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Junior Training: The Future

Have You Thought About Goals?

Once you have decided that you would like to achieve something more than just the fun of competing, then it becomes necessary for you to adopt a more formalised approach to your training - this doesnít mean that you immediately go out and double your mileage!  But that you consider what it is you want to achieve and how much time and effort you are prepared to put into your training in order to achieve your goals.  After speaking to many juniors about their expectations, there does not seem to be many of them that would settle for anything less than being a champion!  So to give you some idea on what it takes, read on.

What Makes A Champion?

In the first instance, ask yourself this question. What is it that you want from your running? Is it:

  • Fun and a day out?

  • Represent your club - make up the team?

  • A place win in an English Championship?

  • A winner of an English Championship?

  • A member of the England Junior Squad?

  • A winner at International level?

These different levels of achievement require very different levels of effort.  Each one of them in itself is fine and allows juniors of all ages to compete at various levels of competition.  Not all juniors aspire to become champions, but then there are those who do, and many others who dream about it.  Becoming a champion is not always what happens to someone else, every junior who has the ambition to become a champion can realise that ambition - or come very close to it - if they are prepared to work hard enough, and not to expect that it will happen overnight. There are however certain practicalities that have a bearing on how fast you can achieve your ambition, these are not always essential, but by and large they help tremendously.

  • In the first instance itís important to belong to a running club. The group situation in your early days of training allows you to experience all the benefits of enjoying the friendship and competition that being in a club provides.

  • The second and most important aspect is that you find yourself a good coach.  If you can learn by someone elseís experience all the better, it saves time and allows you to progress much more quickly.

  • The third point can be the deciding factor of how fast you progress - having parents who have the time to commit themselves to your running.  Unfortunately not all parents have the time - through other family commitments or work - to give you this priority.  This is where the coach comes in; their backup goes a long way in ensuring continuity of your training.

If in the initial stages of your training you find other juniors who can run faster than you, donít worry about it.  Without getting too technical, there are juniors who are born with the ability to run fast - even before they start training - but it doesnít mean that they make good endurance runners.  There are those juniors who have the ability to run for longer distances, and there are those who have a bit of both!  So in the early days donít be dispirited if you feel that you are not progressing as quickly as you would like.

During the growing years juniors go through differing periods of racing form, which is to be expected when some of you can grow by up to six inches in one year.  What you must also remember is that like those juniors who inherit their running form - and/or body shape - from their parents, there is also the possibility that you may not inherit any running ability.  You may grow to be very tall and be an excellent high jumper, or be very strong and putt the shot or throw the discus.

This doesnít mean that your ambition to be a champion is over, it may just mean a change of direction in the sport of your choice.  What is important to remember is that becoming a champion takes time and does not come about overnight.  The name of the game is gradual progression, although you may have the occasional slow down or even stop for a short period.  If you continue your training - with enthusiasm - and you have the ability to persevere, then I can assure you that you will improve year on year.  Thatís why the formalised aspect of your training is so important; you need to have a training programme that takes into account many factors - progression being just one.  Without this planning the road to the top may take many diversions, that with good coaching and planning can be avoided.

So if you feel that you have the determination to succeed, and the patience to stick to a progressive training programme, why not do something about it.  This first move can be the start to you climbing that winnerís rostrum - itís up to you.

Norman Matthews © 2001-2004
Head Senior Coach
Horwich RMI Harriers