The three-minute session has been my most commonly used speed session for the past 18 years. Today I set it as an appropriate challenge for week one of my 14-week marathon build up. On this magical Autumn morning I was fortunate to have the company of 14 other runners who also thought there was some benefit in running the session too.
The workout is simple enough. Find a good sized set of ovals or a dirt track and then run hard in one direction, rest for 1 minute, run back the other way and see if you can return to your starting point. Repeat for 6 to 8 ‘reps’ in total. Simple but highly effective and whilst I have done this workout in a variety of locations Adamstown ovals in Newcastle is my favourite.
It was here that Ian Leitch (or Leitchy) invited me to train with him one Saturday morning in 1998. Ian was originally from Melbourne but was now working in Newcastle. He was a runner of some note being a former Victorian Mile Champion and even won the NSW Cross Country title in 1994. On this morning in 1998 Ian expected me to provide some company during the session but not for the full set of 8 repetitions at his intensity! The look of surprise was evident after ’reps’ 5, 6, 7 and 8 when he would proclaim, â€œWestcott! You’re still here!â€
That session changed things for me and for Ian as well. He was convinced that I was an untapped talent and assumed the role of mentor or coach. Over the next 4 years Ian would guide me to some magical break though performances culminating in personal best performances from 800m right through to half marathon. I am the better for having Ian as my coach and am fortunate that he remains a great friend and life mentor. Life has moved on for both of us with partners and children but the common bond we forged back then remains strong.
The nature of the coach / athlete relationship can make all the difference between potential being realised or not. For Leitchy and I we had â€œlightening in a bottleâ€, it wasn’t manufactured or planned, it just happened and because of this I lifted to a new performance level.
Hence running 8 x 3 minutes on Adamstown ovals has added significance. It’s where I feel I was discovered as a high performance athlete. There is nothing remarkable about the location, just a bunch of suburban soccer fields, but it’s exactly what is needed when the focus in on pushing the body to its extremes. Thankfully the group of young men and women that joined me out there today all share the same desire to discover that ’something’ to take them to the next level.