Posted: 5 December, 2013

The Secret Behind our National Cross Country Success

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For the second year running, Putney are national Cross Country Champions. Two of our athletes – both trained by Phil Kissi – stormed to victory. Katy- Anne McDonald won the Intermediate Race, leading her team to a hard fought national title while Alex Brown won the Junior race for the second year, taking a delighted Junior team into 3rd place.

Winning the Junior cross country title in 2012 inspired the team and four runners joined Herne Hill Harriers for the summer season where they consolidated their winter successes. Winter training began with the intermediate team settling quickly into a training programme planned and directed by our new coach Phil Kissi. Maddie Shaw, Hannah Jusu -Sheriff and Tatiana Cook moved up to Intermediate level and were joined by Dora Marshall, Katy- Ann MacDonald and Kate Brown (Capt). The junior team retained Alex Brown and Yasmin Howe and novice runners Amelia Casey, Jennifer Silva, Ophelia O’Flynn and Georgia Groves were gradually eased into the programme.

School training sessions on  Wimbledon Common were held on Sunday mornings and Wednesday and Friday lunchtimes, but as usual busy girls were juggling commitments at school and club level; running, netball, lacrosse, hockey, ballet, swimming, plus a variety of musical instruments and choir practices. The two-week half term was therefore designed to be flexible to enable the girls to enjoy and develop their training. Ten sessions were organised, all beginning with a 3k warm up and then alternated with either a hill session or a speed session. Runners aimed to join at least five sessions.

Chichester, SE Regional Final must have been the wettest day of the term. The Intermediate team qualified in first place, the still novice juniors scraped through in 3rd place (we forgot to tell them that if your number washes away in a torrent you don’t need to go back and find it!)

National Final training stepped up, emails flew and teachers, parents and coaches continued working together to enable the girls to calmly complete training. School sessions still maintained the 3k or 5k warm up runs with a greater emphasis on developing strong controlled running plus changes of pace and speed on flatter courses. In the final week team tactics involving starts, finishes and passing plus more rest days were added in preparation for race day.

Brilliant organisation from Southend High and the ESAA Cross Country Cup team.

By Maureen Hayes, Putney High School Cross Country

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