Focus by Andy Staveley

FOCUS by Andy Staveley

Andy Staveley

When I was training hard for a marathon a number of years ago, I asked three different coaches for some guidance on a specific aspect of my training.

Two of them were top international runners and renowned coaches and the other was the legendary and wise Bruce Tulloh (if you don’t know who he is, look him up).

One of the coaches said I should definitely do X and the other advised me to definitely do Y. 

So I then asked Bruce Tulloh. 

Bruce, who knew everything there is to know about running, said to me “I don’t know……….. because I don’t know you very well as a runner. Ask the coach who knows you best as a runner.”

So I did, and achieved the PB I was striving for.

The moral of this story is this - in order to get the best out of your running, first try to clearly identify what it is you are hoping to achieve and try to get to know yourself as a runner. 

There is more advice out there about running than ever – magazines, websites, twitter, facebook, podcasts, supplements in the Sunday papers, online coaches, suppliers of nutritional products, kit manufacturers, online training programmes and so on. All runners want to do whatever they can to gain a little bit more and some of this advice might be good – but it can’t possibly all apply to you personally.

Try to be discerning in which bits you take on board and try to analyse what applies to you and why.

  • Ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve at this particular stage in your running. Do I just want to get generally fitter and faster? Do I want to run a marathon? Do I want to get a PB at a particular distance? Which distance? Do I want to run cross-country / run better on the fells / run an ultra? Give yourself a proper and honest answer and stick to it.


  • Analyse yourself honestly as a runner, both physically and mentally. Identify where you are now and what you need to do to improve. If you’re not sure, listen to those you run with and run against. Your regular training partners may be able to help a lot. You may have a regular rival at local races – speak to them as they will know you better than you think. You may identify a mentor or know someone who is a coach, even if they don’t coach you – talk to them. 


  • Once you know what you want to achieve, make a plan to help you get there ……..and don’t be distracted by the latest nutritional advice on twitter or the fantastic podcast on marathon running when you’re training for a 5K.

All this sounds very obvious and, if so, that’s great – work hard and get on with achieving your goals. 

If not, stop and think for a moment or three - and then make today the day that you decide to clearly identify your goals, focus your efforts and achieve what you want to achieve.



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