We enjoy meeting every kind of runner. And today's Open Mic Fridays features a runner whose is fun loving, competitive, collects running quotes, and knows his running very thoroughly. We're delighted to feature Steve Speirs.
Welcome to Runners' Lounge, Steve!
How did you develop your passion for running and fitness?
I've enjoyed running since my high school days in the UK, where I would run to keep fit for football (rough translation = soccer) and rugby. In the early 80's my rugby coach persuaded me to enter my first road race – the Cardiff Half Marathon - where, without really training, I finished in the top 30%. I've been hooked ever since.
You race often. What's your secret to staying motivated and healthy?
I love the local running scene where you can find races every week if, like me, you're that way inclined. I'm not sure I have a secret to staying motivated - I guess I'm just lucky that it comes really easy to me. I constantly strive to be the best I can in all walks of life, and running is no exception. As for staying healthy, my lifestyle and eating habits are pretty good and I tend to listen well to my body.
I also swear by Hammer Nutrition products where I've discovered a great range of endurance fuels and training supplements that got me through 7 months of training and an Ironman Triathlon, and have been fueling me ever since. I'm definitely not perfect though; the couple of occasions I didn't pay heed to the warning signs, I got injured and was forced to take time off.
You just recently started a custom-designed marathon training plan. What about the plan is unique and makes you excited about following the plan?
Well, the plan was put together by coach Greg McMillan and is based on a very detailed questionnaire Greg had me complete. The plan is the first time I've ever "paid" for a training program and I'm excited to have something non-cookie-cutter to follow in my build-up to the Richmond Marathon in November. You can read more about the plan and my decision to part with $150. Oh, the things I'll try just to run a PR!
Tell us about your other blog? And how do you keep up with them and your running community?
My other blog started as a blog about my country of birth, Wales. For those who don't know (probably most of you reading this), Cymru is Welsh for Wales. Cymru is pronounced cum-ree by the way. The Welsh blog soon turned into a place to post about my training and racing, and before long I was blogging about all kinds of random stuff: fitness, cycling, beer, recipes, rugby, boxing, my iPod, making money online, my MINI Cooper, web design and blogging to name just a few.
I tend to post to my running blog every day, even if it's just to record brief details of a training run. Updates to my other blog are more sporadic; mainly due to lack of time, not lack of interest.
As for keeping up with my running community; if someone takes the time to leave me a comment, I'll typically take a few minutes to reply - it's just the right thing to do. Honestly, I really appreciate everyone who takes time out of their busy schedules to read my ramblings when there are probably a hundred more important things going on in their lives.
What's your secret to marathon success?
I look back at the late '90s and remember dreaming of a sub-3 hour marathon. With a then PR of 3:27 (PB if you're a UK reader), I thought it was impossible. However, in November '99, in my first marathon in the USA, I ran 3:05 at Richmond, and vowed to train hard all winter for the Shamrock Marathon the following March. Unfortunately, with six miles to go at Shamrock I was forced to the side of the road with stomach problems, somehow got going again and finished in 3:00:35; close but not close enough.
I think this race was a huge turning point and gave me enough confidence to believe I could one day run a sub-3:00. 20 months later, again at Richmond, I ducked under 3 hours by the narrowest margin of just 24 seconds.
So, my secret to success? I guess the term success is relative, but my "secret" would have to be confidence. Definitely respect the classic distance but be confident in your ability and go for it.
Notable fact: my last ten marathons have all been sub-3:00 efforts.
You love running quotes. What is your favorite(s)?
That's a tricky one to answer. Any of the quotes on my blog could be classed as a favorite, but I must say this recent one from Kara Goucher is high on the list at the moment:
"Get out there and do what you love!"
Which race is your favorite?
No particular favorite, although several hold great memories for me:
Cardiff Marathon, Wales - my first marathon attempt. I was barely out of high school and had no idea what I was doing.
London Marathon - both "Londons" were wonderful experiences - highly recommended if you ever get a chance to run it.
Richmond Marathon - the venue of my first sub-3:00 and also my wife's first ever marathon finish - such a proud moment!
Charlotte Marathon - the venue of my current marathon PR. It was 19 degrees at the start, but nothing would have stopped me on that day.
Actually, any race where I can challenge myself, cheer on fellow runners and enjoy the camaraderie could be classed as a favorite.
How about a favorite race distance?
Has to be the marathon; the ultimate challenge.
What's been your greatest athletic accomplishment?
Training for and completing my one and only Ironman Triathlon attempt in Lake Placid, NY in 2004. Also, I have to mention seeing my wife Ally finish her Ironman a couple of hours after I'd crossed the line was a huge moment for me too.
What is your current running goal?
Definitely a sub-2:50 at Richmond in November. I still dream of breaking 17 minutes in a 5k, but maybe this one's not meant to be.
Most of us have a quirky running trait How about you?
Quirky? Does drinking a Guinness and eating Macaroni Cheese the night before a marathon count?
What are your non-running interests?
Too many to mention really: my family, web design, my MINI Cooper, music, reading, house projects, bike riding, coffee and my latest "obsession" - saving up enough money to buy a 60's VW Bus.
Who is your running hero?
Paula Radcliffe, Sebastian Coe, Steve Jones. Apologies for the lack of US heroes; I'm British remember? :)
What stands out as your greatest running moment?
Probably finishing third at this year's Frederick Marathon and picking up $300 prize money. I ran the last 10 miles on my own and had no idea where I placed until I'd crossed the finish line. Remarkably I didn't wear a watch and didn't even know what pace I was running.
What's going on in your life outside of running?
Recently I launched the "hundred push ups" web site and have been astonished by it's success. Not sure how it all happened but the site has had almost one third of a million unique visitors since it's June 9th "launch".
As mentioned above, I'm saving hard to buy a 60's VW Bus. At the moment any spare time I have is spent researching and reading up on the classic vehicle! Maybe one day I'll have enough...
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
Great question! I would have loved to be at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, lining up against Seb Coe and Steve Ovett in the 800m and 1500m.
Most runners have a favorite running shirt. What's yours?
Probably my Charlotte Marathon shirt from 2006 - my fastest marathon and quite a cool shirt too.
Do you mind sharing the best running advice you've ever been given?
(In a strong Welsh accent): "Just put one foot in front of the other until you get to the finish" - my rugby coach before my first ever marathon.
And what's your parting advice you'd like to share with the rest of us?
(In a not-so-strong Welsh accent): "Just put one foot in front of the other until you get to the finish." Actually, Kara Goucher's "Get out there and do what you love!" is pretty good advice too.