London 2012 distance medal hope; KATE REED spoke to NICOLA BAMFORD about her savage training schedule and dedicated lifestyle, and offers the Run Britain audience some inspirational insights and tips...(written for UK Athletics 09/08).
The 26 year-old Bristol and West AC runner; with the 2007 British 10km road title, a European cross-country 6th-place and the 2006 World University silver-medal to her name took time out from her tough training regime to take part in an enlightening Q & A...
1. Please explain your motivation behind becoming a runner, how old you were, and your early days in the sport...?
I started running seriously when I was 14, I had always been interested in Athletics at school and loved it so got involved with my local Athletics Club Bristol AC (Now Bristol and West AC).
2. What events did you try – and to what success – and how did your first attempt at your specialist distance go?
I raced both the 800m and the 1500m as a junior and Medalled in 2 English Schools Championships and won the AAA’s title as an under 17 at 1500m. I now concentrate on 5000m/10,000m but like to race the shorter distances as well.
3. Were you always a talented athlete or have you had many disappointments and setbacks?
I was very fortunate that I ran pretty well as a junior and was always there or there abouts. I wouldn’t say I was outstanding but I was determined and knew what I wanted from running from a very early age.
4. Who are you/were coached by?
My very first coaches were Harry Clayton and Nick Rose from Bristol AC but my Dad became my coach from when I was 16 until I was 20. I then moved to University (St Mary’s College) where I met Alan Storey who became my coach and whom I am still coached by today.
5. Please explain your most perfect race day - from the morning right through to the evening...?
I don’t think I have had a perfect race day, although I am still working on it. The day I ran the 10k in Stanford went pretty well. I started with a 20-minute easy run first thing in the morning. Then had Breakfast back at the hotel (Bowl of fruit Salad followed by a Blueberry Pancake with Maple syrup!). Short trip to the shops for soy Latte and a muffin at Starbucks, and to buy the foods I needed for the rest of the day. Then a 30-minute snooze just after mid-day. Watched several episodes of Friends to keep me relaxed!
Meal at 4pm –sandwich, smoothie and some fruit. Pack kit and more food for after the race.
Drive to track, park-up, another snooze. Collect number, warm-up, talk through race plans again, register, race, warm down, drove to McDonalds (yuk! Only Place open at 23:30pm) then back to hotel-ice bath then hot bath. Packed suitcases for early Morning Departure then Bed at 1am. Good day at the office
6. Take us through your current warm up and cool-down routine...
My Warm-up routine varies according to the conditions I am racing in and the duration of the race, It is tailored to suit my particular needs. My coach and I always discuss the warm-up routine on race day and decide what the best approach is. I use quite different warm-ups dependent upon the length of the race, the weather, how fast the start is likely to be etc
7. Describe a typical weeks’ training/mileage and your favourite training session...?
I run twice per day every day except Sundays, when I just do one long run. I also do 3 or 4 sessions in the gym per week.
I try to get two workouts on the track or grass per week plus 1 or two runs at around threshold pace. In a hard week I might run around 100 miles, but perhaps only 60-70 miles if I am preparing for an important, longer, race.
I prefer to train on the grass and I enjoy running up to 10 x a lap of Lensbury Sports Ground (at St Marys) which is slightly under 1k per lap.
8. Do you go on training stints to other high-altitude/warm-weather venues?
I seem to benefit from training at altitude, although I have struggled with my asthma in the past when I have been to 7,000ft. I train well in Potchefstroom (South Africa), it isn’t as high but has good grass surfaces to run on which are ideal for me. I also love Albuquerque in New Mexico (USA) as it has so many different places to run-I love doing workouts on the trail path alongside the Rio Grande.
9. Do you enjoy travelling for races?
Yes I love to experience different environments/cultures, meet different people and travel to places I would otherwise never see. I appreciate that I have been very lucky to travel as widely as I have done.
10. Do you see your rivals as just that, or become friends?
I enjoy the social side of running-meeting people making friends etc. Some of my best friends are people I race against. However when I race I am at my office and there to do a job and I take a professional approach to that and am unconcerned whether the person I am racing against is a friend or someone I don’t know.
11. What tips do you have for fellow athletes?
Always listen to your body, Nobody can tell you how you feel. Always believe in your ability and never ever give up-you may have a bad race but learn from your mistakes and make sure you come back stronger and wiser.
12. Do you have a large support network? Physio, nutritionist etc...
I try to surround myself with the best people I can, as I am not on a lottery support programme I have to use what’s available to me outside of the medical system. I am fortunate that I have a good group of people helping me including my coach Alan Storey and the help from the BOA ( I am on the athlete medical scheme so I can access services out of the Olympic Medical Institute).
13. Do you combine work with your training/sports career?
No, I am fortunate enough to be an full time athlete and have been since I graduated from St Mary’s inn 2006 with a BSc HONS Degree in Sports Science/Nutrition.
14. What has been your favourite/which do you rank highly in terms of UK road races?
I enjoy the shorter road races i.e. Hydro Active 5km in Hyde Park and the Great North 3km, as well as the relays at Sutton Coldfield. I also really enjoy the Great Manchester 10km as the support along the course is brilliant and there is always a tough field to run against.
15. How do you feel the UK road scene could improve?
I would like to see more UK Road Races operate better British only prize lists – it would help athletes on the fringe of International standard make a living and allow them to either stop working or go part time to concentrate on the sport.
16. How much sleep do you take per evening?
Between 8-10 hours a night.
17. What would you like to do after your running career is over? And do you ever see yourself retiring from competition?
I’d like to go back to University to do a Masters Degree and then work as a Nutritionist.
18. Have you been lucky with injuries?
I get the usual injuries that any athlete expects when they train as hard as they can. I have always been very fortunate in that I mend very quickly! I have never had to take much time out for injuries.