RT Interview with Hugh Williams

You recently ran 30.11 at the Burnie 10, finishing 5th overall. Can you share your thoughts on this terrific effort?

After running 30:06 at Launceston 10km in June and falling ill days before the Gold Coast 10km, I was fairly desperate to go under 30mins as it has haunted me for a number of years. My only chances of getting this done in 2015 were either at Burnie or Zatopek. After the gun went off, I settled into third after letting Dave McNeil and Brett Robinson go and was quite happy rolling with the tail wind with Sweat mobile app founder, Kevin Batt and silver medallist in the National Cross Country Champs, Nick Wightman in tow.

After reaching the turn around, I knew there would be a close battle for third place and was torn between making some decent pocket money or running under 30 minutes. Due to Kevin and Nick having better finishing kicks than me, I had to grind it out and try and drop them before the last kilometre.

As we reached 9km, I knew I was in trouble and had one last crack at dropping the pair with about 500m to go. Unfortunately, they had an extra gear and ran over the top of me in the last 100m.

Finish at the Burnie 10. Picture thanks to Burnie advocate.

Initially, I was disappointed, as the effort I applied didn’t correlate with the result. Looking back on it two weeks later, I realised that I ran 5 seconds slower than my personal best running at the front instead of sitting on the back of the pack like I did at Launceston. I’m now quite pleased that I was able to do what I did and am looking forward to more racing before the year comes to a close.

Can you tell us where you’re currently at with training?

As a result of blatant ignorance of the severity of my achilles tendinopathy, I had to take a break at the end of the 2014 summer season and slowly build back up to respectable mileage. I have been methodic with my progression of mileage and am now at 135km and looking to get close to 150km over the next few months.

I’m currently running 3 sessions a week with a long run on top of that. Dick Telford (who has been coaching me since January) has been getting a few of us to add a threshold run during our long runs which has been quite helpful in breaking up the monotony of plugging away at 4min/km’s. I’ve just re-introduced double runs to my easy days to shake out the legs before sessions which has been very helpful! Check out my Strava or Sweat account to see how we approach each week as it tends to vary depending on the time of year.

Hugh knocking out a session at the track.
Hugh knocking out a session at the track.

On top of this, I have started to re-introduce glute and core strengthening in with my achilles rehab program to try and correct some of my biomechanical flaws. This is something which has become part of my everyday routine and is normally completed during lunch breaks at work.

Who are some of your favourite running/session partners?

Definitely Jordan Gusman and Josh Johnson. After a slow start with finding our place in the group, we have become quite close and run together a lot. On most weekends, we will end up at a café together and hang out together for a majority of the weekend.

What’s currently your favourite session to nail?

There’s a couple of benchmark sessions that Dick uses which have been strong indicators of form for me. The first being a 3km threshold around Stromlo’s Cross Country Course with some undulating hill reps after. The second being hill reps at the back of the AIS or a run up Mt Stromlo. If I can nail those sessions then it is a big confidence booster for my next few runs.

Hugh hammering a tempo on the road.

How well do you deal with injury and sitting on the sidelines?

Not well. Last time I was injured, I dropped everything in Sydney and moved to Canberra! These days, if I do have a niggling injury, I tend not to think about it as much as I’m working as a Physiotherapist for 35 hours a week and am treating people that have greater needs than I do. It puts things into perspective for me and prevents me from obsessing over a trivial injury.

Having something to immerse yourself in is very important in staying sane when both training and when sitting on the sidelines. I’m lucky to have some friends here in Canberra that are not involved in the running scene which lets me switch my running brain off for a few hours a week.

What’s your favourite form of cross training?

I tend to not cross train if I’m injured. If my body is sore enough to prevent me from running, it most likely needs a break from activity completely. Since moving to Canberra, I have purchased a mountain bike that will probably get a thrashing if I do develop a significant injury. The quality of riding around Canberra is too good to ignore, so I might as well check out the trails here if I’m not running!

What’s your upcoming race schedule look like?

NSW 3000m in November, followed by Zatopek 10 in December. After that, I will plan the rest of my summer season with the intention of continuing to increase my mileage and doing some research on half marathons for next year.

Gusman and Williams going hard. Photo credit to David Tarbotton
Gusman and Williams going hard. Photo credit to David Tarbotton

Have you changed much up over the last few years in your approach to training?

As mentioned above, I moved to Canberra to be coached by Dick Telford and work at Flex Out Physiotherapy under the tutelage of Kevin Laws. Dick’s training has been challenging, as a new stimulus always is but my results are indicating that I am improving as a result of the change. The surfaces that I am training on are mainly trail or grass and have been great in getting quality work done with reduced loading on my legs. Despite the reduced load, I have made sure to recover well between sessions and keep my easy days as easy as possible to prevent injuries from occurring. The knowledge I have gained from my profession and from a fear of re-injury have been the major contributors to this change in my approach to training and at this stage have been effective.

So far what would you say the your career highlight was?

Winning the World Junior Cross Country Trials at Stromlo in 2011 was very special for me, as was competing at the World Cross Country Champs in Spain a few months later. Having my Dad (in his red socks – long story) there alongside me at both races meant a lot to me.

What are your major goals with running?

To wear an Australian singlet at a major championship in the marathon. It’s always been my number one goal and now I have got my achilles issues under control, it’s back to the top of my list.

Favourite indulgent food?

Tea or a Chocolate Milk with Woolworths Choc Chip Cookies.

If anyone has seen me in my house, there is a strong probability that I’m walking towards the kettle to make another cup of tea. It’s been a part of my upbringing and I will never change that habit!

After only just discovering the joys of chocolate milk and a side of cookies, I have been determined to make up for lost time by hooking into both of these most days.