Your Name: Paul Radford
Home Town: Kings Langley
Twitter Account: @PaulJRadford
What is your running background?
I’ve always enjoyed sport since my school days, actually I preferred to be on a pitch or a track than in a classroom. Rugby played a big part in my life all the way from the early years of school to late twenties when I was the club captain, so athletics and running came hand in hand with summer training – ironically I used to hate cross country and always preferred the track and field in the summer. Now it’s the other way around, give me trail and I’m happy spending hours out running around the countryside, nothing beats coming face to face with a badger on a night run!
I only really got back into running some 10 years ago after a long absence from sport due to knee injuries due to rugby now it’s a huge part of my life, training most days of the week – It’s hard to remember a day without having trainers on, I never wear a suit anymore and always have my running kit with me.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
Funnily I got into ULTRAs through a Birthday present. In 2008 I was bobbing along, or I could say floating along, on a tide of alcohol, late nights, and not enough sleep –working too much, drinking, eating and entertaining clients to excess, when I was presented with an entry form to a two day mountain marathon as a birthday present and was informed I had 6 months to get training, it was set out in the style of a Mission Impossible, you know the sort – “This is your mission, if you choose to accept it” type of thing. That competitiveness feeling that had been missed for so many years kicked in, even though I was probably in no condition to do even a 5K, let alone run up a rather big hill!
So I went out with a bang, my 40th Birthday party ended in the early hours of the morning, the very next day, and with a heavy head, I took up the challenge, put on some old trainers and went out for a jog across the fields, I stopped drinking alcohol, started eating healthy, and before I knew it some 3 months down the line, I had completed my first half marathon…. 4 months down the line I found myself running along the Cleveland Way in horizontal rain and pushing against gale force winds as I took on my first ultra coming 14th, in preparation for the big two day Mountain Marathon. Six weeks on, I found myself in Northumberland running – well, more like undignified falling, tripping and rolling across the heather, competing in my first two day event. Day one ended after spending 5 and half hours out on the hills, I hobbled into camp and was totally shattered, a can of coke was like ambrosia, and for a brief moment I wondered what on earth I was doing, and vowing to never, ever, do this again! That evening, I was informed that I was sitting 3rd overall for the day – No way! How had that happened? Suddenly all thoughts of never again, pain and exhaustion were forgotten and that buzz of, “Hey I’m actually doing ok!” So the next morning I hobbled out of the tent and pushed through the second day of pain and legs that didn’t want to respond and managed to bag a 2nd place, a race I will never forget! Tiredness turned to joy and within 5 minutes of finishing I was asking when’s the next event? And there it was, my passion with Ultra running was born.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I Love the TRA Ridgeway, have raced this 3 times now, I can also be seen a fair bit at Centurion Events, but I also like travelling overseas and racing anywhere there is a mountain.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
Running 224K in Barcelona last December for auto qualifier to the Spartathlon – My 1st attempt at 24 hour racing and running around and around track. That last hour when the siren goes is amazing, something I will never forget.
Racing the Ridgeway 3 times and coming 2nd every time
Getting faster with age, still learning and hitting consistency for the last 2 years with the help of my coach.
What was your hardest race experience?
That without a doubt has to be Tromso Skyrace, I literally fell off the mountains up in Norway. Went to Tromso over confident and did not respect the course enough, got some shocking injuries and very much learnt my lesson there.
What events do you have planned for 2018 up to Spartathlon?
Mainly hitting a good training block between now and September, want to make sure I’m fresh for end of September.
Have a few races fixed into the training schedule and I am looking for something suitable in August.
July – Wendover Woods 50K
September – Dunstable Downs trail Marathon
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
It used to be go out fast from the beginning and hope for the best, but since I’ve been coached by Robbie, we have changed that to starting off easy and only racing the last part, which of course works a lot better and without a doubt keeping very hydrating is key to going the distance. A big part of the build up to a race is the pre planning and getting the mind focused, which I love.
What does a typical training week look like?
I train 6 days a week, rest day is normally a Monday and depending on what races I have coming up, a week will be split with easy runs, two sessions of speed work or hills and a long run. I have learnt that volume/mileage is not as important as time and quality (coach will be happy I said that 🙂 ). Around the runs we try to programme 2 or 3 sessions a week concentrating on core and strength work in the gym.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Run it to feel and enjoy the moment and never let that little voice inside of you tell you that you can’t do it, crossing that finish line is an awesome feeling.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
When my hair was longer I was often mistaken for Richard Hammond of Top Gear.
As my wife has a connection with Nine Lives Greece Cat rescue in Athens and we have a 9 month old kitten rescued at 2 days old off of the streets of Athens, I will be running the Spartathalon to support this charity.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
No, it’s my first attempt
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Surviving it! ……………
Absorbing the atmosphere at the start and I’ve been told the finish is just out of this world, it’s going to be such an experience to run in such an iconic race.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
The doubts that occasionally pop into your head in the harder moments and coping with the possible heat whilst sustaining such a distance.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Getting on top of the training and keeping the consistency going until September. I’m hoping to get the opportunity to get out to the mountains of Italy for some specific training with friend and coach Robbie.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
I am still sorting the crew out but I’m hoping my wife Jenny will be coming out with me – she loves Greece and helps support a cat charity called Nine Lives in Athens.
I’m also hoping to sort out another couple of friends to help crewing duties but that is still in organization stage.