Runner's World Heroes 2012

Prepare to be inspired by the stories of some true running heroes...

hannah england
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The Rising Star: Hannah England

The World 1500m silver medallist reveals what it’s taken to make her a contender for Olympic glory.

RW: How’s your training structured?
HE: I went to Kenya for winter training. We did a lot of 5K and 10K sessions, which isn’t my favourite thing, but it puts down a good base. I dropped my mileage after racing in February, but then I was back    to base running – plenty of miles with tempo sessions for endurance.

It was a pretty impressive finish in Daegu. How do you train for speed?
A lot of it is actually down to strength so it’s a mistake to think I work solely on the kick. I do some fast finish drills, although I won’t do real speedwork until quite late in my schedule, probably three to four weeks from competition. I use interval training but only at around 1500m pace most of the time, whereas I’d class real speedwork as 400-800m pace.

And strength work?
Olympic lifting twice a week, working on power with plenty of cleans and squats using heavier weights and fewer reps. I like doing hill sprints too, which are good for strength. Most days I also do a variety of drills, incorporating plyometrics, plus core and conditioning work: leg raises,  crunches and variations on the plank with the Swiss ball and medicine ball. These sessions last about two hours.

What tips would you give to runners trying to improve their times?
Your training doesn’t have to be especially complicated, but you need to keep pushing yourself to improve. How much an ordinary person can do is obviously restricted, so you must make it good value.

What did the Daegu silver mean to you?
The World Championships made success seem normal, possible. I realised I belonged in that sort of company.

How will you cope with the extra pressure heading towards London?
I started seeing a sports psychologist about 12 months ago. If I’m feeling nervous about something she gets me to write it down, which makes it seem a bit silly. If I have a race plan she gives me techniques for staying focused on it. I put more pressure on myself than any journalist could. I’m not pretending it’s not there, but I’m dealing with it. I’m totally focused on training and I don’t care about much else at the moment.

Words: Milke Pattenden

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