Jeff Riseley and Tom Fawthorpe training in Melbourne, Australia

The Change: A Runner’s Tribe Journal by Tom Fawthorpe

In April this year I made the tough decision to move training groups. I was with my old coach John for 13 years, so as you can understand it was pretty hard for me to break the news to him and my group that it was time for me to move on. I had many solid performances under John and some people would probably question leaving when everything was working so well. He is a very good coach with a lot of knowledge, however an opportunity came up to train with another group and it was too good to turn down.

I am now very lucky and fortunate to be coached by Andrew “Jack” Russell and training with a solid group of guys who include Jeff Riseley, Zak Patterson and James Hansen. Richard Huggins is also a big part of the group as well, he is at every session keeping an eye on us.

National 1500m Final 2016: Photo by Ewa Facioni
National 1500m Final 2016: Photo by Ewa Facioni

Our training environment is a laid back one, which suits me perfectly. There is no fuss and we all get a long really well. Even though it’s laid back it is still a very professional set up and we still work as hard as anyone else. This professionalism probably comes from Jack as he is heavily involved at Hawthorn Football Club and has worked with a lot of elite athletes over the years. Jeff also brings a lot of the professionalism to the group as well due to racing at a very elite level for a number of years. In my old group I was the “top dog” but now I’m just one of the boys which I like. Although the group doesn’t revolve around me anymore, I still feel and know that I’m a big part of the group. Jack and Jeff have spent a lot of time on me making sure I’ve had a smooth transition into my new training program and environment.

My attitude towards training and recovery has seen a big change. An example of this is after training Id generally treat myself to a Slurpee, but now I’m straight onto a recovery shake that Jeff recommended to me. This starts the recovery process a lot quicker than what a Slurpee would and helps me pull up better for my next session. Being around these guys I’ve learnt that if I’m not doing the little things right I’m going to get found out at training pretty quickly.

Jack monitors our training very closely using an app called Training peaks. We load all our data from our GPS watches onto the app. I’m still getting my head around the app, but from the data on our watches Jack can see how hard we are really working during reps and also how quickly we recover between reps all by our Heart Rate reading. This app also gives you a chronic fitness score, so I can now physically see when I am getting fitter.  Also on the app is a calendar so I can see what my training looks like for the week.

National 1500m Final 2016: by Ewa Facioni
National 1500m Final 2016: by Ewa Facioni

Sessions are quite a bit different for me now. My main sessions are on Tuesday and Saturdays. Tuesdays rotates between track, fartlek and threshold runs. Fartlek and Threshold runs are something I’ve done a bit of in the past, but now I am doing them more regularly. Saturdays are generally Police Paddocks or hills. Another change is now I am always chasing someone or having someone sit on me in training. This gives me that little bit more motivation to work harder during a rep.  My track workouts are now longer and have shorter recoveries. Our track sessions always have a mix of aerobic and anaerobic workouts. No reps are the same pace which is something I wasn’t use to as most of my training was always done at set pace. I joined the group at a good time as Jeff and Zak were preparing for Europe and I was just coming off track season. This was good because Jack was able to see how I would cope with their training. It was good for me also as I got insight as to what training will be like later in the year when we are preparing for the domestic season.

So far training has been going really well and I haven’t felt out of place at all. The boys, Jack and Richo have all made me feel very welcome.  To my surprise I’ve been able to hold my own with these guys, but as Jack has stressed it is important for me to stay patient as it will take me some time to adjust to this new style of training.  I’ve got one eye on next season, but at the moment the focus is to get through winter fit and healthy leading into the 2016/17 domestic season.

Thanks for reading!