Stanford Chapter – 4 Favorite Sessions of the Very Talented Imogen Gardiner
As of this writing, I am on a plane to Los Angeles about to begin the next chapter of my college life in the United States. It’s a weird moment in my running journey as I’m about to experience some big changes in training and training, but I’m grateful to have the opportunity to openly reflect on what I’m doing. love it the most in this sport.
For the past six years I have been coached by the amazing Deb Walsham who has been such a positive influence on me not only as a runner but as a person. During my time with Deb, I learned the importance of trusting your trainer completely, accepting tough sessions, and knowing when to switch between putting on the pressure and running freely. My training group is diverse and I have been fortunate to experience the teamwork and camaraderie that I hope to find in the United States. We do almost all of the sessions on a grass track or road loop, and we venture out on the trails occasionally during cross-country ski season.
At Stanford, I will be coached by JJ Clark and join a strong team of over 20 women with a rich history in the NCAA. I am more than excited for this opportunity and especially looking forward to having so many amazing female training partners. Coach Clark has coached many Olympians, including his wife and two sisters who competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics over 800m. I have every confidence that it will have an impact on my development both on a sporting and personal level.
With all of that in mind, here are four of my favorite sessions and a little taste of the intent behind each.
- 600s broken (300 hard / 100 easy / 200 sprint)
This workout targets critical running skills and energy systems by increasing speed. This is a great activity to do during the competitive season as it makes you work hard but still leaves you feeling quick and a little springy in your step. It’s hard to hold back in the top 300, but the main goal is to hit the bottom 200 hard, build lactic acid, and build speed endurance.
Intent: To improve speed endurance and learn to react to breakaways in a race.
- Mona Fartlek
The Mona fartlek is a basic workout that I like to do a few weeks after a race to assess my physical condition. It’s a tough combination of speed and endurance, all packed in 20 minutes. The session proceeds as follows; 2 x 90 seconds, 4 x 60 seconds, 4 x 30 seconds, 4 x 15 seconds, all with equal jog / float recoveries. Each time I did this session, I was able to go a little further and I find it super rewarding.
Intent: Extremely versatile, ideal for testing fitness and preparing to cover surges during runs.
- 5 x 1 km with 60 seconds recovery
It’s another staple for any middle distance athlete. Passing this session gives me a lot of confidence because it is not a session that you can simulate if you are not at the top of your game. The 60 second recovery just gives us time to get back to the start and get ready to set off again. I learned the hard way not to run the first rep too fast – I’m not a very good rhythm judge and sometimes get carried away chasing the guys in my training group, but the perfect way to running this session is to get progressively faster with each repetition.
Intent: To improve the lactate threshold and develop mental strategies to stay strong when you start to have pain.
I saved the best for last… the hills are my favorite session all year round. Hill sessions are diverse and the reps can be anywhere from 15 seconds to 3 minutes, but I’ll give you an idea of a session we run before the track season: 1 x 3 minutes, 5 x 90 seconds, 5 x 30 seconds, 5 x 20 seconds with jog recoveries. The first six reps are on a track and then we head to the road for the fastest sprints. The 20 second reps are done on a more gradual hill with a recovery on foot to finish quickly. I also incorporate plyometrics (explosive exercises / jumps) into my twice-weekly strength training, and I love the burn in your legs that comes from a combination of weight and plyometrics. Some of my favorites are jump squats, split jumps, box jumps, and limits.
Intent: To develop strength, power, endurance and learn to embrace the burn.
You may have noticed that each session focuses on both physical and mental performance. Middle distance races are grueling and tactical, and I think being in tune with your thoughts is essential for successful running and doing justice to your physical abilities.
Hope you were able to take something away from this overview of my training, and if you have any questions or just want to chat, please feel free to reach out to social media @imogengardiner.
Keep training hard and loving what you do!
Disconnection from 37,000 feet above the ground,
La Mona Fartlek – A classic session