Some stories are great and others are you can’t even imagine they would be possible.
Before I started Before the Medals, I ran a lot more than I do now. I began training at Charnwood Athletic Club based at Loughborough University when I was 13 years old. It is at Charnwood that, under the guidance of Coach Dave Scoggins, I first met Andy Maud. A couple of years older than me Andy was a seriously talented runner. We had a great group of 7-10 Athletes all competing at the National level in Cross Country and on the Track and we pushed each other hard on our Monday and Wednesday track sessions as well as the long Sunday run around Bradgate Park and The Loughborough Outwoods.
How seriously did we take it? At that time not so much. We had no idea where running would take us and did it for the pure love of it. And for the friendship developed amongst team mates. It was incredibly fun and fulfilling times in all of our lives.
University came and Andy went off to Durham and later I studied at Loughborough. It was at Durham Andy began to run a little less and play Tennis a little more, playing a very good standard. Post university this continued until Andy visited the London 2012 Olympic Games where the passion was ignited again…
- What inspired you to take up running again?
Rich and I used to run together as juniors and were competitive at regional level while enjoying the sport and the post session tuck shop and banter. However, I equally loved playing tennis and indulging in many other sports and focused more on these post school before career and a long period of relative inactivity ensued.
It then becomes a London 2012 Olympics legacy story. I was unfit, working long hours with running merely an occasional stress reliever. However, I was off work for the duration of the Olympics, watched as many events as I could live or on big screens in the royal parks, and felt inspired to “do something, achieve something”. In particular, seeing Rudisha gracefully destroy the 800m world record made me realise how much I enjoyed the freedom and feeling of running fast.
So I entered a charity marathon for the following spring and started run commuting home to get running again plus a long run on the weekend – more to get onto the canals and into Victoria park than to get the miles in.
- What aims did you have when you re-started training?
Sub 3 hours before I turned 30 was the motto. I knew I was capable of more based on my junior days, but then didn’t really know how much fitness I’d lost during the years focused on my career and didn’t want to underestimate the challenge of a marathon. I’ve always enjoyed running to feel rather than a watch and so had genuinely no idea what pace my runs were at with the aim to run for a length of time, rather than distance, and progress the pace if I felt good.
I’m not sure it’s fair to call my preparation training – given how much I see people commit to their marathon preparation – but I stayed injury free and ran four times each week for 6 months. Come race day, I was in good shape, even if I didn’t know what that translated to. The race delivered way way more than I ever expected and I’ve never felt such a buzz and sense of achievement as miles 13-20 of the Brighton marathon passed running completely alone adrift of the leaders but ahead of the club runners with generous support from friends, family and the phenomenal Brighton crowd.
- When did you realise your progress was good enough to become a GB International? How long after you started training?
Off the back of surprising myself in that race, I decided to see what I could achieve in the sport. However, I certainly wasn’t thinking international honours and genuinely and gingerly went along to my first track session with Clapham Chasers expecting to be off the back. As Nathan will attest, it played out a little differently and upon learning of the pbs of the people I was able to compete with in early club events, I realised there was something here.
Obviously my approach, training commitment, mentality have changed since then, but I still see running as a gift and a stress reliever and until writing blogs like these and reflecting on my journey, it doesn’t really sink in that in the past 6 months I’ve represented England on the roads and xc and GB on the track.
But, I guess the National 6 stage road relays last October was where I realised my potential. Inspired by representing my club and the excitement and adrenalin rush of the fast and furious relay format, I managed the fastest split of the day amongst an array of England and GB internationals (including an admittedly unfit Andy Butchart). That was the turning point and gave me the belief and confidence that I could compete for international honours. It was then Eamonn Martin, manager of the England xc team and a 2:10 marathoner, who instilled a belief in me. I was injured and had to pull out of my England debut. I was crestfallen. However, a quick conversation with him and the conviction of a world class athlete that I warranted another pick as soon as I was fit again did wonders for my ego!
- What race are you most pleased with?
Brighton marathon, 2013. As outlined above, the experience, the negative split, the surprise performance provides a huge sense of pride.
- What are your aims for the future?
I’ve had a quiet few months on the running front since my GB debut with work commitments, some much needed rest and holiday, and of course friends and loved ones taking some much deserved precedence.
The future aims are easy to outline, a little harder to realise:
- Stay injury free and continue to enjoy my hobby.
- Start racing seriously again this winter to build a strong platform to run big 5km and 10km pbs on the road and track in 2017.
- Assess where my best distance lies and focus on qualifying for a major championship in 2018.
Athlete name: Andy Maud
Club: Highgate Harriers
Profession: Strategy Director for a social investment intermediary
- Long distance runner (5000m/10000m and XC);
- Recently earned honours with England (roads and xc) and GB (2016 10000m cup in Turkey);
- Notable performances (2015-16):
- International (representing England):
- 1st – Great Ireland Run (29:55, 10km)
- 3rd – Armagh International Road Race (14:04, 5km)
- 8th – Belgium International XC Cup
- 5th – British Olympic Trials (29:24, 10000m)
- 4th – English National XC Champs
- 1st – Fastest legs at English National 6 stage & South of England 12 stage road relays
We will keep you updated on Andy’s progress in this blog and wish him a healthy and happy Cross Country season.
Before the Medals