The theme of specific development days continued over the weekend, as endurance running took centre stage. The quieter period of competition this side of Christmas gave the opportunity for West Wales to host its second Regional Endurance Day on Saturday 15th December.
Held a week after the Welsh Athletics Inter-Regional Cross-Country Championships in Llandrindod Wells, the regional day moved from the first day in Carmarthen at the end of September to Swansea University Indoor Athletics Track, Sketty Lane. In the lead up to Christmas, Thirty-Three athletes and more than 10 coaches were in attendance.
Similar to last year, these endurance days focuses on offering information to athletes, coaches and parents. The aim was to provide young athletes with tips about how they can become better all-round endurance athletes. This year has already seen many regulars return from the previous season, but saw a large tally of newer athletes in the under 13 age group join in this time round.
Being demonstrated across clubs in West, East, South and North Wales by qualified coaches, the day provided young athletes with learning on various strength and conditioning exercises, warm up drills and ways to develop their distance running in small groups.
All athletes who attended (from the Carmarthen Harriers, Pembrokeshire Harriers, Swansea Harriers, Llanelli AC and Neath Harriers clubs) were invited to attend by the region's co-ordinators, as athletes ranged mainly in the Under 13, Under 15, Under 17 and Under 20 age groups.
Athletes and coaches alike were able to take advantage of the excellent facilities on offer at Swansea, not just indoors but also outdoors. Following the meet and greet plus the brief outline of the day's programme, the group went over to the University grounds near Singleton Park to do an outdoor training session which focused on running techniques over an uphill and downhill section.
Athletes split into several groups based on age and ability as they worked over a variety of short and long distances on the grass. Taking the session in the driving rain and strong winds was Kevin Tobin who was also supported by other experienced club coaches.
After everyone had dried out and earned a well-deserved lunch break, there was the chance to take part in a Question and Answer session with Wales, Great Britain & Commonwealth Games Athlete Josh Griffiths who got involved after starting off the morning at the local parkrun on the bay. There were some very interesting questions asked, and it gave the opportunity to listen to many of Griffiths' achievements early on in his career as well as at the present time. Also, Josh gave the young athletes some great advice of how to develop as a junior. The Q&A proved to be very valuable heading towards the start of a new year.
The Swansea Harrier said: "It was great to be able to come along to the West Wales Endurance Day. I was never good enough to attend as an athlete when younger so was nice to see how hard the youngsters are working."
"There was a great group of athletes in attendance, so it was nice to be able to share some of my experiences with them, and I hope they were able to take something from the Q&A. After some questions, I joined in with a pretty tough circuit session, it was excellent to see everyone working so hard and encouraging each other. The future of West Wales endurance looks bright!"
During the afternoon session at the indoor track, those present took part in a strength and conditioning circuit inside to challenge club runners, split up into two groups. It also saw some much-needed drills performed and the importance of performing these correctly explained. Coaches Delyth Brown, Pete Freeman and Carol Jones led the circuits and were supported by other experienced club coaches.
Thanks from the organisers go to those athletes, coaches and parents who supported the second day and it is hoped that the day was an informative one. The date for the third of these events will be confirmed in the New Year.
Watch a video of Saturday’s highlights and to see what Regional Endurance Days are all about…