Consistency and Patience - The Key To Running Success
We do milk a little bit but I don’t get involved in that! I’m not a morning person at all. Anything before lunch I’ll class as a morning run.
Dewi Griffiths, the outstanding Welsh distance runner of this century, impressively combines his sport with working on the family farm in the Carmarthen Hills. But despite his Trojan work ethic, he is not a fan of early starts.
It’s the same routine I’ve done for the last few years really, I’m pretty flexible with the training. If I want to go for a run, I go for a run.
He normally does want to go for a run. A six time Welsh cross country champion, many time GB representative and outstanding road and track performer, his career looked impressive before autumn 2017.
Then came a purple patch on the roads where he took nearly two minutes off his half marathon PB, before making his marathon debut in Frankfurt and recording a fantastic 2:09.49 to rank number one in the UK for the year.
His apparent breakthrough was founded, he believes, on doing more of the same things that had got him this far.
I think people are saying what have I changed? but to be honest I haven’t really changed that much. I’m now on the third year of consistency - I got a stress fracture at the Commonwealth Games last time - so I’m on that third year of consistent training now.
I’m able to keep on stepping up, doing a little bit more in training, do a little bit more hard intensity, and you know, I’m getting the results.
While his general structure may not have really changed much, it may be that he was able to put more effort than ever before into his running in 2017 due to a motivation to put past disappointments right.
Every athlete wants to make the Olympics. Last year I finished second in the trial and just couldn’t run the time so that was a bit disappointing. I was halfway there in my mind but I’d done the easiest half.
The Euro Cross came round and I finished 18th. And I was pretty disappointed with that. I think that kind of kickstarted this year. This year I went back to basics in a way.
Sometimes, even for an elite performer, it’s as simple as it sounds:
Put simply, I think I just ran harder. Everyday.
Another way to look at Griffiths’ apparent breakthrough is that maybe he is just a runner ideally suited to the marathon and it is the focus on the longer distance that pushed him to the next level. Certainly his times are increasingly impressive as the race gets longer.
His isolated training environment undoubtedly nurtures his mental strength and ability to push hard when isolated in a race.
I predominantly train on my own. I meet my coach maybe once or twice a week, that’s it really. Fortunately I managed to rope my girlfriend into coming along to one or two of the long runs, and a long session, I roped her into helping me out with that as well.
Many a talented distance runner has come unstuck when stepping up to the marathon, not least because of the mental challenge of remaining focused for so long and not being intimidated by the distance. Dewi Griffiths was far from intimidated by the marathon.
I knew, definitely, after Cardiff [half marathon] 61:30 that I had a good chance of running 2:10. [Apart from Mo Farah, 2:10 hadn’t been broken by a British athlete for 15 years.]
The sessions I’d done since Cardiff were better than anything I’d done previous to Cardiff, so I knew I was in good shape, it was just a matter of how it all aligned on the day.
At the end of the day, I didn’t really know what to expect after 20 miles. So it was kind of into the unknown, but I’m going to give it a go and see what happens then really.
For a long time, it seemed that a time closer to 2:08 than 2:10 was on the cards as Griffiths reached 35k in fine fettle. It was at that point that his hamstring began to cramp up, and although he felt strong in many ways it was “survival to the end then really. I couldn’t push on, I wanted to but my hamstring wouldn’t let me.”
So there is the tantalising prospect of faster still to come from the redoubtable Welshman over the marathon. His message to runners seeking faster performances themselves is very simple.
Be consistent. And be patient.