8th May 2009

July Heroes Update


10 July 2008

The summer season is in full swing and as the UK Athletics Heroes continue to train and compete on the highly competitive British athletics circuit, project sponsors Original Source reward the group’s hard work and commitment with training bursaries of £500 each.  

Jordan McGrath (Birchfield Harriers) maintains his place at the top of the UK U20 rankings for the 400m and is currently competing in Poland at the World Junior Championships. His current form is, in no small part, down to his commitment to athletics on and off the track. He guides us through his gym specific training and the benefits seen this season:

“Whether you’re a sprinter or a marathon runner the gym can become a vital part of training which will benefit you both long and short-term.

Personally my event is too long to be a sprint and too short to be middle distance, this creates a divide in how 400m runners train, with some preferring lots of power training and others training mainly too improve strength. I have recently learned that the right mix of both trained in the gym will give promising results.

My power output has been a weakness so my coach and strength and conditioning coach put together a program from which i can improve my power, while still maintaining my muscular endurance and strength.

To increase my power output I use power cleans and Bulgarian squats with short recovery and heavy weights.

With strength training I usually do a medium amount of repetitions on all exercises with a slightly longer rest, usually around 3 minutes, in between sets.

I have short periods of training were I do different gym workouts, for instance we do a gym session called “Power Endurance” in December for 3-4 weeks and as it sounds its the most brutal period of training we do on track or in the gym. It hurts!!!

All of these sessions are done twice a week, separated by two running sessions and a rest day, because rest is just as important as training, too little and you cant keep a high quality of session going consistently.

From this season already i am seeing the positives of doing gym work regularly both in my performances and in my everyday life. “

Ross Murray has been improving steadily for the past two years. With early successful outings at the UK School Games, North East Inter County Schools Championships and North East League and recently showing his determination claiming his first GB vest at the European Junior Cross Country Championships, the young Gateshead Harrier details his journey to the Junior GB team.

Early Days
I was at junior school when I first competed on the track and I was still not doing any running specific training. I was running in my football shorts and trainers and felt a little bit out of place.


I joined Wallsend Harriers when I was about eleven, while was at the club I finished second in the North Eastern Cross Country Championships as a first year under 13 and had personal bests of 4.57 for 1500m.

I moved to Gateshead Harriers when I was 13, John Stephenson started coaching me around this time and things were starting to get a little more serious and I had more structure to my training. That year I started to improve and I think it was due to me starting some ”real” training. I finished sixth in the Under 13 Northern Cross Country Championships and 20th in the Nationals.

Progression Years

Since then it has been a learning curve where thankfully I have been improving each year. My training has increased along the way from my mileage, volume of sessions and by adding in circuit training. I ran in bigger championships which again helped my race awareness and ability to handle different types of situations.

My First GB Vest

I won my first GB vest at the European Cross Country Championships, which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have never felt so proud when I was first racing wearing it.

Birchfield Harrier Jessica Leach is currently fourth in the UK Athletics Power of Ten rankings. As she develops, improves and gains experience in the sport she is lucky enough to get invaluable advice from club and coach mate hepathlete Kelly Sotherton about life as a professional athlete.

“Since being involved with the Heroes project I have learnt a lot about the relationships between athletes and the media. I know understand that doing interviews and photo shoots is really important and can benefit you as an athlete.

Recently I was involved in a media opportunity with Kelly Sotherton, it was amazing to see a senior athlete being interviewed and having her photos done. 

I was really pleased when i got asked to be involved because I could see how Kelly conducts herself, she expresses her views and opinions on her terms which is a great skill.

Having the same coach, Fuzz Ahmed, is great because I get to see her jumping and if she is around watching she will give good advice. With help from them both i get some really good jumping sessions.


Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers) is ranked in the top ten U20 for the 800m and 1500m. She continues to train on the beach in Northumberland and has has a successful outdoor campaign so far.

Abdirisak Ahmed (Rotherham Harriers & AC) continues his impressive summer season winning the 1500m at the NJAL Humber Round 3 in Yorkshire last month. He is currently top of the U20 UK Athletics Power of Ten rankings for the 5000m.

Niall Flannery (Gateshead Harriers), currently fourth in the U20 UK Athletics Power of Ten rankings, has enjoyed outings in the 400m and long jump recently, helping his to