Sunday, 5th February 2023
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A Box Hill chill out

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Sunday 17th December 2017
It’s becoming an annual tradition that Robbie Britton and Natalie White put on a coached hill session on Box Hill. We went along to it this year and had a fantastic morning with lots of really lovely runners. 
Robbie and Natalie are both highly regarded elite runners with great coaching credentials, but they put on this session for free and it’s open to anybody. All they ask is that the people who come along consider giving a donation to Wings for Life, a spinal cord research foundation. Their mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury and they fund world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe aimed at healing the injured spinal cord.
We gathered in a very icy car park, at the foot of a frosty and sunny Box Hill, and Robbie explained the session to us. This wasn’t going to be an eyeballs out hill session, where only the fittest were left standing. The idea was that Robbie and Nats were going to give us a flavour of several different types of hill session, from which you could pick perhaps one per week to incorporate into your training. 

Box Hill 1

As well as the practical stuff, Robbie and Nats were also going to tell us about the theory behind the sessions. When and why you should do continuous hills, what pace you should do them at to make them effective for you, and how they will benefit your fitness. Importantly they also showed us some hill drills, to help us warm up for any hill session, getting all the right muscles firing. How many of us actually do those eh? 
Robbie and Nats provided one-to-one guidance throughout and other great runners such as Ry Webb and Paul Radford were also there to chat to about training and races. Andy Nuttall from Ultra Magazine was there to chat to about his great magazine and friend of Run247 Gary Dalton came along to add his support as well. All in all it was a really valuable coached session, lasting a couple of hours, where everybody seemed to pick up some good ideas to incorporate into their training. A few people I spoke to also felt that it made them consider how a coach could benefit their running. 

Box Hill 2

I spoke to a couple of runners after the session and this is what they had to say about it:
Eileen Naughton said: “While the rest of the country were hitting the shops for last-minute Christmas shopping there was no better way to spend the cold, frosty morning than with the hottest ultra runner Robbie Britton, champion fell runner Natalie White and lots of other top ultra runners. We were all wrapped up ahead of what was to be my toughest pre-Christmas dinner workout ever.
A week’s worth of hill training was squeezed into the most enjoyable few hours on Box Hill. Robbie and Natalie weaved through everyone, and no matter what ability people were, useful training tips were shared. I found the hills really tough but breaking down the distance and knowing that even top ultra runners walk when hills get too hard was great to hear!
Icy ground underfoot made the walk back to the car even harder but knowing I’ll be powering up the hills in races planned is a positive thought!”
Clare Jamieson said: “It was the ultimate hill session in a morning - tempo, sprints and strides with an easy run either side. It was a session to embrace hill running. I wasn’t that keen on hills before but felt very pleased with what I achieved... and I got a Strava PR going up the Box Hill steps!  Robbie and Natalie were very motivating, knowledgable and full of useful tips, they spent time with all runners and didn’t mind if you were a bit slow (me). Everything is a bit sore today - but in a good way - but not sure why my arms are!”.
It was a great way to kick off Christmas, spending a morning with lots of lovely runners. Huge thank you to Robbie and Natalie for giving up their time. See you there next year? 
If you’re interested in finding out more about Robbie and Natalie’s coaching, or about the training camp they run in Chamonix every summer, here are some useful links: 

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