Some 60 participants from 12 European countries gathered in Pajulahti, Finland for the Pajulahti Endurance Conference from 24-26 November which is part of the European Athletics Coaching Summit Series.
The conference consisted of ten lectures, three practical demonstrations and an expert panel discussion. One of the leading names at the conference was renowned Italian middle distance coach Gianni Ghidini, coach to 2008 Olympic 800m champion Wilfred Bungei from Kenya and 2015 world 800m bronze medallist Amel Tuka from Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Ghidini coached Bungei and Tuka to lifetime bests of 1:42.34 and 1:42.51 respectively and his keynote speech focused on the different training methods he employed in the build-up to their lifetime best performances.
The conference also included a lecture from Johan Wettergren, the head coach of Swedish distance running. Wettergren presented there is no model for Swedish distance running, emphasising the important role of athletics clubs work in Sweden. He also outlined the key points of the training programme which Lovisa Lindh followed in the build-up to her Swedish 800m record of 1:58.77: a focus on endurance combined with strength-training and race pace-running as well as the importance of training in a group environment.
There was also a strong focus on race walking at the conference. British coach Andi Drake traced the improving standards of British race walking, emphasising the importance of altitude training - and training with the wider British endurance team - while Finnish race walker Aleksi Ojala and coach Jani Lehtinen explained how they cooperated with the Research Institute for Olympic Sports KIHU in the build-up to the World Championships in London.
There were also practical sessions during the three day conference with Ghidini - and his runner Emilio Perco - Wettergren, Ojala and Lehtinen showing participants a range of technical exercises, including technical training, circuits, different interval sessions, core, balance and strength exercises.
The feedback from the participants was decidedly positive and the conference organisers are planning to stage the next coaching conference in 2018.