The British endurance legend dusts off his training diaries from the eighties as our new series on ‘killer sessions’ continues

In 1981, Julian Goater won the English National cross country title by almost two minutes and finished fourth in the World Cross Country Championships, before going on to claim bronze over 10,000m in the 1982 Commonwealth Games.

His 5000m and 10,000m PBs of 13:15 and 27:34 rank him in the UK all-time top 10 today.

Here, he tells AW how he did it.

On the eve of a key event

In the final build-up toward a big race, I found it much more beneficial to do either a regular session (eg, 10x400m or 6x600m, but not absolutely flat out), or 2x1km or one mile flat-out time-trial efforts with full (5-6min) recovery. Therefore, if I had been doing 10-12x400m in 59-60 seconds, I would be very happy to do just 10x400m in 62-63 seconds, cruising and feeling very comfortable.

Similarly, if I had been doing 6x600m in 89-90 seconds, I would find it useful to adapt the session to 6x600m, but going through 400m in 65 seconds and then running sub-30 for the final 200m.

The killer session

A favourite ‘killer session’, perhaps a week to 10 days before a big race, would be six sets of 2x300m. This would be on the road, not on the track, because the session required a slight gradient.

The first 300m of each set would be run slightly downhill, fast and relaxed, with no real effort. I would then get 20 seconds’ rest, and try to get back up the slope in close to the same time – something which was extremely difficult to do. I would get three minutes recovery between each set.

As it was on the road, times became irrelevant. But I knew from completing this session – how I felt doing it – whether I was in shape. It was key for me.

What made it so special?

This ‘killer session’ was extremely effective, containing elements of fast relaxed running, short recoveries, change of pace and technique, and including some running above anaerobic threshold level and therefore having to recover quickly having gone anaerobic.

The session was also very helpful mentally, building aggression and developing confidence in being able to operate at, and recover from, high-intensity efforts.

All this was achieved without leaving me deeply or lastingly tired, so it was an ideal session for sharpening up before a major race, and learning to win tactical races without having a super-fast finishing kick.

How often did you do this training session?

I did this session several times during the summer of 1982 and I think it definitely helped me set a PB of 3:42 when winning the Inter-Services 1500m, and then going on to win the AAA 10,000m 10 days later, when I think I ran the final 3000m in under 8:10.

That period was probably when I was at my sharpest and strongest on the track and I’d say those 300m sessions were key to making me realise what I could go on and achieve.