Each week we invite international athletes, Olympians and experienced coaches to share their top tips and advice on training and improving your running, whether you’re looking to complete the course without stopping, break 45 minutes, go sub-20 for the first time, or just bag that new PB.
This week it’s the turn of Steve Way!
Steve’s running journey so far has been remarkable: in 2007, aged 33, Steve was at his heaviest and was smoking around 20 cigarettes a day. He decided to change his lifestyle and took up running, and by the age of 40 he was representing England in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon!
Steve is the British Vet Marathon record holder, in a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 16 seconds, and has also represented Great Britain in the World 100k Championships.
In 2017, he became the first British male runner since 1972 to finish in the top 10 of the iconic Comrades Marathon in South Africa. And this year, on Sunday 10 June, Steve managed to top that by finishing in 3rd place!
Hi Steve! First up, where’s your home parkrun?
I’ve run over 60 parkruns so far and I class Poole parkrun as my home event, although more have popped up closer to my home since then!
I have a great relationship with the Poole team as they were so supportive of me in 2014 with my Commonwealth Games adventures, so I can’t see me ever thinking of anywhere else as home!
What is your top tip to new parkrunners on how to improve their running?
The most common error I see with new runners is they try and overcomplicate their training when there is really no need at this early stage in their running journeys.
The key to getting anywhere near your potential when it comes to endurance sports (yes that includes running a 5k parkrun!) is consistency. I really can’t emphasise enough how important it is.
Behind any good runner is a strong aerobic base and this will only come from week in, week out training without big gaps in your training diary. It sounds a little tedious but it’s also so rewarding when you start to see those aerobic gains from all your hard work.
Just remember, everything in running is just one foot in front of the other… if you can do a parkrun, you can do anything!
What would be your advice to parkrunners who are thinking about going beyond parkrun and training for 10ks and half marathons?
Running races beyond parkrun may seem scary if parkruns are all you’ve done before, but I promise they aren’t that bad!
Initially, if you are considering running further than 5k for the first time, one of the easiest ways to do it is to go for a little jog before the start of parkrun, and make parkrun the last 5k of your longer run. This means you’ll still get all the benefit of running with everyone else when the run gets tough, but you don’t have the pressure of having to jump straight into a longer race.
It may mean getting up a little earlier, but slowly build your mileage up and before you know it you’ll be doing a “double parkrun” and will be searching for that 10k race to enter!
Many parkrunners find that after weeks and months of PBs and improvements, their running can start plateau. What would you suggest to mix things up?
Quite simply, don’t give up and have faith in your training. I’ve had a number of periods in my running career where I have plateaued and have not seen any significant improvements, and then all of a sudden, another rewarding improvement unexpectedly arrives.
It’s worth also giving your training log an “honest” review, from my experience – if dips or plateaus in performance end up being a bit more permanent, then you’ll probably find you simply haven’t got the consistency in your training…. yes it’s that word again!
And finally, for those people who want an insight into the training of an elite athlete, what’s your favourite training session and why?
This session is one of my favourites, especially when I’m having to train on my own – the continuous change of pace makes the time go a lot quicker as you are constantly having to think about what you are doing!
The combination of both parkrun and half marathon effort mean it’s a great training session for any race distance, working on your top end speed and also your speed endurance.
For the final 2 minute effort at parkrun pace you can give it everything you’ve got left!
You can follow Steve’s adventures on Twitter.
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