Jess Ennis’ Coach: Seven-Step Training Plan

1. Speed

The Session: 4 x 40m sprints (with 3 mins recovery), then 4 x 300m sprints (with 6 mins recovery)

Tony Minichiello says: "Speed training in heptathlon is crucial as there's an element of it in every event - just as there is in every race distance for running, whether you're doing a 5K or a marathon," says Minichiello. "Jess does very short speed reps and then 'over reps', where she runs further than the race distance.

The short reps with long recoveries prime your  body for quick bursts of intensive energy. The over reps are performed in order to give the athlete confidence that they can run quickly beyond the required distance, so you know you're not going
to slow down towards the end of a race."

Illustrations: Peter Liddiard, Sudden Impact Media

2. Speed Endurance

The Session: (3 x 200m with 30 secs recoveries) x 3

Tony says: Jess needs speed endurance for the 800m. "Doing shorter distances with shorter recoveries means your body gets used to working hard when it's not fully comfortable," says Minichiello. Do three sets of three sprints, with five minutes' rest between each set.

Picture credit: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images 

3. Explosive Power

The Session: Plyometric box jumps

1 Jump explosively on to a knee-high box, your heels coming up to your bum.  Land on the balls of your feet.

2 Jump off, powering into the air and landing with straight legs. Do three sets of 15 with two-minute recoveries.

Tony says: "The act of running is explosive," says Minichiello. "You need to develop your muscles to push you along and power upturns in pace. Jess works on explosive power to come out of the blocks quickly in her spring and hurdle events, but it's a good element to add to any training programme."

4. Core Strength

The Session: Foot-tap and arm-tap planks

1 Get into a plank position with your back straight, bum in line with the rest of your body and hands beneath your shoulders.

2 Lift your left arm 30cm to the left, tap it down, then return to the start position. Do 10 reps, then repeat with your right arm. That's one set. Do three sets of 20 with 60 seconds' rest in between. Repeat the action with your right leg, then your left leg.

Tony says: "You should be running tall, with your torso solid and strong so you don't lose energy controlling a weak mid section," says Minichiello. "This is what core strength is for. Jess needs it for the throwing events, but it also benefits her running."

5. Upper Body Strength

The Session: Medicine ball throws

1 Stand with a one-kilogram medicine ball in your right hand, an appropriate throwing distance from a wall. Step forward with your left foot and bring the ball behind you as far as you can.

 2 Now thrust the ball forward, keeping your core engaged and your torso forwards. Five throws with each hand is one set. Do three sets of 10 with two minutes' recovery.

Tony says: "For runners, it's important to strengthen the shoulders and arms to improve the efficiency of your arm swing, which in turn leads to easier, faster running," says Minichiello.

6. Planning

Minichiello offers a quickfire masterclass in the art of effective training planning:

1 "Make training non-negotiable, like eating. Get into the mindset that this is just something you have to do. For example, would you  go to work without having brushed your teeth? Well, don't go to bed without having trained."

 2 "Curb your enthusiasm: variety and hard work are great, but don't overdo it. The cardinal rule I have with Jess is that if something new goes in, something old comes out. Don't add to your workload without taking something out to compensate or you'll get injured."

 3 "Be flexible: don't follow a training plan slavishly if it doesn't fit in with your life, or you'll start cutting corners. Does what you're being asked to do work with your other commitments? If there are clashes, make tweaks. Split a long run into two shorter ones - say pre- and post-work. Life can get in the way, so keep alternative sessions in mind. Something is better than nothing."

Picture credit: Ian Walton/ Getty Images

7. Motivation

Tony says: "It all comes down to one word: variety. Jess is ready to work hard every day because she enjoys it," says Minichiello. "And she enjoys it because she's challenged and her training evolves. Once you're on top of a particular session, think, 'What can I do to change this? Mixing things up will keep you focused."

Picture credit: Ian Walton/ Getty Images