Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Moore Running

Posted by speedygeoff on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 with No comments
Last night’s Speedygeese training.
A large gaggle of geese ran beneath the not-quite-yet-risen full moon in the first of our speed-endurance sets for this winter. We completed 4x40 secs, 4x30 secs, 4x20 secs & 1x40 secs with suitable recoveries. Running were Adam, Alan, Amanda, Caroline (happy birthday 65 tomorrow!!), Charmaine, Emma, Ewen (well, he jogged about, so did I), Helen, Jeni, Katie, Ken, Maria, and Sonya.

Speedygeese race results

Jaggad Bush Capital Bush Marathon Festival
Campbell High School Saturday 28 July 2007

Female 16 kms: (51 finishers)
6 Charlie McCormack 1.22.34

Female 25 kms: (20 finishers)
5 Emma Adams 2.10.06
7 Thea Zimpel 2.16.05
8 Helen Larmour 2.17.28
9 Maria O'Reilly 2.17.29
13 Annette Sugden 2.21.46

Male 16 kms: (52 finishers)
4 Richard Faulks 1.08.59
29 Geoff Barker 1.24.24
33 Peter McDonald 1.26.14
34 Ewen Thompson 1.29.16

Male 25 kms: (43 finishers)
24 Mick Horan 2.17.28
31 Peter Hogan 2.29.45

42 km marathon: 30 male + 8 female finishers.
11 Roger Pilkington 3.48.13

Coming Events ACT Cross Country Club

Saturday 4 August 2007
Stromlo Forest Park, Uriarra Road
Start near the pavilion.
1km at noon
3.25km at 12:15 pm
6.5km at 1:00 pm

Sunday 5 August
Women's and Girls' Jogalong from 9:00 am.
Weston Park Yarralumla

Annette is starting to run very well and completed the Bush Capital 25k on Saturday in 2:21. I know where to stand next time to get in all these photos.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Monday Morning Monitor

Posted by speedygeoff on Monday, July 30, 2007 with 1 comment

An artist's impression of Roger Pilkington (M45) sprinting home in the last 5k of the Bush Capital Marathon

My training progress
last week's target: 66k
achieved: 56k
year total to date: 2,383k in 30 weeks
this week’s target: 72k
weight: 67kg ►◄

While still struggling on Monday and Tuesday, I "came good" at last on Wednesday after three months with this injury. I feel I have mostly recovered now, although I will still need to take care not to overdo it in the next few weeks. After no runs within cooee of 6 minute pace, last Wednesday I improved dramatically to 5:40 pace for a hilly 6k run; Thursday to 5:30s for a hilly 8k run, and Sunday 4:40s for a hilly 3.5k run. There is no soreness so I can start doing a bit more now.

Yesterday Handicap results at Mt Taylor
Mt Taylor 7.0k
9 Michael Freer M75 41:03 80.5%
12 Peter McDonald M50 34:09 71.5
22 Maria O'Reilly W50 31:57 86.2
28 Rod Lynch M45 27:34 83.6
33 Geoff Sims M55 36:48 69.5
34 Charmaine Knobel W55 36:15 77.9
44 Richard Faulks M45 28:51 80.4
59 Amanda Walker W35 33:54 71.3
65 Tony Booth M65 36:46 77.5
72 Jeni Greenland W30 37:37 61.8
74 Margaret McSpadden W60 42:09 71.1
75 Geoff Barker M60 37:40 69.1
78 Alan Duus M60 35:59 72.0
84 Colin Farlow M45 29:02 78.4
86 Caroline Campbell W60 40:50 79.6
102 Peter Hogan M60 43:24 59.5
104 Mick Horan M45 35:49 64.8
106 Ewen Thompson M50 44:14 53.1

Mt Taylor 3.5k
9 Katie Forestier W40 14:52 79.9%
12 Neil Boden M55 16:36 71.7
19 Ken White M50 14:57 77.8
32 Maureen Rossiter W55 20:09 69.4
35 Geoff Moore M55 16:26 74.5

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Mt Taylor revisited

Posted by speedygeoff on Sunday, July 29, 2007 with 4 comments
A fantastic day at Mt Taylor today, the new course avoids all the dangerous down-hills of the old. Katie had the fastest time of anyone in the Frylink 3.5k (yes, faster than Ken or I or anyone else) which confirms her new title of "Real Runner". And I think Rod had the fastest time in the Thomas 7k. And because there was no wind, the cold start felt good.

Ewen was spotted at the Mt Taylor run today, recovering from yesterday's Bush Capital effort

The AMRA put on another successful Bush Capital series of races yesterday, by all reports a great success. Roger completed his marathon in a good time, and others who ran the 25k and the 16k enjoyed their runs. A perfect day for some great trail running.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Good Running Style

Posted by speedygeoff on Saturday, July 28, 2007 with 3 comments

We have been watching Mr Bean DVDs lately. Ah, bliss!

Speedygeese at last week's cross country championships:
3rd M45 12k Richard Faulks 48:20
5th M45 12k Roger Pilkington 53:26
1st M50 12k Ken White 53:54
8th M55 12k Geoff Sims 64:14
2nd W40 8k Katie Forestier 34:10
3rd W40 8k Annette Sugden 35:22
1st W50 8k Kathy Southgate 31:18
2nd W50 8k Maria O'Reilly 35:34
1st W55 8k Charmaine Knobel 41:35
1st W60 8k Caroline Campbell 42:50
3rd W60 8k Margaret McSpadden 47:04
4th M60 8k Geoff Barker 38:50

So far the Vets website lists just the Vets entrants, and the ACT Athletics website lists just their entrants.

It is important for the historical record to have the full results in one place.

And not just for the sake of archival honesty, but also because people not only want to know their own times, they also want to see how they went relative to everyone else they raced.

