Monday, January 18, 2010

The Legend of the Clohessy Creed

In my last post I chatted about ‘the big workout’, but I also talked about the Clohessy Creed. Growing up as a little kid and teenager, I was fortunate to be around during a time of running craziness. By that I meant there seemed to be a lot more energy and focus on running when it was on the teevee. It was during that time I came across three runners who I ended up emulating. One was marathon record holder Steve Jones, another was Oly bronze medalist Rod Dixon and the last was Rob Decastella aka Deek.

Now Deek came into fruition due to winning the very first Wld championship marathon. I was able to see those championships on teevee, but knew little about him. As I’ve stated before getting a history degree meant I also approached the sport through a historical perspective viewpoint, which meant if I didn’t know something I went out of my way to research it. Deek became one of those projects. I was finally able to provide a full conclusion to Deek when I was able to obtain his autobiography. His autobio is okay, but if you pay attention there are snippets here and there which give you some insight into both his philosophy towards running, but in his case of his coach Pat Clohessy. The chapter that stuck out at me most was the ‘Clohessy Creed’.

Clohessy was Deek’s coach from beginning to end, but what one needs to know is that Clohessy was no slouch himself. I came into greater contact when I got my first Lydiard athlete autobios of Peter Snell and Muarry Halberg. Clohessy spent time travelling with the Kiwis in Europe after going to school at the Univ of Houston. It was Houston that Clohessy learned how over the top interval training could destroy a runner. It was after experimenting with some of Lydiard’s ideas he found that the buildup of mileage was kept to athlete development.

On his return to Australia Clohessy began working with young athletes and found that they didn’t need much anaerobic work to get fit or fast. His Clohessy creed was evolving.

What many don’t know is that it was Clohessy who was setting up the training for an unknown American native runner named Billy Mills. Mills of course would ironically go on to beat Clohessy’s countryman , the great Ron Clarke at the 64 Olys. The basis for Clohessy’s training was good constant aerobic conditioning mixed in with small aspects of anaerobic work (in Mill’s case a lot of Lydiard style 100 hard-100 float for 3-5km).

But Clohessy’s greatest pupil was still to come and that was of course Deek. In Deek’s autobio he goes into great detail how Clohessy helped him with progressive training from a teenager (50miles per week) and still had him progress as he became a Sr athlete. Of course deek wasn’t the only success story. The other one who has had a major impact was Chris ‘Rab’ Wardlaw, a 2:11 Oly marathoner training partner of Deeks.

Of course Rab would go on to many other successes as a coach that being Steve Moneghetti and a handful of other great Aussie distance runners (Shaun Creighton and now Craig Mottram). In the end the lineage of Lydiard lent itself to Clohessy’s interpretation,the shock of Billy Mills (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QaDQL0rMWw), the toughness of Deek, which turned into Wardlaw’s ‘complex’ system’ tweaking, and Mona’s championship pedigree, who also coached Lee Troop and on and on and on…..the ‘Clohessy Creed’ continues.

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Chris said...

Do you think we will see some results from MOttram this spring? Is he still racing 5000m?