Interview with Oliver Harrison
Oliver Harrison started running, very occasionally, in 2002 but only properly got into running in 2007. He was quite unfit, had a poor diet and was a smoker. Then, his girlfriend’s sister (now sister-in-law) invited him to join her and her partner to complete a triathlon. He did it by giving up smoking and training fairly consistently (3-5 times a week). He really enjoyed it but when he had a child and his time was more limited, he chose just to run. He started a blog to motivate himself and encourage more people to enjoy the benefits of running.
What is your proudest running achievement?
As part of the Leeds Triathlon in 2012 I achieved a sub 40-minute time on the 10km run leg. It’s one of only two occasions I’ve managed this for a 10km and to do it at the end of a triathlon makes it feel extra worthy. Also, more than any other run, that time felt deserved. I trained hard and targeted my training. There were no miles wasted.
What has running taught you?
That despite appearing incredibly calm on the outside, I have a restless energy inside me. It’s only through running regularly that I’ve realised that the energy has always been there. I just often chose to direct it in very unproductive ways.
What is your most ambitious running goal?
To date the longest distance I have ever run is a half marathon. I’m currently considering entering Endure 24 in 2020 with a view to aim for 100 miles.
How far in advance do you plan your races?
This totally depends on my level of fitness but generally speaking between one and three months. One month if I’m feeling fit, but three months if I know I’ve got a bit of work to do to get a time I’ll be happy with.
What is the most miles you’ve ever run in a week?
I couldn’t honestly answer that because it’s not something I usually keep track of. At a guess probably 20-25 miles. I was training with the aim of getting a sub 40-minute 10km in the middle of June 2019. I got nowhere near (41:54).
What is the longest period you’ve ever trained for a race?
Again, I can’t be certain but knowing how I plan these things it would most likely have been a three-month build up to a half marathon.
What has been your most serious running injury?
I’ve had recurring injuries in my right knee for the past ten years. On several occasions it’s stopped me running for six to eight weeks. It’s been incredibly painful at times but apparently it’s caused by something as simple as an underactive glute on one side. I didn’t think I needed to exercise my glutes if I was doing so much running.
What cross-training exercises do you commit to?
I’ve always been very bad at cross training. More recently I’ve been doing pilates at least once a week but now aim for twice a week. It’s crucial for me to keep my knee pain under control. More recently following a groin injury (which put me out of action for six weeks) I’ve started to do a bit more strength work but I’m just trying to find what works for me.
What would persuade you to work with a running coach?
I’d struggle to commit to using a coach. I’d have to feel I was getting value for money. By which I mean my funds are always very tight at the end of the month and I’d have to sacrifice something else to pay for it. So I’d need to feel the coach was giving me some knowledge or expertise that I couldn’t give myself or find out for myself.
In one sentence, what does running mean to you?
Running means a place of freedom where everything else apart from the next footstep gets forgotten and life, for as long as I’m running, is as simple as it ever has been.