closing it out at no.1

A favourite workout of mine and Joseph Ryan, the resident 800m runner in our group, is “half lappers” on the immaculate No.1 Oval. This is the Newy equivalent of the SCG and has indeed played host to Sheffield Shield and AFL trial matches. The quality playing surface is no accident, the product of the passion of ground staff who’s maintenance program would rival any ground in the country.

It is here at No.1 oval where first met prominent Newcastle distance coach Hans Tiller in 1998. The use of the oval was referred to by Hans as a ’gentleman’s agreement’ between ground staff and the other ground users such as cricket and AFL. Even back then it was a special place to run and Hans had his system of strategically placed tacs in the picket fence to denote the start of various distances to be incorporated into a training session. The finish of every rep, regardless of the distance was the small gate leading to and from the playing surface in front of the small grandstand. Typically this little gate is littered with bodies in various forms of distress at the conclusion of our workouts.

Han’s managed training extremely well but a gentleman’s agreement requires all parties to be ’gentlemanly’. Unfortunately in mid ’98 a few in the run group (who shall not be named!) took offence to some AFL taking pot shots at them whenever they ran behind the goal posts. The resulting scuffle meant those with the approved booking could continue to use the oval and the beneficiaries of the agreement asked to find somewhere else to run.

Upon my return to Newcastle in early ’05 I engaged once more with this fantastic run venue. The tacs were gone but I soon established benchmark distances on the quirky oval 450m in circumference with a little rise in the south eastern corner now known as Bradney Hill*. Other groups use No.1 too including the competitive Newcastle Flyers led by Rich Palmer.

The grass is soft, sometimes fast but always easy on the feet. I can run like there is no tomorrow without the soreness that comes with running on the road or the track and most importantly I can challenge my benchmarks.

Each training venue presents unique workouts that just seem to work and No.1 is a prime example of that. More than any other venue, No.1 has ridden the ups and downs of the last 18 years with me.

My top 5 workouts on No.1 would be;

No.1: Half Lappers. Usually 12 x half lappers with a half lap jog, start each rep off every 2 minutes. This is great for encouraging a wide range of abilities to enjoy the workout and plenty of ’chirp’ in the recovery jogs or walk. This was today’s workout and not a moment too soon as it was just enough of a challenge for a tired marathoner to find some spark without hurting myself!

No.2: 500s. Usually 10 – 12 x 500s starting each new rep every 2min 30sec. I used to run 500’s from the home gate to the mailbox back at the farm as a kid. No.1 is the only other place where I have found the distance fun. It’s an awesome workout with company taking it in turns to lead each interval.

No.3: 1k reps. Recovery depends on fitness. Ok so this isn’t really original! I find the grass if No.1 the only place ’bang out k reps’ if I want to run well for the rest of the week!

No.4: Fartlek. 1 lap on, half lap off, half lap on, half lap off. This is a great fartlek type workout with change of pace throughout. Usually we go for a goal number of cycles. 5 cycles for the developing runner and 8 cycles for a marathoner getting into some kind of shape!

No.5: Descending set. This has been a fun inclusion over the past 12 months and consists of the following 2000m, 1500m, 1km, 800m, 400m, 300m. The varied distances gives everyone a chance to show their feathers!


*Bradney Hill named after local md runner David Bradney who is known to slow somewhat on the south eastern corner of the oval. When in full flight however none have matched him in recent years.

images courtesy of David Robertson (Robbo)

No.1