The Cross Country Club do the best in ensuring that accurate and complete results are kept. Will the results turn up eventually on the CCC website? Does their absence mean the Cross Country Club hasn't been provided with the complete list?

All good clean fun, eh?

Friday, 27 July 2007

Secret #2. Lydiard style training

Posted by speedygeoff on Friday, July 27, 2007 with 5 comments
Q. Why did the chicken cross the Moebius Strip?
A. To get to the other...er.. umm

Alright, secret #2 is no secret. Everywhere in the world runners are following Lydiard style programs, and programs devised by people who have been strongly influenced by New Zealander Arthur Lydiard. That includes me.

Thursday training report.
We had the last of our 2k time trials last night, run as a "guess-your-time" handicap. We ran in lane four, just over 4 1/2 laps. Given that the other trials were in lane one, it would have been difficult to guess your time accurately. Nevertheless, Colin guessed and judged it to the second.

2k time trial results 2007

Next training phase: Speed-Endurance
Lydiard style speed-endurance track sessions combined with longer running is the menu for the next phase of our training.

In this phase, runners should see if they can schedule two days of interval training, two days of long running, one moderate distance easy day, one day of leg speed practice (3 steps per second!) with drills and/or gym work as suits you, and one day of a race or time trial or tempo run, say around 3k to 8k.

I will be conducting a variety of interval training sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, the rest is largely up to you.

Canberra Times Fun Run
The entry forms are out: let's make up some SpeedyGeese teams again as we did last year.

Long, long, ago these were the three leaders in the Canberra Times Fun Run at the one mile mark:

Michael Thomson has gone on to be the very hardworking Athletics President; Dave McInnes went on to be the very hard working Instant Color Press manager, and I went on to become a mean blogger

And Happy Birthday to my daughter Loani, 35 today.

Thursday, 26 July 2007


Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, July 26, 2007 with 1 comment
The quote is from Dr Who, which I have started watching again after a few decades' break. Very entertaining.

This Sunday's Vets Handicap at Mt Taylor has a slightly different start point and a change of course. As it turns out, the new course looks much better than the old, see the map here.

The BBQ Stakes was on yesterday, and as it was a beautiful sunny and still day, I couldn't resist going out and running it. I ran ~34:16, which compares with ~40:58 two weeks ago, so the left leg (hammie/glute) is starting to improve. Roger and Charlie both ran and did quite well; Charlie was third on handicap, Roger held back a little as he is running the Bush Capital Marathon on Saturday.

Louise has been checking out jogtunes for 180bpm songs. Some interesting finds: Rock around the Clock, Great Balls of Fire, Rockin Robin. I haven't looked far yet, but No Way Back by Foo Fighters might be a candidate.

Strewth is due back today.

See you at Dickson tonight; we are running the last of the timed 2ks, then in future weeks we move into speed-endurance training of various forms. I expect to get there early (4:30pm) for an 8k warm up run; most people arrive before the official start time of 5:30pm.

"A true friend is someone who survives transitions between address books."

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

I really don't know what to say...

Posted by speedygeoff on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 with 3 comments
Once upon a time, back in the dim, dark past, Athletics Associations controlled all running. If you wanted to line up and race each other, you first had to join a club, then buy a uniform, then make sure it was tucked in, and only then could you be a runner. Naturally, anyone who was not young and super fast would not fit in.

But then along came Orienteering, Triathlons, Fun Runs, Road Runner Clubs, Cool Runners, and the list goes on. Everyone could organise their own running group and they didn't have to join the official Association. And running became accessible to all.

But deep down, some with long memories and little vision wished the past would return.

OK, last Saturday's full results of the 8k and 12k cross country races have still not appeared. What has appeared is a short list of names and times which only includes registered athletes. Gosh, the 1970s live again!

I can't imagine the Canberra Marathon, or the Gold Coast (National Championships) Marathon, or the City to Surf Fun Run, etc etc, leaving out of their results all but registered athletes.

It's historical and it's rubbish.

A very speedy goose

Real Runner Katie, who ran a blinder in the 8k on Saturday. But of course her name is not included in their results.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Posted by speedygeoff on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 with 3 comments
Zeitgeist is originally a German expression that means "the spirit of the age"… It describes the intellectual and cultural climate of an era. And Zeitgeist is the name of a new album by The Smashing Pumpkins.

If true that Pumpkins' reading of our culture has been accurate over the years, things are, to use an over-used running cliché, looking good. This is their most positive and hopeful album yet from a group whose lyrics are brutally “honest”.

Song of the week: Starz, from Zeitgeist, by The Smashing Pumpkins
- a stand out track on an outstanding album.

Born of love and cast in light
Don't you know we cannot die

We are stars
We are
We are stars
We are
We are stars
We are

The stars above, stars of grace
Shining down what's left of face

You hurt so bad
This knowing, this fallacy
I want so much
To follow as I lead

For love I keep
Silent I weep
Dead suns rule dead air
But heaven is everywhere

Torn from god and flung towards night
Don't you want what I can't fight

We are stars
We are
We are stars
We are
We are stars
We are

The stars that shine, stars that bleed
Silver seeking destiny
So follow please

This hurts so much
This knowing carries me
We want so bad
We forget we are free

Spirit smile on
Deep black diamond
So rise the lost toys
Island of white noise
And purple haze

We are stars
We are stars
We are stars

What hurts so much
Is knowing we are free

Unluckily the metronome tells me “Starz” is 135 bpm. I have tested two albums and only found one track at 180 so far; once I have a collection I will have to road test them before you see a list.

Starz: A live version:

Report on Monday night training.
Adam, Amanda, Carolyne, Charmaine, Emma, Ewen, Geoff B, Helen, Katie, Ken, Margaret, Maria, Mick H, Neil, Sonia and I did our last strength/co-ordination hill session before we move to another training phase next week.


