How they train – James Brewer

After an injury-free winter, James Brewer is excited by the prospects of a good year in 2012

Posted on March 8, 2012 by
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James Brewer (Mark Shearman)

Since taking his first senior national title at the UK Indoor Championships in 2007 and securing selection for the European Indoors in Birmingham in the 800m, James Brewer enjoyed a few promising years before succumbing to injuries in 2010 and 2011. Yet he has returned to form in 2012 and will represent Britain over 1500m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

Having finished second to Lewis Moses in the UK Indoors last month, the 23-year-old clocked a big indoor PB of 3:38.03 at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, giving him huge confidence ahead of Istanbul. “My aim there is to make the final,” he says. “I have missed out on making the final by a fraction of a second at world youth, world junior and world outdoor championships. I am in great shape and I don’t want to add world indoors to that list!”

Brewer credits consistent training this winter for his good form. “I spent six weeks training at altitude in Kenya and feel aerobically fitter than ever before. This experience showed me that the Kenyans aren’t doing anything that different from us. They just work really hard. Seeing world and Olympic champions out running on the same paths as you every day, you can’t but help be inspired to train as hard as you can.”

He has also incorporated more pre-hab work into his training to minimise the risk of injury. He reveals: “I had a lot of lower back and calf niggles when I was younger, but by strengthening my glutes and calves these problems have all but gone away.

“I still have to be fairly cautious with my mileage. My past injuries have taught me that if I feel a niggle, it is better to take a few days’ rest, rather than ignoring it and possibly having to have months out. It is the overall consistency in training over many months that really counts.”

This winter is the first for three years that Brewer has been able to enjoy that consistency. Last winter, for example, he had gone out to Kenya hoping an injury would soon clear up, but he ended up having to cross train for his entire stay.

Brewer’s first international medal came in the 800m at the European Juniors in 2007 and he then won silver in the European Under-23 Championships in Lithuania over 1500m two years later. Already having the B qualifier for the World Championships in Berlin that year, he had one final chance to impress selectors and this was in the mile at the Aviva London Grand Prix. He duly delivered with a 3:54.80 mile, thereby securing selection for Berlin.

Although he narrowly failed to make the world final, he had gone to the championships under no pressure, as few had believed he was capable of putting down a strong challenge. Although he was there for experience, Brewer responded well to being the underdog. He raised a few eyebrows with his 3:37.17 PB in the heat – as this was nearly two seconds quicker than his pre-championships best time – and he backed this up with an almost identical clocking in the semi-final.

The Cheltenham athlete credits moving training base in February 2009 for his breakthrough that summer. He says: “I had been working with Andy Beadle at Cheltenham and he put in a lot of good work with me. But I knew I needed a new training set-up to push me to the next level so I moved to train with Craig Winrow and live in the athlete house at St Mary’s.”

He adds: “I was in new surroundings, training with other elite athletes in a fantastic environment. I was fresh and loving training full-time and I think this new stimulus was just what I needed. I was still thinking of myself as an 800m runner, but my training catered for 1500m as well and I just found I was running better over the longer distance.”

Brewer benefits from having world-class training partners, with Istanbul-bound 800m runner Andrew Osagie and 2010 European 1500m runner Colin McCourt also part of the group. Brewer also feels he benefits from having Winrow on site to observe training and pick up any warning signals.

He complements his training programme with twice weekly threshold runs at 2500m altitude on the treadmill in the lab at St Mary’s, closely monitored by physiologist Charlie Pedler, and he also works in the newly-built gym with strength and conditioning coach Nick Cooper. He says this base is perfect for training, with Bushy Park and Richmond Park ideal places to complete much of his running away from the track. However, his favourite training session this winter was one that he completed in Kenya.

He explains: “We did four sets of 3min, 2min, 1min running uphill to finish at the top of the Great Rift Valley. It was different from any other hills session I have ever done in that we weren’t jogging back down, so we didn’t have massive recoveries between efforts.”

It was really tough, but he adds with a smile: “The view at the top made it all worthwhile!”

Looking beyond this weekend, Brewer will take a few days off training to revitalise himself ahead of another good training block prior to the outdoor season. Having been labelled in 2009 as one of Britain’s brightest young endurance prospects, Brewer is keen to finally fulfil that potential and really mix it with the world’s elite. His first objective will be to attain the Olympic A standard and secure his selection by performing well in his early season races.

He hopes that when he stands on the start line in London in what would be his second outdoor senior global championships, rather than being just a talented youngster with potential, this time he will be an athlete to watch out for.

Training

Typical week in winter (indoor preparation)

» Monday
am: 30min threshold run in lab at 2500m altitude.
pm: Strength and conditioning in gym. Deadlift, clean, core and upper body circuit.

» Tuesday
am: Track session. Example: 5x400m (60sec rec), 5x300m (45sec rec), 3x200m fast (walk back rec).
pm: 30min light run.

» Wednesday
am: 60min run.
pm: Full body circuit, core and pre-hab for glutes.

» Thursday
am: 30min threshold run in lab at 2500m altitude.
pm: Track session. eg, 6x200s fast cruise in 29sec (30sec rec).

» Friday
am: Strength and conditioning in gym similar to Monday.
pm: 30min light run.

» Saturday
am: Grass session. Example: 2x5min (90sec rec), 3x3min (90sec rec), 4x2min (60sec rec), 4x1min (60sec rec).

» Sunday
am: 80-90min run.

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