Andrew Lemoncello interviewWe speak to the Olympic long distance runner about The London Marathon, tips on going the distance, and what gives his running the edge
You recently chose to replace 3000m Steeplechase with the Marathon Circuit. What were your reasons for doing this?I’ve always loved running the longer distances and I was more naturally suited to it. I found it hard to build my speed but I seemed to do well in the distance events without much specific training. The marathon has always appealed to me as there are so many variables and things that can happen. I’m excited about running more marathons over the next few years to see how fast I can run.How has your training changed since competing in marathons?It’s been great. My speed has really developed from having that marathon strength. I’ve set a few road PBs and felt like my body has changed for the better. Everything seems to be a little easier now that I have gone through a marathon training cycle.You were the highest finishing Brit in the men’s London Marathon. Did you feel a lot of pressure/expectancy going into the race and how did you rate your performance?I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I was so confident as training had gone well and I felt great in the week leading up to the race. The race itself didn’t pan out the way I would have hoped but it was a good starting point. The result has spurred me on to train smarter and run better in my next marathon.Do you think you’re moving in the right direction after the London Marathon? London really ignited a spark for me. I can't wait to run my next marathon as I know I have a lot more to get out of myself. I recovered really well after London and went on to race well on the roads in the USA so I was happy with the way things turned out. It gave me the chance to listen to my body and train how I really felt rather than forcing something out of a workout and I got really fit from doing this.What did you make of the Beijing Olympics? What must Seb Coe do to ensure London is a similar success? I loved the experience of the Olympics. I learned so much from being around all the great athletes. I didn’t run well but I came away from China with a new sense of purpose in my training. It’s amazing how a bad performance can change you as an athlete and help you to become better. I never want to feel like I did during my race there so I do so much more extra stuff to ensure that I can be more consistent and peaking at the right time. I think London will be a success no matter what. Everyone has been talking about it and aiming for it ever since it was announced that they got the games so people will be ready. That was one of the reasons that I pulled out of the European Championship marathon team. I didn’t want to risk damaging my body in the heat of the Spanish summer as I want to perform at my very best in London 2012 and Glasgow 2014.What are the similarities/differences in the atmosphere of a London Marathon and Olympic Games? I guess the fact that there were far more people in London cheering my name. The stadium in Beijing was full but it was just noise rather than the shouts of ‘Come on Lemon’ that I was getting on the streets of London.What was the best piece of advice you have received in your career so far? I think when I was about 17, Steve Ovett came and talked to a group of us about the type of training he did and how much work you have to put in to get to the top. It was inspirational and I have really become a student of the sport since then.What are your top five tips to achieve better performance? 1. Avoid injury at all costs. The whole point of running is the running, so don’t make injuries worse by running on them just because you don’t want to take a day or two off. What’s better, 3 days off or 3 months?2. Training specifically for the event you’re aiming for. If it’s a marathon, run lots of miles and practice taking on fluids. If it’s an 800m, get that speed work in.3. Make a schedule. This will help you to stick to your training and get in all the work needed for your target.4. Practice running in the equipment you will run in on race day. Don’t put on shoes for the first time for your race, you don’t want to get lots of blisters or chaffing.5. Enjoy yourself! Make the training and racing enjoyable by doing it together with someone or have a reason (like a charity). It will make the experience a lot more fun and satisfying.How important to performance is the kit and equipment you wear? My kit is hugely important. My Mizuno shoes help me to put all the miles in without injury so I am so grateful for their support. They have given me some of the best equipment that I have ever used. I have used a lot of different companies over the years but I have found that the Wave Riders are my perfect shoe. I can go from road running to trail running no problem. I was also really happy when I was sent the lightest pair of shoes I have ever seen! I feel like I have nothing on my feet and this has helped result in some new PBs since I’ve used them. I showed my training partners how light they were when I threw them in the air and the wind blew them away!What does your normal week of training involve? No week is the same but I follow a general pattern of speed work on Mondays, VO² max/lactate threshold work on Wednesdays and long runs ranging from 15 to 28 miles (depending on what I am training for). The rest of the days I am doing some easy running to recover between workouts. Everyday I run a second run of 30 to 60 mins and twice a week I do a gym workout. There are lots of strides, stretching and foam rolling involved everyday also so that my legs can be as fresh as possible.What are your dietary recommendations before a big race? Don’t try anything new. Before the marathon I was almost purely eating carbohydrates and drinking lots of fluids. My last big meal before a race is usually lunch the day before. On race day I usually just have some toast, some fruit and coffee. If the race is later on in the day I will have more of a substantial meal like some oatmeal or cereal.A lot of emphasis is placed on physical preparation before a race. How important is a sound psychological approach as well? I run so much better if I am in the right place mentally. For me that means having some good consistent training and preparing properly for the race. It gives me the confidence to run hard with no options of settling for a slower time. Once I am warmed up I like to take a few minutes on my own and go through the race in my head. This visualisation helps me to focus for the whole race. I then say a little prayer and I’m ready to go!What are your goals and ambitions for the next two years? My aim has always been to run well at the London Olympics and the Glasgow Commonwealths so that is my goal. I want to run some good marathons and learn the event more. I still haven’t got a Scottish record so I will be aiming to get that in the 10km, half marathon or marathon soon.