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uka and mccain mountain running conference a success

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McCain Mountain Running

01 May 2012

Building on the success of the inaugural camp in 2011, UKA, in association with England Athletics, hosted the second UKA McCain Mountain Running Training Camp, but the first with a conference element, in Loughborough last weekend (27-29 April).

Eighteen athletes, all Aviva GB & NI representatives at either junior or senior level, attended the well received three days in the company of key note guest and current World Mountain Running Champion Kasie Enman from America.

Friday 27 April

The weekend opened with an easy run to stretch out legs after time spend travelling from afar as London and Aberdeen. This was followed by an introductory session, reviewing the 2011 season and setting out the plans for the 2012 European (Denizili, Turkey) and World Championships (Ponte di Legno, Italy) led by UKA mountain running lead Sarah Rowell, along with UKA selector Mark Johnson who outlined details of the trial courses.

Saturday 28 April

Saturday saw the runners head over to the Beacon to tackle a long reps session designed to replicate the requirements needed for successful up and down mountain racing, in particular the transition from running fast downhill to hard uphill.

“The aim of the session was to get us used to the transition of climbing straight after a hard descent,” said Kilbarchan’s Gary Rankin. “Offten people struggle badly on the final climb after a descent so this was a really worthwhile session, and with each loop being a tough 3k I’m sure everyone got a good workout to ready us for the up and coming hill season.”

The coach’s day, meanwhile, kicked off with a look at the 2012 season plans which was followed by England Athletics’ Conditioning Coach Dave Rowlands who talked about the theory behind optimal conditioning for mountain running.

Athletes and coaches then came together to hear UKA National Event Coach George Gandy and give an inspirational talk on ‘preparing for international competition’, drawing on his many experiences of coaching numerous athletes to success at distances from 1500m to the marathon on road, track and cross country (but as he admitted not yet the mountains!).

A much needed lunch and time to catch up informally was followed by a double session featuring UKA senior physiologist Dr Barry Fudge who was just back from supporting British athletes at the UKA and London Marathon altitude camp in Font Romeau, and Kasie Enman.

Given the high temperatures expected for this year’s European Championships, Fudge’s practical presentation and hand-out on how to best prepare to compete in hot conditions was exceptionally well received by the athletes, with one saying “he was absolutely brilliant, giving really practical and easy to understand advice and able to answer any questions we asked”.

Fudge was followed by the weekend’s keynote speaker, Kasie Enman, who gave an honest and insightful talk looking at her training and preparation leading into winning the 2011 World Championships in Albania. Of particular interest were the key reasons Kasie attributed to her winning, including confidence in being able to run fast downhill on rough surfaces, knowing she ran well in the heat and having had a training focus on being able to transition from running downhill back to running up.

After a couple of hours sitting down it was time for the athletes to get physical again as Dave Rowlands led a conditioning session focusing on foot mobility and control – essential for mountain running where the terrain underfoot is ever changing.

“Personally I found this useful as hopefully it will help prevent me getting as injured as much as I do,” said Rankin. “He covered many things on how to get a better stride and be more efficient, which will go a long way if we can get that right.”

For those athletes who still had some energy, the day ended with an easy run before a relaxing evening comparing notes and thoughts on the day’s speakers.

Sunday 29 April

After the intensity of the Saturday, Sunday was more relaxed, although some decided to get their long run in early in order to better enjoy the delights on offer at the late breakfast.  Whether running early or mid morning, one thing was the same for all, the weather, which was wet and cold, making for interesting running conditions even for off road runners!

After that it was time for hot showers, food and back onto the M1 for trips north or south, tired after a great weekend of training and learning.

“I really enjoyed being able to join the UK’s top mountain runners for the weekend and join them for the training and educational sessions,” said Enman. “The support by UKA and sponsors McCain for mountain running in the UK is great to see and really helps develop this branch of the sport.”