Phil Wicks

Phil Wicks

Great Britain International runner Phil wicks was a late starter to athletics but he has caught up pretty fast. Having broken the 14 minute barrier for 5k 2 years ago and made the World Cross twice he has established himself as a real contender for the London 2012 Olympics. Phil is a very aggressive runner and will always give 100% whenever he takes to the start line. Phil is a regular reader of the RunnersLife website often using his lunch break to catch up with the latest news.

Personal Bests

1500m - 3m 47.56s
5000m - 13m 56.50s
5miles - 23m 25s
10km - 29m 33s
10miles - 48m 34s
Half Marathon - 62m 50s

Questions

Easy runs

I run quite easy the morning after sessions or race to help clear out some of the lactic acid and allow the muscles to recover. I think it's important to allow the body and legs to fully recovery and easy pace is probably around 6min 30sec per mile for me.

Steady runs

The large majority of my running outside of sessions is run at what I would call a steady pace - probably around 6min per mile, and I do the large majority of my steady running on my own around the local roads and woodland where I live.

Speed / Interval Work

I do 3 sessions a week and try to vary between hill, speed and endurance reps. I try and keep one track session a week going throughout the year and then switch between grass and road reps in the winter and extra track sessions in the summer for speed work. Up until the middle of 2008 I was being coached in a group but I now train mainly by myself or with a couple of training partners and have an advisor who I consult with on my session plan. Having only started running in my late teens I feel as though I am still on catch-up in terms of speed work so the hardest sessions for me are anything at 90%+ pure speed on the track.

Mileage

I think a lot of people get hung up on the amount of mileage they run every week. Everyone trains differently and in my opinion a person who runs 130 miles a week is no more likely to be a successful runner than someone who runs 60. Personally, I have always run high mileage and it's what makes me feel most comfortable. I run somewhere between 100-120 miles a week throughout the year and drop the mileage in the lead up to important races. I never actually record my weekly mileage because I do all my running to time rather than distance.

Cross country

I enjoy the challenge that comes from racing cross-country and I like the fact that you can race on a course one year and it can totally change from one year to the next. I find it less pressurised than the track where you are always running against the clock and as a result I think that I run much more relaxed. I train to race and I need to have a schedule of races to aim for throughout the year to keep me focused.

Strength work

I do circuit training throughout the year but have never done any sort of weights. It is something that I have been researching recently but I am also looking at a few different ideas for strength training that I hope will help to improve my running this year.

Phil Wicks

Massage

Regular massage is something that I have neglected from my training routine and almost certainly to my cost over the past year or so. When I first started running I had a couple of bad experiences where due to my own naivety I had massages too close to races and ended up racing badly as a result. In the past I have been quite sceptical about the benefits of getting regular massage and always preferred to believe that my body was capable of fixing itself. The main problem I have found is finding a local physio who works out of office hours so that I could get into a routine of having a massage every fortnight or so.

Diet

Nothing special here except that I try and eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and lots of carbs. I avoid junk food and very rarely drink any alcohol. My worst habit is eating microwave meals after training sessions when I should really eat something more nutritious to aid immediate recovery.

Training Races

When I first started running I raced very often and although I was criticised in some quarters for racing too often, I think that each race was beneficial to the learning process. I'm not one for doing tempo or threshold running so in the past I have used the occasional road race as a hard training run.

Group Training

At the moment I do most of my training on my own but I have a few training partners that I meet up with perhaps once a week for a session. When I first started training properly I was part of a group about 10 strong, and at that time it was really beneficial to my learning process, but nowadays I am comfortable pushing myself without the pressure of training with other runners. I think training on my own has also enabled me to be more comfortable front running in races.

Altitude / Warm Weather Training

I can see the benefits of warm weather and altitude training and would love to have the opportunity to use both, but unfortunately I have commitments that don't allow me to do so. Last year I spent a week training in Lanzarote and I am going back again this year, but although it's nice to get some sun on your back before the track season starts it's not really long enough to be beneficial from a training point of view. If I ever manage to get to a level where I could afford to be a full-time athlete I would definitely try to incorporate altitude training into my schedule to help improve my running.