Griffin is touring the world, currently enjoying holidaying in France, and taking a liking to their good food...

Monday, 23 July 2007

Monday Morning Monitor

Posted by speedygeoff on Monday, July 23, 2007 with 3 comments
My training progress
last week's target: 66k
achieved: 59k
year total to date: 2,327k in 29 weeks
this week’s target: 66k
weight: 67kg ►◄

I missed two days due to a bad sore throat, and I finished the week very tired. So we will try again this week! The hammie is.. so-so.

Cross Country results? "No race results are available for this event", I guess that's because it was a championship. So I can't yet report how we went, instead, here is some publicity for this coming Saturday:

Bush Capital Bush Marathon Festival:
Campbell High School, Saturday 28 July 2007:

Off-road running and bush walking event from the centre of Canberra through Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura, Goorooyarroo and Mulligans Flat nature reserves.

7.30am Early bird start for slow runners in 60km ultra and 42km marathon
8.30am Bush marathon; marathon relay; 60km ultra; 25km bush walk
9.00am 16km and 25km bush runs and 16km bush walk
9.15am 5km run

Details from John Harding 42 Stanley St, Hackett 2602, and at http://www.mountainrunning.coolrunning.com.au/

Speedygeese Bush Capital Pre-entrants
16k run Peter McDonald, Geoff Barker, Caroline Campbell, Richard Faulks

25k run Mick Horan, Maria O'Reilly, Ewen Thompson, Emma Adams, Annette Sugden, Bob Harlow, Peter Hogan, Helen Larmour

42k run Roger Pilkington

Rising Star

Another rising star in our training group, Emma loves mountains and is racing the 25k on Saturday. Emma is hard to spot in a race when she wears her "Where's Wally" uniform!

Sunday, 22 July 2007


Posted by speedygeoff on Sunday, July 22, 2007 with 6 comments
This is the one-thousandth post on my blog, surely worthy of a celebration. Click on the balloons to pop them!

Why do I blog about running???

Not just because I do it, but because I would like you to benefit too. Running
  • gives you more energy
  • helps you sleep better
  • helps you relax
  • helps you meet people and make friends
  • is fun
  • tones your body
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • improves concentration
  • improves self confidence
  • raises the spirits
  • helps to control weight
  • reduces body fat
  • helps control blood pressure
  • helps control cholesterol
  • helps control diabetes
  • helps with bone and joint problems eg arthritis
  • reduces the risk of heart disease
  • reduces the risk of stroke
  • reduces the risk of some cancers
  • helps to manage pain
  • helps to improve joint movement
  • helps general co-ordination

Come alive! Use it ... or lose it !!!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Golden Geese

Posted by speedygeoff on Saturday, July 21, 2007 with No comments

Trevor looking good. Trevor was helping out at the Cross Country Championships today, like me, watching. Maybe we will both be back competing by Christmas.

Geese Win Gold
The speedygeese took out a few of the Vets medals today. I will list names soon.

Although everyone was told they had to wear club uniforms, I noticed wide variations. The field didn't look very "uniform" at all. Perhaps someone can design and order geese uniforms for us to wear next time?

And isn't there a better course? Showgrounds, Yarralumla, East Basin? Melbourne Zoo? Tasmania Goose Sanctuary?

Although, again this year, perfect weather.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Icy I See

Posted by speedygeoff on Friday, July 20, 2007 with 5 comments
A game
I hope you enjoyed the cow maze puzzle last week, good wasn't it?
Here is a superior version of the point-and-click escape-the-room type of game called Rental House. I like this one because the graphics and motion are good and it is challenging without being too hard.

Brass Monkey Weather at Dickson Oval.
Last night saw Amanda, Geoff & Kathy, Katie, Ken, Maria & Peter, Neil, Tony and Rod brave the bitter wind and run in a relay where we each ran 8x300m with a 200m jog. We also timed ourselves for twenty seconds to see what our natural leg speed was. I think we will have to do it for longer than that to get an accurate measure. I am encouraging the speedygeese to run at a consistent 180bpm if they can. Which they all achieved easily last night.

Here is an online metronome if you want to check the pace of your ipod running songs.

Neil picking up the pace

Are there two Canberras?
There is a suggestion in today's Canberra Times letters column that the weather forecasts we get are meant for a different Canberra. That would explain everything, the toss of a coin would be just as accurate.

While on the Canberra Times, what a stupid front page headline today! We are not getting "recycled sewage". Idiots! It is the sewage which is being removed from recycled water. As usual, emotive nonsense from the media. Oh, and incidentally, the dams are filling again. Yeah, right, she'll be right then.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Fly Gosling Fly

Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, July 19, 2007 with No comments

New Star Sonia.

Tonight at Dickson we will be running a continuous relay, if the batons aren't too cold to hold. I wouldn't mind some global warming right now. It was nice to see the sun again, though.

Good news I have the green light to keep running.....

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Secret #1: 180 steps per minute

Posted by speedygeoff on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 with 4 comments
To a great extent you can control your stride length when you run. So if it is too long you can shorten it, if too short you can lengthen it. But just what is the optimal stride length?

Many novice runners tend to over-stride, but with practice they can shorten their natural stride length and so run faster! I will explain.

One way to discover if you are overstriding is to count your steps. My observation is that the fastest runners over middle and long distances all have a leg speed of 180 steps per minute, or slightly more. An objective for my speedygeese is to see all the runners increase their tempo until they achieve 180 steps per minute for most of their running.

If you discover that you run at considerably less than 180, you should work on reducing your stride length and increasing your tempo.

