Andy Vernon Q&A
We caught up with 2015 London 10,000 champion Andy Vernon to find out about his training and to get his top racing advice for you as you prepare for your big day…
How did you get into running?
I got into athletics through my local club, Stubbington Green Runners. They were setting up the annual 10km fun run while I was doing my Sunday morning paper round. I phoned my Dad from the paper shop, asked him to drive me round in the car and bring me some trainers and something to run in. I entered the race, won it, signed up to the club that day and went from there. I was 14 I think.
What do you love about running?
I enjoy the travelling and training camps. I have seen a fair amount of the world and had many good experiences, which I’ve only had thanks to running.
What do you enjoy about the 10km distance?
I’ve learnt to enjoy the 10km distance as I’ve got older. When I first ran a 10km race on the track in 2009 it felt long and it hurt a lot. Now I run it much faster but it just feels easier. I like that you can just switch off for a lot of it and run to a rhythm and really soak up the atmosphere before getting down to business in the last 2km. If you’re not feeling comfortable in the first 7-8km you probably won’t be very useful when the race really starts so this is actually really important. The road is even better because it just seems to fly by.
Why is the Vitality London 10,000 special?
The London 10,000 always draws a big crowd. I live in London (a little further out from the city) but it still feels like I’m running in my home town. It’s also in the capital so that makes it special too. We pass some great sights, it’s a flat fast course and everything is well organised to make the experience for every athlete a stress-free and enjoyable one.
How is your training going for the race?
Training is going really well. I’ve had to cut my mileage back a bit and supplement it with cycling and cross training due to the amount of injuries I’ve had over the past 20 months but I’ve found a happy medium and I’m back to good fitness.
As for a plan, it will simply be to win. I will have done the Olympic 10,000m trial the week before so I may be a bit tired from that but I will try to put on a bit of a show again and give the crowd something to cheer for.
What’s an average week of training for you?
Right now I have three types of training days. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I do a 40-minute run followed by a two-hour bike ride, then core and drills etc in the evening. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I do a running session followed by weights and then a cross training session in the evening. On Sundays I do 90 minutes to two hours on the bike followed by a 75-minute run. As time goes on, I am increasing the running volume and decreasing the cross training volume until I can get back to full running again.
Do you have a strength and conditioning routine?
I try to do a bit of core every day except Sunday. My weights at the moment consist of leg presses, squats and Bulgarian split squats. These are mainly rehab exercises for a knee injury I first picked up in October. I intend to include plyometrics in the mix when I feel my body is ready.
How do you recover between sessions?
I try to maximise recovery in a number of ways. Firstly with rest and afternoon naps; secondly with good nutrition immediately after training. I’m lucky to be supported by MyProtein so I have recovery shakes and protein bars immediately after my harder workouts.
I eat lots of veg with my dinner and I always buy quality lean meat. Thirdly with self massage, foam rolling and stretching; and lastly with massage and physio.
How do you take care of your nutrition?
I eat as soon as possible after training, and I make sure my diet contains lots of veg; I eat fruit as well but not too much due to all the sugar. I also buy lean meat from a good butcher. It’s not actually that much more expensive than a supermarket but it’s generally of better quality.
What do you do to relax?
I’m a bit of a hermit so I usually stay in and rest, nap, watch TV and foam roll.
How do you prepare for a race in the hours before?
Every race is slightly different. The London 10,000, for instance, is early morning so there isn’t much you can really do except have breakfast and maybe a short stretch before heading to the start.
The Olympic trial, which is just a week before, however, is late at night so there is a lot more you can and can’t do beforehand, which can make or break the race.
I try to stay relaxed as much as possible, nap in the afternoon, make sure I don’t eat too much, and listen to music or try to surround myself with chatty people to take my mind off the race.
I’ll start my warm up roughly 50 minutes to an hour before the race starts, although this depends a lot on pre-race procedures at each race.
How many sessions per week would you recommend for 10km training?
There are two types of weeks that are usually done. Three sessions a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) with all running on the days between fairly easy and two sessions a week (Tuesday, Friday) with all the running on the days between slightly faster particularly Sunday which is usually done pretty hard towards the end to almost act as the third session. I’ve only ever done three sessions a week but I would say two or three would work equally well.
Do you get nervous before races?
Everyone deals with races differently. I would much rather enjoy it than be nervous beforehand. In fact it’s races like the London 10,000 that I try to enjoy the most as there’s no pressure. I can win or lose and ultimately it doesn’t actually change anything either way. Obviously I turn up to win but I won’t let nerves take the enjoyment away from the day. I save those for the ones with something to lose like trial races and major championships.