Runner’s Tribe had the privilege this month of speaking with elite Brisbane runner and father of two Aidan Hobbs about his love for running, his training and how to juggle being an elite athlete, father and having a full time career.
Aidan is a podiatrist and currently works as a health service manager at CheckUp Australia. Aidan’s job involves working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote rural communities to improve access to health care services. In addition to his full time job, Aidan also tutors and provides industry mentoring at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and is a fellow of the Australasian College of Health Service Management.
How do you balance so many commitments and be an elite athlete?
Growing up I was pretty good at balancing a lot of commitments at once. When I was in year 11 and 12 I was working in a pizzeria, a bike shop and a rock-climbing centre whilst studying and training. When you have lots of things happening at once you work out clever ways to juggle. For me that means running to and from work; teaching students content that is relevant to the areas I am working and studying in; and occasionally racing with a pram. Once I picked up $300 prize money for a half marathon win tin the mountains of Maleny whilst pushing the pram.
What is your favourite event?
I will race anything from 1500m to the marathon depending on the time of year. After running the steeplechase at nationals this year I gave the 400 hurdles a go at an all-comers meet for a bit of fun. I have a new found respect for runners who specialise in that event. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be! The 5000m is probably my favourite event though. I can run it hard all year round and it’s just the right distance for belting out a sustained fast effort but not too long that it requires a lot of recovery time.
What are your personal best times?
My personal best times are:
- 1500 Metres 3:56.99
- 3000 Metres 8:33.95
- 3000 Metres Steeplechase 9:09.64
- 5000 Metres 14:56.13
- parkrun (Sandgate) 14:34
- City2Surf 45:30
- Marathon 2:28:21
What are you currently training for?
I am currently training for National Cross Country at Maleny Golf Course in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterlands. I ran the 10km course at the Queensland State Championships (where I placed third) and it was tough! We have organised cow bells and vuvuzela horns for atmosphere on the steepest hill so I hope the athletes from the other states are ready for us. It’s going to be great!
What are the key training sessions you do?
Each week I have two key 20 minute sessions and then most of my remaining mileage comes from racing on weekends and running to and from work. I highly recommend run-commuting. It saves lots of time and money, plus I don’t have to sit in traffic each morning and afternoon.
My key sessions are:
Tuesdays: 4 x 3 laps of a 420m XC loop (including a 120m hill) with 90 seconds jog recovery.
Thursdays: 4 x 300m and 4 x 200m with 500m/200m jog recovery or Mona Fartlek (2x90sec, 4x60sec, 4x30sec, 4x15sec with a slower tempo recovery of the same time after each effort).
What is your favourite thing about running?
Definitely the community. I’m part of the intraining Running and Triathlon Club in Brisbane and the level of support you get in races (and training) when you wear the club singlet is phenomenal. It’s also good having such a supportive community with small kids. My two sons have their own mini intraining singlets and the eldest is only two years old but is already getting involved in the junior cross country races. He loves it!
What is your ultimate running goal?
Next season I am aiming to crack 9 minutes for the steeplechase but I would also love to get my 5k time down into the low 14mins.
Who is your coach?
I’m very privileged to be running under the legendary Pat Clohessy. He has taught me a lot about myself and staying in the right frame of mind for training and racing. His formula is very simple but he has refined it on some of the greatest all-time athletes over a very long and successful coaching career. As a 31 year old doubting how much time I have left to run PBs, Clo keeps reminding me that I am “still only young and on the rise”.
One of the other key features of our squad is that we have a strong network of assistant coaches. John Purcell provides us with day-to-day support around technique, strength work and calendar planning; Paul supports our junior squad on Thursdays and Doug Weis is our Hurdles guru as we build up towards the steeplechase in the track season.
What is your proudest achievement?
In 2008 I won the Brisbane Marathon when I was 21 under the guidance of Steve Manning. That was pretty special.
What is your favourite race?
When I was 8 years old, my grandparents asked if I wanted to run the City2Surf with them. My only prior experience of a running race was the primary school cross country carnival so I remember having these grand visions of winning it. I was pretty disappointed when I lined up with my Nana in the blue group on race day. For the first kilometre I was running up and down on the spot pleading with her to run faster. After the Kings Cross tunnel she let me go off on my own with instructions to wait at the meeting area at the end. This kicked off my love for running and I have run the City2Surf every year since (24 years in a row). Over the last 10 years I’ve run it dressed as Superman for a bit of fun.
Who is your idol?
At the Mini-Mos fun run in Sydney this year I met Liam Adams and I bumped into him again at Gold Coast Marathon. He had a lot of time for me on both occasions and we had a good chat about all things running. I was particularly impressed by how he managed to work full-time as an apprentice electrician whilst training for the Comm Games Marathon.
I like Liam’s pragmatic approach to running. I’ve lined up alongside him wearing shoes he had covered in an industrial hardening agent because they were too soft and at the City2Surf this year I’m pretty sure he was wearing a Hi Vis trade singlet that looked as though it had been worn regularly on a construction site. Surely Makita can help him out with a sponsorship?
What do you find the most challenging thing about running?
It can be difficult trying to fit running in around work, study and family commitments. I’m very lucky to have such a supportive wife. She picks up a lot of the slack to make sure I’m able to keep running competitively and for that I’m eternally grateful.
What do you like to do in your free time when you are not running?
My favourite hobby is fixing and restoring bicycles. I’ve just finished pimping out an Italian 2002 model Colnago Asso road bike with a Campagnolo groupset, snow leopard print handlebar tape and a gold chain. I parked it at the track a couple of weeks ago while a school athletics carnival was on and a young girl came up to me and said “you have a very nice bike”. I was pretty chuffed with the compliment!
Q&A by Caitlin Murdock – Runner’s Tribe