A slower tempo and longer stride length means that you are in the air longer, you hit the ground harder, the footfall is heavier, there is more shock to your legs as you land, and a deceleration effect as well.

A quick optimal tempo means you run lighter, you feel like you are skimming over the ground rather than ploughing into it, you are able to propel yourself more rapidly forward, you respond quickly to pace variations in a racing scenario, your foot is below your body sooner and stays on the ground for a shorter time. And you look good!

Strong flexible quads help too. But that's another story.

Colin (top left) Kathy (hands up!), Amanda ("helping" Kathy) and some ring-ins, stretching

OK I have re-introduced in-line comment display, hoping the way it's done this time is better than last time I tried it (Feb 07). There were delays between the display of each post, which I think is now fixed. I will probably modify fonts, colours, header and slogan soon. I have been including more photos, those with very slow systems will let me know if loading is slow, won't you? And if you have any trouble adding a comment, let me know too.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Everyone Is Holding On

Posted by speedygeoff on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 with 1 comment
Training last night saw Adam, Alan, Charmaine, Emma, Kathy, Katie, Ken, Maria, Neil, Peter and Sonia run a very solid session of twenty uphill sprints on a very icy evening. A few others were there - Amanda (who turned up to discover she had forgotten her shoes), Sylvia and Caroline (I didn't see what they did), Ewen and I (who passed on the sprints). And the winter flu had hit Colin and Joel at least. And Helen was skiing up in the mountains, and Ruth and CJ were luxuriating in Mykonis. So a jolly good turn out, considering. Look out Amanda, Sonia is one training session ahead of you!

My impression was that those who did the sprints are all in very good form; fancy that many training so hard when it was such a freezing day.

My song of the week.
As regular readers will know, a favourite of mine is Radiohead, so if you like your music frantic and loud, here's a way out there live version of "National Anthem". It is impossible to run slowly to music like this!

And here we have Alan finishing the Half Marathon.

Strange, that woman with the yellow top and red sleeves is in all 570 photos of the finish. Smile, Kerry!.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Aki flies

Posted by speedygeoff on Monday, July 16, 2007 with 2 comments
"Men, today we die a little." - Emil Zatopek at the start of the 1956 Olympic Marathon.

Aki finishing the Canberra Half Marathon. Her best times are at Telopea Park. I ran Telopea last year and the course is a bit dodgy: my time was a lot faster than I thought I was running: the Telopea course is not accredited so is likely to be short. No such problem with Cross Country Club courses though; they are never short!

You may have noticed that Aki has been picking up form again recently, and with patience and persistence in her training, will start to challenge the rest of us. Aki is tenacious, so will be very hard to shake for those of us who run around the 20 minute mark for 5k.

Aki has a devastating final sprint too, as she demonstrated again yesterday. Although it must be said, everyone can out-sprint Flashdrake at the end of a race!

Monday Morning Monitor
My training progress
achieved last week: 42k
year total to date: 2,268k in 28 weeks
this week’s target: 66k
weight: 67kg ▼

On the road again... I am just easing into it, a few km each day. But it is mightily cold outside! This Wednesday should be fun if the forecast is correct; snow with a range of zero to 5 for the city, which makes it -3 to 2 here in Holt. Brrrr.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Outstanding Year

Posted by speedygeoff on Sunday, July 15, 2007 with No comments

"You can't climb up to the second floor without a ladder....When you set your aim too high and don't fulfill it, then your enthusiasm turns to bitterness. Try for a goal that's reasonable, and then gradually raise it." - Emil Zatopek

Saturday's Mill Creek 6k
25. Geoff Sims M55 31:12
30. Ewen Thompson M50 33:09

Richard (with the cap) completing the Canberra Half Marathon. Richard is having an outstanding year. He was the fastest "speedygoose" in the field, finishing 42nd over all.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Article by Nic Bideau

Posted by speedygeoff on Saturday, July 14, 2007 with 2 comments
With permission, from "Coaching Middle and Long Distance Runners: A Commentary"
Modern Athlete and Coach, Volume 44, Number 3, July 2006

The training structure I use to coach athletes does not actually involve anything that hasn’t been used before. I would describe it as strongly influenced by the type of work used by many Australian, British and New Zealand athletes in the 60s and 70s involving running high volumes of over 160km per week with the primary focus on aerobic conditioning. This type of training yielded huge successes for amongst others, Ron Clarke, Brendan Foster and John Walker, yet for one reason or another has tended to be neglected today.

The one area where I would say we are much more advanced than athletes of that era is with recovery and the control of the workouts. Today athletes employ a host of techniques including ice baths, sports recovery drinks, regular massage and physiotherapy sessions that assist athletes to recover from bouts of hard work and allow them to maintain a more consistent high volume of good quality training for longer periods.

Hard running on the track or fast long distance runs are now more controlled to achieve very specific aims with the use of heart rate monitors and stopwatches to assist us to enforce the principles that Lydiard was teaching runners 40 years ago — to train mostly at levels of intensity that are aerobic and to limit or accurately control the amount of anaerobic activity in training.

The training is only one key element responsible for the success of, among others, our two leading Australian distance runners, Craig Mottram and Benita Johnson. But I would add that just as relevant is (a) the environment they train in, (b) the planning undertaken (including their competition program) and (c) the belief I have in them to run as well as they have. Getting fit in training is certainly critical but I have certainly seen cases where despite being incredibly fit, a lack of confidence and belief in their ability to compete well has cost an athlete in important races. The right training helps to build these elements but the structure of the training groups they exist in and the very carefully planned racing program they follow certainly enhances this confidence to take the athletes to a very high level. But that’s a whole other article. For now, I’ll stick to an explanation of the general training structure I advise athletes to carry out.

