RT: Jeff, thanks for your time and congrats on selection for the London Olympics marathon. Did the selection come as a surprise?
JH: It was a pleasant surprise. I had hoped that Athletics Australia would pick a full team, but I was never really certain that anyone other than Michael would be picked on the men’s side. So, to receive the “Congratulations, you’re going to the Olympics” phone call, I was ecstatic.
RT: What had Athletics Australia communicated to you in the lead-up to the decision?
JH: Not much. Most of the liaising with AA was done by Ken, so how much he filtered from me I will never know. However, I am sure that he lobbied long and hard on my behalf to get me in the team.
RT: Obviously AA should be applauded for their decision. Do you think it marks a shift in the fundamental selection policy towards one of more leniency and common sense?
JH: I certainly think that it was a fantastic decision, and one that will hopefully show the younger athletes that AA wants to send as many people as they can to major events. As for whether it is a shift in their policy, only time will tell. I have always been a firm believer that to guarantee selection, fulfil the automatic selection criteria. That way, you don’t have to risk relying on selectors discretion to make the team like I did.
RT: What is the plan for the next two months? Will you be basing yourself at home or abroad?
JH: The next two months will be focussed on maintaining the fitness that I already have, and to fine tune it for a good performance in London. I will be staying home, training locally and keeping going in my normal day-to-day life. I do not feel the need to uproot myself from my normal life just because it is the Olympics. While I have not made any major changes that could compromise my preparation, I have made a few small ones that I feel can enhance my preparation.
RT: Any shorter tune-up races planned?
JH: I may do a cross country race to measure where I am at, but other than that, nothing major. I don’t think it would be wise to sacrifice any training, for any race, with the already limited time I have to get ready. I need to make sure I give myself every opportunity to do well in London, and if that means not doing races, so be it. There will be plenty of time post-Olympics for that.
RT: You are no stranger to championship racing now. What have you learned from previous championships that will help you perform in London?
JH: I have learnt a hell of a lot. Every marathon I do, I learn something new. Top of the list is knowing that I cannot turn up, expecting to do well, if I haven’t prepared right. I need to be really well prepared (mentally and physically) for the race, and be confident in my ability to mix it with the best. This does not mean I will take a turn at the front on race day, but it does mean not running so conservative that I just end up another competitor. I have to take some risks, but I have learnt that I really need to be patient in the race and bide my time. There are always casualties towards the end, so if you run smart, you can pick up a lot of places over the last 10k. It’s the biggest sporting event in the world, the atmosphere will be awesome, and I will try to use some of that to my advantage.
RT: Is work giving you much time off leading into the Games?
JH: I will have about 3 ½ weeks off for the Games, which I think is more than enough to ensure I do well. I have also managed to negotiate a more flexible working arrangement from now until I fly out that will allow me more time to recover, and ultimately help me train better.
APRA has been a really accommodating for my running when they really don’t have to be. After all, they are paying me to work, not run. I have been there for 6 ½ years now, and they have always been supportive, which I think is fantastic, and hope to remain working there for many more years.
RT: The English climate will suit you much better than Delhi. It may be your ideal conditions. Is that something you have thought about?
JH: It very well could be my ideal conditions, but it is still a Summer Olympics, and that means that we could end up with a scorcher on race day where it becomes a day of survival. The more temperate the climate, the easier it becomes for all involved. It’s tough to prepare for a summer event in winter, but hopefully it will all work out. I cannot control the conditions, so I won’t spend too much time worrying about it.
RT: You have had a massive schedule this past 6 months. Do you feel as though the next 2 months will be sufficient to freshen up and be ready to roll?
JH: Time will tell. I will know when I stand on that starting line if I feel fresh or tired. Ken and I are preparing in a way so that I do stay fresh and ready to go. I’m not going to bang my head against the wall trying to do certain sessions just because they are “marathon specific.” We are confident that I will pull everything together by the time I depart Australia, but it’s hard to know because it’s not something you do regularly (prepare in such a short timeframe, or run 3 marathons in 6 months). We have worked backwards from race day to ensure a good build up with quality training, and a decent taper. Then it will be all up to me.
RT: Are you in heavy training at the moment? How far out from the race are you planning on tapering?
JH: I’m pretty much back up to a decent training load, in the vicinity of 160km per week. My long run is back up over two hours and that is the most important part of my week. I’m not too sure about my taper, I never have been. I normally just look at what Ken tells me to do, and I do it. I simply adjust the intensity if I don’t feel too good to make sure I don’t flatten myself. I think my taper will be around 2 weeks in length. I also think it’s better to be under-done, rather than over-cooked, come race day.
RT: Jeff good luck, all the best for a big run, we will be following you all the way
JH: Thanks, it should be fun. I hope I do Australia proud.