Whether it is on the track, on the road, or on the rough terrains of a cross country course, running puts your mind and body to the test. Running asks the muscles in your body whether they have what it takes to push that extra yard, to take that extra stride. Running asks your mind whether it has the capacity to be a master over pain, whether it has the ability to ignore the voice in your head that says “This is too hard.” I’ve been running track seriously since I was thirteen, ranging from 400m right through to 3000m, although I focus mainly on the middle distance events of 800m and 1500m. I’ve been asked many a times why I run around a 400m track lap after lap and my answer is always the same – it simply comes down to passion. There must be a passion for the sport, a drive to succeed, an eagerness to improve. For me personally, my passion for running has been attributed to my training group – locally known as Team GMAN.

I first joined the Team GMAN training group in 2010, led by coach Gareth Elliott (aka GMAN) at the time. I’d been asked to join by a fellow high school mate after he had seen me run in a few of the school cross country races that year. The group consisted mainly of university students and a few high school students, with me being the youngest. Over the years the squad has grown massively to accommodate runners ranging from 800m all the way to the 21k half marathon, as well as a few triathletes. The diversity within the group and the various racing experiences that we all have create a recipe for success, with all knowledge being combined to form one formidable opponent come race day.

Before I give you a little insight into Team GMAN training today, I will first introduce you the team:

• Jonas Aranda: 2013 800m & 1500m Australian Youth Olympic Festival Silver Medallist, 2013 U18’s 800m Silver Medallist (1:51 800m)
• Jordan Makins: Current Australian 800m World Junior Representative (1.49.33)
• Douglas Foulkes-Taylor: 5k – 15.23 + 2014 National XC Silver Medallist
• Alex Dreyer: Half Marathon – 68.15
• Tim Lefroy: 1500m – 3.54
• Daniel McQuie: 800m – 1.55
• Cormac Gallagher: Half Marathon – 74.58
• Christopher Elmslie: 5k – 15.50
• Andy Lewin: 10k – 34.59
• Alain Dutton: 800m – 1.55
• Tom Kozak: 5000m – 16.05
• Ben Green (coach): 5000m – 15.07

I see these boys at least 4-5 days in a week, and they have become like a second family. No goal is too big for us, and everyone’s competitive nature allows for personal bests to be run on a regular basis, as we seek to push each other to that next level constantly. An insight into a typical training day shows that we are also a very laid back and enjoyable group to train with; everyone knows when Team GMAN is in town.

Whilst off the track, we most certainly find time to joke around but as soon as we step foot on the track, it’s down to business as we put ourselves through gruelling sessions. A typical training session always kicks off at 4.50pm with some light hearted hacky sack, the only twist being it’s with a small footy. Don’t be fooled by the fun nature of this game, as Team GMAN hacky sack tests both your flexibility, reflexes and how far you are willing to go to keep that ball in the air. Almost always we have to avoid the speeding bullet ball coming straight for our head delivered by Coach Ben Green, although we have to question whether these are mere accidents due to his lack of ball control or just simply a coach keeping his athletes on their toes. Following this, presuming we all have survived, we go for our usual 3k warm up loop filled with banter – more often than not this is started by banter specialists Cormac “Scorpion” Gallagher and Tim “Farm Dog” Lefroy. Following stretching and some quick drills, we begin our session, such as 6x400m with 90s recovery. But the coach’s job is to put his athletes through pain, and so Coach Greeny decides to add a 1600m pre-stress prior the set of 400s. We look at him to see if he’s joking… He’s not! I must say it is quite a spectacle seeing a bunch of blokes running single file around a track and it definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Of all the aspects of our training group that people view, I feel it’s the effort we put into our training when no one is looking that really shapes us into a great running group. Almost weekly, our sessions can take us through areas where the only signs of life besides ourselves are the turtles and “deadly” snakes we encounter. Our most beloved training area for tempo and fartlek sessions is Herdsman Lake, a 7k loop situated in a picturesque landscape. The sessions that take place here form strong foundations for all racing seasons. As a reward for our efforts during Herdsman sessions, it is a Team GMAN tradition that we head over the road to the local deli and indulge ourselves in the goodness of Flavoured Milk (Flavoured Milk Friday). But not just any type – WA’s finest SunnyDale Flavoured Milk! Although there is always the odd one out, namely Alex ‘King Dog’ Dreyer who decides to drink a whole bottle of custard and vanilla coke at the same time.

Team GMAN would not be the group it is if it wasn’t for our coach Ben Green. A very humble athlete himself, the work he does behind the scenes putting together sessions and programs to help track our progress is phenomenal. He has guided us to become not only fast runners, but intelligent runners, teaching us how to look after our bodies before, during and post training and racing. To ensure the continuing culture of the group, Coach Green only has two rules for the group:
1. Runners must be good blokes
2. Runners must be willing to work hard

So that’s a little insight into the Team GMAN training group. Be sure to keep an eye out for us during the up and coming winter season. Train hard – race hard.