The bear was fascinated to meet Ronan Kearney for an inspirational chat about running. It turned out to be so much more, as he learned about training strategies and the success of young athletes coming through the ranks of UK athletics. 

Ronan is heavily involved in north west athletics from Wirral Athletics Club WAC & Merseyside Schools to the Manchester Area Cross Country League (MACCL), in the capacity of coach, official, adjudicator, organiser and runner. 

Both he and his wife Sarah, have always been high achieving runners. They’re long term members of WAC (the Club is now 110 years old!), and love being part of a traditional volunteer led club.

They had a pause to start a family of six (!) and as the children started to grow up and showed an aptitude for running, their passion and dedication was reignited. They’ve always competed, adapting to different events at different periods in their lives. After having children, Ronan was 800m UK indoor champion (V40) and Sarah is a current International Cross Country Athlete for Wales. 

Since having a family, both Ronan and Sarah have been developing their knowledge as coaches and the children have been developed as runners through WAC.  In addition to being senior England Athletic Coaches, they are the only Level II Lydiard Coaches in the North West, and it is the training philosophies of Arthur Lydiard that have driven such tremendous success since they took over the WAC young endurance program 3 years ago.

Over recent years, they’ve been developing an endurance squad of around 50 youngsters (under 13, 15 and 17), competing on the track, (3 National titles), the road (National 5k silver medallists), and Cross Country (Northern Relay Champions), as well as leagues such as the Manchester League, where in the last match they had 3 wins and 2 second places in the 6 races contested.

Their philosophy is to coach as a team. There are 6 coaches in the young endurance team at WAC, led by Sarah. The youngsters are in groups according to their ability, rather than age or gender. Over the years they’ve paid close attention to those innovations that have led to success for other coaches in the UK and especially the USA, for example they have a Sprint Coach in the squad even though they’re training for endurance events.  

In future weeks we will learn more about the training and strategies that lie behind one of the strongest emerging endurance squads in the Country, with ambitions to challenge the likes of AFD and Leeds City.

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