European Cross

Q. How was it to win a bronze medal that day, best moment in athletics so far?
A. Winning a team bronze at the European cross was a real mix of emotions for me. Obviously I was over the moon to be presented with the medal, but I didn't really feel that I deserved it. I didn't make the scoring team and I had a really bad day at the office and ran well below my own personal expectations. On reflection I missed so much training in 2008 because of injury that I have to be pleased to have even made the team and realistically it was always going to be difficult for me to hold my own against such quality opposition. The one positive I take from Brussels is that it has made me more determined to make up for my run by trying to make the team and run better at the European championships this year.

Phil Wicks

'Wicks Myths'

Q. Is it true you have run 200miles in a week?
A. No! I would guess the highest mileage I have ever done in a week is probably somewhere around the 130 mark. I don't think there are many runners that could get away with 200miles a week and not end up injured!

Q. Did you used to follow runners world schedules as your training?
A. No! I don't think I have ever read an issue of Runners World let alone follow one of their training schedules! When I first start running I was a 'fun runner' training for the London Marathon by running two or three times a week for anywhere up to an hour with a long run at the weekend.

Q. Did you run a marathon at 17?
A. No! My first Marathon was London in 2002 and I had just turned 18. I ran 3 hours 24 minutes and then took a further 6 minutes off this time later in the year at my second attempt over the distance. I then ran my current Pb of 3 hours 3 minutes at the London Marathon in 2003 aged 19.

Q. Did you used to run to school and back like a Kenyan?
A. No! I didn't start running until I was 17 and by that time I was learning to drive, so I can dispel this rumour completely! I did use to run to and from work from my parent's home but where I live now with my girlfriend is too far from the office to run there and back so I have to get up earlier in the morning and run before I leave to get to the office.

Racing

Q. You always go off hard, is this more for your own racing or to hurt other runners?
A. For me racing is all about running as fast as possible and trying to get the best out of myself. I guess my racing philosophy is that I would rather finish 10th in a race and run a fast time than win a tactical race in a slower time.

Work / training

Q. Are you finding it hard to train full time and work full time?
A. I've heard in the past that the transition from being a 'junior' to joining the 'senior' ranks is a really hard transition, but for me the hardest transition was going from university to the world of work. Initially when I left Uni I was working part-time and this allowed me more flexibility in my training and the luxury of being able to train in daylight most of the year round, but today I work a 40 hour Monday to Friday desk job which means that during the winter most of my running is in the dark. After a stressful day at work it's hard to motivate yourself to go out and get a run done, but having a structured weekly routine makes it easier.

2008

Q. You missed most of the year through a bad injury, was this frustrating? How did it happen and was the actual injury in the end?
A. The first thing I knew about the injury was the day after the World cross in Edinburgh. I was out on a steady run and after about 20 minutes of steady running I felt an excruciating pain in the side of my knee. The injury was diagnosed by the UKA doctor as illiotibial band friction syndrome (runner's knee), but after 2 cortisone injections and visits to several sports physio's the problem wasn't shifting. I was gutted to miss out on the 2008 track season because up until Edinburgh I really felt that I was flying in training and was looking forward to attacking my Pb's on the track.

Thoughts on British distance running

Its clear to see that distance running in the UK is nowhere near the levels of the 70's and 80's but I think there are a whole of host of reasons why this is the case. I think in the recent past there have been far too much analysis of the situation and not enough work to fix the problems. For me the main reasons have to be the lesser depth of runners and lifestyle changes from that of only a decade or two ago. My personal opinion from a distance running perspective is that it could be beneficial to copy the system being used in America at present where groups of athletes are living, training and eating together supported by the big universities and major sportswear brands.

Marathon 2012?

Q. Will you be aiming for the marathon in 2012, if so will you be running one before then.
A. The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of our sport and its 2012 and beyond that motivates me to train and race as hard as possible. Realistically I think my best chance of making an Olympic team would be over the Marathon distance and it is definitely in my long term plans to target running a qualifying time. I do have plans for how I want to build up towards the marathon and specific races that I would like to target between now and then. Over the next couple of years I would like to start working towards running my first 'proper' marathon by evolving my training and racing accordingly.

Phil Wicks