IT has been a challenging time for the young athletes of Allerton Juniors Athletics Club over recent months especially since they are a very social group.

However, in recent weeks we have been very fortunate as a club to have some famous athletes join their Sunday virtual training sessions to help provide inspiration and motivation for when the situation allows for physical training.

Firstly, the youngsters were joined by legendary British Athlete Liz McColgan-Nuttall. Liz was the 10,000m World Champion in 1991, Olympic Silver Medallist in 1988, two-time Commonwealth Gold Medallist, World Half Marathon Champion in 1992 and winner of London, New York and Tokyo Marathons, as well as the winner of Sports Personality of the Year in 1991.

Liz joined in from Doha, Qatar and many topics were covered including pre-race nutrition, different training routines, how to build endurance, how to prevent injuries and what to do when setbacks occur.

Following on from that session, on Sunday, June 14, AJAC were delighted to be joined virtually by reigning English National Cross Country Champion, Calum Johnson from Gateshead Harriers.

Calum is perhaps better known as a fantastic triathlete competing regularly in International Triathlon events, but he does love the Cross Country discipline, and was victorious in absolutely atrocious conditions on February 22 at Nottingham, winning with a time of 43:36, 23 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. During this one-hour Q&A zoom session, many topics were covered including how many miles on average Calum runs a week (50-70 depending on time of year), what is his favourite triathlon course (Leeds), and how to build resilience from injuries.

However, perhaps the most important advice that Calum gave, was to always have fun no matter the outcome, not to compare yourself to others at an early age because everyone grows and develops at different rates and to persevere – every run is an opportunity to learn more, especially by listening to what your body is telling you. Again the young AJAC athletes were captivated for the full hour and will be incredibly eager to put the great advice to good use when training restarts in small socially distanced groups of five.