• Regular long runs
• Fast distance runs at around the anaerobic threshold
• Intervals or repetition work
• Speed work
• Recovery runs
• Gym sessions

The long runs should be of 90 minutes to 2 hours duration — longer for marathon runners - and at least once per week, and in some periods twice a week. The key Lydiard principle of maintaining continuous pressure on your heart for long steady periods of aerobic activity builds a fantastic aerobic fitness base and it is aerobic fitness that is a key factor in the success of athletes in all events from 800m upwards. I’m often challenged on the importance of these long runs for 800m runners. Some athletes have even suggested to me that they are damaging, but I have no doubt they are relevant. It worked for Peter Snell. He ran 1.44.3 on a grass track off long aerobic runs. In later years much has been made of the Great British 800m and 1500m runner, Seb Coe’s speed, but Coe also possessed outstanding aerobic endurance. He demonstrated this when in 1978 the year before he first began setting world records at 800m and 1500m races, when he beat Eamon Coghlan, who was later to win a world 5000m title and Mike McLeod, who later won an Olympic 10000m medal in a 4 mile road race in Ireland. I’d be surprised if any of our current top 800m runners could get within a minute of Craig Mottram over 4 miles today; and I see our lack of success in this event as relative to a lack of aerobic endurance in the athletes doing these events. Mottram has run 1.46 for 800m in training two weeks after he won his world championships 5000m bronze medal so his regular long runs don’t appear to have greatly reduced his ability at 800m.

I prefer these long runs done in a group as that helps runners stay relaxed and enjoy them more. I also like them to run in nice scenic surroundings on soft surfaces and on hilly courses. Hills help build strength and maintain the pressure on the heart without requiring the athletes to run faster. Hills also require athletes to vary the requirements of the key working muscles whether they are going up or down. I like big challenging hills in the second half of these runs as I believe it helps an athlete develop efficient technique and rhythm running up these hills when they are already feeling fatigue. I tell athletes that the first 75 minutes of these long runs is to get them sufficiently tired so as they are in a position to really affect their fitness in the last 15 to 45 minutes when their glycogen stores are getting seriously depleted.

In any training program, the first time an athlete is able to achieve a milestone builds confidence and I’ve often seen that when an athlete completes their first 90 min run of a preparation, or their first 2 hour run. They soon notice a big step up in their aerobic fitness in the following weeks. This increased aerobic fitness needs to be constantly monitored with regular 90 min runs throughout the year. I don’t believe that these long runs necessarily leave residual fatigue in athletes’ legs harming athletes going into important races. I see many athletes run very well within a few days of a long run. Mottram ran a 90 min run seven days before setting his Australian 5000m record of 12.55.76 and Benita Johnson ran a 90 min run six days before she won the World Cross Country. Any time I look at an athlete’s diary and I see regular long runs it usually translates into consistent form. In contrast, when I see big gaps from one long run to the next recorded in an athlete’s diary it often corresponds with a gradual decline in form.

These runs are usually called a tempo run or an anaerobic threshold pace run. In the 60s and 70s athletes regularly ran at this level unplanned in the 2nd half of training runs just by feel and were generally uncontrolled. These days I plan them as specific sessions and often ask the athletes to use a heart rate monitor to control them. After a warm up athletes will run for 20 minutes and up to 45 minutes and even longer for marathon runners at an intensity monitored pace by heart rate. The aim is to run at a level just below the point where any increase in effort will dramatically increase the anaerobic production of energy. We determine this as a result of physiological testing to determine at what heart rate their blood lactate content has reached around 4mmol of lactic acid. For most athletes this is normally the pace an athlete could run at for a half marathon or between 85 and 90% of the pace they can currently maintain for a 5000m track race.

These runs are one of the best indicators of performance level for events in which aerobic endurance is a factor. I could probably find several athletes in Australia who would be able to run shoulder to shoulder with Mottram during an interval track workout such as 10 x 400m with 2 minutes recovery. An ignorant bystander could be no better equipped with knowledge if asked which of such a group of athletes would win a 3000m race. But line the same athletes up for a 20 minute run and ask them to run at a pace equivalent to 85% of their 5000m race pace and Mottram would finish 400m ahead of most Australian athletes and it would be clear who has the superior fitness for a 3000m race. These fast continuous distances runs were ‘bread and butter’ training for much of the year for athletes such as Ron Clarke and John Walker, although they just did them by feel or intuition.

While I prefer athletes beginning this sort of training to control the work by heart rate, experienced athletes such as Mottram or Johnson have done so much of this type of work they are now very much in touch with how it should feel, and are able to do it just on feel without the aid of technical equipment such as heart rate monitors.

I prefer high volumes of work when using intervals of 6-10k or running at various speeds relevant to the athletes current fitness level for 1500m, 3000m, 5000m or 10,000m with recovery bouts as required to maintain that pace. In the first stages of a training program these are initially focused on 10,000m race pace or even slower. Closer to the main target race faster speeds are introduced at the specific pace of the event the athlete is training for. I believe that too often athletes try to run too fast in track sessions relevant to their current fitness and are too anxious to focus on their cruising speeds for 1500m or 3000m races, whereas I prefer to set the bulk of these sessions at 5000m or 10000m cruising speeds over longer distance repetitions interspersed with shorter faster work. For example, when training for an event such as the World Cross Country in March, Benita Johnson may begin the preparation in November with 8-10 x 1km on a dirt path in around 3.20 with one minute rest. This develops into 3.10 and the next step is to speed up 2 of the reps, the 5th and 7th in 3.00. This may progress to 4 x 2km reps on the track with a lap jog recovery doing the first and third rep alternating laps in 70s (current 3k race pace) and 75s (half marathon race pace), the 2nd and 4th rep all even paced at 75s per lap (10k race pace).

