He has a marathon best of 2:17:16 and has run sub 30-minutes for 10k, but he too comes from an ultra-running background, proving he is a man of many talents. He has plenty of marathon experience, including an international England vest appearance in Frankfurt. Looking to improve on his current best time, we spoke to Paul about how he feels going into the trials and what it is he is aiming for.
This year has been testing, do you feel you’ve gained insight into your training you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise, or do you feel this year has put more pressure on next year?
I don’t really feel it has altered how I look at my training, but I have noticed how much I love racing and as such my motivation to train definitely stems from competition. With that in mind I took a little bit of time to resolve an ankle injury that I had so it definitely took the pressure off of making that decision. So, I am not training pain free and motivated by races coming back!
You’ve also come from an ultra-running background; do you think this has prepared you well for the marathon?
I feel that when I started running and went straight to ultra-distance, I was very naïve, this led to lots of mistakes! So, although I don’t think it has directly prepared me for the marathon it did teach my lessons in how to look after myself, or not in many cases! During long races. The marathon doesn’t last as long, but a huge amount of time can be lost within the 2nd half of the race if it isn’t going well.
What are your opinions on the course? Do you think it could play to your strengths?
TBH the course doesn’t look perfect, but they are getting the fastest 30 males and females together at a race to go head-to-head which is great. I think it could feel like a real trials race. I am a fan of the US style system, although it may appear to be harsh it also leaves no ambiguity. I appreciate it will add an additional challenge to those seeking the 2:11:30 time but who won’t love racing laps of a fancy garden! I don’t mind laps either, there will be lots of positives to running laps that can remove some of the stress on the day. Even simple things like bottles being in the same place each lap as opposed to not knowing if the table is on the left or right side of the road. We can get bogged down with the negatives but let’s just go racing and have some fun!
What are you aiming to come away from the race at Kew with?
I will certainly be hoping for a PB. I know we can train well and arrive in PB shape; the course may not be perfect but certainly I’d be hopeful of a PB. My current PB being 2:17:16. We have a long-term target of being in contention when it comes to the Commonwealth selection too. So, a step in the right direction towards that goal would be ace. Going through another marathon build up, arriving in PB shape and running the best race I can, will be a success there I feel.
Kenya and Ethiopia always seem to dominate in the marathon and distance events, what do you think you can do to bridge the barrier between the ‘British runner’ and the ‘Kenyan’?
This is a tough one. I have thought about this a bit before myself and have found it hard to come up with an answer. I tend to lean towards it just being a way of life for them and how that differs to British running. I think typically in Britain we expect more, whether that be funding, support, sponsorship, ambassador roles etc. Whereas the motivation for being the best, in a nation that is so strong, such as Kenya is different. It really is a tough one but that is where I feel the difference is. I feel that British marathon running has taken a good step forward. Maybe that it is a case of success breeds success. Kenya and Ethiopia have certainly had their share of success!