I have been coaching since the 1990’s, and as an athlete represented New Zealand in cross country, road, track and mountain running. Running and coaching has been a lifelong process of learning, both from experience and making my own sense of various influences and advice from quality mentors. Experience training and racing in Europe, Asia, Kenya and the US contributes to my knowledge base. Twenty years of clinical experience as a physiotherapist also influences the reasoning behind your training, healthy progression and ongoing support. 

Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play”

“A system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are continually varied”

In the 1930s Gösta Holmér, coach of the Swedish cross-country team, grew tired of his athletes being thrashed by Paavo Nurmi and the other Flying Finns. He devised a new training technique – “fartlek”. Fartlek through the forest or over farmland was one of my favourite sessions as an athlete. Hence the name – Speedplay Coaching.

Fartlek Training

Lydiardism

In the 1950’s an overweight milkman hammered himself around the Waitakeres and devised “Lydiardism”. 

In the ’90’s I was given the book “Running with Lydiard”. I used it to coach myself to my first NZ title- the NZ Junior Cross Country Champs. I was converted. All my schedules are based upon Lydiard principles – no matter what level you are at. That stuff works!

Lydiard Foundation Coach qualification

Coaching influences

I got lucky. Very lucky with my own coaches through the years. John Hunt coached me in school, the late John Davies coached me through university. He was a “first generation” Lydiard man and Olympic 1500m bronze medallist. Years later, 2:13 marathoner Craig Kirkwood, and NZ sporting gem and master motivator – Jack Ralston. I learnt so much from all these guys, and try to do justice to them with every Speedplay athlete.

John Davies:1500m bronze at the1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Snell got the gold (Lydiards other pupil)
John Davies Olympic 1500m bronze medallist in Tokyo (1964 games)

Kenyan influence

I had read and read, everything I could over the years about the Kenyan runners, but in 2013 I went there. Living and training, carting my water, sucking up the red dust, and hanging on by my finger nails as the only “mzungo” in a pack of two hundred  athletes in a group fartlek session, trying to learn as much as I possibly could. There is a Kenyan influence to Speedplay Coaching that you probably won’t find in a running magazine.

 

Kenyan Influence on Speedplay Coaching

Japanese Influence

In Japan, the marathon is like rugby in New Zealand. I raced four times in Japan, and absorbed as much as I could. Crazy, crazy work ethic.

 

Racing experience

Variety. Experience racing overseas and what that entails, including the challenges of racing at altitude, racing in a World Championships, or how it feels to toe the start line with 40,000 other marathoners fidgeting behind you. 

Sarah Biss Running Athlete

Female? 

I get that tricky stuff. Phew!

Returning to the sport after time off?

You are still passionate about the sport but people are telling you you are wasting your time? That you are “not as young as you were”. Well try having eight years off then starting again at 30. I can help with this. 

Physiotherapy Expertise

What is the key to getting fitter and faster? Consistent training.

What is the biggest enemy to consistent training? Injuries.

I hate them. Speedplay athletes don’t just have running to do, they have injury prevention exercises also, and a physio to help make a plan at the first sign of a niggle.