My name is Riley. I’m a twenty-year-old 800/1500 m runner from Melbourne coached by Mark Hipworth. Having only taken to the sport back in year 8 I’m still pretty new to it and am still learning a lot. As a junior I have had a little bit of success and more recently I’ve found some in the pro running scene, however, a spell of stress fractures in my foot over the past 24 months has not helped. Alas I feel I’m finally over the injury hurdle (touch wood) and finally have some training under my belt which will hopefully make this season interesting.
Running both the 800 and 1500 makes training interesting and at times very painful as both races have different energy system requirements and thus requires different training methods and sessions. This can make for some weeks with four high-quality sessions. To account my weekly layout is a bit different. To some this is blasphemy, but I do not long run on Sundays, instead, I do speed work with some of the sprinters in my group and long run on Wednesdays instead. Backing up Saturday’s session with training Sunday makes for a pretty tiring weekend especially when pair with working at Chadstone Shopping Centre.
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Anyways, here are 4 of my key sessions:
As wired as it seems hills are probably my favourite type of workout. I am not sure as to why, but they have always seemed to bring a smile to my face. We are very lucky in that Melbourne has a wide selection of hills with varying gradients that we can use to alter the stimulus of the hill and thus the focus of the session. Lower gradient hills such as Yarra Park next to the MCG are better are great for developing greater running economy and aerobic strength. Higher gradient hills such as Airlie Street next to the tan, Walmer Street in Kew, or Stanley Avenue in Oakleigh – which I personally believe is the toughest of the three – are good for developing anaerobic endurance, power, and mental toughness. Depending on what we need to develop during the season will determine what type of hills we get. I feel hills are vital for everyone especially middle distance and distance runners – there are a plethora of research articles that suggest this conclusion.
Caulfield Park sessions
These have been a tradition in the Hippo Athletic Club long before I was born. Traditionally the session is 6 by 3 minutes with a minute’s rest. Whilst the route has changed slightly – thankfully it is a lot flatter now – since the likes of Mark Hipworth, Peter Bourke started the doing the session in the 1980s. Special mention to Hippo who is still doing the sessions! I remember way back when I was about 9 years old. I would warm up for tennis by walking across the carpark and joining in on the strides that the group was doing. It wasn’t until my first session back at Caulfield Park (in about 2016) when I connected the dots that it was the same group. Warm up takes place religiously between 9 and 9:10 (for those who run on Kenyan time) each and every Saturday. Numbers ebb and flow depending on how far away the easter weekend is. The session itself ranges from 30 second intervals for the sprinters to 3 minutes for the distance group. Typically, as well, the rep range is 4-8. Regardless, each rep is always on a 4-minute cycle which makes to time recoveries if you get a bit muddled up on the watch. This session changes purpose as training cycles shift. During our base phase, it tends to be a relatively faster session. As we get into the thick of summer though, Saturdays at Caulfield Park become the key aerobic session for us.
1k + 8-10 * 400
This workout we do year-round. Us in the middle-distance group mainly consist of 800/1500 guys and thus it is important to keep that connection and feel of the track all year round, so we are better adjusted come speed endurance workouts in summer. This also makes it a great marker of our fitness. During the winter these sessions tend to be a little more relaxed and tempo style of track work and slowly over the season the times drop. This session does a really good job at building strength as the k at the start adds just enough fatigue to feel it in the last couple of 4s. The 4s also tend to be steady through the first half then we cut down and come the last rep the competitive juices can begin to flow. This has become a comfort workout for us and it’s always nice seeing it in the weekly plan.
3 x 600 (2 mins rest) + 4 x 300 (4 mins rest)
What makes this session so good is also what makes me wince when I find out we have it in the week. It hurts a lot. This is one of our ‘tweener’ workouts that ticks both 800 and 1500 specific boxes without swaying too much either way and negating the other. Despite the fatigue built up in the session – which usually leads to a day of laying in bed – it is a really enjoyable session and teaches you how to run fast on tired legs. It is one of those few sessions which I find really mimics how that last 300 metres of a race feels, which is hard for a workout to do.
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