6-5-1@SPARTA: interview with Keith Bateman

How fast do you run 10kms?

How fast would you like to run 10kms when you are 55+ years of age? How does 31mins 51 sec sound?

Meet Keith Bateman – our next interview in the 6-5-1 @ SPARTA series – who holds not 1 but 4 age group world records on the track.

Keith spent 25 years teaching, racing & running his own (downhill) ski school in Scotland before he took up running in 1985. Keith ran on & off until he moved to Sydney in 2000. Since then he has continued set & break records including 32 State age group records, 14 Australian age group records (some more than once) and 4 world records in the M55+ category –

1 mile 4:35:04 3,000m 8:56:80 5,000m 15:29:7 10,000m 31:51:86

Keith now offers one-on-one coaching on running technique based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

1/. What is the biggest challenge to your motivation & how do you overcome that?

I have been extremely fortunate that I have been improving with PBs every year for about 9 years so motivation has not been a serious problem. However, the other main factor is that I am privileged to be a member of Sean William’s ‘Elite’ squad and that means committing to every session – it is only fair considering the enthusiasm and help and guidance Sean puts in for almost no reward.

In the days before the squad it was setting myself targets or training for particular races that focused me on training but even then I find training on my own is never as good as with the squad. The squad is actually a great social ‘family’ too and it is great fun running with such a fine group of people.

2/. Aside from running, what additional (cross) training do you do (eg, strength, stretching, core etc) & how important is it to your performance?

Absolutely none! For me it seems running keeps me fit for running.

A few weeks ago I joined a group of runners in Canberra for a Plyometrics session; I coped very well but 2 days later I was almost unable to run and it took a few days more to get back to normal. The same thing happens with strength sessions. Sean and I have decided that I don’t need it!

3/. We all know that our bodies don’t recover as well as we age. What strategies do you use to minimise your risk of injury & maximise your recovery ?

I am particularly watchful on this point. Last night for instance I had some pulling in the tendons in my feet after the first two 1km reps which I think had been too fast, too soon (2:56,2:49!) and so I jogged the next one and went back for the 4th and 5th but even then there was some pulling so I stopped the session.

Also good technique: absolute must – I have worked on this for years and now have a very low impact and efficient running technique. I also run about half my training barefoot each week (all three speed sessions) and most of the rest is on park trails too.

If I do get injured, or if I am sick, I make sure I keep training – at a low enough level not to cause further damage but enough to keep the blood flowing and the body repairing.

4/. Who is the person (or people) who have had the most influence on your sporting success?

Sean Williams and his squad – my training partners over the years currently a number but including Lara Tamsett* with whom I have regular battles on the track. There have been countless youngsters too; it is almost like being a dad again; watching them get better and better until they leave you behind. But they are all so friendly and helpful to the old man in the squad.

[Ed note: Lara Tamsett won the Junior World Mountain Running Championships back in 2007 & since then has won the SunHerald City to Surf in 2010 (46.54 for 14km) and is the current Australian Champion over 10,000m]

5/. In your business, what are the 3 biggest mistakes you see most runners make?


1. They forgot how they used to run as a kid

2. They buy big heavy cushioned shoes with raised soft heels (thinking that will save the legs/knees)

3. They try to run as if they are walking.


The cushioning in the shoes is no match for the extremely high impact created by the resulting technique – every step is a combination of putting the foot on the accelerator and brake at the same time and they struggle up hills as if they are in 5th gear!


And the tell-tale shoulder rocking is further evidence of the wasted effort! That is of course a generalisation but so far out of around 100 clients from beginner to 31 10k runner, everyone this has shown some degree.

By way of example, in the first two photos on the right the leg is well advanced before ‘take-off’ (before other foot leaves the ground) and the shoulders are twisted as compensation for the advanced leg. This makes leaving the ground difficult and results in an over stride/heel strike instead of a soft, progressive toe-to-heel landing.

The third photo shows the most efficient take-off position – well aligned for a strong take-off, giving a long stride by getting air time and giving plenty of time for the body to catch up with the outstretched foot so the foot is under the body on landing.

6/. If you could go back in time & give one piece of advice to yourself when you were 18, what advice would that be?

Follow your heart! It has taken me a while to learn that one but now I’ve got it!

Thanks for your time Keith!

If you are interested in working on your run technique with Keith, you can contact him at Keith Bateman Coaching

Editors note: since this interview was published Keith went onto secure his 5th World Record at the World Masters Games in July 2011 when he won the 1,500m in a smokin 4:12:35