IMG_9270My running peer and friend Andrew Letherby once described two categories of runners who manage to succeed at a competitive level.

Thoroughbreds‘ by his definition had superior natural talent, sometimes freakishly so. They still worked hard and whenever they did were able to reach dizzying heights of performance. Mark Tucker was in our company at the time preparing for the World Marathon Championships in Berlin in ’09, Mark was referred to by Andrew as a ‘thoroughbred’.

Journeymen‘ on the other hand had a serviceable gifting of natural talent, but were required to work harder. They needed to chip away at the training and get incrementally better each year. A journeyman was a steady performer, elite in some circumstances but typically not so on the international stage. Andrew happily defined himself as a journeyman.

These definitions gave our company which included; Marty Dent, Andrew, Mark and myself plenty of entertainment over the three weeks we spent together waiting for our marathon. We talked long and hard about ’who’ in the landscape of Australian running was better defined as a journeymen and who were thoroughbreds.

I was reminded of this today whilst trying to hold off 15yr old local triathlete and runner Lorcan Redmond over the Newy parkrun 5k. Lorcan has been good in his age group for a number of years but I have never had to line up against him in a competitive event (although it is called parkrun not parkrace!) It was earlier noted at the end of our group warm up that ’Lorcan is here’. I went to the car to swap my running tee for the race singlet!

I was impressed with the composure of how Lorcan ran. He wasn’t anxious or keen to assert himself, he was patient and smart. Being a grey and gloomy day with a cold wind it wasn’t one for running fast but I was happy with my run. There was only a second between us in the end. I congratulated him on his “52” performance afterwards.

I ran with the same quality as Lorcan did today when I was 20. Lorcan is 15. This adequately highlights the difference between the ’thoroughbred’ and the self identified ’journeyman’. But the real confirmation came later…

Upon completing a set of ’shuttles’ on the oval after the 5k parkrun I asked Lorcan if he was checking splits along the way (we had brand new distance markers every 500m!). “No” he said and explained he didn’t wear a watch.

I explained to him that we ran steady 3:00min per km with a strong finish. I thought this information may be helpful if his coach asked him about his run.

Lorcan was thoughtful for a while and said, “Oh, did we run 14:52?”

“Of course” I said, “what did you think we ran?”

“I thought we ran 15:52” was his response!

Now I now what running 14:52 should feel like, the steady discomfort I felt while running this morning was consistent with the time produced. The question I have is this. What was he feeling?

I’ll be watching the progress of this thoroughbred with interest!


Our group enjoys running the odd parkrun since it’s appearance in Newcastle 4 years ago. We will often add a little bit to the parkrun to make it a reasonable workout. Some common additions to a parkrun 5k are;

  • Do a set of 15sec shuttles where you run for 15” in one direction, take 15” rec then run back for 15”. Repeat the process for 8 10 mins. It’s a great workout component I learned from Melbourne Track Club.
  • Extra 2.5k. After the finish of the Newy parkrun it is a convenient 800m jog over to the 2.5km point then hit the last 2.5k of the course at a good tempo. Not as quick as the 5k itself, more like marathon pace for me.
  • 800m trail reps. We have done this a couple of times now. At the conclusion of the parkrun we will jog to the favourite part of the course, once most competitors have finished, and complete some 3k – 5k pace 800m reps. The tan trail at Carrington is 800m long.