With today being Tuesday in the midst of winter I would be confident in saying that the most abundant interval session attempted would have been 1km repeats or reps. I would qualify the participants as being competitive distance runners who structure their training according to the Australian Distance Running Handbook. This volume being a companion to the Australian Marathon Textbook.
In essence the Australian Distance Running Handbook has within its scope runners training for a more diverse range of events than it’s shelf companion. Let me explain.
About 15 years ago when I first ventured to Falls Creek for the annual post-Christmas runner’s gathering. The comradery I experienced was unbelievable and along with the ideal running conditions I was attracted back year after year. Interestingly, the group training sessions that most adhered to were hand me downs from the iconic legends of Australian marathon running and coaching.
My first experience of a Tuesday workout at Falls Creek was a 5k warm up jog to the beginning of ’Fartlek’ or more specifically ’Mona Fartlek’. This 20 minute workout had been performed religiously by Steve Moneghetti during his time there for the past 20 years and had no doubt worked its way into the fabric of ’Falls’ training.
Those who did not want to run the fartlek usually broke off during the warm up jog in dribs and drabs and performed their workout. The main group was always doing the fartlek.
Fast forward 15 years and the tradition has now changed. Enter Craig Mottram who broke through the wall and gave permission for white guys to challenge the Africans. Mottram’s favourite training location was Falls Creek where he went about things differently to the marathoners that had set the tone before him. One of his lasting contributions to the Falls Creek training scape is a well-positioned white quartz rock (although I do think Garry Henry must have done the hard yards and moved the rock into position!) about 1k down the trail from the start line of the Tuesday fartlek. The casual observer now would see hundreds of athletes running back and forth over this 1km section on any given Tuesday during January because performing the 1k session now ’traditional’.
Running 1k reps is a great workout year round and can be adjusted accordingly. The number of reps, the intensity and recovery are all ways that I can change the workout. My 1k session today was a standard 8 repeats with 90 seconds rest. That is about 50% of the time it takes me to run them. As I creep closer to the marathon I will challenge myself with the same session but reduce the rest down to 1 minute whist if I was preparing for a 5k I would run the 1k reps off 2 or 3 minutes recovery.
A little gem I picked up from observing Mottram nail his 1k session at Falls Creek was his ability to throw in a fast rep and then return to his previous rhythm. This takes some doing, particularly as he was already running fast then proceeded to run 10 seconds faster! I have used this in my own training since and with the guys I coach but am yet to find someone who can replicate it well. Usually they are so spent from running the hard rep that returning to the previous rhythm is simply beyond them.
It has me thinking that well might we train like champions such as Mona and Mottram, it’s not just the training that made them soâ€¦
Pictured above is Craig Mottram running the 1km session as described at Falls Creek. Craig, Garry Henry (bike) and Nic Bideau (coach/manager) where a formidable team from 2002 – 2008.