In just over 40 days, Australia’s Hugh Williams will line up in the elite field of the 2018 Chicago Marathon. The field is stacked with the likes of Mo Farah and a total of 11 men who have run 2:07 or better. Runner’s Tribe caught up with Hugh to discuss his first attempt at the marathon, training, targets times, being coached by the legendary Dick Telford and more. Enjoy!

With your marathon debut just over 40 days away in Chicago, how’s training going and how is the body feeling?

Training has been going quite well so far. It has taken me more time than expected to adapt to particular sessions that I’ve been prescribed however I’ve noticed gradual improvements as each week passes. There’s been a few times where I’ve needed the odd bit of strapping tape to keep me moving but for most of the time, the body has been feeling good. The only thing of note is the general fatigue between runs. Add having to work on my feet every day and I’m pretty wrecked by the end of the day.

At what point did you and coach, Dick Telford set your sights on and begin training for Chicago?

It was my goal this year to do a marathon at some stage. Dick strongly encouraged an uninterrupted 6 months of solid mileage before even thinking about marathon training. Considering my history of injury, I must admit that was the right call. Dick and I set our sights on Chicago after my training partners, Reece Edwards and Dan Wallis all decided to do it together. With the help of Dan and an offer of support from the race that was incredibly generous, it was then locked in.

Training for Chicago started a week after a pretty disappointing result at the Gold Coast Half Marathon with the idea of getting in a decent 12 week block under my belt before the race.

What’s your current weekly mileage?

The goal is 180km per week with the occasional race or slightly easier week to be included.

Can you please detail a current weekly training schedule?

AM – 16km easy
PM – 6km easy

AM – 6km easy
PM – 25km including session OR standard session with the squad

AM – 16km easy
PM – 6km easy

AM – 6km easy
PM – 25km including session OR standard session with squad

AM – 10km easy
PM – 10km easy

AM – Squad session at Stromlo
PM – 6km easy

AM – Long run (usually 35km)

What are a few of the key sessions you’ve implemented into your marathon training program?

At least one of my mid-week sessions is now a 25km run with a session inside of that. This is to get my body used to running when tired and depleted of glycogen. This is the only session that has taken time to adapt to.

Adding more distance to my long run has also been one of the more significant changes to my program. This run is now around 35km and is one of the most important runs of the week.

How did you ease into the full marathon training load. Was it over a number of weeks?

Since returning to running in 2017 after a sacral stress fracture, I’ve slowly built up my mileage with the first goal of running 160km a week. Following that, I aimed to run that as a minimum for most of this year and increase the distance of my long run when appropriate. By progressively increasing the weekly mileage over a long period, it made the transition to marathon training more tolerable.

What was it about Chicago that made it a good choice to make your marathon debut at?

Apart from the opportunity that was given to me by the race organisers, the timing of the event suited me well. I needed more time to get used to loading up my body with higher mileage and needed to get a few races under my belt before commencing marathon training.

What’s the race plan going into the event and target time if any at this point?

My friends and training partners, Dan Wallis and Reece Edwards, have similar goals to me and want to run around 2:16. There’s talk of a group running together at this pace and the plan is to run with that group. If all goes well then I will be really pleased with that. I just need to make sure that I go into the race fresh and the rest will take care of itself.

What shoes do you plan on wearing for the marathon?

I’ve just received a pair of Nike Vaporfly 4% racing flats which I intend to trial in the lead up to Chicago to determine whether they’re suitable for me. My beloved Adidas Adios Boost will be my other option.

This year’s elite field includes 11 men who have run 2:07, including Mo Farah. How excited are you to line up alongside some of the greatest marathoners on the planet and to be part of the elite line up in a marathon major?

I’m absolutely pumped! Some of the people on the list of international runners have been athletes I’ve watched since I was a kid with dreams of racing in events like the Chicago Marathon. Add to that the strong history of the event and how many great races there have been in the past on this course (Sammy Wanjiru vs Tsegaye Kebede is my personal favourite – and you could probably understand why I’m so excited. I just need to make sure to not be a massive fan boy on race day!

If you could have any text on the back of your running singlet, what would it be?

A shoe sponsors logo would be nice. Having said that, if the right company would provide me with assistance to pay for shoes, travel etc, I would gladly wear their logo on the back of my singlet.

All the best for the final weeks of training and we will be cheering for you come October 7th.


Cover photo by @brontemchenry