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Dom Blake - Q&A

Describe yourself and approach to life and running etc?

I had some interest in running at school, but I preferred football and didn't really pursue it until I got to Uni.I don't have much of a scientific approach, just use the two sessions a week, one long run and some recovery/easy. I've always been self coached, although at times I have had someone write a training programme for me (sessions only). I hate stretching, so make sure I don't do any!

When did you start running and why?

I was ok at school, but it wasn't until Uni that I started to take it a bit more seriously. I ran 34.03 for 10k and 16.24 for 5k on the track and realised I could be ok.

However, post Uni, football took over, and it wasn't until I quit at 31 that I joined a club (Reepham Runners) and decided to take it a bit more seriously. I've always seen running as something to be enjoyed rather than endured, so I can't really fit in more than 80 miles a week if I want to still have a life.

How has your training been during the last year?

Covid has obviously had an impact on training, but it's also had a huge impact on motivation. Late last year, I was really struggling and not really training very well. Thankfully, I was able to train at times with one other person, which meant that Scott Walford and Chris Mickleburgh (both BVH) were able to drag me out of my malaise.

Right now, I'm enjoying it again, I'm lacking top end speed, but endurance is looking decent.

What has been your hardest event to date and why?

London Marathon 2007. The whole event was a disaster from start to finish. The train to the start broke down which meant having to run 4 miles to the start line and starting a long way back from pen 5.

I spent 10 miles desperately trying to catch up to where I felt I should have been, and weaving between runners. By the time I got to mile 15/16, my race was done, and the heat (it was at the time the hottest London Marathon on record) was getting the better of me.

I finished in around 3.45, way outside my target time of 3 hours...not a great day unfortunately!

What was your most memorable event to date and why?

There are two that stick in the mind. The first is Norwich half 2013. I was running on my own about 30 seconds behind the main pack (Ben Russell was off the front and on his way to victory). It was a two lap race, and at the end of the first lap, we came through the showground and I made a big effort to get back to the pack. Matt Boswell made a surge at 9 miles and after initially suffering, I managed to recover and pick my way past people. By the time we got back into the showground, I was in third and I managed to hang on! I was really proud to get on the podium after finishing about 300th on my first attempt in 1997!

The second was the Liverpool half in 2018. It's a hilly course, which probably suits me a bit. After 8 miles there were three of us left, and I felt great knowing I was going to podium as I felt very strong.

At 10 miles, one guy broke off the front, and I let the elastic go to about 100m before holding the gap. My own effort pushed me clear into second, and I finished just 19 seconds behind the winner. As we walked back to the kit area, lots of people were stopping to talk to the guy who finished ahead of me. I had no idea how they knew he was the winner as they hadn't seen the finish. Turns out it was Matt Rees, who had famously helped a struggling runner over the finish line at London a month earlier!

What are your favourite sessions enjoyable/most painful?

12*400 is the best and the worst session out there! I dread it, but once I get going, I enjoy going into the pain box! I also like 6*1k off 3 min jog recoveries and 6*1 mile off 1 min jog recovery. They are good to mix up as it should help establish the difference between 5k pace (kilometre reps) and 10k pace (mile reps).

How important is conditioning (stretch/strength) in your training?

It didn't used to be very important at all. But now I am the wrong side of 40, I do press ups and sit ups most days. I tried Burpees, but almost put my back out!

Do you have a race plan?

I actually have race plans. The reason for this is to allow some flexibility as you can't predict what other people are going to do. Usually I go off quite hard, but if no one comes with me, I'm prepared to ease back if it feels too fast, or press on if i sense an opportunity to press home the advantage.

One song and or movie to inspire pre-race?

The movie has to be Rocky, truly inspirational! As for music, hard to pick just one, but Don't stop me now by Queen always seems quite apt!

Who or what inspires you?

Before I ran my Marathon PB in 2014, I decided to educate myself with a bit of a history lesson. Joyce Smith is an absolute legend, twice winner and set a British record at 41! Steve Jones, Charlie Spedding and Paul Evans are all gutsy as hell, which I really admire.

Closer to home, we've had Mike Tagg, Neil Featherby and Nick Earl, all local boys come good.

Key racing tip…..

Don't f*CK it up! But it really is about preparation. If you don't train well, don't expect to turn up on the start line and smash it. Trust the process and execute the race to the best of your ability.

What’s the dream/ future ambitions?

Main goals are sub 32 for 10k, sub 70 half and sub 2.30 marathon. But I haven't run a pb in six years, so maybe it should be to run a PB!

Key training tip……

Understand the purpose of every session and don't deviate. Not every session is supposed to

be flat out. Some are about consistency, some are about increasing the pace, etc.

If you could change past training or a race, would you do anything differently?

I would not drink the night before a race. Did this a lot in my early years and refused to accept it was impacting performance!

Pre run/race food?

Bananas on toast and a black coffee. Anything else is too

difficult to digest.

Favourite saying/quote ……..

“Don't be shit.”

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

“A concentrated mind achieves more than strength alone.”

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