oliver (ON) 34th, Gabrielle Edwards(SK) 42nd, Lindsay Anderson (ON) 73rd, and Alicia Allen(ON) 150th. In the Junior Mens race, Nick McGraw (ON) finished 23rd, Will Komer (ON) was 48th, Jeff Phillips (NTC Victoria, BC) 52nd, Ian Donald (ON) 56th and Colin Lavigne(ON) was 87th. In the senior women's race, NTC Victoria athlete Kirsty Smith was 22nd. The senior men's race was won by some guy from guelph, with Canadian Elite Triathlete Paul Tichelaar finishing 37th. Congrats to all of the athletes, and to Speed River for hosting a great event.
OAT's Provincial Triathlon Centre (PTC) is located at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario. Program changes are currently underway (Spring 2010). The full time triathlon squad program is now RTC-Guelph.
"All coaches teach. Great coaches teach the details. All coaches communicate. Great coaches communicate honestly. All coaches prepare. Great coaches prepare meticulously. All coaches develop expectations. Great coaches develop high expectations and do everything in their power to help athletes achieve them." A. Becker (2009). It's not what they do, it's how they do it: Athlete experiences of Great Coaching. Int. J. Sport. Sci & Coaching, 4(1), 93-119.