Following last year's great success in Carmarthen and Swansea, the first West Wales Regional Endurance Day returned for the 2019/2020 season yesterday (Saturday 28th September) at Carmarthen Leisure Centre in Johnstown. This was ideal preparation for the British Athletics Cardiff Cross Challenge / John H Collins Gwent League which soon arrives in a fortnights' time.
2019 has seen the launch of Welsh Athletics Development Programme across athletics event groups in Wales. The Endurance Development Programme is part of this exciting initiative. The Regional Development Programme is the first stage of the Endurance Development Pathway.
Twenty-seven athletes from the regions athletics clubs and their coaches attended the first of the winter's regional endurance days.
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. Day one saw many regulars return from the previous season, with a few new members being invited for the first time.
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.
The other three regions also hosted their first of three endurance days at the follow locations on Saturday: South (Bridgend), East (Caerphilly) and North (Menai) with around 140 athletes involved across all four regions on the same day.
All athletes attending were invited to attend by the region's coordinators, as athletes in a change to 2018 were from the top of the under 15 (year 9), under 17 and under 20 age groups. They were members of Carmarthen Harriers, Pembrokeshire Harriers, Swansea Harriers, Llanelli AC, Neath Harriers and Aberystwyth AC.
In the morning following the meet and greet, Neil Thomas presented the outline of the regional endurance programme inside the Leisure Centre in the conference room upstairs.
Athletes then went out onto the Johnstown track for the morning session. Athletes split into four different groups based on age and ability as they worked over a variety of sprint and long distances. They were coached by group leaders Neil Thomas, Peter Freeman, Carol Jones, Rob Campion and Wayne Griffiths.
It was great to see local Pembrokeshire athlete and one of Wales' leading race walkers Heather Lewis in attendance also to help train the future generation of walkers.
In the afternoon, the group completed a strength and conditioning circuit indoors in the sportshall and learned the importance of performing these correctly and also listened to a talk by Neil Thomas on the topic of Performance Lifestyle.
Endurance National Talent Development Coordinator commented: "The regional programme offers the opportunity for young endurance athletes and their coaches to train together and also pick up some new skills around lifestyle and physical preparation.
"The endurance development program is an athlete and coach centred pathway that aims to increase the standard of endurance athletics across Wales from club level to Commonwealth Games podium as athletes progress from junior to senior level.
"I hope all involved here have an informative and enjoyable experience."
With the Inter Regional Championships no longer being held in December in 2019, the next West Wales Regional Endurance Day is scheduled to take place at Pembrey Country Park, near Llanelli on Saturday 14th December. They will in particular take advantage of the number of fields and paths available at the park, which has hosted the Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships 2019 this month just a fortnight ago and will look forward next to the John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League.
The Regional Hub Sessions coming up soon will give regional level athletes the chance to train together. The dates and venues for the West Wales Regional Hub training sessions are as follows:
Saturday 5th October, Sunday 29th December
All hub training sessions will be held at Pembrey Country Park Ski Centre, start time 10:30am. PLEASE NOTE that any athlete can attend the Hub sessions under 13 up, only the Endurance programme is invite only.
Delyth Brown, Pete Freeman, Sharon Leech, Neil Thomas, Rob Campion and all the coaches reported that Saturday was a very successful day and a great start to the programme here in West Wales. They thanked all the athletes and parents who travelled and attended the opening day of the 2019/2020 season.
The Regional and National Endurance Programmes are part of an initiative by Welsh Athletics to support talented athletes and their coaches across Wales. Find out more about the Endurance Programme by going to https://www.welshathletics.org/en/page/endurance?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialSignIn
Good Luck over the cross country and indoor season!
Check out what the athletes got up to during the day on the video below...