Last week I was invited to a New Balance event, billed as a celebration of 30 years of domestic manufacturing and featuring the athletes that are due to appear in an upcoming television series called The British Milers featuring seven British 1500m runners hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games in London. The seven athletes are:
- Andy Baddeley – Olympic and World Championship finalist, former Oslo Dream Mile Champion
- James Brewer – 2009 World Championship Team member
- Lee Emanuel – Two time NCAA Mile Champion
- Tom Lancashire – Defending UK Olympic Trials Champion
- Nick McCormack – Defending UK indoor 1500m Champion
- Colin McCourt – 1500m Champion Euro Team Championships
- Ricky Stevenson – Former UK junior 1500m Champion
After presentations from the managing director and sales director of New Balance, Richard Nerurkar introduced the British Miler concept and the TV show and welcomed the athletes to the stage. Then, whilst everyone was enjoying the DJ spinning tunes and guzzling New Balance’s wine and scoffing the food they had laid on, I had the opportunity to interview three of the milers – Ricky Stevenson (RS), James Brewer (JB) and Andy Baddeley (AB). Here’s what they had to tell me:
SF: What special preparations are you making in this Olympic year?
RS: I’m being sensible and trying to not over-reach. What has been different this year is that I am not pushing it all the way in training and following the advice of my coach Steve Shaw
JB: I am getting back to consistency, which has been lacking since Berlin in 2009 [when James missed reaching the 1500m final of the World Championships by fractions of a second] and I’ve strung together eight months of consistent training including six weeks at altitude in Iten [Kenya]. This all allowed me to run 3’38 indoors at the recent championships in Birmingham
AB: My preparations are different this year only in that they are simpler. I have experimented in previous years but this year I know what works and I’m sticking to that.
SF: Does the Olympic year inspire you more than others and if so how?
RS: It is exciting and inspiring, but as I said, I’m not thinking about it too much, allowing myself to get over-excited and then over-training
JB: My main focus is not the Olympics yet – it is to continue training well and then do my best at the World Indoors championships.
AB: Yes! The Olympics definitely inspire me and I want to be on the start line of the final.
SF: What are your specific targets with regards to the Games
RS: The primary target is to qualify by running the required 3’35 and gaining selection but I’m not seeing the Olympics as the be all and end all.
JB: Qualify first and then reach the final.
AB: Qualification is essential. Then I want to make sure that I’m there for the final
SF: In general, what inspires you to train and perform at your best?
RS: I want to be the best at everything I try. When it comes to racing, I always want to win when I step on the track. That’s what inspires me.
JB: For me it is curiosity about what is possible and what I can achieve. Because I have been injury-prone I don’t have a very high weekly mileage, so I’m interested to see what I can do with that
SF: What is your hardest training session?
RS: We run a 2km woodland loop on trails and one session consists of four reps of that. Each loop has two big inclines in it and the effort is relentless
JB: My hardest session is probably the stuff we do in the gym – rehab and strength and conditioning work
AB: I enjoy most of my sessions on the track so the session I probably find the hardest is the Sunday long run, especially when the weather is bad
SF: What is your favourite training session?
RS: I don’t have one – they all hurt!
JB: It’s changing for me – it used to be speed work but recently I have been doing 30 minutes continuous hills at altitude in Iten. That involves varied paces but up one long hill that you run up non-stop for 30 minutes.
AB: Anything short on the track is my favourite
SF: What would be your top tips for someone looking to improve their running at any distance?
RS: My top tips would be: never stop believing and never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve what you set out to achieve. The other things that are crucial are consistency and staying injury free.
JB: I would say, go out and explore – wherever you go, you can find somewhere to run to get outside and experience the world, enjoy the seasons.
AB: My advice would be to never give up – I wasn’t the fastest at school but I stuck with it when others gave up. I also think that it’s important to have someone to answer to: a training partner that you have to meet for example. I’d also say that it is really important to eat sensibly and don’t worry too much about what you eat.
As you can imagine, this group of amazing athletes were very much in demand on the night and I was extremely grateful to them for their time. I hope you agree that they offered some really interesting insights into their preparations for the Olympic Games and some great advice for the rest of us! I wish them all well for the trials and for their future careers.