The NI & Ulster Endurance Squad came together for their third squad of the season on Sunday 25th February 2018 at Antrim Forum.

The day was attended by twenty – three athletes and many of their coaches and parents. Sessions were delivered by Michael Dyer, Bashir Hussain, Mark Kirk, Teresa McDaid, Jackie Newton and Allister Woods. Guest speaker for the day was Sports Physiologist and 2014 Commonwealth Games athlete Danny Mooney who delivered a workshop on physiology and training.

Jackie Newton, Director of Coaching and Athlete Development for Athletics Northern Ireland, welcomed the attendees and explained the aims and purposes of the camp. Jackie led a brief review the objectives from Squad 1 and 2, which include preparing for the training year with particular emphasis on planning, strengthening and improving running technique as well as looking at the principles of training, recovery and adaptation and developing an understanding how the energy systems work and how to train them.

Following this review, athletes engaged in a discussion around the various methods that athletes can use to monitor their training as well as performance and preparations for race day. Bashir Hussain and Danny Mooney facilitated a discussion on the effects dehydration plays on performance and how monitoring hydration levels is vital to ensuring optimum performance.  Athletes highlighted that dehydration led to decreased reaction times, coordination and levels of concentration.  Consequently it was also noted that dehydration affected sports performance as there was an increase in rate of perceived exertion, fatigue levels and muscle cramps.

During the group discussion athletes in attendance were introduced to the Osmocheck Urine Guide and given the opportunity to provide a urine sample to be analysed to determine their levels of hydration prior to engaging in their track session.

“The Osmocheck is a portable easy to use personal Osmometer to give an instant measure of dehydration – only a drop of urine is required for an instant reading”.  (—more)

It was highlighted by Danny during the discussion that “doing strenuous exercise whilst being dehydrated is not conducive to peak performance and can be dangerous. A reading of >600mOsmols identifies the start of de-hydration and a reading of over 800-1000mOsmols is consistent with de-hydration”.

Once samples had been provided these were tested by Danny and Allister using the Osmocheck to assess their dehydration levels. Athletes were reminded that optimum levels of hydration are between 300mOsmols and 600mOsmols.  Some of the data taken from athletes showed that the majority of athlete’s hydration levels we registered between 300mOsmols and 800mOsmols.  Two athletes who registered >850mOsmols were advised to take more fluids on board to ensure that they didn’t go into the main session dehydrated.

Using the rehydration protocols as part of the Osmocheck Urine Guide these athletes were advised to continue with their normal hydration but to take on an additional 1000ml of fluid.  It is important to note that depending on the levels of dehydration athletes can follow rehydration protocols using dioraylite which aids the replacement of electrolytes that have been lost through dehydration.  At the other end of the scale there were three athletes who registered on the scale (<100mosmols) as being overhydrated were advised to replace the minerals and salts that they had lost as a result of the over hydration.  It was important that they replaced these salts prior to the session beginning so that they didn’t start the session already in a state of electrolyte depletion.

After reviewing the theory of energy systems and how they relate to the intensity of their training sessions, the athletes went out to complete their session geared towards their preferred event.  Athletes took responsibility for leading each other through a dynamic warm up using drills learnt at previous squads.

Warm Up

A) 5 min run

B) Dynamic Warm Up

(including squats/lunges/hinges/skips)

C) Drills

Heel toe walk with upright posture

A march with dowel across shoulders

A march with arm action

A Skip

Over ankle dribble with dowel

Over calf dribble with dowel

Over ankle dribble 10m

Over calf dribble 10m

Over knee dribble 15m

Blended dribbles 10m-10m-10m

Blended dribble into 40m stride zone

Wicket runs over cones (20m)

D) 4x80m stride

E) Following their dynamic warm up athletes moved on to a basic introduction to co-ordination and mobility which saw them complete a series of simple and complex drills which can be viewed here: Hurdle Drills Video

 Middle Distance Session

The main track session was led by Teresa McDaid, Michael Dyer, Allister Woods and Jackie Newton. Athletes had the choice to take part in the following middle distance session:

5minute tempo, [4 recovery], 2x5x30second efforts [1min between reps’, 5mins between sets’] the first set @1500m pace and the second set @ 800m.


After lunch the group worked through some scenarios regarding the different types of tactics strategies that they may need to employ in a variety of different races. Athletes were responsible for working in small groups to devise a series of solutions to the different problems they had been set.

Example Scenario – A 5000m race with a front runner who starts fast and usually wins from the front. You know that they look back quite often. And that they have a slower 800m time that you.  Your 3k times are the same, but they are usually better over long XC courses.

Athletes Solution – As the athlete is a front runner who usually starts fast and wins from the front, the group suggested that they would get out ahead of their opponent and position themselves at the front to try and control the rhythm and dictate the pace of the race to bring opposition out of their comfort zone. Another group suggested employing the tactics of mid race surges to again break up opponent rhythm and to try and run the finish out of them.

Athletics NI would like to thank:

NI Commonwealth Games Athlete, Physiologist


  • Danny Mooney

Guest coaches

  • Teresa McDaid
  • Mark Kirk
  • Bashir Hussain

Athletics NI staff

  • Michael Dyer – Athletics NI Every Body Active Coach
  • Jackie Newton – Director of Coaching and Athlete Development
  • Allister Woods – Athletics NI Running Participation Officer

Antrim Forum for providing us with facilities and Café Cuisine for fuelling our athletes with healthy lunches.

Athletics NI look forward to keeping in touch with athletes, coaches and parents throughout the summer with event specific sessions and supporting athletes as they compete on the domestic/international stage.