Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Year in Sydney

So the milestone has snuck up and passed by pretty damn quickly – it was actually three weeks ago that marked my one-year over here in Sydney. Some amazing experiences, some heart break, some frustrations – everything you’d expect have been experienced, but in the end, no road worth travelling is easy!

The decision to move over east was a few years in the making, but actually packing my bags and moving was one of the most nerve-wracking things I had done. Luckily enough, I had a wonderful girlfriend move over with me, making things a lot easier. We got set up in Sydney, got stuck into the training, and within a week I was competing for my new club, and had my first state medal at the NSW XC Relays in Miranda.

I quickly learnt that there was a huge difference in the professionalism and ability over here than what I’d been exposed to in Perth. We had quite a few good young guys running well in Perth (Ethan Heywood, Josh Tedesco, Sam Mcentee and Marc See) – but getting into a squad with a 3m34 1500m runner, a 7:56 3000m runner and a 2:11 marathoner took things to a whole new level.

The guys over here are professional. The first week staying with the Roff family made me realise how much I had to do that I wasn’t already doing. Stretching. Strength work. Ice. Massage. Eating well. Communicating with the coach. In fact, the communication thing is still my weakest point – after chatting to my old coach Ray Boyd once a week, it’s a very new thing to need to be in contact with Ken 3-4 times per week. Even now I still haven’t got it, but slowly but surely learning.

My first real breakthrough came at the national XC in Brisbane, where I took my best senior result from the mid 20’s to 6th. It was a day where most things went right. I didn’t go out hard with the lead pack. I conserved, worked through the field, and finished strongly. This also coincided with my first national title – winning gold in the NSW team. Although I felt a bit strange not wearing the black and gold, it was a privilege to run for NSW, and being part of a winning team made it all the better.
I moved on from there to the state 3000m, where I ran a PB of 8:14, and then onto Zatopek Classic, with a 10km debut and PB of 29.36. Things were looking good, and I was ready to push for a possible birth at World XC.

However, the decision to go on holidays with my Girlfriends family to the French Alps/Spain was one that possibly bought about the next few months of pain. Given the chance to change my decision to go to Falls Creek instead, I defiantly WOULDN’T have changed a thing. Travelling around Europe and experiencing so many new things was something that I’ll remember forever, and make much more accepting to new things (like eating snails and Foie Gras!) However, the walking around the Paris streets in unsupportive shoes, and much training on cement put my achillies in a bad place, and upon coming home, I was always behind the 8-ball.

I actually managed to run a 3000m pb again, this time 8:11, after holding onto Jeremy Roff through half way (3:59). It was a big moment for me, finally getting under that time of 8:12.20 that all Western Australians hold dear – being the record of Ray Boyd. Although my time didn’t count as a record, I felt a sense of achievement.

The following week, my achillies went, and a 3-month period of catch up began, bringing me to three weeks ago, where I had cortisone and a weeks rest.
Currently, I’m about to start sessions again, and get the ball rolling on winter ’11. First race up is Nowra for State XC, and even though it’s the hardest course I’ve ever run, I’m looking forward to get the racing shoes back on. Having to forego Gold Coast half isn’t great, but hopefully come national XC, I’ll be ready to challenge last years finishing place.

Being in such a positive place, it’s so easy to get motivated. Knowing that I’ll be turning up to training to run with guys that have run at World Champs, Commonwealth Games, World XC, World Uni Games and have national titles under their belt is always something to look forward to. If that’s not motivation enough, then I don’t know what is! Jeremy has just headed over to Europe/America to try and get a World Champs/Olympic Qualifier, and with Jeff already in the team for Worlds, there is a buzz around the group. Hopefully the achillies holds up, and I can have something positive to report back in the not too distant future!

Lastly, I want to send a shout out to the guys at the Running Centre, who have looked after me for a long time, from being in to the present day. Raf, Jason, Cody, Doigy and the crew have kept me on the move, even if now all they can do is tell me how good I am at dancing.
If any of you guys want to come and get a closer look at how some of the best guys in the country train, come over and join us for some training. Feel free to give me a buzz if you’re in town, I’m always keen to run with some local Perth kids!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Steady Steady

Finally, things are starting to progress. 30 minutes has gone to 50 minutes, and then 50 minutes went to 60 minutes. So far, the only soreness I have been feeling is that of a person who hasn’t done much running of late – so calves/quads etc. No pesky achillies or heel. Fingers crossed.

Along with upping my runs slightly, I’ve been able to get through my first two sessions in almost a month, and man does it feel like it’s been a lot longer. Tuesday night and today I have been training with Bridey Delaney, trying to get my legs moving again. Tuesday was a good shake out, a nice solid tempo for me and a good hard hit out for her. Then again today, down at the track I was pacing her for a few one lap reps of the track. Although they weren’t super fast compared to what the boys were doing, I still managed to get that lactic feeling coming on after a few reps, making me realise how much commitment and hard work its going to take to get back into 8:11/29.38 shape.