There are a myriad of workouts that can be designed with this philosophy. The main aim is to always be doing enough high volume to continue building aerobic endurance while introducing some faster running that relates to shorter distance race paces and still avoid flooding the athlete’s muscles with lactate during the workout. So varied are the possible combinations that rarely do the athletes repeat the same workout. I see a couple of distinct advantages in this - they don’t go home to check their diary and compare workouts from week to week or year to year — too often athletes try to compare workouts from one period to another, which I regard as impossible to do for any real gain. You can never go to the track with all other elements of your life exactly duplicated from one day to the next so you will always fail to read into the effects of other situations whether they be weather, poor sleep the night before, harder training the week before, personal problems or whatever - and being different, the workouts always provide an interesting challenge to the athletes who don’t know exactly how they will feel not having done that exact workout before.

Benita did a workout of 13 x 400m at 5k race pace (72s) with one lap float (marathon race pace relevant to current fitness (82s)) recovery between laps while winning the national 10,000m title in 31.49 shortly before she won the World Cross Country in 2004. This year in her preparation for the Commonwealth Games she ran 3000m in 9.10 beginning with laps at 10,000m race pace for the 1st km, 5000m race pace for the 2nd km and 3000m race pace for the 3rd km, jogged a lap then did 4x200m at 1500m race pace with 200m jog recovery before repeating the effort with the 2nd 3000m in 9.05. For other complex reasons relative to another dimension of coaching that I won’t go into here, Benita was not able to produce that fitness during the Commonwealth Games 10,000m yet it was exactly that fitness that she was able to call on that enabled her to place 4th in both World Cross Country races just a week after the Melbourne Games this year.

Closer to the big race, these type of workouts often mimic planned strategies due to be employed in the race whilst surrounding it with volume to ensure aerobic fitness is still maintained. Before the Melbourne 5000m Mottram ran a series of 3x1600m. The first one was done in 4.20 (basically what we felt was around 10,000m race pace for him or more specifically the slowest we could imagine the Commonwealth 5000m race being run at inside the last 2km). The 2nd rep was to practice the tactic, which we hoped could take him clear of the Kenyans in the Melbourne 5000m. His training partner England’s 5000m runner at the Games, Mo Farah ran the 1st lap in 65 secs and Mottram went to the lead running the 2nd lap faster, the 3rd lap faster again and once more increasing the pace on the last lap. He ran those laps in 59, 58 and 57 for a final 1600m time of 3.59. He then eased back to 4.20 again for the 3rd rep and finished the workout by cruising 4 x 200m at 1500m race tempo with an easy 200m jog recovery. We felt he was ready for Ben Limo and he was. But, unfortunately for us, Augustine Choge had something else.

These sessions are usually only carried out once per week. If a second session of repetition running is used it is usually hill repetitions. Athletes usually begin with 6-8 repetitions of running up hill for three minutes at around 10,000m race pace or effort. Then shorten the distance to something that can be reached in one minute running at around 3000m race pace effort. Sometimes they alternate three minute efforts with one minute faster efforts in a series of 8 repetitions. I prefer the hills to be not so steep that the athlete can’t run up them smoothly for three minutes at 10,000m race pace. The recovery taken is as long as it takes to jog back down the hill easily and feel ready to go for the next repetition. I believe these workouts are fantastic for developing power and speed as well as running efficiency.

Speed work should always be low in volume and at speeds relevant to up to 95% maximum speed (never 100%) to 3000m race pace in relation to current fitness and over short distances never more than 400m and rarely more than 150m with long periods for recovery between repetitions. All athletes I coach (even marathon runners) do 4-5 strides over 80—120m at least 3km race pace with easy jog or walk recovery after each repetition at least once a week. Mottram, being a 1500m runner as well as a 5000m runner goes to the track once a week to run even faster. Most of his training is focused on endurance but I recognise the need to maintain his ability to run fast. I regard this as specific speed work, which should not be a huge load of anaerobic work. A favoured workout would be 4 x 120m after an easy Monday evening run when he often feels good having run once for 90 minutes the day before and having done an easy 60 minutes that morning. Each repetition would involve gradually building to 95% of top speed coming off the bend and running smooth and relaxed down the straight with a minimum very easy 280m jog between repetitions. In my view, optimal speed work should (a) never involve more than 3 or 4 reps of a maximum of 15 seconds, (b) include long periods of rest in between, and (c) not be done when the athlete is very tired.

These runs should generally run at a very comfortable pace — comfort is more relevant than speed here. They can be extremely slow or occasionally at a moderate pace but importantly, it is very comfortable and relaxed for the athlete. I prefer, in general, that these are around one hour in length on easy days with a second run each day of 30-35min, except on days when the main run is 90 minutes or more where just one run is completed. Marathon runners often do two runs of less than an hour but at least 40 minutes on easy recovery days due to the greater demand for recovery from longer workouts.

We’re often asked how it is effective for Mottram to do his recovery runs with Benita Johnson despite him being about to run almost two minutes faster than her for 5000m. They feel that if he races 5000m at close to 2.30 min per kilometre and Benita closer to 3 minutes per kilometre, why should her recovery runs be run a similarly slower pace? But it doesn’t actually work like that. Running at 4 minutes per kilometre is just as comfortable for Benita as it is for Craig. The key is that the pace is comfortable, and the pace is simply decided on how the athletes feel. There is often a need to tell athletes to try to run slowly on these runs, as it’s very difficult to run too slowly and quite easy to run too fast at a speed that doesn’t really challenge aerobic fitness and certainly doesn’t allow athletes to recover maximally between workouts. The key is to remember that these runs are for recovery and that there are another 2 or 3 days in the week where the focus is on building fitness.

