Our new series continues with a look at what’s going on down at a club training evening or a weekend morning nationwide

Birmingham University AC has had a long and successful tradition of distance running dating back to the late 1960s when athletes like Andy Holden, Roger Hackney, Ray Smedley and Mike Kearns, as well as many other illustrious names, paved the way forward.

Head coach Bud Baldaro has been involved since 1998 and a great team spirit has been built since then.

More recently some of the star runners have included Frank Tickner, Luke Gunn, James Wilkinson, Hannah England, Non Stanford and Alison Leonard. Currently top youngsters such as Jonny Hay, Jonny Davies and Will Gray continue the great tradition.


The training at Birmingham University involves trying to work hard as a group when possible with a great emphasis on athletes supporting each other. Athletes who wish to follow personal coaches’ programmes often warm up with the group and are then encouraged throughout their sessions.

The support set-up via Sally Straw and Matt Long is good and very recently John and Bev Hartigan (former Commonwealth 1500m bronze medallist) and Luke Gunn has been appointed as director of athletics.

Head coach Bud Baldaro outlines a typical training week

» Sunday 9.30am: A large group run for 60-90mins depending on health, experience and stage of fitness.

» Monday Drills followed by 5-8 miles of light tempo running or just a steady run.

» Tuesday A grass session for those who can make it – 5-8km of volume for the girls and 6-10km for the lads. We are favoured with having numerous parks near to the campus as well as a great network of canals. Typical sessions are: 2x1km/90sec, 1x2km, 5x400m, 2x1km working off short recoveries and increasing volume as we go through the winter. There are quite often 40-50 in the pack, so everyone has a training group to work with. For those who cannot make the grass session, there is a second session at 6.15pm using the university ring road.

» Wednesday A large pack does a steady-state medium long run. The run is followed by a large group doing circuit training.

» Thursday The same time options as Tuesday. Tempo blocks such as: 3x8min or 5, 10, 5min. On a regular basis we will mix tempo with hill reps or tempo and minute efforts, including 10min tempo, 8x30sec hill reps, 5min tempo, 8x30sec hill reps, 10min tempo.

» Friday Rest or easy run.

» Saturday BHS – a ‘bloody hard session’! Includes long reps, high volume, and over demanding terrain. Example: 5x5min over undulating loop followed by 5x1min or 8x30sec.

The emphasis at all times is on supporting one another and as individuals listening to their bodies.

» Want to see your club featured? Contact AW coaching editor David Lowes ([email protected]) with some history and details of a typical winter session and we’ll take care of the rest!