Olympic 800m silver medallist and coach Trevor Painter talk about their training set-up in the run-up to Tokyo

Keely Hodgkinson trains out of “the great town of Wigan.” She says so with a smile – hinting at a little sarcasm – but she says it fondly, most likely influenced by her coach Trevor Painter.

“We usually train at Robin Park, but it’s been a bit hit and miss due to Covid-19 and we’ve had to use three or four different tracks, including Sport City [indoors] when I’m home in Manchester,” she says.

Hodgkinson is studying at Leeds Beckett University where in the absence of her coach she trains under the watchful eye of fellow northerner Helen Clitheroe, former European Indoor 3000m champion and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist (1500m).

“Helen keeps in contact with me, she asks what I’m looking for in a session, and she’ll help Keely carry that session out,” says Painter. “She knows our set-up and how it works, so it’s great that we’ve got her eyes and ears on the sessions and that Keely can tap into her wisdom and experience, as well as Jenny’s [Painter’s wife is 2009 World Championships bronze medallist Jenny Meadows] and mine. It strengthens the whole team.”

A typical training week

Based on winter training

“She’s probably only on around 70% of programme right now,” Painter told AW back in the winter. “I don’t want to risk her breaking down. It’s more about quality, while maintaining the cardiovascular work through swimming or the cross trainer without the same impact on the body.”

  • Monday: 60 minutes on the cross trainer then core circuit (outside of coronavirus lockdown this would usually be a swim session)
  • Tuesday: track session – anything from 600s, tempos or 300s, then 30 minutes on the cross trainer (pm)
  • Wednesday: 30 minutes steady run and gym
  • Thursday: tempo day – for example 3 x 8 minutes (am), 30 minutes on the cross trainer (pm)
  • Friday: rest day
  • Saturday: longer session such as ‘gears’ (like a progression run), running in different zones for different amounts of time
  • Sunday: 50-55-minute run or hill session

“It’s been a bit of a lonely winter,” says Hodgkinson said earlier this year. “I love training with the group in Wigan because we have so many characters and it’s so much fun, but there are limitations on how many people can access the track due to lockdown, so I’ve been doing a lot of sessions by myself, which is hard.”

Favourite session

“As much as I hate this session (I hate it, but I love it at the same time), it’s 3 x 500m. It’s an awful session, mental lactic, but it’s only three reps. It’s off five minutes and seven minutes. When I run them quite well I feel like I’m in good shape.”

Least favourite

“6 x 300s off seven minutes. It’s awful. I’ve thrown up during that session.”

“That’s a proper 400m session, though,” adds Painter. “It’s more of a 400m session than an 800m session so it’s out of her comfort zone. We’re obviously trying to make Keely really good at 800m, but we want to develop her 400m at the same time as that will give her more long-term potential.

“For an 800m runner to have seven minutes recovery they’re like ‘oh wow, that’s great’, but it hurts a lot because it allows you to run faster and harder.

“It’s having an effect. When she came into the group she probably was a 56s 400m runner, but I think if she raced now she’d run 53s low which is great progression already, and if you can run 53s then there’s a good chance you’ll break two minutes for 800m.

“Bringing that speed down is vital for us. If we can get Keely down to 52s for 400m, then in a major champs if they’re going through in 56s then it’s not uncomfortable for her and she’ll be a lot stronger on that second lap.”

Hodgkinson adds: “I learned a lot about myself in lockdown. Little things like how important it is to have a routine. I always think of myself as laid back and I think that’s how it comes across, but when it comes to training I need some sort of structure to get it done and stay motivated; it’s just things like that have changed.

“As an athlete you always want a bit more and although overall I did have a good year, there were maybe just times when I think I could have got more out of it.”

» This article first appeared in the March issue of AW magazine. To buy a copy, CLICK HERE