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The Gammoudi session - Craig Mottram style




The Gammoudi session (Mottram style)

Craig Mottram is the only non-African born runner to win a medal at the world titles in the 5000m, and his performances in the naughties led him to be known as the Big Muzungu (white person). The sight of him dwarfing the elite Africans gave a great contrast in running styles and his effort to defeat Olympic and world champion Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele in the 3km at the World Cup in Athens in 2006 is regarded as a career highlight. His time of 7min 32.19sec that night remains an Australian record. He also still holds the mile, 2000m, two mile and 5000m national records.


Craig’s session

The Gammoudi session (Mottram style)

Two sets of the following:

3km – first 3 laps at 68/69 sec pace, next two and half laps in 64-65 pace and winding down to last 2 laps at 60 sec lap pace.

1 lap jog then:

10x200 in 30 seconds with a 30-second recovery.

Note: The 200s were run on a 1min cycle so if you ran 32 you only had 28sec rest, alternatively if you ran 28 you got 32sec rest.

Recovery between sets was 1 lap jog in 5min.

The background

Tunisian Mohammed Gammoudi won the 5000m at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and almost backed up again at Munich in 1972, pipped by Lasse Viren. Ron Clarke recalls that Gammoudi’s traditional session was a 3km that was divided into 3x1km sections where he picked up the tempo. The first kilometre was at 80-second a lap pace, the second was at around 70-second a lap pace and the last kilometre was  done at 60-seconds a lap. Gammoudi would do this 3 or 4 times with a  break of 15 minutes between each one.

Craig says

“I felt for me the 80-second lap for the first 3 laps was a waste of time, so I did the first 3 laps quicker than Gammoudi used to do it, but the main thing is that you should increase your pace as you go along. It was one of several sessions that I did and it really didn’t matter if I was peaking for an event. The track and field season goes for a long time, so you can’t do a pre-season that the other sporting codes may do. You have to keep training hard throughout most of the summer and I think weighing mid-70kg meant, I had to make sure I was always strong and in condition. Every time I did the session, I’d try and make sure that the second set was always faster than the first.

A lot of my other sessions were based on strength and speed endurance, for instance I used to do 5 sets of a 2x300 double where I’d run the 300m in 42-43sec, float 100m in 20 seconds and then go hard for the next 300m in 42-43sec again.

It was more trial and error with me and I’d improvise a little to find what suited me. The Gammoudi session just evolved over time and became a bit of a favourite of mine, but it wasn’t like I religiously did it weekly like Deek’s 400m reps."

Craig’s tip for beginners

“Initially I’d recommend for distance runners to just do the two sets of 3km and use your normal race pace at 21km, 10km and 3km as a guide to how you gradually pick up each kilometre. As you get fitter you can add in the 200m reps.”  

What Craig is up to now

Craig works full time for 2XU in Hawthorn.

He has recently set up a company with wife Krystine, who has a PhD in psychology, called Elitewellbeing which offers a mix of fitness and wellbeing programs for elite and corporate groups with an emphasis on finding balance to achieve elite performance.

He has been working with AFL side the Western Bulldogs on their fitness and is head coach for the Haileybury College cross country program.

Craig also coaches a squad of about 16 athletes that includes young stars Riley Shaw and Amanda Paulin and middle distance runner Kelly Hetherington.

He still runs with his squad, but he classifies himself as semi-retired, and races infrequently now, although he still tries to run AV races for Geelong, time permitting.

If you would like to learn more about Elitewellbeing or get in contact with Craig and Krystine to discuss how they can help you, please visit their website for contact information.