Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Having done a track session of 16 x 300 reps up at Carnegie on Saturday morning and with the Olympic marathon starting at 11.00 a.m. I decided to split my Sunday mileage into a 4 pre-breakfast and would do a steady 6 in the evening.   Besides he fact that I'm beginning to learn that at my age a track session followed by a longish  run is not always advisable.
 I was less than a mile into the evening 6 miler when a runner swung out from a road on the right in front of me.  He was a young lad of 14 or so. With his earphones in he was immersed no doubt in his music and didn't see me or hear me.
 With slight acceleration I caught up with him and  naturally I asked him what his run was.  He said he had done a couple of hill reps, was going to run a further couple of miles and finish with a couple of fast circuits.
 I told him what I was planning. an "out and back" 6 and as he seemed reasonably comfortable with my pace, he elected to stay with me.
 Gradually I accelerated,  as I tend to do:  I  enquired  several times if he was OK with the pace and each time he responded positively. He was coping pretty well.
 The miles we ran together were quite relaxed and we talked throughout.  We were not  racing each other and I was in no way testing him.  Nevertheless the teenager ran a very creditable 8.30 pace reasonably comfortably.
 I asked him if he was in a running club but he said no, he wasn't.  He didn't run for the school running team either.  He was involved in swimming but even that sounded a bit vague.
 He said that he wasn't really competitive just " ran for fitness" and to enjoy it; the main motivation of course
but I just got the feeling that if given the opportunity he could do more; he was a bit afraid of putting himself forward and would needed some encouragement from others.
  Here was a lad with undoubted TALENT which despite him being 14 looked like it had never been spotted or nurtured . Or if it had he had not the SELF MOTIVATION to take it to the competitive level.
 Personally I think given different schooling  he would have been already involved in schools cross country and athletics, he would have been motivated and would have been receiving GOOD COACHING.
 3 factors working towards "champions" of the future would have already been in place.  He clearly had a natural talent,  by 14 that talent should have been spotted and hopefully he had become motivated and backed by the fourth factor of good facilities and environment receiving good coaching.
 Here was the type of youngster that there is some much discussion about at the moment following the LONDON 2012 successes.
  Rather than just "running for fitness" I think he had been inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.
 On the run I suggested that he should get involved with running at school and even joined one of the local clubs and as he peeled off to run the short distance back home he said he would think about it. Perhaps he will go on to join a club,  perhaps he will have the desire to fulfill his potential and if so hopefully he will receive excellent guidance and mentoring to help him to achieve his goals.
 No doubt local clubs will be promoting themselves to increase their memberships but without factor 2, that self motivation perhaps he will just continue to run occasionally for fitness; which of course is great but I'm sure he has looked at those on the Olympics podium and thought.....what if?
  In contrast today I had the great pleasure of running an 8 on the Leeds Bradford canal with an English Schools Cross Country champion!   SALLY B. , a good friend  who I have known since she started winning Leeds Schools events as a teenager, was over from France where she has a high power exec. job and two children.  She has lost not of her motivation and love of running  despite having run for well over 30 years.   
 A running career which took her from her local comprehensive, to Millfield School, to Loughborough University and on to Arkansas University and her enthusiasm was still very much in evidence this morning as we ran shoulder to shoulder in fine bright warm Yorkshire sunshine. Superb!
 Having run a steady 4 miles we turned back and I could feel her sense of pleasure has we upped the pace to what is tempo pace for me now.   She has had set backs with injuries and leg surgery 
 but I could sense the fire is still in her belly.  She has aims and ambitions for the rest of the year.
             I would forecast a 10K well under 40 mins. if she can find the right event.



  1. I hope he takes your advice.
    My 7-year-old nephew phones me the other day to say when I'm visiting next he'd like to go running with me. The Olympics legacy has begun!

    And advice for how far/fast kids of 7 should run? I keep telling his dad he has the makings of a future distance runner in that he's skinny and tall for his age.


  2. I found reading the first part of this post quite sad really. Thirty five years ago I was that lad you ran with but, unlike him, I never met anyone from a local club. If only ...

  3. There is potential talent everywhere - it's just so little of it is identified. I remember 2 lads seeing (Sale) vaulter Andy Ashurst training at Longford Park around the time of his Commonwealth win in 1986. They took up the event as 13 year-olds. The better one vaulted 16 ft at 16 and 17 ft at 17 (in a junior international). He then joined the RAF AND got married, and had 3 kids by the time he was 21.
    Another example was Tynemouth BGS providing all 3 champions in the English Schools' Hammer twice in 3 years. They couldn't have all the best talent, but they did have the best coaching from Carlton Johnson. Not that he was restricted to that event - TBGS provided most of the boys in Northumberland's ESAA team.

    Malcolm W