Age vs Youth: Longest Mile

An Average Runner’s Journey to Become a Middle Distance Runner…
So I’ve decided to try and become a middle distance runner. After years of running below my potential, I finally want to see what this body of mine can do. Thank you for checking out the Longest Mile Blog! Any feedback is hugely appreciated 🙂

Is age a barrier to being fast? Go to any track meet and you will see super-fast kids hammering round at a pace you could only dream of. We thought it would be fascinating to listen to the views of one of these potential future stars and ask if there is any hope for a thirty-something.

We spoke to Sam Maher. Sam is from Jersey, he is 18, and has been running since he was 9. Sam’s answer was pretty simple: if you can handle the pain, there’s hope.


The Interview

Hi Sam, so how long have you been running? Do you remember when you first fell in love with running?

Hello! I started running at the age of 9 in year 5 at school. I started to really love running a couple years later when I won my first inter-island cross country race.

What a start. How much do you think your running is natural talent, and how much do you think is simple hard work?

I think natural talent was shown during the early stages of my running and that’s what got me started. But it is hard work that has got me to where I am now. Talent can only get you so far.

What distance do you specialise in?

I specialise in 1500m and participate also in 800m and 5000m. I like 1500m because it combines a very fast pace with aerobic endurance. It really works the heart and lungs to the max.

Lungs to the max – that rings a bell! So how do you prepare your body, can you give us a basic overview of your week’s training?

I run 6 times a week, this includes 2/3 sessions on the track and 2 strength and conditioning sessions which I am on a programme for. I also do 1 hill session and a long run per week.

That sounds like quite a serious program there – what do you think is the most important component of your training?

It’s difficult to say really, I believe you need speed work and reps at almost max intensity over 200-400m but also an endurance base with long runs for stamina to be able to maintain a fast sustained race pace.

So a few weeks ago I ran a 1500m, I came 9th out of 11. What race tips can you give in terms of strategy?

What I’d say is take it out at a pace you know you can sustain. If you go out too quick you’ll really feel it in the legs on the last lap. Leave some energy in reserve so you are able to kick up the pace during the final stages of the race. You want to be on the floor when you finish knowing that every single last bit of energy had been used effectively.

There’s clearly an advantage to starting MD young, do you think there’s much hope for an old git?

There is definitely hope. Most people who get into running later are not used to the intense pace involved in 1500m. If you are able to cross that pain barrier, I believe anyone can be successful at middle distance. You must have a strong mental attitude.

5k to marathon running has become very mainstream recently, especially amongst those who started running as adults. Do you think MD will follow suit?

I think it would be good if 1500m became mainstream as it would bring more competition and better times! I think participation levels will increase in MD as a consequence of more people running in general. Although people at a beginner level tend to be scared off by track training and racing, which is a shame and maybe something that needs to be looked at.

What does this year have in store for you running-wise?

This year I am competing in the Island Games in Gotland for 1500m. This will be my second Island Games and I hope to medal. I also hope to compete in my final year of English schools track and field. Then the main targets are the English Nationals and Scottish Nationals, where I will look to retain my 1500m silver medal, or better!

That’s a busy year. You will have to keep us up to date. Longer term, what are your big ambitions?

I currently am on a training programme towards competing in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia and then the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Durban. Of course, like all MD runners, I really want to break the infamous 4-minute mile barrier.

Thanks to Sam Maher for agreeing to be interviewed by us. Check out Sam’s video below. Sam is on the look out for sponsorship to sustain his fledgeling career. Help support young talent in the UK – Watch and Share!!