Physiologist and running coach Colin Thomas shares his experience of working with the New Zealand marathoner in Kenya as he trains for the Commonwealth Games
How they train – Daniel AwdeFebruary 12, 2014
Now concentrating on one event instead of ten, Dan Awde explains the changes
Since focusing his attention on a single event, Daniel Awde is enjoying his training more than ever.
Plagued by injuries in recent years, the 2008 Beijing Olympic decathlete is now channelling all of his energies into one lap of the track. Having run 46.04 for 400m while still training for nine other events, Awde is hopeful of big improvements this year, having moved to train with a high-quality group under the guidance of Chris Zah at Mile End.
The year has already started brightly, the 25-year-old having won bronze at the recent UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield in an indoor PB 46.90 which followed a 47.00 clocking in Vienna in January.
He explains: “I’ve had to move away from Lee Valley as my home training venue. Working with Chris has been brilliant since day one. He makes training fun, but when we start the session he is very professional.
“It’s a great mix and the right balance of training. The group is awesome and they make getting up early in the morning and getting down to the track something I look forward to. Everyone has their own strengths and we seem to bounce oﬀ each other.”
“I train hard so that competing is easier. I train to win”
Awde starts his training week with some short sprints on a Monday followed by some controlled running over 150m with the emphasis on technique. Tuesday involves some “tempo” running over 300m at about 60% eﬀ ort, as well as 4x80m “stick runs”, which is an activity devised by Zah to help athletes maintain stride length.
Awde clarifies: “Metre-long sticks are laid out quite a distance apart over 80m. You get a rolling 20m at the start and the idea is to run down and stay between the sticks, which is good training for maintaining a powerful stride length.”
Wednesday involves a series of weights and strength exercises and Thursday is a lactic-tolerance session indoors at Lee Valley. This session typically includes 2x200m in about 26 seconds off a short recovery and 2x300m in 46 seconds oﬀ a longer recovery, finishing with 2x200m as fast as possible in 23 or 24 seconds oﬀ one minute rest.
On Fridays, Zah puts his group through a unique circuit session, plus 2x300m “tempo” runs outdoors and Saturday is back out on the track again, usually doing something like 4x400m in 55 seconds with five minutes rest between.
The Woodford Green with Essex Ladies athlete is thoroughly enjoying all aspects of his training programme. He particularly likes the unusual technical sessions that are served up by Zah and says: “I like a session where we have to work hard to maintain stride length between the metre-long sticks. You can’t lose focus otherwise you fail instantly – you have to power on through!”
Although he has learned to secretly “love” it, Awde is less fond of the Friday morning conditioning sessions. “It is the combination of having to get up at 6.30am and doing exercises that make your body scream. Fortunately, I’m still in the honeymoon phase of training – it is still all very new to me and I’m having fun with it all,” he reveals.
When it comes to training Awde has a refreshing attitude. He says: “I realised early on that training is hard. It’s where you are meant to sweat, struggle, scream and swim in the lactic ocean! I train hard so that competing is easier. I train to win.”
Free from injuries, he is thoroughly enjoying being able to put his body through the paces on a daily basis. Reflecting on his switch to 400m, he adds: “My body has never felt so good! It’s nice to be able to put all of your focus and energy into one event.
“I have much more time to be able to do the little bits that should be part of a training programme to reduce the risk of injury such as mobility, flexibility and stability. The old niggles and pains I used to have now seem to have been flushed out. My knees have felt great since the operation, shoulders and hips move more freely, and my back isn’t made out of concrete anymore!”
The 8102-point decathlete-turned 400m speedster plans to go warm-weather training in March to Florida for some quality training sessions before he opens his outdoor campaign at his new distance.
He reveals: “After 16 months out, I am now able to satisfy my hunger with continuous training. I have the World Indoor, Commonwealth and European as targets, but at the moment I’m just keeping my head down and training as hard as I can. If this year proves successful then my continued focus might be on 400m. I might even give the 400m hurdles a go too!”
TYPICAL TRAINING WEEK
Warm-up usually consists of a four-lap jog followed by A skip and B skip drills (see YouTube for demonstrations) and 60m run-outs to get legs moving.
Monday: Warm-up. 4x20m sprints (treated more as a warm-up, 3-4 athletes on the line driving out), 4x30m sprints. 2x4x150m “technical” running. Focusing on running over the knee, working the arms from butt to shoulder and working off the ground – usually in 17.5-18sec
Tuesday: 4x80m stick runs (1 metre long sticks laid out a distance apart over 80m – rolling 20m at start and run down and stay between sticks – maintain a powerful stride length). 3x300m “tempo” runs at 60% effort
Wednesday: Weights. Face-offs (standing in front of someone to face-off for 1 minute); bicep curl; shoulder press; standing bench press 20kg bar; bench press 3×1 minute 40kg/50kg; weighted hamstring hold (lying on bench with just upper body, putting a weight plate on your calves and holding your legs out straight) 3×1 minute; forward lunges, side lunges, diagonal lunges 3×8 each leg 40kg bar; overhead squat 3×8 40/50kg. 2x80m stride-offs. Step-ups 3×8 each leg (quick) 50/60kg. 2x80m stride-offs. Hurdle mobility drills
Thursday: Lee Valley indoor track: 2x200m in 26sec with 1min rest. 10min rest. 2x300m in 46sec with 6min rest. 10min rest. 2x200m as quick as possible (23-24sec) with 1min rest
Friday: Conditioning at Mile End. Circuit of different exercises and times: plank – 1min hold, 30sec with left leg up, 30sec with right leg up; belly down chest raises – 1min; dish hold (on back with legs and shoulders a few inches oﬀ the ground) – 90 seconds; belly down chest raises – 1min; slow scissors (same as dish hold but legs alternate up and down) – 1min; belly down chest raises – 1min; dish hold – 1min; slow scissors – 1min; sit-up and twist – 1 min; sumo squat hold – 1min. 2min rest and water break. Straight arm plank – 1min; leg swings (lie on back with one knee bent and the other swinging up and down) – 30sec each leg; treadmills (straight arm plank position but bring knees to chest and back alternatively) – 1min; squat thrusts – 1min; glute swings (on all fours, pick one leg up and swing it behind you and up to your shoulder) – 1min at hand height, elbow height and shoulder height; spiderman hold (on all fours, bring one knee up to your shoulder and hold) – 30sec each leg; treadmills – 1min; squat thrusts – 1min; crunch and hold (3 levels of holding crunch, coach instructs to move up or down) – random times. Outside 2x300m “tempo” runs
Saturday: Sessions vary but mainly consist of lactic sessions. 4x400m with 5min recovery aiming for 55sec
Sunday: Rest day
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes