It’s been a long time coming, though it was inevitable that I would eventually have to post a personal blog of my own.
Running has been a huge part of my life, for as long as I can remember. I started in one of the earliest age groups possible at Keilor Little Athletics. As a kid who just enjoyed running around, having fun with others. My older brother, Johnny, showed quite promising signs early on, hence our parents decision to get us a coach. Gregor Gojrzewski was a coach recommended to us by other families at the club. He has been my coach, as well as my brothers and sisters, ever since. I still wasn’t a fantastic running child, even after a good couple of years of training. Although I was no stand out, distance running events always seemed to be where I showed the most potential. I believe everyone has a turning point, if not several. I can remember mine so clearly. It was a Little Athletics Cross Country Open Day down at Coburgs athletic track. It was an event mid way or so through the Cross Country season, in which I probably averaged 3rd or 4th in each race. Being an Open Day, I knew that there would be more athletes competing, some that I had never really seen before, so if I could hit my 3rd or 4th spot on this day, then I would be pleased. For some reason though, I went out and took the lead from the moment the gun went and no one passed me the entire race. I know it was only a Little Athletics race, though looking back, it is so surprising how much one race can do. I went on and did quite well as a junior in all the region and state meets, with a few state titles and places to my name. Unfortunately though, my school at the time didn’t allow their students to compete in the school district competitions, which meant that I had no opportunity to see how I would go through districts, regions, states, nationals etc… It was only until I was in Year 7 at St. Bernard’s College, that I made my first National team and got to experience what that was like.
Fast forward a good 13 or so years since I joined Gregor’s running group and I have just completed another altitude training camp at Falls Creek. We’ve been doing our training camps at Falls Creek for a while now, though the last couple of years have followed the same training guide. We would go up for 13 days, 12 nights, just after Christmas and would stay into the New Year. The first day would be an easy run, usually done mid afternoon after everyone has arrived and settled in. The next 12 days would be made up into 3 cycles of a 4 day rotation. Trying not to go into too much detail of what we do, each day would contain a harder session in the morning, followed by an easier session in the afternoon. The only exception to this is the 4th day of each cycle, which would be filled with our longest run of the cycle in the morning and then we would have the afternoon off. For the other three days of each cycle we would do different kinds of sessions – hills, gym circuits, short faster repetitions and longer repetitions. It is definitely a program that is much more strenuous then our program throughout the year, though if managed well, I believe it can be highly beneficial.
The real benefit for me of training like we do at Falls Creek is the ability to monitor how you are doing all the time. We complete three cycles of the same sessions, allowing us to monitor how we are going compared to the cycle before. Which also allows us to plan how we will tackle the next 4 days. The previous years Falls Creek, I did really well in the first two cycles, probably too well. However, blew up in the last cycle, only completing just over 25km, out of an expected 75km. This year, I was able to plan better and made sure that I did things differently. I took the sessions easier in the first cycle, whilst still maintaining high level Km’s through the easier runs. This worked out much better then the last camp as I was able to finish the camp in a much stronger position then when I started. Finishing a 13 day running camp with over 260km in the legs provided a great mental boost and confidence booster for the second half of the track season. I knew that I was in the best shape that I had ever been in.
From a quick Google search, I am told that Falls Creek Village sits at an altitude of 1600m. To be honest, I don’t know all the facts behind whether this is a suitable altitude for gaining the optimal benefits. Or whether we should be sleeping at altitude and training as close to sea level as possible. I’m sure the altitude has some benefit, however this camp isn’t about that for me. Like most of us, I have work, university and other sporting commitments. Falls Creek allows me to forget about everything else and just focus on running. It gives me a feeling of what it would be like being a full time runner. The number one thing that I’ve learnt from these types of camps, is that I must focus as much on my maintenance and recovery, as my work on the track.
Without a doubt, my biggest mode of recovery at Falls would be the aqueduct. It’s a bit strange, because to be honest, everything I know about cold water and what it does when you put your body into it tells me that it really wouldn’t do too much in terms of recovery. That is, unless you were bruised from a run for some reason and wanted to slow blood from getting to the submerged areas. In fact, from back in my Physical Education days at school, the cold water makes my body do almost opposite of what I want it doing. For some reason though, after doing it, I feel better. So mentally, if I am feeling better, then I think that helps me, sounds strange, but each to their own I guess. Other forms of recovery include massages from other members of the training group, as well as the usual stretching and getting on the rollers or tennis balls.
Falls Creek provided an amazing experience and I look forward to it again later on in the year.
I sit here writing this blog the night before my first Open Nationals. The usual pre-race thoughts are running through my head, but it’s just another race. I know that the work that I did up at Falls Creek, played a major role in getting me to where I’m at, and I’m confident that I can finish the season off strong!
Thanks for reading my first blog! I will be writing another in a month or so time to recap the track season and what my goals are going into the next one.