Five Minutes With... Mo Farah

One of Britain's most talented middle-distance runners tells us what it means to hold a national record - and why he never wants to finish second.


Posted: 26 October 2010
by Dominique Brady

Mo Farah has long been one of Britain's most talented distance runners, but his stunning 5,000 and 10,000m victories at the European Championships this summer have cemented his position as an athletics hero.

After becoming the first British man to win the long-distance double at the Europeans, Mo brought his season to an even more dramatic close when he achieved his dream to become the 5,000m British record holder. At the Diamond League meeting in Zurich, Farah's 12:57.94 run saw him clock a long-awaited sub-13:00 5,000m and smash David Moorcoft's 28-year-old British record in the process.

We caught up with this exceptional athlete as he joined a crowd of fans for a flash run around London's Regent's Park organised by Bupa.

Q. Why are you at the flash run today?

A. It's great to take part in the run today. It all started on Twitter and most people here are on their lunch break. It's always great to run with other people and as you can see it's not just a run, Bupa are also providing physio and treatments afterwards.

Q. You're now the British record holder in the 5,000m. Has that sunk in yet?

A. Yeah it has. I've had a great year - 2010 has been special. And at the end of the Championships when my body was tired, it was great to come out and break the British record. That record stood for 28 years and at the time Moorcroft set it, it was a world record too. That just shows you how much athletics has moved forward.

Q. How much more do you want to shave off that record?

A. Hopefully I can go faster, but I don't know how fast I can go yet. Years ago I set myself the target of breaking the 13 minute barrier if I wanted to be one of the best runners. I've done that now. It just depends if I can remain injury free and then it's all about the major championships and getting as many medals as I can.

Q. As the British record holder, what tips would you give for people trying to improve their 5K PB?

A. Nothing comes easy. You have to be willing to work hard and put in the miles. Work hard, focus and enjoy it. A really important thing is that you have to be happy in whatever you do. If you're not happy then you'll never get that far.

Q. Have you started winter training yet?

A. I've had a nice break and had time to relax with my family and enjoy myself. Now I'm back in training and getting the miles in. I've been back in training a week and a half now.

Q. Will you head out to train in Kenya soon?

A. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll be making that decision. I'll spend four to five weeks there.

Q. How has the altitude training in Kenya changed the way you run? Has it improved you as a runner?

A. It helps you a lot as you can focus more when you train out there - it's just eat, sleep and drink running. You work at 8,000 ft above sea level so it's a lot more intense and much harder work. If you work at altitude and come back to sea level it makes a big difference as you've got used to a lot less oxygen and at sea level you find you can run much faster.

Q. How do you cope with not seeing your family when you're away?

A. I sacrifice a lot with not seeing my daughter and wife. It's not easy, but as an athlete if I want to be the best and get in the mix, then it's something that I have to do. I can't just stay at home and do my training there - it just wouldn't work.

Q. Your mantra is "no pain, no gain". Watching the European Championships anyone could see how tough that 10,000m was for you. How do you push through the pain barrier?

A. It's all down to the training you do everyday, day in, day out. It's the training you have to be focused on. Sometimes I find training harder than competitions. With competitions you have prepared, covered every angle, looked at the race and mentally if you're strong, you can't fail. If someone is ahead of you, you can't accept that you will come second, that's just a sign of weakness. Physically you know you can push harder because you've done the training. Winning the 10,000m in Barcelona was brilliant but the 5,000m meant a lot more to me because four years earlier I had been second by less than half a second. When I crossed the line I just couldn't believe it.

Q. How do you come back when you are that close to victory but don't win?

A. It's hard to pick yourself up. You have to be strong and you have to want it. Yes, you have finished second but if doesn't matter whether it's by half a second or a minute behind, it's still second. You just have to get back to training, focus and think about it day in, day out - about why you came second and how you can work on it.  You have to look back on what you did - some people forget about that. I remember watching videos of that race and thinking tactically did I get it wrong, mentally did I get it wrong, physically was I not fit, could I have done more miles? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and as an athlete that's what makes you who you are.

Q. Some pundits have suggested you could be a great marathon runner. Have you considered switching to the longer distances?

A. I will do when I get older. I did the Great South Run last year and I was pleased that I won that race in 46:26, which was really good. But the marathon is a different ball game and I'm stepping up to it slowly. Last year I did the 10K for the first time in a championship. I'm heading in the marathon direction, but not yet. I'm still picking up PBs in my current events, so I don't see myself moving up just yet.

Q. When can we expect that transition?

A. Maybe after 2012 - we'll see how it goes.

Q. What are your aims for next year? Will it be hard to hang onto the momentum from this year?

A. There's the World Championships next year and I'd like to get a medal there.  I've done the Worlds before and finished sixth in the indoors and seventh in the outdoors. I'm about a second and a half behind the medals, so I've got to improve by that time to be up there with the guys. I'm hoping next year to improve as much as I can and get close to that medal. Then it's 2012 after that.


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Discuss this article

legend.
Posted: 26/10/2010 at 16:13

A great distance double in Barcelona and then the British 5000m record too in Zurich.
Posted: 26/10/2010 at 21:16

His wife?

I thought MO Farah was engaged to Realrunners director Kevin Quinn. 


Posted: 03/11/2010 at 12:00

What a great guy. GO MO!
Posted: 09/11/2010 at 12:08

i preferred him when he was lead singer of Skunk Anansie
Posted: 09/11/2010 at 17:22

Squeaky voice:

"I wun a med-ed-dal
No tears for me!
I'm gud at train-ain-ing
No beers for me!"


Posted: 09/11/2010 at 18:53

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