Hands-on Expert Coaching For Runners and Triathletes

What stops you running faster?

What stops you keeping up with a runner who overtakes you? What does it feel like? Is it your legs that give in first? Your arms? Or perhaps your breathing?

Is it your lack of Speed? Strength? Stamina? Suppleness? Or Skill?

Or is it perhaps a lack of mental strength - your desire, confidence, determination or concentration? Call this a sixth "S" - pSychology.

Your running fitness is determined by these six limiting factors. Work on any one of them and you'll improve. Work on all six and you'll run faster than you ever thought possible.

"... It's my breathing" is the usual response. "Well how often do you get out of breath in training?", I ask. "Oh, I read somewhere you're not supposed to get out of breath in training. Am I?" And I say "Yeah, you are, ABSOLUTELY. But not all the time... you need to train at different speeds, often faster than race pace".

The Art of Running Faster The Art of Running Faster, published in 2012 and now translated into Polish and in Chinese, is a practical guide to practical guide to training for runners of all abilities and ages, drawing on Julian Goater's experiences in the 1980s, which are equally relevant today.

  • Running Skills
  • Breathing Control
  • Balanced Training Schedules
  • Speedwork
  • Peaking and Tapering
  • Injury Prevention

Learn how to make training fun, effective and progressive


Julian Goater - Don Melvin


Winning any race is an exhilarating feeling.

Usually, the more prestigious the event, and the more challenging the circumstances and opposition, the greater the sense of achievement, and therefore the greater the exhilaration. After all the dreaming and striving, this sense of achievement is the very essence of sport - perhaps even of life itself.

Just one second is more than enough. You can win a race by a mere second with daylight to spare, as Steve Ovett used to do, waving to the crowd and making it all look so easy. To win by 10 seconds would be a comprehensive winning margin in any race - equivalent to more than 50m, even at the relatively slow speed of a marathon.

Two minutes, or 1 minute 55 seconds to be exact, represents an almost unheard-of winning margin in a race of less than 10 miles. In terms of distance it would equate to well over half a kilometre, and would suggest a mis-match of some sort. Perhaps a man racing against boys, or an international athlete competing with county standard runners?

In fact, Julian Goater's record victory in the 1981 English National Cross-Country Championships came against one of the strongest fields ever assembled for that event. It contained numerous British international athletes at 5 and 10k, steeplechase and marathon, and at least six sub 13min 30 sec 5k runners (in 2010 only Mo Farah ran faster than 13-30). Outstanding names in the field were David Moorcroft, who was to reduce the world 5k record to just outside 13 min the following year, Mike McLeod who was destined to win silver over 10k in the 1984 Olympic Games, and Steve Jones, a future world record holder for the marathon distance. Moorcroft and Jones' marks still remained as British records a quarter of a century later.

With Dave Clarke finishing in second place, these three men were all well over 2min behind Goater. But they didn't have a bad run, or an off day. On the contrary their times of around 46 min for 9 miles over the hilly and extremely muddy cross-country terrain for which Hampstead Heath is renowned, represents a very respectable pace close to 5-minute miling. It was just that Goater was travelling some 12 seconds per mile quicker than his closest rivals. How did he achieve this breakthrough? Was it all part of a plan?

Well of course Goater and his coach Harry Wilson would say that this was a planned victory. But, strange to say, this performance came after a winter of interrupted training and considerably lower mileage than in previous years, and after an injury which forced him to completely re-vamp his final pre-race build-up. Far from being planned, it was almost by chance that Julian learned how many factors - not just physical fitness - come into play to help produce that magical 'peak performance' which we all dream about.

We live in a so-called 'age of enlightenment' when we expect to be able to explain anything and everything in terms of pure science, cause and effect. We are constantly bombarded with the science of peak performance, and all the jargon that goes with it. Anaerobic threshold levels, blood lactate levels, heart rate zones etc - athletes may find it interesting - even comforting - to know this information, but the knowledge itself does not get you any fitter, nor does any set of measurements guarantee a particular performance in a race.

Nobody has yet succeeded in proving the link between one training session and any resulting improvement in performance. Nor is there any concrete information on the time it takes for any training effect to take place. The optimum volume and intensity of training sessions, and the speed with which it takes effect, varies not only between individuals, but also at different times for the same individual! And all this is before you start to consider the power of the mind, and the effect that has on performance. Visualisation, concentration, psyching yourself up (and other people out) are all very well - but what stimulates and controls the real power and energy of the mind? Training is about intuition, feelings, motivation and inspiration as well.

The numerous studies in this field often result in confusing and sometimes downright contradictory advice on how, how often, and how hard to train! Just because a certain training regime has worked for one athlete does not necessarily mean it will work for you! There is no magic formula, there are no magic sessions. We are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, with different lifestyles, and with different environments in which to train.

So training should of course be founded on scientific principles and observations. But training is not all about science - perhaps 50% is about the ART of training. Exclusive reliance on science logically leads to the inevitable drift towards chemically aided performances, something with detracts from the pure joy of producing outstanding performances naturally - quite apart from being cheating!

Who needs to be taught how to run anyway? Surely anybody can run - it's just a case of putting one foot in front of the other, isn't it?

Well, clearly some people find it much harder than others, and there is in fact considerable skill involved in running fast. It's not just a case of running more miles. Breathing control, cadence, pace judgement - these are things that don't just come naturally. They can be taught, learned and improved.

In his book Goater outlines the skills of running fast, and tries to cast some insight into explaining the inexplicable, the ART of running, not just the pure science, for ordinary mortals as well as top athletes.

Contact Details

Please contact us if you have any questions or you would like to book a session.

Julian Goater
Feelgood Factors
4 Lodge Hill Road
Lower Bourne
GU10 3QN

Tel: 01252 725254
Mobile: 07799 607455
Email: juliangoater AT gmail.com