Running column: Can group training help kick-start 2020 for Mark Armstrong?
I spent a couple of hours with Brenda and Dave Hutcheon earlier this week and it was fascinating to get their thoughts on coaching.
Since forming the Bure Valley Harriers nearly five years ago, they have moulded a successful club that often has runners at the front end of races in Norfolk.
It was clear that on some level they regard each, and every, member of their club like family.
As such, they always want to keep everyone, of all abilities, together whenever they train, with the thinking that the elite runners can help bring on the rest of their group.
When they are still helping the likes of Scott Walford, Michael Eccles and Faith Viney among others at the sharp end, it's clear they are doing something right.
I've had rather too much time to think about how I want my running to look when I come back from injury, hopefully within a couple of months.
I've always conducted 90 percent of my sessions on my own, mainly out of convenience in that I can simply shut my front door behind me and get started straight away.
However, after speaking to Brenda and Dave it made me realise that perhaps I've been missing out a little.
For the past year, through my own choice, the only company I've had for an effort session is my Garmin but I think I would definitely feel the benefit of being within a group of runners, who can act as a gauge for progress.
Dave explained: "The group system is simple and it works. You just chase the person in front of you whilst the guy at the front doesn't want to be caught.
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"That in itself will get improvements. To run on your own and get getter is a lot more difficult but if you run in a group that's filtered like that, then it works."
I've trained with Neil Featherby's group at what became known as the 'Field of Pain' in Felthorpe, in the past and speaking to Brenda and Dave acted as a reminder of how much I got out of those sessions.
Even before my injury I hadn't been for over a year mainly because something had to give as I strive to find a balance between family, work and training... (I hope I'm not the only one constantly worrying whether I'm getting that balance right...)
But in the hectic lives a lot of us lead it's important to make some time for yourself and the things you want to do.
I've spoken to my wife, Alison, who has always preferred to run with company and we are going to carve out some time by hook or by crook to ensure we get to have some quality training in a group environment, at least once a week.
Alison has recently joined Wymondham AC and despite some ribbing from me over her calling it 'whack' (WAC) after her first week, you can see how pumped she is after each session.
When I get back to running (in the near future hopefully) I will return to those group sessions with Neil so Callum Bowen-Jones had better watch out... or perhaps not (seriously, watch Callum go next year).
There will clearly still need to be some individual sessions - they have their place in any schedule, because, ultimately, when the going gets tough in a race then the only person that can really help is you. That's where some of those lonely, painful miles come into play.
But I'm hoping that taking on a bit of group therapy can help fast-track me back to where I want to be.
Don't miss the full interview with Brenda and Dave Hutcheon and the story of how Bure Valley Harriers was formed in next Friday's Run Anglia supplement in the EDP.
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