With Team KitBrix’s and Elite athlete, Conor Hancock.
“When you are operating at the elite level of competition, everything you do can make a difference, positively or negatively. Our job is to understand Conor and ensure we make every performance gain possible, no matter how big or small. All of the one percent gains add up.”
This is the welcome from Glen Thurgood, Director and Senior Athlete Coach at the Training Shed, Market Harborough.
Glen has been in the health and fitness industry for most of his professional life. His experience with athletes and nutrition, as well as his passion for sport, is why we have chosen the TRAINING SHED to take Conor’s training to the next level. Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is a demanding sport.
Glen’s passion for sport began as an athlete, whose dreams of Olympic achievement ended suddenly through injury. Returning to university to gain a masters degree in strength and conditioning, Glen was determined to remain within sport.
The experience and knowledge that Glen has gained over his career is second to none. His training career started at the infamous Third Space Gym in London, working alongside a then ‘skinny’ David Haye. He has worked under Sven-Goran Eriksson at Notts County FC, Neil Back MBE and England 'sevens' legend Ben Gollings at The Rugby Football Club, and even consulted for Real Madrid FC.
Speaking to Glen for just a few minutes, I am convinced we are with the right team. Having written nine books with over a million sales worldwide, you can see why Glen is respected in his sphere.
“I also educate on many facets of performance for industry-leading companies, such as DNAFit and SAQ international worldwide. I am a product of my experience and always learning.”
We meet at the TRAINING SHED gym, one of three based in the English Midlands, and the team are quick to remind me that the facility is for everyone and anyone, up to and including Olympic and professional athletes. Those new to exercise or referred by their doctor are also welcome. Market Harborough is the most centrally located town in England, and so an estimated three-hour drive from pretty much anywhere in the country.
“We are all made of the same stuff, so it is the level at which you wish to operate, compete or achieve that will decide how we programme you," Glen explains. "After all, the only thing anyone wants is results. We have three facilities currently under The Training Shed brand, and hope to expand our set-up soon.”
Many elite athletes find it hard to balance training to ensure continuous progression, especially through the competitive season. Understanding how Conor is made through his DNAFit results will also enable us to maximise his training.
One of the most important outcomes we wish to achieve is to design a truly personalised plan that maximises Conor's genetic capability. They will tailor his training stimulus, including load, intensity and recovery strategy. The analysis will take into account his propensity to soft tissue injury and, of course, consider of the most important factors for any high-performance athlete: a bespoke nutrition plan, including supplements.“When used correctly, supplements will enhance any athletic training plan," Glen says. "Unfortunately, sometimes they are misunderstood as 'instead ofs', as opposed to supplements."
"We should and must retain the large proportion of our nutrition from good food sources: eat clean, green and lean! Conor’s supplement strategy with AMSPORT will take into account both his genetic profile, training and competition needs. We will look at his macronutrient needs such as protein, carbohydrate and fats, and match our products to his training schedule and requirements."
Obstacle Course Races (OCR), Mud Runs and other high-intensity challenges can be extremely demanding, as they put stress on all the body’s three energy systems: aerobic, anaerobic lactic and anaerobic a-lactic (speed).
“They also place high demand on your body’s ability to exert force or power, as well as needing high levels of muscular endurance," Glen explains. "From a coach's point of view, you could say it tests everything, and that is a challenge."
There is a lot of information to take in, but the basics seem clear. The team are here to build Conor and to help him on his journey as an athlete in a developing sport. We are all agreed that our collective focus must be on getting the simple things right.
We learn from Glen that whatever your level of operation, it's impossible to address every issue at once. Give yourself time and work to a plan.
We wanted to get advice from Glen about how any athlete can improve and use some of this teaching;
“Olympic athletes work on four-year cycles for a reason, with annual competitive targets. You should look at where you are now - test yourself and get some proper expertise and guidance so that you can plan for true performance.
“If you are going to work with a coach, find one who is reputable and qualified! It’s what we are here for. Unfortunately, people follow generic plans that they get from the internet or that their mate has been following. We are all different, so first you need to understand you.
“A coach will be able to prescribe what is best for you and to ensure you are maximising your training time, whilst developing towards your goal. Training for something can be hard and so to have a support person with you to not only prescribe what is right for you but keep you in track is invaluable.”
Conor looks refreshed from the experience. We want Conor to be enthused, happy and the best athlete he can be, win or lose on race day. It is about us giving him all we can. The OCR Community is important and the camaraderie is something we want to instil in our team and elite athletes in all sports. For KitBrix, the mission is to support.
We are lucky to work with Glen, his team and future sponsors such as AMSPORT, and I hope that days like today help professionalise our offering, while also keeping the ‘fun’ in every event we do.