The key aim for our gym sessions is to build a very strong core for the athletes. The workouts are focused very much around strength in all muscles from the legs to the neck. Female athletes usually make huge gains with this type of training because they are not as naturally strong in this area as male athletes. Often male athletes are naturally strong, and survive many years without working much on this area. So often though, injuries can be traced to poor running form, which can be related to weaknesses in the abdominal or lower back region.

I’m not going to list the type of exercises we use here as there as so many ways to improve strength in this area that virtually none of our athletes follow the same core strength routine. They all spend 30-45 minutes three to four times a week working on this aspect of their fitness. Workouts are usually done after a second recovery run of the day or in the afternoon after completing a long run in the morning.

In summarising, the key elements outlined in this article form the basis of my coaching program. Each element is important and contributes in different ways to achieving the ultimate goal of running faster.

Nic Bideau "Coaching Middle and Long Distance Runners: A Commentary" - Modern Athlete and Coach, Volume 44, Number 3, July 2006.

Craig Mottram

Posted by speedygeoff on Saturday, July 14, 2007 with No comments
It must be very challenging to have the distance running hopes of a nation resting on one set of young, though broad, shoulders. But that's the situation our Aussie star Craig Mottram faces as he gears up for challenges of the next twelve months. In this article, Brad Green reports that Craig Mottram will attempt to better his bronze medal performance in the 2005 world championships in Helsinki, in the 5000m at the world championships in Japan next month, before working towards next year's Beijing Olympics.

Brad writes, "in the space of a fortnight last month, Mottram ran a personal best time on his way to winning a two-mile race in America. His performance was the fastest run on US soil and set a new Australian and Oceania record.

"Then, in his final 5000m hit-out before the worlds, Mottram left Ethiopian pair Tariku Bekele and Abreham Feleke in his wake on his way to winning the Emil Zatopek Memorial race over 5000m in the Czech Republic, beating home 14 quality African runners.

"It has ensured Mottram is one of the favourites to stand on the podium at Osaka".

Read the full article here.

Because of the continuing interest in the article by Craig Mottram's coach Nic Bideau that I published some time ago, I will republish it soon in a single post, making access easier. (See side column for links to the article)

Friday, 13 July 2007

Pleasantly fatigued

Posted by speedygeoff on Friday, July 13, 2007 with 1 comment
"When I was young, I was too slow. I thought I must learn to run fast by practicing to run fast, so I ran 100 meters fast 20 times. Then I came back, slow, slow, slow. People said, 'Emil, you are crazy. You are training like a sprinter.'" - Emil Zatopek

A game - this cow maze puzzle is a good one, a bright kid will solve the levels easily. It starts easy. Level 34 took some thought! There are 42 levels, and most are easier than they look.

Thursday training report
We repeated an anaerobic session from a few weeks ago, sprints over 50m and 100m with varying distance float recoveries. It was cold! Running were Caroline, Geoff & Kathy, Ken, Neil, Peter & Maria, Rod, Roger, Tony and Yelena. It was very disappointing to discover afterwards that Joel & Yelena's home had been broken into. What a low act.

Fight Club, on TV late tonight, is supposed to be very good. I will be taping it after taping/watching the Crows flog the Saints.

The Mill Creek race is on this Saturday. I won't go, I need reliable surfaces to run on, and the creek crossing is very dodgy.

Finding my Feet
Now that I am jogging daily again, and unable to push the pace yet, I am finding that I am very pleasantly fatigued at the end of each run, not sore, not gasping for air, but with a sense that my muscles and my lungs have had a pleasant workout.

I feel better for the run!

Most training should be like that. Consistency is more important than speed. Occasional training runs should push the boundaries; but a much better idea is to do most running at 60% to 80% effort.

Try it!

Thursday, 12 July 2007


Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, July 12, 2007 with 2 comments
Cross Country Championships
Because we are combining with ACT Athletics, there is some confusion about entry procedure. For Veterans running the 8k or the 12k, you can simply turn up and enter on the day, entry closes one hour before the race.

Event details
Saturday 21 July 2007, Weston Park:
10.30 am 3k Under 14 Girls & Boys
11.00 am 4k Under 16 Girls & Boys, Under 18 Women
11.30 am 6k Under 20 Women, Under 18 Men
12.00 noon 8k Under 20 Men, Open Women, Veteran Women, Veteran Men (Over 60)
1.00 pm 12k Open Men & Veteran Men (30-59)

Club member collapses and dies at BBQ Stakes
I was at the BBQ Stakes 6k yesterday and jogged around in just under 41 minutes. I didn't know that just behind me, John Carmody had collapsed at about the 3k mark and a group of runners were attempting to revive him. Doug Fry has a report at http://tuckerbox.blogspot.com/2007/07/bbq-stakes-runners-shattered-by-sad.html. Our thoughts go out to John's wife Julie, their relatives, and their many friends. On hand and able to help were Lloyd, John H, Kent, Rosemary, Roger, and others; spare them a thought as well, many of the runners were shaken by the experience.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Believe it or not

Posted by speedygeoff on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 with 1 comment
Four more speedygeese with an Australian record

Charlie McCormack with her Australian relay record certificate for the W40 4 x 1500m relay. The others in her relay team were Gabe Brown, Helen Larmour, and Katie Forestier. Fly Goose Fly!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Green Light

Posted by speedygeoff on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 with 3 comments
"If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." - Emil Zatopek

I have the Green Light to jog or shuffle, if I am CAREFUL, this week! I did 4k last night during an hour; and 6k this morning in 50 minutes.

Ice is Nice

Song of the week: Point of Difference, Hillsong United, from "All of the Above". You can hear part of it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2sjmghtSCo.

Last week can only be described as indescribable. Five days at Hillsong in Sydney.

I saw it, I was there.

