AW chats to Guy Learmonth to learn how he is turning his sprinting background to the 800m
A self-confessed ferocious trainer, Guy Learmonth has set nine Scottish under-20 800m records and recently won the Scottish senior title over the distance with victory at Scotstoun.
The 21-year-old has also won medals in the UK indoor championships the past three years, as well as winning the BUCS 800m title and clocking a PB of 1:47.14 in the Oslo Diamond League last year.
In addition he has set records indoors at the England Athletics Under-20 and BUCS championships.
Having benefitted from the experience of representing Britain in the European Juniors in 2011, together with several Grand Prix appearances against international opposition, the Lasswade athlete has significantly stepped up his training over the past winter.
In his third year at Loughborough University, Learmonth’s long-term coach, Henry Gray, works together with George Gandy to devise and coordinate his training programme.
Learmonth says: “George has a wealth of experience that very few other coaches have, having worked with numerous world-class athletes, while Henry is always willing to learn and they work together to tailor my training.”
At his Midlands base he benefits from having talented training partners including Mark Patterson, George Corcoran, Andy Richardson, Billy Ryan, Henry Pearce, Jake Wightman and occasionally Mukhtar Mohammed.
He explains: “George’s sessions work on a three-week rota, whereby you compare how you feel and the times you run with what you felt and recorded three weeks previously. If you run quicker and feel better and more in control, you know you’re improving. This can be a massive boost for confidence and it works great for me and has definitely been a major cause for my development.”
Learmonth follows a more general approach to training through the winter months, but when he goes into race phases, his training becomes much more race-specific.
He says: “When I head home for Christmas, I usually start to change training to prepare for indoor races. Henry will conduct sessions with a big emphasis on speed and quality. Getting the balance between endurance and speed is key. You can’t train fast all year round, but you can’t stay slow! It’s just the timing and how you balance the sessions in order to peak at the correct time in the season which is vital.”
Over the winter he made a few changes and gets help from nutritionist Ruth McKean to help him recover properly. He says: “I changed my diet and shed 4-5kg.”
Coming from a sprinting background he has worked on improving his endurance with more emphasis on 1500m and 5000m sessions. Nevertheless, despite his improved endurance, Learmonth lists fast 200m efforts as his favourite training session, although back at home he likes training on the beach and the promenades.
TYPICAL WINTER TRAINING WEEK
» Monday: (am) 4 miles easy plus drills (focus on posture, cadence, stability, range of movements) and also strides. (pm) 2 miles warm-up plus front squats in the gym (ultimate aim is to lift 150% of body weight – Seb Coe was doing this when he went on his world record spree) plus 2-mile warm-down.
» Tuesday: Track session: 10min tempo at 5min mile pace on road (10min rec) plus 6x600m with 200m jog on track (5min rec) plus 5min tempo at 5min-mile pace on road.
» Wednesday: (am) 6 miles steady. (pm) Circuits: a mix between core, plyometrics and muscular endurance – some exercises are hang-bar leg raises, box jumps, one-legged squats, calf raises, med ball exercises, step-ups, jumping lunges, various crunches and ab-related exercises (George Gandy’s circuits – extremely hard!)
» Thursday: (am) Depending on how I feel – Tempo run or 5 miles steady. (pm) Speed drills and strides (faster transition speed drills, exercises and strides).
» Friday: Rest day.
» Saturday: (am) Hill session: 3, 2, 1min reps x 3-4 times. (pm) Core and glutes.
» Sunday: 9-10 miles easy run plus core and glutes.
SUMMER RACE WEEK
» Monday: (am) 6 miles easy. (pm) Possibly some core work.
» Tuesday: Track session: Very easy work such as 6x200m or 10x150m or 4x300m.
» Wednesday: 5 miles easy on grass.
» Thursday: 3 miles warm-up: 10 strides plus warm-down.
» Friday: 2-3 miles very easy.
» Saturday: Rest/walk.
» Sunday: Race.
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes