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Member Spotlight – December 2021

Alan Pawsey Profile

When did you start running?

I started running while I was at school. I’m not sure of the actual year (problems of growing old!), but my first competition would have been the school sports days. I joined my first athletic club in 1973.

What/who motivates you to run?

At the start…in simple terms, it was the motivation of winning, not that I did it that often! Following on from that, my motivation was my school, the different training groups I trained with, the support of various coaches and training advisers, members of my local athletic club, and my family. What motivates me these days to run is the enjoyment it still brings me.

What is a typical training week?

I have always been lucky enough to train with very talented athletes during my competitive days which gave me the opportunity to work with some amazing people.

A typical week’s training during winter 1983/84 with this competitive group included:

Monday – 45 min-60 min solo run

Tuesday – long reps of approximately 3/4 mile each with the group

Wednesday – 20 min solo run and strength training

Thursday – hill work with the group

Friday – 20 min-60 min solo run. The duration depended upon whether I was competing in a cross country race the next day.

Saturday – if I wasn’t competing, I ran medium distance reps of approximately 3/8 mile each with the group in the morning and strength training in the afternoon.

Sunday – long run with the group

Occasionally, I completed 20 min solo runs before work or while on holiday.

Earlier this year my training included: 

Monday – 45 min run

Tuesday – 60 min run

Wednesday – 45 min run 

Thursday – 60 min run

Friday – 20 min run

Saturday – 90 min run 

Sunday – 45 min run

Favourite session?

300m reps followed by a speed drill on a warm summer’s evening. 

Least favourite session?

Long reps on a dark, wet and cold winter evening.

Road or trail?

These days mostly road, but during my youth it would have been more trail running.

Top 5 songs on your running playlist?

I never run listening to music. 

Do you run alone or in a group?

While at school, I always trained with a group. When I started working, it became a mixture of solo runs and interval training with a group. These days I run alone.

What other training do you do?

I was introduced to strength training in 1975 and added yoga to my training program in 1977.

What is your greatest running achievement so far?

I have always considered the two events below to be my finest achievements as both were such wonderful surprises.

The first was in 1975 when I was 15 years old and I turned up to run an 800m race at a track event. In my mind I was ready to break the 2 min, 5 sec barrier which was only a couple of seconds faster than my PB at the time. Before I started to warm up, I was approached by a senior member of my athletic club who asked if I would change my event to help the Junior (the age group above mine) men’s 1600m medley relay team as they were a runner short. I knew them as I had occasionally trained with them and was more than happy to help. I ran the second leg (200m) and the team performed well overall and won the race, but the biggest surprise to me and the rest of the team was still to come when the Athletic Weekly printed the end of year rankings later in the year. To everyone’s surprise, our quartet was ranked as the second fastest Junior team that year in the UK! This was my only official UK ranking.

The second was in March 1976 where I competed in an age grade road race. I considered the field to be of a reasonable standard with a few county athletes present. I turned up with no ambitions apart from finishing inside the top twenty, as I had only been doing minimal training since getting my appendix out the previous month. As the race unfolded and much to my surprise, I found myself in the leading pack. I stayed attached to this group until we rounded the last corner. As the group charged towards the finishing line, I found myself at the front of the pack crossing the finishing line first with a big grin on my face! It was such a wonderful and unexpected surprise.

What was your last race?

It was a cross country race on the 20th October 1984 which was a totally horrible experience. I struggled to get going and finished way down the field. A few days later, on the advice of fellow athletes, I visited my doctor who took one look at me and signed me off work. It took me years to be able to return to full training and somewhere during that time, I lost the urge to compete.

What are your future running goals?

To carry on running for as long as possible.

What’s on your bucket list?

Being in my sixties, my bucket list has become very short over the past 15 years or so.

However, I would like to run a sub 4 min mile which has been on my list since 1974! I also want to have a long, healthy and happy retirement. 

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to run?

Ensure you warm up and warm down properly and incorporate additional condition exercises into your training program. The above will benefit your running enormously. It’s also important to visit a specialist running store to get advice on what shoes to wear. I also recommend starting out with easy 20 min runs, including walking breaks if required, three times a week, for an initial period of six weeks. At the end of this training block, review your progress and determine what your next set of goals are and what training you need to do to achieve them. Every athlete is an individual and training needs to be tailored to meet those individual needs.

What do you like do when you’re not running

I really enjoy gardening and have various flower beds, vegetable patches, fruit trees and a couple of green houses. Geraniums are my favourite flower and I enjoy growing hot, spicy things. My other sporting interests include watching cricket (have traveled abroad on many occasions to watch England play, including the 2010-11 Ashes Series), the Rugby Union (London, Irish and England fan), and listening to live music by my favourite English rock band “Camel”.

What would you name the name the autobiography of your running life?

“Tried but failed”

Being very ambitious, my dream was always to run a sub 4 min mile. To some, a time like this might seem an impossible dream, but running just over 2 mins for 800m and regularly breaking 4 min 20 sec for 1500m in my final year at school, I considered this to be a reasonable challenge. Unfortunately, I failed.

I would just like to add, I enjoy being a member of the Running Bible Community on Facebook and love reading all your posts. I’m amazed by how you set your challenges, take them on and succeed. Not mentioning any names, there is a member here who went out and ran 50 marathons in a year. That guy should be writing an autobiography, not me.