George Gandy is an accomplished athletics coach. His most famous student was Lord Seb Coe, who he helped to win two Olympic gold medals and break 12 World records. He also trained European 5000m champion Jack Buckner and Jon Brown (UK Male Athlete of the Year for 2004), who came 4th in the Marathon at two consecutive Olympic Games (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004).
“When I arrived at Loughborough in the late 1970s some of the conditioning work this guy gave me provided the basis for much of what I achieved. It was revolutionary stuff.” Lord Seb Coe, IAAF Vice President.
In July 2012, during the build up to the London 2012 Games, Seb Coe spoke again about the impact that George Gandy had on his athletic performance:
“George Gandy taught me that running on its own was not enough to graduate into the ranks of an Olympian. Supreme core strength and physical conditioning went hand in hand.” ~ Seb Coe Talks Canoeing
His most recent protegé is Lisa Dobriskey (see more below), who won silver in the 2009 World Athletic Championships in Berlin. George Gandy has been helping runners reach the top for 4 decades now.
George Gandy, Director of Athletics at the Sports Development Centre at Loughborough University. He was inducted in to the UK Coaching Hall of Fame in 2003 by HRH The Princess Royal, and in this year he was awarded the British Milers Club Coach of the Year Award, 2008. He also received an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University for outstanding services to their athletics program over the last 4 decades. He spoke to the Loughborough Echo about the state of youngsters today, and how so few are realizing their athletic potential:
“People are not playing as much sport as they used to be. It used to be that 95 per cent of kids would leave school having taken some part in athletics be it area sports or other competitions. Now for a guess I bet that figure is about 20 per cent. I am not sure who is at fault, whether it’s the government or the organizing bodies for not encouraging kids to take up sports, but youngsters just don’t use their legs anymore. They’re getting a car everywhere and not going out and playing like I used to when I was growing up in the north east. If things keep going like this eventually we will evolve without legs because we don’t use them and as a result a smaller percentage are growing up as natural athletes. We used to churn out a top middle-distance runner every 10 years or so but in the future it may only be every 25 years.” George Gandy, Loughborough University, 2008.
George Gandy’s Tips for Getting Fit with Running
George Gandy published these fitness tips in The Guardian earlier this year:
- Running Tip 1: Go longer – Lengthen one of your weekly runs by five to 10 minutes. Keep the pace slow and easy. The only objective of this run is to make it longer.
- Running Tip 2: Go faster – Take another of your runs and aim to run some of it at a faster pace. For example, run comfortably out to a particular point, and then run back harder. Or divide the run into three segments, running the first part easy, the second part brisk and the final part at a pace somewhere in between.
- Running Tip 3: Get the balance right – If you’re running three times a week, keep your final session as an easy run. If you’re running five times a week or more, include an additional harder session. But no matter how frequently you run, two to three harder sessions (including the long run) is plenty. Any additional runs you do beyond that should be easy.
- Running Tip 4: Mix it up – You ideally want a mix in the nature of the surfaces you run on. If you’re running four to five times per week, one or two sessions on roads is plenty.
- Running Tip 5: Stay in good condition – A worthwhile addition to your routine is some kind of conditioning exercise. Core stability training, yoga and Pilates all help with body awareness, posture and core strength, which you need to be able to maintain without thinking about when you’re running.
- Running Tip 6: Listen to your body – I get my athletes to mark themselves out of 10 on how they are feeling on a Monday morning. Are they physically/mentally in a position to benefit from the training that is ahead? If not, the plan needs to be modified and we need to look back over what they’ve done previously to see what might be causing the problem. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your training and how your body is responding to it. You need to learn to back off where necessary.
This is good solid advice from an expert coach. If you want to get fit, and run better, then follow these rules. Maybe one day you could represent your country!