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Cessnock Training Camp

The teamgazellerunning training camp held in Cessnock was kicked off by the Hunter Pure Performance Track Challenge. Dylan Offord, Jonathan (Jonty) Meaker, and I competed in the 1500m. Jonty competed in the open community race whilst Dylan and I competed in the Open A race. Jonty gave it his best effort and ran bravely for a 1500m PB of 4:18. In the A race, the banter between competitors was widely evident. Mostly between Dylan and I but it was there. Dylan ended up finishing with a relatively fast time considering his 1500m fitness in a time of 4:11, and I finished with a time of 4:01 which was a PB.

The Sunday Long run, a staple run for every distance runner. We started Sunday morning on some nice trails in a national park near Cessnock just past the zoo. Soon after beginning, Bradley, Jonty, and I realised that we had already dropped Dylan on the first hill! Making matters worse for Dylan, his shirt was already off and we were going at 5:00min/km pace. He tells the story that he ‘zones out’ when really we dropped him so we didn’t have to listen to his dribble. At 30mins, Bradley and Jonty flipped, to finish the day with 60mins of quality running and above-average company (Dylan was still behind). That left just Dylan and I to finish our prescribed ‘18km’. The trails and views got better as the run went on and sad to say it but Dylans chat did get a little better as well. We had rolling hills, dirt at the feet, and some nice views of the surrounding farmland of Cessnock. I finished with 18km while Dylan completed not 18km but 21km. A solid start to a Sunday if you ask me.

Tuesday saw us complete a workout consisting of some tempo + speed work or broken 600’s. Jonty, Dylan, and I were accompanied by Brad’s junior athlete from Cessnock, Zach. He had an awesome session, running strong and fast for the whole session.

The session was: 3mile tempo + 600, 2 x 300, 3 x 200, 6 x 100. For most, this workout is quite easily read and understood. But for Dylan Offord? Oh, I don’t know… We started our tempo as do most distance runners (too fast). Although we found a nice rhythm and finished off nicely, with Jonty having an awesome tempo. As the session progressed, Dylan saw himself having an astonishing session yet “lack of speed.” After the fourth 100m rep, Dylan had thought the session had been finished. Clearly, his extension mathematics course hasn’t quite worked out for him as 4 x 100 does not equal 600 (as the set was broken 600’s). However, he picked himself back up nicely to finish very strongly along with myself, Jonty, and Zac trailing behind him.

Wednesday: 1 x hill rep (aka 30-50min easy run), and the welcoming of Thomas Virgona to the training camp. Dylan had been self-appointed to choose where our next run would be. It didn’t surprise one of us that he chose a hilly trail. To be fair to Dylan, the run was really hard yet the views of the vineyards and valleys were worth the hurt. The real run was an easy 30-50mins + 6 x 80m builds. Tom and Jonty completed 30mins while Dylan and I finished off with 50mins. A nice run and a nice morning overall, thanks to Dylan for the route suggestion.

Another track session was brought to us on a warm Thursday morning at the Turner Park grass track. 6 or 10 x 400m @ 1500m DP off 90 seconds rest + 4 x 200m ramp was on the cards for our team today. While Brad’s junior athletes Zac and Coen had 6 x 300m off 90 seconds. Jonty and Tom have scheduled 6 reps while Dylan and I had 10. This was meant to be a tough session, and we found that out after the first 3 reps. Once Tom and Jonty joined in after Dylan and I had completed 4, we started to get going again. On the last 400m rep, I was feeling it a lot. I had found it hard for most of the session but was able to maintain the pace. Jonty, Tom, and Dylan had a massive last rep all coming in faster than they had before in the session, with Dylan running an impressive 62 second final 400m after struggling early into the set. This may have been made easier to do by having a mid-set recovery rep! For myself, the last rep was hard and not very fast, although only 1-2 seconds off the pace. After the 400’s we stumbled over to the ‘ramp’ or very slight hill to complete 4 x 200m as 100 @ 1500DP, 100 @ 800DP. Everyone was fast and strong on these ‘ramp’ repetitions with Jonty absolutely motoring. He was very impressive in these reps, maybe showing some of his 22 seconds 200m speed!

Overall, it was a very good and fun session with everyone. Special mention to Thomas Virgona who is recently coming back from injury and HSC study, who smashed the session and surprised himself and everyone else. Although he did take one rep really hard, made sure someone took a photo of it, then posted it on Instagram. After that rep, he took it easy again, classic Virgona!

Our final day of the training camp was held at Maitland Park Run. All of Brad’s athletes or ‘gazelles’ intended on running a hard and fast park run. It sure was hard but maybe not as fast as we had expected. The course was on some nice gravel and/or crushed dirt however it was quite a technical course, having lots of sharp corners. Which wasn’t made much easier with the traffic of other runners coming in the other direction after the 2.5km turn around point. Everyone put in a solid effort in the 5km, which was rewarded by Bradley with 16 x 80m hills afterwards. You can find the results of the park run on teamgazellerunning’s Instagram page @teamgazellerunning.

In summary, the week in Cessnock was loads of fun, a great experience, and an eye-opener into what it is like to train like an elite athlete. I personally had a fantastic time spent training and vibing with the boys and their well below average banter for a week in a caravan. I would like to say a very big thank you to the head coach and founder of teamgazellerunning Bradley Woods for hosting a training camp in his home town and for his continuous support towards everyone in his squad, not only during this week but also week in and week out. We are all very appreciative of your time and effort that you invest in us as athletes, so thank you again:)

Written by Lockie Townsend.

Distance runner from teamgazellerunning

Lives 400km from Sydney

Has the slowest 400m PB in the squad

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