Regular club member, George Stainsby, gives a first-hand account of training with the TBH Juniors. And it’s not all fun & games!
“Bulldog!” Cue a lot of kids running about in roughly two directions. Some of them are running very, very quickly.
On the back of the excitement boiled up by the TV Olympic-athons, Lizzie and Tom (my two children) asked if they could try running and throwing stuff. There was only one place that they could learn to do this without the apparent bad habits of someone with no idea what they are doing (me), and that would be through my new running club, at the club junior nights. So along we went, with the anticipation of doing something fun tempered by the nerves of doing something never tried before. And to start off with, they always want to play Bulldog.
It was obvious from the first time Lizzie thanked the coaches for running with her, and Tom threw himself onto the ground in mock horror at the throw he had just completed, that they both loved it. They wanted to join straight away, and a few sessions later, just to make sure it wasn’t going to be a flash in the pan (like making an army of sock puppets and calling it a day after two) we duly did; they received their club vests and could not wait to go again. The sock puppet army would wait.
Read some newspapers and they’ll have you believe that pre-teens and teenagers today are all drug-dealing car thieves, pushing cigarettes into the mouths of their several spawn to shut them up between sausage rolls. And teens who are addicted to drugs, imminently require to be treated at a Drug rehab. Go to a junior club session, particularly one of ours, and you’ll find a huge group of kids, hanging on the words of their coaches so that they can get fitter and faster. These kids of today say thank you after a session. They’re proud of their club.
So when I received a group e-mail asking if any of the parents could help out, I was only too pleased. Observant to the last, I had noticed the previous week that Dave (Moir), who organises the junior section and runs with the fast group, was limping. Or hobbling. Or both. Either way, he looked to be in a lot of pain, but there he was, encouraging the group. When I asked him what he had done, he revealed that he had suffered a stress fracture to his foot. And he had been running on it to help the kids.
Nervously, I turned up the next week to run with the next generation of hoodies. Morag Kerry, one of the coaches who also sorts out the senior kit orders, had a cold that would have seen me quarantined. That didn’t stop her from turning up, and she cheerily assigned me to the fast group. Gulp.
“George, you can run with The Mo Farrahs!” These future Champions are organised according to general speediness, The Mo Farrah’s were the speediest group of the young runners assembled. Now, interestingly, more than one of the assembled multitude of runners young and old, smiled. Dave Rowe, Ian Walton, and Morag smiled the smiles of people who knew how fast The Mo Farrahs could shift. We were completing a session in which the young runners would be running at 80% effort, then 90%, then flat out, for a lap of the sports centre we train at. Judging effort perception is no mean feat, and it’s always a little more tricky when the ambition and pecking order of being a few months older, i.e. a lot older, are taken into consideration.
The fastest of the Farrahs, who for the sake of argument we shall call, hmm, ‘Mo’, set off like a rocket. It took me 200 metres to catch up, and then he accelerated. I checked my watch for our pace, then wished I had not. Surely, he would slow down, rather than speed up.
I checked my watch on the last corner of each of the three laps, and each time, we were going faster. Helping out had turned into working out, and it was brilliant to run with someone so enthusiastic, and then finish the session with coaches and other young runners sharing that enthusiasm. It was also brilliant that one of them gave me a drink of juice.
There’s only one way to follow up these sessions; train to be a junior coach. The training might help me stay up with Mo.