|Full Name:||Luke Versace|
|Weight:||78kg Race Weight|
|Born:||July 23, 1982|
|Affiliations:||Armstrong Athletics, The Victorian Athletic League, The Stawell Athletics Club|
1) Thanks for joining us Luke, a real treat to have you down here in the lead up to Stawell Gift Race, really appreciate your time. Let's jump straight into it. Why sprinting mate? Where did your passion for it come from? How long have you been running professionally (Pre Stawell Gift)?
I did a bit of sprinting in high school but the journey towards the Stawell Gift didn’t really start until I was 19 when I ended up on the end of a Bull during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
It started there because after I got gored a couple of times in the leg I was rushed to hospital for surgery on my leg.
s you can imagine it was a pretty tough time for me and in an effort to stay positive before I went in I started telling myself if I got out this with two legs I was going to win the Stawell Gift and win it for my parents.
Before that I had actually fancied myself as a bit of late bloomer in football but after the bull was done with me that wasn’t really an option.
2) The 2014 Stawell Gift Victory….
One of the most remarkable stories I’ve heard in terms of comebacks and determination mate. After being so close in 2005, If you could in the best way possible, give us a small backdrop and insight in the story behind winning it and the lead up to race itself. (View news article).
The lead up to the race really began around 15 months before, when I decided to really commit to having one last crack. I had been in really ordinary form for probably three years and had put on about 20kg from when I got close and came 3rd in 2005.
A lot of this to do with a lack of discipline and commitment, both of which you need if you are to succeed in Aths and both of which I didn’t have much of for a long while.
In the end however the lack of success and my inability to give my parents the thanks I had always wanted was sending me crazy, so I put structures in place to keep me on the straight and narrow and then trained harder than I ever thought possible.
3) Lets talk gym mate. How big of an impact do you believe it had on your running at the time, in terms of power + strength?
The gym had a huge impact on my running and without doing a lot of sprinting specific exercises I wouldn’t have got close let alone won.
The fact is if you are going to run quick you have to be as strong as you can and for me that meant pushing a lot of weights around the place.
4) At the time, in the best way possible describe to us an average week during peak training right up before the race? (eg. Gym sessions, running sessions, massage, prehab/rehabilitation.)
The average week for me throughout the course of the year leading up to my win was three track sessions, three gym sessions, one yoga class, two or three massages and a dip in the ocean.
Most nights a gym or track session would go for about 2 and half hours with the first 40 minutes a warm up with dynamic stretching drills and a couple of runs before doing the session proper which depending on the time of year could have been doing reps over 40m to reps over 200m. I would then always finish with a half hour cool down and stretching routine.
In the gym I would do a 30 minute warm up of dynamic stretching before having a crack on the speed ball for 6 one or two minute reps. After that it was onto the weights doing the type of stuff you would expect such as squats and deads.
I have to admit I found the warm ups and cool downs a pain in the arse because I just wanted to lift or run then head home, but ultimately I had to do them if I was going to stay on track, which fortunately I did.
5) How much of an emphasis did you have on pre-habilitation (warm up techniques and activations) immediately before training/ races?
My coach put a huge emphasis on pre-hap and cooling down as he believed it was essential to minimizing the risk of injury. As it happened he was right and last season was probably the best year I ever had in terms of keeping myself on the track.
6) Nutrition mate. Did you have your very own dietitian for the year leading up to Stawell Gift? If so, how often did you catch up? Do you get homework, or get thrown in the naughty corner if you slip up?
I did have a dietitian and saw her every month or two. Of all the areas that I really needed to sort out my diet was probably the biggest.
I love eating and generally prefer stuff that doesn’t make you run quicker like take out and fast food. What I found however was that I couldn’t train at the level I wanted to with a poor diet and actually had a few hypo glycemic episodes because I hadn’t fuelled my body properly for the work that I was doing.
It all turned around pretty quick once I saw the dietitian and put her plan in place. I can’t say I liked it, but I can say it made me better. As soon as won I did go to maccas though so chances are last year will be the will be the only one in which I eat like that.
7) Fast facts with Luke Versace.
The Shawshank Redemption
Where would your perfect holiday be?
Probably in South America or Africa
No doubt being the gentlemen your are and no doubt a hopeless romantic to your beautiful wife, describe to us your idea of the perfect date?
Fish and chips on the beach with a bottle of wine or two would be perfect.
What's your most prized possession or collection you own?
I met Gary Ablett Snr the day he kicked his 1000th goal and he signed a commemorative poster. If I ever get a pool room it will take pride of place.
Lastly Luke, my favorite, describe to us your 'Happy Gilmore' happy place?
In a pub having a punt and a drink with mates.
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