John Hanratty, A Very Good Runner and a Hard Trainer,  Representing the Club in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay

New Year is the time when the papers are full of forward looks at the New Year and what it will bring. Personal trainers suddenly have more people enrolling than they can cater for properly and gym memberships soar. “A New Year, a New Me!” All runners are like that in wanting to improve. Some hope to run faster off the same training but the old saying of “Who trains the same, remains the same” does hold good. Einstein is often credited with the saying that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Whether he was the one who said it, it is obviously a truism.

How, then, do runners change things as they look forward? Training regularly and racing regularly are essential but we all know that. One very good runner said that training for distance running was “just two effort sessions a week and a lot of steady running”. That’s true and it certainly brought him success BUT -What is an effort session? And how do you plan your steady running over the week – the same six miler every time out? A longer run on a Sunday with varied distances during the week? Or what?

The usual pattern is to build the summer on the winter’s work. From January – The end of March the miles are bigger and the rep sessions are a bit longer – anything from half a mile reps to mile reps. In Clydebank the longest reps were repeat miles on the Boulevard pavement between Drumry Road and the Kilbowie Road roundabout. At one point someone had wee dabs of yellow paint every quarter mile along the road there. Runners would do the mile, jog about on the spot at one end for a timed recovery and then go back in the other direction where they would do the timed recovery before returning. Normal dose was three reps. Others did half a dozen half mile reps on the same stretch with a quarter mile recovery jog. The week would have as its two effort sessions a session of reps (on the road or round a park perimeter) and a fast steady run: the reps on the Tuesday and the run on the Thursday. The rest of the week would be steady running.

Dunbartonshire Relays first leg start in Postie’s Park, Dumbarton.   42 Des Roache, 69 Derek Halpin

April and the start of May would be pre-season with the pace being upped and track work as one (at times maybe two) of the rep sessions. The reps would be shorter and a bit quicker than during the winter, the long run on a Sunday would be a a bit shorter (unless you were aiming for a marathon).

The rest of the summer would be aimed at a particular race or meeting but whatever the runner was aiming for or whatever method he used – a Lydiard man would be different from a Kenny Moore man who would be different from . . – the New Year was a time for appraisal of how the training was going and what sort of alterations would be necessary for the next segment of the year. What the runner never does, or should never do, is pick specific workouts from a book – eg the American marathon runner who ran sets of 10 x 400 with only 40 seconds between them. Suicide for most!

Whatever your targets though, and we need to have targets, good luck for 2024.

By the way, the Committee probably has its own targets and plans for where the club should be this time next year: good luck to them in doing that, athletics is going through a difficult time just now and I have just heard of a Scottish club that has been running a deficit over the past year. Never heard of that before. It’s a hard time for clubs and the vision that the club has for the future has never been more important.

Below: Phil Dolan, Paul Doran and John Hanratty in the Dunky Wright Road Race