All this aside, its another step in the right direction. Gold Coast is about 11 long runs away, and here’s to hoping that by then, at least 8 can be of 2 hours or more, and along with 3 hard sessions a week, I can be in top form when it comes to my first real competitive half since the Melbourne Half Marathon in 2008.
And whilst I'm out there struggling to break 60 seconds for a 400m, Nipper and Roffy are looking great coming up to the National 1500m next weekend, and Jeff is finally back into training after his 2:13 marathon at Beppu in Feb.  Hopefully it’s only a couple of weeks before I can be clinging onto the back of them again in training.

Also, a BIG shout out to Marc See, who I hear ran a big PB over 1500m in Perth at the recent National Series Final. If every distance guy down in Perth took the lead of Marc, by turning up to Helena every weekend, consistently putting session after session on the table, and not missing a run for anything, the standard is well on the way to lifting. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the results from the ASICS Bridges Fun Run.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More "me" time

Sometimes as an athlete, it’s too easy to get carried away. You’re on a high, nothing can stop you, then all of a sudden…bang. A reality check stands in your way.

This reality check came for me at the worst time (is there ever a good time to get injured?) Summer had been going well, my training was going great, and I had just run a season best over 1500m (3:52) and a PB over 3000m (8:11) – which beats that magical mark that all Western Australians strive to achieve… the state best time set  by my old coach Ray Boyd many moons ago. Of course, this time doesn’t count as a record, seeing as I now am registered in NSW – but all the same, achieving a goal that has been a long time set is something to be proud of.
A week later, I punched out some short work after the 3:52 1500m, and started to feel a bit of a twinge in my achillies. Having run through this soreness for quite some time, I thought nothing of it, and continued to train. The next time I was at the track, I didn’t get past the warm up. Ken decided that I was to do a week of easy running, and to monitor it.

What ended up happening was a week of one day running, one day rest, and then ultimately a whole week with no running whatsoever. Its amazing to see how in such a short space of time, reality can come crashing back down to earth.
This last two weeks have been the longest two weeks of my life since moving to Sydney. No more than 30mins of running per day, strengthening exercises every night, constant icing and massage, anti inflammatorys, rinse and repeat. While this has frustrated the hell out of me (and probably more so Gemma, as I now have tons of unspent energy every day!) However, it has made me realise a couple of things.

1)     Never take your running for granted. Previously, I have got away with minimal stretching, minimal core/circuit work (maybe once per fortnight if at all), and not wearing the right footwear a lot of the time (thongs). This injury has made me realise how much I need to take care of my body and keep it strong.

2)     Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. I realised once I wasn’t running how much I analysed not only everyone else’s running, but what they were doing in their day to day life. I realised how much things like facebook had taken over my life, and as a result, I am now facebook free. I don’t know how long it will last, but it has been refreshing to be able to concentrate on myself and what I am doing, rather than worrying about what all my ‘friends’ on facebook are up to every moment of the day.

3)     A training squad is invaluable. As much as it has been annoying to not be able to run, it has given me the opportunity to sit out a few races, and watch the boys and girls compete. Whilst I’d love to be out there racing, it has been great to support the team, and this has kept me sane. Not having a close knit group in Perth would mean that every time I was injured, I’d go into seclusion, and become a hermit until I was better again.

As I am now a non-facebook user, I will have no excuse to not be updating this blog more often. I know I’ve promised regular updates a lot, but now I have a good 30 hours a week extra on my hands, I think this writing thing is going to come back pretty strong.
I’d also like to send a shout out to all the CHV guys who made it to the valley when I was back the other week, it was a pleasure to run with you all and catch up again. Hopefully, I’ll be back in town in the not too distant future, and we can do it all again.
Running Regards,


Monday, August 23, 2010

Good Result

So the culmination of 3 months of hard work in Sydney, plus 3 years of hard work back in Perth has resulted in my best senior result at a National XC - 7th across the line, and 6th Australian. 

Funnily enough, the race itself panned out excactly like I thought it would. No one wanting to take the pace in the first lap, then quickening over the middle 6k and coming down to who could hold on the longest. Through the first 3000m, a pack of what felt like 20 runners all stayed together, and ensured that a lot of jostling, pushing and shoving took place. Even at the 6km mark, after Dent, Adams and Hunt had made a break, I was still running with guys like Chinny, Nipperess, Harry Summers, Alan Craigie, Steve Kelly, Kane Willie, Pete Nowill, Brad Croker and a host of others. 

This pack seemed to split up over the next 3k, with Nipper and a few others dropping off, and Steve Kelley and Kiwi Dale Warrander skipping ahead. I gritted my teeth through the last 4k, one stage in 4th place looking at an optimistic third, and at one place 7th and looking at a possible 10th. However I pulled through for the 7th place, and after a few bad results in my previous senior races, I was finally happy at the finish line.