My favourite singer Brooke Fraser was on stage throughout the week at many of the sessions, heading up or backing the Hillsong/United band, singing songs like "Saviour King", the title track off the album that's number 6 on this week's Australian album charts, and her best song "Hosanna" from the album "All Of The Above" which is at 45 on the album charts.

I was there, I saw it.

We had a view from right next to the stage, awesome.

And as much as singers like Tim Hughes and Matt Redman, who have been at Hillsong in previous years, are brilliant, nothing prepared me for Chris Tomlin, 300% better than I imagined he would be, his music and the presentation that went with it were extraordinary.

What I week. I was there. I saw it.

Monday Night Training
We did attrition hill sprints. That is, after every hill sprint, the last person up the hill had to stand aside. It was close all night. By the time it came down to the last three, Amanda, Emma and Ken remained. Amanda finished third and the final sprint saw Ken edge out Emma, to the boos and cheers of the others. An easier night for all: next week, back to the 20 intervals again. And this Thursday we won't be doing a time trial.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Watch This Space

Posted by speedygeoff on Monday, July 09, 2007 with 4 comments
“I don’t mean to spoil your day mummy, but did you know there’s a fierce storm approaching?” - My three year old grandson Jackson at the check out counter, much to his mother's and everyone else's astonishment!

My training progress
achieved last two weeks: nil
year total to date: 2,226k in 27 weeks
this week’s target: start again
weight: 68kg ▲

The Best Is Yet To Come!
I really do hope to ease back into running this week. But the hamstring is still not 100%. I will report on this morning's visit to my-favourite-medical-professional and tell you if it's green light or red light. Being cleared to do 40 or 50k of light jogging would be good. So watch this space.

And among my zillion activities, I am joining Jenny for the next ten weeks on Tuesday evenings as we conduct a "Making Marriage Better" course for young married couples. Should be enormous fun! It is a Careforce Lifekeys course, and it is most excellent!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Denting the backlog

Posted by speedygeoff on Sunday, July 08, 2007 with 4 comments
"Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." - Emil Zatopek

Jogalong 1/7/07
Helen Larmour W45 26:46 pb
Barbara Tucker W55 33:38
Emma Adams W35 26:47
Caroline Campbell W60 34:58

Gold Coast Marathon 2/7/07
Roger Pilkington 3:26.42

Gold Coast Half Marathon
Adam Robinson 1:52:41
Ewen Thompson 1:45.11 and
Bob Harlow 1:37:49.

Googong Half Marathon team
3. Annette Sugden W40 1:52:42

Edit: the above is actually the relay result, Sugden/Chatwin second. There are no labels on the CCC website to tell you that! Here then are the individual results:
Googong Half Marathon women
6. Emma Adams W35 1:51:29
7. Maria O'Reilly W50 1:52:05
18. Caroline Campbell W60 2:18:43

Googong Half Marathon men
25. Mick Horan M45 1:56:47
33. Geoff Barker M60 2:00:41
36. Alan Duus M60 2:04:30

Goorooyarroo 8k Women
10. Annette Sugden W40 37:28
15. Thea Zimpel 39:50
16. Caroline Campbell W60 45:33
17. Barbara Tucker W55 46:20
19. Margaret McSpadden W60 49:36

Goorooyarroo 8k Men
35. Ewen Thompson M50 41:22
36. Geoff Barker M60 42:07

See you at Parliament House Monday night training, come rain, rain or rain!

Saturday, 7 July 2007


Posted by speedygeoff on Saturday, July 07, 2007 with 2 comments
As intriguing as numbers are
You should all realise that
A date is merely a label

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Hallelujah, run again

Posted by Ewen on Thursday, July 05, 2007 with 4 comments
Speedygeoff has given me the keys to the car, so I've come up with this new version of Hallelujah...

Now I've heard there was a secret run
That Six Footers do, I've heard it's fun
But you don't really care for mountains, do you?
It goes like this
Run forth with Strewth
CJ, John and Chris
Runners all seduced by Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura

You thought you could run but needed proof
You saw her running all aloof
Her form and power almost overthrew you
She stopped you
And said you didn't care
You only ran track, it just wasn't fair
And from your lips she drew the 'Mount Majura'
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura

Steve said I've been here before
I've climbed some hills but never more
I used to run alone before I knew you
I've seen Trent's grave,
The view is vast
Running up there is no victory march
But on we forge to the summit of Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura

You say I took the name in vain
And didn't really know this game
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
On trails I see a blaze of light
Feelings are stirred
Doesn't matter what you heard
Just climb and maybe you'll see on Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura
Mount Majura

I ran my best, it wasn't much
At Six Foot I tried hard to stay in touch
But I'm slow, and I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before that Robert Song
With nothing on my tongue but Mount Majura

Sunday, 1 July 2007

It pains me...

Posted by speedygeoff on Sunday, July 01, 2007 with 3 comments
...to leave this fair city, but that is what I am doing. For a week. This city of freezing winds, bitter mornings, icy roads. And head north east to the slightly warmer city of Sydney. So until next Sunday, it's fair thee well. I leave you with this photo of me crossing the finish line in the Canberra Half Marathon, and remind you that it is always a good strategy to look relaxed, smiling, and happy as you cross the finish line of any race, because that is the time the camera is most likely to be on you. Click on the photo to enlarge it to its excruciating fullness. So until next week, farewell.

p.s. Helen in cold winds this morning ran 26:46 pb for the Jogalong, her first time under 27 minutes. On my return I will publish Jogalong results, Googong results, Gold Coast results, and anything else that happens while I am away.

Keep smiling. And just for Katie, one last exclamation mark!

Edit: Gold Coast Marathon Scott McTaggart 2:23.30 - 5th place - 1st Aussie. I thought he would do well & he did. First place was just over 2:20.