I was actually taking in my surrounding during a hard run. I was part way into my second 20 minute, threshold interval. My heart rate was sitting on about 88% HRmax, my breathing was up, and there was the deep discomfort in my legs that told me I was really working. Funny thing was I had already had a couple of short conversations with some cyclists. One had commented that it was good to see there were still people who trained hard, but were friendly at the same time. This got me thinking about what has changed in my world of endurance sports.

A lot has changed. Not the least bit since so much in the rest of my life has changed too. No longer coaching, not being at university and doing rotating shift work means that I can't commit weekly to any group training sessions. Maybe it's because I am now more removed from the scene, but I now believe the culture is no longer what attracted me to triathlon and kept me there.

This is a bit of a lament on what I used to enjoy that now seems harder to come by. These include focused hard training that is social, all inclusive and fun at the same time. The work was about learning how to race to win, how to use more than just speed to get across the line first, but it was all good natured. Recovery was part of training, but it wasn't spoken about ad nauseum. There were less politics. People just turned up to train. Racing during training sessions was used at the right time. Coaches came from a background of practical knowledge, not just from having completed a weekend course. There was room for the art of coaching, not just applying the principles from a text book.

I'm not saying these things don't exist, just that they are a bit harder to come across. An important reason is the increase in the number of people taking up endurance running and triathlon. There is the whole new demographic of personal training clients or groups entering the sport. There are now more people competing in a business sense to make money out of the sport. Fashion in training trends appears more apparent and everyone is now an expert because of the easy access to information overload.

Over the last few years I have intermittently joined in on some group training, either through invites or as a drop in on some people I used to train with or coach. Maybe it is just me, but I thought there was more separation. There were the so-called social group that avoided doing the full session and frowned upon those that did, calling them too serious. Then there was the opposite end with some faster athletes who were shooting their mouths off about how good they were. Maybe I'm getting older, but I remember when you would be quickly brought back in line for blabbing about how you were better than others.

Furthermore, why do so many people seem to be carrying an injury? Surely with the increased focus on recovery, the higher volume and presumably better knowledge of training practices then the injury rates should be less. Are more people injured simply because more people from wider demographics are participating? Are the training practices not as good as believed? Or are people simply complaining about normal training aches and pains that didn't used to be called injuries?

The basic feel of the change to me is that things have moved away from just a simple group of like minded people working together to achieve some good training and racing. It is now commercialised, and training is offered as a package which is overshadowed by a combination of being tailored for the masses, not the individuals and promises of easier results.

So as I ran along the Main Yarra Trail, I crossed Bonds Rd, and remembered that spot very well. It was the where we met many times after a thorough warm up. We'd look up the road at the first of a three steep hills. The training plan was simple. The group would run up and down the hills many times, pretty hard to very hard until we were all stuffed. Then we'd all hobble back talking rubbish. Now that site is signed with an emergency marker.... MYT566.


  1. Good post Jason. Makes me nostalgic for the group runs we did at Lane Cove Park. At least we have speedygeoff's non-commercial training sessions here in Canberra - good for runners between 37 and 60 minutes for 10k.

    Sadly many newbies believe if you're not paying for it (personal trainers/web programs) it's not worthwhile.


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