From here, I'm off to Perth on Thursday for the City to Surf, where I'm out to become the first Perth guy since Boydie in 2001 to win the event. Hopefully this weekend, plus a few more strong results might see me gain my first rep singlet at the Chiba Ekiden relays.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hay's in the Barn Pre

Sitting in on a Saturday night doesn't usually take much effort, unless you are watching a West Coast game. I've been trying to follow the boys since I've been here, but with the back pages devoted to Rugby League, its a bit tough at times. Watching the Eagles go down twice in two weeks in very close games has been pretty frustrating, especially waiting till 11pm to watch them on Sydney TV!

The last couple of weeks have been tough, tiring, and seemed like they'd never end, but finally, we're here. A couple of big weeks of mileage, hard sessions and day in day out running, and I feel like I'm ready to roll. This mornings session actually felt like raceday, lining up for a fartlek with Roff, Hunt, Chinny, Nipper, Bart and Yugi. The grass was freshly cut in the park, the sun was shining, and as my old training partner Shaph would say, it felt like Grand Final day. As we moved around from rest to recovery, it felt comforting to know that I was in the company of some pretty elite guys, and to be able to hold my own is a sign that improvements are coming.

I also began doing something that I should have started 3 months ago. Ice baths. I started with the feet in a bucket today, and putting them in icey water from the freezer wasn't as soothing as I had hoped it would be. Im sure next time I annoy Gem, she'll pull the video out and put me to shame. It certainly reminds me how stupid we are up at Falls, sitting in the aqueducts. Fingers crossed, the short term pain will lead to long term gain!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I'm Running for NSW

For me, this senior National XC is going to be different than the previous 7 I’ve competed at for two reasons. One, I feel fully prepared both physically and mentally for the first time in a long time. Second of all, I wont be running for WA.

Now I know this is going to disappoint a lot of guys back in Perth, and I need to wear that. But here is my reasoning.

Since I moved to NSW two months ago, I have been part of a team. When we arrived at Sydney, one of the boys was there to pick us up, welcoming us with open arms. Every session, the same core group turns up day in day out. Not only sessions, but also easy runs. We warm up together, we warm down together. We go out for coffee and breakfast together. Every day I run with team Green, it reminds me why I came to Sydney – because I wanted to train with a group of runners, not by myself.

These guys and girls have done a lot for me, from giving me lifts to training, to including me in out of running events. It just so happens that out of the 6 that are likely to be selected for the NSW team, the top 3 are going to be from our team – Jeff Hunt, James Nipperess and Russ Dessiax Chin.

When I told the boys that I wanted to run for WA, they were disappointed, and I can see why. They do a lot for me, and these guys want a national title pretty bad. So this is the way I am going to repay them, by jumping on as the 4th runner, and working hard to get NSW a team medal.

Since leaving the SchoolSport WA team, I’ve been to every National XC since 2005. And what I've realised, is that apart from Perth in 2007, I’ve been about the only one. Coming from a boys school, team athletics was something I was immersed in, and something that I loved. So I couldn’t understand why there was no support from my fellow WA runners when it came to national events. 2005 there was one WA guy, 2006 there was 3, 2008 there was 2, 2009 there was only me. So it would annoy me for people to think I’m deserting WA, because I’ve never felt like my fellow WA runners have got behind our state XC team, rather wanting to run the Perth City to Surf, and stay in the fishbowl.

I don’t want this to look like an attack on my mates in Perth, because its not. The guys in Perth have been part of my life for the last 8-10 years of my running career. But while will always be home, I currently hold a NSW drivers license, I train with a group of guys in Sydney, and I’m going to the polls to vote in Sydney. Ill finally toe the line with a group of guys that all want to win a title. So while ill always be the kid from WA, I'm currently part of a team in Sydney.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

An Insight

Being stuck inside on a stormy Sunday evening, I thought I'd finish my easy week of 120km with a map to give everyone at home the chance to see where we do some of our running. I'll endeavour to post maps of the long run and a few of the workouts as the weeks go on. 

This week it's the Wednesday 1hr30 run. Click on the map for a larger view.

We start at the residence of Jeff Hunt, and make our way around the border of Queens Park, before tacking onto the white railing at Centennial Park. After going around the lake, we head out of the park, and up ANZAC pde, before eventually looping around and making the crossing of death over to the Moore Park side, where we loop around to the SCG. We finally get back to Centennial Park, where we run around the outskirts back to Queens Park, up the hill, and then an extra lap for good measure.

Its taken a few weeks to get used to more volume and less speed on Wednesdays, however when running with a 2:11 guy you tend to clip along at a fair pace anyway. Finishing my Sunday 30k runs and watch Jeff head off for another half hour, moving around at 3m20km pace leaves me wondering just how fit I need to get some times. As a very wise Wombat often told me, patience is paramount.