Birthday Wishes??

15/03/2021 11:33:33

Shane Smith

As an important yearly milestone passes, my birthday, it’s not my birthday that I’m concerned about but what happened exactly 1 year ago on my birthday when possibly the last large scale sporting event (English Schools Cross Country Championships at Sefton Park in Liverpool) took place just days before the first National Lockdown was imposed which was to change so many aspects of our lives over the following 15 months.

As we pass the anniversary of this event we head into a far more positive phase of this pandemic, we see positive cases/ hospitalisations/ deaths all dropping rapidly, and vaccinations seeming ramping up just as rapidly providing protection for the most at risk categories. There has also been a firm timeline or roadmap produced with very cautious but firm dates announced for various aspects of unlocking the third, and for most by far the worst, lockdown so far.  

As I write the first of the milestones has passed, with most children returning to school. This is of course for me the most important step, and for most of the athletes I coach they are looking forward to returning, although many naturally have some reservations after having now fallen into a routine of home schooling, mainly with on-line lessons and clearly with limited social contacts with their friends.

The next and one close to my heart is return to organised outdoor sporting activities from 29th March, for adults & children, which for me means a return for the middle distance squad to their normal 7-8:30 slot for training. Of course social distancing and smaller group sizes will remain for a while, but it’s come just at the right time for the athletes to start preparing for track competition.

Most of the squad have worked very hard, replicating a full XC season with a hard block of endurance work, always made harder by the cold weather/ dark nights, but I have to say with both the athletes I see with 1:1 coaching sessions and others I message or track with their Garmin updates they have been working brilliantly and will certainly be ready for track.

Positivity is enhanced with firm plans for races/ open meetings, and for many the main target for the year a proposed English Schools track competition held over three days in July. Athletes need a good target so with this and other championships pencilled in, a return to a more typical ramp up to track speed sessions & races looks likely during April/ May.

So if I could ask for a Birthday wish what would it be? Well it’s pretty well covered by the above, I just want things to get back to normal and for the younger athletes in particular to get back into a normal school/ socialising/ training environment, this pandemic has weighed heavy on all of us but my concerns are with the next generations. It’s critical to get the Middle Distance group back together again, working hard and working towards some challenging goals/ targets so my 59th birthday wishes largely ticked off!

If I was being greedy what else would be on my birthday wish list, more specifically related to KTH?

Well we have some work to do to get the Harriers club back up and running, I can’t wait for parents to be allowed back on track watching their children and becoming more involved in the club and its activities. It would also be great to get back to the buzz everyone felt on a training night, a full clubhouse with all the various squads/ sections inter mingled and chatting, this is what the club is really about.

I also want to see a full return of the KTH open/ Floodlit open meetings & league competitions, I’ve really missed this over the past year.

Finally I just want every athlete to get back to their normal pre-covid training routine, yes including socialisation, what I’ve missed most is this aspect of training the conversations/ chat/ banter this is such a large part of what makes a successful squad/ club.  

Let’s hope the positivity continues and even accelerates, and the hugely impressive vaccine roll-out continues protect everyone who needs it,

Back To Track on 29th… Bring it on, and let’s see what these guys can do this season??   

Shane Smith - Head Endurance Coach  (All the views expressed are my own)

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