The Welsh athlete reveals her session secrets
Having been thrust into the limelight after gaining Great Britain vests on the road and cross country in 2012, Caryl Jones credits her breakthrough to hard and consistent training.
One of the highlights for the 25- year-old was a 71:18 clocking at the Great North Run, which earned her selection for the World Half-marathon Championships in Bulgaria where she placed a creditable 10th on her debut in a GB vest.
After finishing runner-up in the Bupa London 10km, Jones won the Brighton and Cardiﬀ equivalents, the latter in a PB of 32:28. The hardworking athlete has had no problem in converting her good form into success on the country, finishing second senior in the European Cross trial race at Liverpool in late November and going on to place an excellent 15th at the championship event in Budapest two weeks later.
In addition to holding a full- time job as an accountant, Jones helps out on the family farm. This involves rising soon after 5am to help her parents milk the cows. After work, there is more to do on the farm before she can do her evening session, eat and go to bed.
If this doesn’t sound gruelling enough, it should be noted that because she lives in a remote area she has to wear a head torch on her evening runs to see where she is going. She admits: “This can be difficult, as all of my runs are done at a good pace.”
Due largely to the physical demands of the farm work, she does no conditioning or gym work.
Jones credits a change in coach to George Edwards just over 12 months ago for her rapid improvement. She had previously suffered from a lot of injuries, so Edwards set about putting a training programme in place that enabled her to get fitter without running herself into the ground. This training regime involves lots of longer reps which are carefully progressed with a good balance of effort.
Jones does all of her training on her own except on a Saturday, when she makes the 120-mile round trip to Swansea to train with Edwards’ group.
Almost all of Jones’ training runs are hilly and she believes this makes her stronger when she comes to race on the flat. She typically covers around 5-6 miles on her morning run, although admits: “My coach makes me leave my watch at home, as I get so competitive, even with myself!”
Edwards advocates balance in the training programme. Each Tuesday involves a track session at Carmarthen, Thursday consists of long reps totalling approximately 10 miles and Saturday is a varied interval session on parkland or paths.
Jones’ motto is that ‘what you put in is what you will get out’, so the key to her success is definitely hard work. Edwards reiterates: “It did not take me long to realise that she could cope with immense training loads. The only danger was asking her to do too much.
“She takes Monday and Friday fairly easily, but the other days are all quite hard and she rarely runs slowly. She is not obsessed by miles per week, but rarely drops below 80, except in a big race week.”
Long run up to around two hours on hilly courses from home
Usually 30min run – morning or evening
am: 30min run
pm: Track session – example: 6x1500m or blocks of 400m reps run at varied speeds with differing recoveries
am: 30min run
pm: Usually a hilly 10-mile run
am: 30min run
pm: Road session – 10 miles with efforts of varying length at different speeds
Usually the same as Monday – 30min run in the morning or evening
Different every week, but usually involves measured reps with group on paths in country park. A mixture of efforts over 1km, 1200m and 2km, often with 400m reps added
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes