I hinted last week that things were getting back to the way they were. Seems I was right. This is what happens when Toni answers the phone,

“Bonjour fella, call that an abs exercise? I can’t let that lie. Is that meant to be an abs exercise? Paul does it does he? How old is Paul? Yeah. A lot older than you. Sorry, where were we?”

“Saying hello?”

“Oh yeah. It’s just that when I see something like that I have to say something”, once again Toni pulls a handbrake turn mid conversation, “Alicia, do that again. It’s Giles. I want to send him a video”.

Alicia duly obliges and here’s the evidence:

Alicia Copies Paul

I decide to give Alicia a break by throwing in a diversion of my own, “How old is Paul?”

“Dunno exactly. Early, mid fifties? Funny thing about veteran athletes is that the challenge is to get ‘least worst’. The best vets are those who can make time stand still and produce the same performance as 3 years ago.

Where young athletes are desperate to be the oldest in their age group as it gives them the edge, vets want to be the youngest”.

“So a 57 year old can’t wait to be 60 to become the baby of the group and beat the ‘oldies’?”


Time to turn to the serious business of performance improvement, “What about the rest of the group. How are the first few weeks of the off-season shaping up?”

Toni’s tone of voice, alone, evidences that he is very happy with early progress. There’s been a re-shuffle in the training group and although a few familiar faces are still present including Nikita, Seun and Alicia, there are also some new starters – most notably Alicia’s twin sister Ella a 400m runner. (I’ll introduce the rest of the group another time).

“So what have they been doing?”

At The Track

They’ve Been Running The Track. Of Course

“It’s been mostly about aerobic plus mechanics and shapes efficiency. That will be the emphasis for the first 5-7 weeks”.

“What does that involve?”

“Pulling the sled. Early-season strength running. The sled is a new experience for some so it takes a while for them to get into their rhythms. Nikita is more experienced than some of the others so she settles in quicker and they can learn a bit from her”.

Nikita Shows The Way


Alicia Digs In

“And everyone is developing nicely?”

“They are. I’ve got something for you actually. Remember the video last week of Ella squatting”.

‘Where I mistakenly called her Alicia?”

“That’s the one”.

“They are twins”.

“Anyway, I sent her to Alison Rose who worked on her hips, we concentrated on some posture and stabilisation exercises and I repeated the exercise on film. Have a look at the results so far”.

Ella Before
Ella One Week After

I’m struck by such a dramatic change in such a short time and (as someone who is always writing or driving and so has rubbish posture) I tell Toni as much, “What did you actually do with Ella?”

“Obviously Alison’s work on the hips is important but after that, plenty of work with the resistance bands and a correction of squatting posture by using angel squats”.

I’m intrigued, “Explain”.

We switch to Facetime and to my eternal disappointment I’m unable to share with you a film of Toni demonstrating the angel squat. I’ll just have to describe the movement and you can then let your imagination take flight.

As Toni explains, “Basically, you know when you make snow angels?”

“Lying on your back in the snow and doing a prone star jump?”

“That’s the one. Here, you need to go into a squat position but with your back flat against the wall. Then you put your arms out and back against the wall, palms facing outward. Then, maintaining control you slowly and smoothly move your arms up and down”.

“And that helps address postural issues”.


Right, I’m leaving my laptop and going to make like an angel against the nearest available wall. You’re probably reading this on a phone, laptop or tablet so feel free to join me.

Toni’s Angels. It has a certain ring to it.


Nikita Takes Five