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Training & advice

Evaluate your progress

Before you can plan forward you need to look back and reflect on what you have done, how well you have done it and the effect it has had on your progress. By doing this you may gain an increased understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and this, in turn, will  inform your next training plan.

Just as realistic performance evaluation is a key characteristic for developing excellence and one of the discriminating factors between medal and non-medal winners it is likely to also support the development of runners aspiring for less elite performances such as personal best times or achieving target distances (Bailey et al. 2010). It is, therefore, advisable to set time aside to look back before looking forward. This time may come at the end of a blcok of training or maybe at the end of the year when you are planning your next targets.

Here, we aim to provide a model for evaluating your strengths and weaknesses that will allow you to see which elements of training need priority as you move forward.

The model is really quite simple and consists of four steps:

STEP 1 - Write down what you achieved in the last block of training/last year and what you want to achieve in the next. For example, do you want to complete a certain distance or a certain time over a distance?

STEP 2 - Write down what a good runner would need in order to achieve this goal and prioritise them. You should consider both physical and psychological elements and so you may want to make two lists. The fitness factor or psychological skill at the top of the list should be given the number 1.

STEP 3 - Mark yourself out of 5 against each.

STEP 4 - Multiply the two numbers together (How important the factor/skill is x your ranking). Those with the lowest numbers need work and so should feature heavily in your next block of training.

Here is an example of someone who is aiming to get round a 10km

Physical Fitness Components Importance to get round 10k My mark out of 5 Total Priority for next block of training
Aerobic base 1 2 2 ***
Running style/technique 2 1 2 ***
Strength-endurance 3 1 3 **
Speed-endurance 4 1 4  
Psychological elements        
Enjoyment/social aspect 1 4 4 ***
Commitment to training 2 3 6  
Support from family 3 5 15  
Higher level of confidence (than current) 4 1 4 ***

Here is an example of someone who is aiming to run faster over the 5km distance:

Physical Fitness Components Importance for a fast 5km My mark out of 5 Total Priority for next block of training
Running style/technique 1 3 3 ***
Speed-endurance 2 3 6 *
Aerobic fitness 3 4 12  
Strength-endurance 4 1 4 **
Psychological elements        
Commitment to training 1 2 2 ***
Use of self-talk 2 2 4 **
Support from family 3 4 12  
Established pre-competition routines 4 4 16  

Reference: Richard Bailey, Dave Collins. Paul Ford, Aine MacNamara, Martin Toms, Gemma Pearce; Participant Development in Sport: An academic review, Sports Coach UK and Sport Northern Ireland, March 2010