Recently, I have been enjoying the structure of “coached sessions”.
As well as running with Generation Run at Croydon and Lilydale, I have been experimenting with #Getitdone Club’s Tuesday night urban track session.
Round Urine Bend
Hard up against the Yarra River and wedged under the Flinders/Southern Cross railway overhead railway line is a perfect 400 metre circuit, complete with cyclists, dead rats and swarms of ducks and seagulls — I always knew track sessions were mean’t to be challenging but the idea of dodging the “wildlife” takes on a meaning of its own at 605’s Track Tuesday.
These sessions are not for the faint hearted; the session last Tuesday (July 10) had us running 3 x 6 minute efforts at slightly faster than best 5K pace.
Haring around the track at 4:20/K pace for 6 minutes a pop (when I have been cranking out 2/3/4 hour runs between 5:45 and 6:45min/K for the past few months) was on its own a challenge without having to contend with stubborn seagulls, but as the session rolled on and fatigue started to set in, the city threw up more distraction.
A former city runner, I have gotten quite used to the bushy Melbourne suburbs.
But, I am suddenly transported into some post-apocalyptic nightmare as flames start shooting out of the towers in front of the Casino.
A cold, dark Melbourne winter filled with hard running, flames, dead rats and the Terminator like rhythm of a metronome beeping at 180bpm as it, and its runner, edge steadily towards me — who thought running around a make-shift track could transport one into a cyberpunk Melbourne.
Run for the hills
The counterpart to all this track work is long runs in the bush around Melbourne.
I was lucky enough to get away, with “Gidders” coaches Chris and Shaun for a fantastic trail run around Mount Buangor State Park, near Ararat.
Arriving at Richard’s Campsite late afternoon, we raced the sun whilst taking on the Beeripmo Circuit – around 20ks and with over 900 metres of vert. the hike is advised to take between 1–2 days, although we were punching for about 3 hours.
When people ask me why I like trail running, I wish I could take them running on trails like this to illustrate it.
From Richards’ it is a long four kilometres up single, rock and root rutted track for the first 400 metres of vertical ascent, and at 10mins/K it is slow going.
I am truly rooted by the top, but the first 5Ks are always hard and I know I need to maintain confidence in my fitness and my ability to run this thing and wait for the groove to find me.
The view from Cave Hill lookout makes the climb worth it and soon after we are back on the trail thrashing along single trail, over rocks and past bushes for a simply joyous four kilometres of undulation forest trail.
I have found my pace, and I am flying.
By far the most spectacular views are from Mount Buangor lookout, after pushing up 800 metres of vert. and along some stunning single tracks and some very runnable management vehicle tracks we climb up another 100 metres, the trail turns left and I launch myself down another single track, happy for some steep down.
Quickly the single track opens onto a wide flat area which quickly drops off into oblivion.
We are at the top of a cliff face and can see for hundreds of kilometres over flat farm land.
With the sun on a definite downward trajectory, we have maybe an hour, 90mins tops of useable light.
Luckily the final 7 kilometres is pure fun.
Single track winding down the valley at a steady gradient of around 10/15%.
After 900 metres of up, the down is the slope that keeps on giving and I leap, skid and bound, downward, for a very enjoyable 25 minutes.
Photos courtesy of Chris Wright
When you run down for so long that you wonder if you will ever reach the bottom, you know you must have climbed high to begin with. But to get that high you need to put the hard kilometres in.
The hard up is the work in trail running, the views and the undulating top and fast down are definitely the reward.
Chris Wright shot a video of our trail run. If my words and pictures fail to inspire you, maybe the video will. Video posted with permission.