The World Youth 400m champion told AW about her rise to prominence and the training that got her there

Sabrina Bakare began her rise up the athletics ladder by competing for her primary school when she was in year three and continued to do so through to year eight.

She says: “I then started to attend the athletics ‘Gifted and Talented’ programme run by Active Luton after school when, along with other athletes, we were taken to the track to train with coaches. This is where I was introduced to my coach, Jane Dixon. Back then I joined Luton AC with the help from my school, Barnfield West Academy, to train with Jane.”

It wasn’t all running as a youngster and the 17-year-old Bakare points out: “I loved the high jump and was very much inspired by Blanka Vlasic – it was definitely my favourite event!”

In 2010 she competed in the 60m at the Southern Counties indoors at Lee Valley. Bakare recalls: “My coach couldn’t make it and it was the first time that I warmed up on my own. Jane and assistant coach Craig Andrew would usually assist me in my drills and take me to the call-up area. However, that time I did it all on my own and ended up taking the title. From that day I realised I may not be too bad at this athletics thing!”

When she first started in the sport, training was limited to just one club visit a week before eventually progressing to workouts on a Thursday and Saturday. By 2011 it was up to three sessions a week and a year later it was increased again to four. She says: “If I needed extra revision time for my ‘A’ levels, it would be the Monday session I would drop and usually do a session with my mum around the park closer or a core session at home. It’s now been up to five sessions a week since the start of winter training.”

The talented youngster continues: “Training has stepped up a great deal since I was 12 years old – not only because I’ve gained adaptations and become stronger, but also because my event has changed over the years. I started off as a high jumper, moving to 200m and then 300m before ending up at the 400m. I now have a strength and conditioning programme working with Optimum Elite. The intensity of the workload has increased over the years as well as the volume, but I suppose I can tolerate it as I’ve got older and more developed.”

Her training programme is left to the discretion of her coach, who knows what she needs to work on at a given time. However, a rough outline includes: Monday – speed endurance, longer runs, some 600m or 500m and also some 400m efforts; Tuesday – emphasis more on circuits in winter or speed and plyometrics in the summer; Wednesday – strength and conditioning session (gym), currently lifts include squats, stiff-leg dead lift and jump shrugs; Thursday – a mixture, these sessions can include 120m, 150m,180m, 250m plus hurdle drills; Saturday – in the winter a three-week rotation of hills, park runs and the track with longer sprints.

Bakare adds: “I do like the hill and park runs because we run round and do circuits and go on adventures around Luton, which is fun. It mixes training up.”

Bakare, who also won the 400m at the World School Championships in Sokolov last year, values the importance of being coached. She says: “Self-coaching can get you only so far. You need a coach to analyse your performance in training, identify your strengths and weaknesses and also help to motivate you. My relationship with Jane is great. I trust her completely and we work really well together. She has been my coach for nearly five years now and it’s so important that you get on with your coach because you are practically with them every day.”

Her short-term goals are clear: “To gain selection for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene and to run faster than I did last year.” As for long-term she says: “To stay healthy and remain injury-free and gain selection for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”


Monday (Track): 500m sprint, walk 400m recovery x2 reps. 400m sprint, walk 150m recovery. 50m sprint, walk back 100m, 100m sprint.

Tuesday (Track): Forward over the hurdles x3 reps each leg; bent legs on one side and straight legs over the other side x3 reps; double-footed jumps over 6 hurdles; jog to sandpit and then double-footed jumps over lower hurdles x4; sprint up stairs x2 sets (on 2nd set bunny hops through the sand) diagonal x1 rep. Repeat the set of everything x2 reps of all the hurdle drills. Repeat the set of everything x1 rep of all the hurdle drills. (Grass): left leg hop and hold x10 reps, right leg hop and hold x10reps. Stride the horizontal of the football pitch; bound x8 reps on each leg and hold; side hops and hop x10 reps each side; stride the horizontal of the football pitch; ski hop exercise x8 reps each side and hold. Sprint over small hurdles x100m (using last hurdle to drive-off) x5 reps.

Wednesday (Gym): Barbell shrug x4 reps; supplementary drop jumps x4 reps x4 sets (1st set: 50kg, 2nd set: 60kg, 3rd set: 60kg, 4th set: 60kg). Back squats and stiff leg deadlift x5 reps x4sets (1st set: 75kg, 2nd set: 75kg, 3rd set: 80kg, 4th set: 80kg (same weight for both lifts). Dumbbell Bulgarian lunge split squat: 10kg x6 reps each leg with kneeling wood chop 9kg resistance x6 reps each way x 3 sets).

Thursday (Track): Sprint 350m – 54sec – a few min walk 100m rec and back; sprint 350m – 53sec – a few min walk 100m rec and back; sprint 350m – 53sec. Hurdle drills: straight over 6 hurdles x2 sets (right leg lead, then left leg lead) facing the infield over the side x2 reps, facing the opposite way x2 reps, swing- overs x2 reps. Backwards stride x50m.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday (Park): Sprint to coach, around 100m, jog rec then sprint to furthest tree (approx 80m) and jog back to the next and work my way up x8 reps (slight uphill sprints). Jog rec. Hill sprints from the bottom to the top x5 reps. Push-ups x25 reps, tricep dips x25 reps. Jog rec then full squats x25 reps, Sprint then forward lunges uphill to tree, jog back down, backward lunges uphill to tree x2sets. Sprint from tree. Jog rec. Bench challenge: push-ups x10 reps, 1rep and tricep dips 10 reps on each bench. Football post challenge: jog to each post then sprint to base x7 reps.

Sunday: Rest day.

» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes. Most of the drills and exercises can be found on YouTube.

» Sabrina Bakare is supported by British Athletics’ Futures Programme for 2013-4, which provides targeted support for young athletes and their coaches. Contact Jo Jennings [email protected]