4 Key Workouts – Runner’s Tribe

I’ve loved this sport since the age of 9; always wanting to be successful but not achieving it without a lot of hard work and good timing. In late 2016, the opportunity to join the sibling group of Melbourne Track Club (MTC), Sydney Track Club (STC), down in my home city of Sydney became available to me. So, when faced with the option of attending the first day of year 12 or joining the likes of 2-time Olympian Ryan Gregson, Kevin Batt (now great friend and training partner in STC) and some other elite athletes for a workout under the guidance of Nic Bideau and Nick Bromley, you can guess what I chose to do that day… (Sorry Mum & Dad)

First workout with MTC/STC – Photo courtesy of Nick Bromley

Sydney Track Club, coached by 4x National 800m Champion Nick Bromley, was the exact group I needed at the time. Having had a rather successful number of years under my junior coach, Tony Wong at Sydney Striders, it was time to graduate and move into a more senior level of training. A senior group where I could be the small fish again, and take notes from some of the best guys in the country. With my first session being a mix of kilometre reps and 400’s with a sickeningly short amount of rest, I knew I was in the right place to get fit. I was clearly not the only one who felt this was the right place to be, with some athletes who I would often see filling the top positions of race results now becoming my great friends and training partners over the last 2 years: Ed Goddard (recently selected for Commonwealth Games Half Marathon Team), Kevin Batt (13:39 5000m and 2x Irish 5000m Champion a few years ago), Jack Stapleton (1500m specialist and World Junior Representative), Kieren Tall (World Junior XC team mate, 30:05 10 km), Charlie Hunter (now at University of Oregon), Finbarr Warren (now at George Mason University) and Will Austin-Cray (National 1500m Bronze 2017) to name a few. Working with these guys, for me, created an extremely elite environment at training where I could rise to that next level in training and work together with the guys to get through some grueling sessions that I may not have been able to do solo.

Discussing the workout. Pic: Wally Phillips (My dad)

Four of the key workouts completed with our group are listed below:

Track Tuesday: A year-round staple for us is a track session on a Tuesday, usually at Rotary, the grass track in Epping, to ensure the legs don’t take a beating. At specific times of the year however, we will roll on the tartan at E.S. Marks, Narrabeen or Homebush (eg. race weeks or for faster sessions)

8x1000m with 60 seconds rest: K reps is somewhat of a staple for many groups in Australia. However, the variations of this session for me make it one of the most valuable sessions of my week. I use it a measure of fitness. For example, up until about May this year I was still doing 6x1000m, finishing these feeling good week in week out lead to the promotion to 8 reps. Though Brom will still call me a “Little Boy”…

Pace is usually between 2:55 and 3:00 per rep. Often a “fast one” is thrown in on reps 5 and/or 7 where we will aim to hit around 2:45.

Track Tuesday with the guys:

 

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Oh yea

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Threshold Thursday: Though never having been tested, this session would comprise of a 15-25 minute run at “threshold pace”. Although admittedly, I do tend to run a bit faster than what I believe would be my true threshold. After this initial 20 minutes at somewhere between 3:05-3:20 (min/km) pace, we would then complete a variety of shorter efforts, which vary based on where we are in the season or what we are training for: eg. 8x45sec hard with 45sec rest, or 10x60sec with 30 or 60sec jog recovery. Throughout the winter season these sessions for me were usually completed at Narrabeen Lake or The Bay Run loop.

Saturday Threshold/Hills/Threshold: I remember in my first few months training with STC, we rocked up to the North Ryde Common: basically a big grass block on a hill with bumps, slants and everything you need for a great cross country simulated session. Kev said to us, “If there was only one session that you could do in the week to get fit, it’s this one.” That stuck with me as I worked my way through the sessions, eventually completing the full session for the first time in winter of last year:

“A lap of the entire block” (2.9-3 km) at about 3:15-3:25/km pace, followed by 6-10x 350m hills up the “belly” of the block in the thick grass, taking roughly a minute, usually a bit less. Then after this, another half or full lap of the block with the aim to run the same pace as the first lap, or faster if you can.

On most occasions I would get this right, but sometimes this session is a very humbling experience and makes you realise how much room there is for improvement.

Gym/Strength: Having a group that does 3 sessions a week it was tough to find a 4th workout to highlight. One part of me wanted to put down my long run: 80-90 min at a 4:20-4:40 per km pace around Centennial Park, Eden Gardens (Lane Cove National Park) or Narrabeen Lake. However, in my opinion I feel that in order to get the strength to do these long runs and big weeks of mileage (not that 85-95 km is what most would call big!) is to spend time working on strength in the gym. For me, these sessions address strengthening my weak gluts (like most runners, I suppose) along with most of the main muscles needed for running fast and injury free, such as lower back, hamstrings, core and quads. I visit 4D Health and Performance for my strength sessions. With the guidance of Dom Nasso and Damien Benson, I do a variety of exercises in a group session and then focus on those exercises for a number of weeks before coming back to get a new set of exercises and areas to focus on. Strength is often my weak point, which has seen me pick up injuries over the years, and this is ultimately why I aim to get better at it so that my running can benefit from it as well, as I’ve learnt that consistency is the key.

With the coaching I have received from Brom and Nic over the last two years, I have been able to run 3:47 for 1500m, 8:17 for 3000m (during the transition phase from Tony to Brom) as well as represent Australia at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda where I finished 69th. One of the keys to having some very successful races is something Brom highlighted to me: picking the right time to race, as well as the right races is what will get you results. The opportunity to train with Sydney Track Club, be coached by Brom and race well has ultimately led to me being given the opportunity to begin studying at Villanova University in Philadelphia this year. Coached by Marcus O’Sullivan, I think this will be a great opportunity for me to develop over the next 4 years and fulfill my dream to be a world class runner.

World Junior XC Championships. Pic: Ewa Facioni

To conclude I would like to thank everyone involved with my running, allowing me to do what I love! Also a big thanks to Runners Tribe for letting me share my words with you.

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