my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise

Mike Wells interview – 4th and final part! Mike’s advice for runners, review of Strava, and running literature recommendations!

Welcome back to the fourth and final interview blog post with Mike Wells. See what he reads, what he recommends in how to approach running, and where he wants to go next in his personal running journey.

Mike Wells with Emmerdales' Tony Audenshaw at the York Marathon in October 2013!

Mike Wells with Emmerdales’ Tony Audenshaw at the York Marathon in October 2013!


Emmerdales’ Tony Audenshaw about to Photo Bomb Mike Wells at the York Marathon, October 2013

BT: Advice for beginner runners? How about giving our readers 3 tips

MW: a) Don’t try to run too fast, too soon – everyone needs to start slowly, and thinking “I’m rubbish, I need to run faster” is what everyone thinks when they first run, and the biggest reason people give up – but give it time and take it steadily and you will improve.

b) Try to always run easily, lightly and smoothly – if it feels too hard, or you can hear your feet “clomping” on the pavement, don’t try to run faster, try to run more smoothly and gently – it should feel easier and you’re less likely to get injured.

Great tip Mike. After I started out running more regularly, I completely altered my running style, running so that I ‘hit’ the ground with my mid/forefoot first, rather than my heel first. While this initially causes some calf ache (because you haven’t been using the muscles efficiently enough by running with a ‘heel first’ impact), in the long run, it is a much, MUCH better and more efficient way of running. Coupled with this, I also upped my stride cadence. I found that I was over-reaching in my strides beforehand, and that just by shortening my strides, and contacting the ground with my feet below my body, rather than out in front of me, I automatically started running a great deal faster, with no perceived extra effort. Check out how all the great Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes run on Youtube to see more about this. A great video is this one, (Moses Mosop),and also check out this, more scientific one on (Sammy Wanjiru, eventually).

c) Running should be fun – if it is, you’ll want to do more of it, and you’ll get better at it, and that will make it more fun. If you don’t enjoy it, try running a different route, going off-road, or better still, run with someone else, or best of all, try a parkrun!

BT: What do you like most about Strava?

MW: I like how easy it is to see what runs / rides your friends (and professional athletes) have been doing, and the trophies they’ve got / segments they’ve run. I really love segments, they can add a real competitive twist to runs. Best of all, I love the social interaction with friends, the comments and giving and receiving of Kudos.

I agree! I love the competitive aspect too, especially the motivation I get from getting an email saying someone else had claimed a Course Record (CR) I previously held! The social interaction is also a key part of why Strava works so well. The whole thing is geared in a healthy, competitive and encouraging mindset.

BT: Is there anything you’d like to see added to Strava?

MW: I’d like the elevation calculations to be changed – at the moment, if you run up a 25ft hill, down 5ft and then up another 25 feet, it shows as “0ft” as there is a requirement for 10 metres+ of continuous elevation change – this seems silly. My friends and I were using Strava for an elevation challenge in February and it made it very difficult as we could clearly see that small hills (or worse, reps on small hills) were being completely ignored.

I’d also like better visibility of PRs, and a way to flag GPS errors that result in PRs, without having to delete or flag the whole run. For example, I ran a 400M PB recently, and I know it’s the fastest I’ve ever run, but I can’t see the 2 that are supposedly faster. I know if I could find them, the only way to remove them from my stats would be to crop, delete or flag the entire run (whereas what I want to do is to click a “disregard PR” button).

I know what you mean! I flagged my own Forest Rec parkrun, as a segment of 5k (i.e. the whole parkrun!) showed I came in the top ten, but Strava had me down as doing the 5k in sub-16 minutes. Something I DEFINITELY am NOT capable of…yet!

Interesting ideas Mike! I’ll make sure Strava find out about them! J

BT: Do you read about running? If so, what books / magazines / websites / blogs would you recommend to others?

MW: Yes, I read Men’s Running every month, and the Runner’s World website. I’ve read quite a few running books, my favourites are Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith and The Art of Running Faster by Julian Goater.

BT: Thanks for the recommendation about ‘Feet in the Clouds – it’s the one book on your list I haven’t devoured yet! In return, can I recommend the Seb Coe autobiography and ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’ by Haruki Murakami, as well as ‘Keep on Running: The Highs and Lows of a Marathon addict’ by Phil Hewitt. I’m also looking forward to Santa providing me with a copy of Mo Farah’s autobiography too! (Can I also mention that Beeston library has ALL of the above books, so you can read them without paying a penny – now THAT’s what your council tax is for!)

BT: What are your future running targets (include timescales if you can)?

MW: I set myself the target to beat all my running PBs from 400 metres to 40 miles during 2013, and I’ve managed them all so far, including the longest two (marathon and 40 miles). My HighPeak 40 time (8 hours 17) was 17 minutes quicker than last year. At the Robin Hood marathon I got a 16 minute PB (3:28:50, previous best was 3:44) – I then ran 3:34 pacing Simon at Chester (so that would have been a PB) and 3:28:57 at York (pacing Martin, it could possibly have been a PB if I’d not been on pacing duties, but I really didn’t mind).

BT: Wow, that is impressive running goal-smashing in 2013 Mike!

Now that I’ve got the full set of PBs in 2013, I’m going to think about what to aim for next – the obvious goals are to beat my 5K PB (currently 19:17) and try to get that below 19 minutes and to get my 10K PB (40:16) below 40 minutes. I’d also like to run further than I have ever done before in a single run, and 100Km (62 miles) is the next logical goal. I’m also aiming to get to 100 parkruns, within 110 weeks of my first parkrun – and I’m on course to do that in early January 2014.

Mike, you’re an inspiration. I wish you well on your new goals for the end of this year and in to 2014. I’m sure you’ll nail your 5k and 10k PBs very soon!

What wonderful, healthy goals you’ve got to pursue in 2014 and beyond! It’s so heart-warming to hear how you are helping others in their goals too by pacing them around various courses. You really exhibit a passion for running in all its forms (long, short, sociable, competitive, road, off-road…I could go on!)

Now, tell me you don’t want to make friends with Mike Wells?!

You can find Mike Wells on Strava, Twitter, facebook, at Colwick parkrun, or on a road around Nottingham.

Well, blogging audience, I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview series on Mike Wells. Personally, it has been a pleasure to hear his wonderful story, discover his thoughts about running and learn from his insight into tips for running too. Thank you to Mike for taking the time to respond to these questions – and thank you for reading this blog!

In forthcoming blog posts, I’ll be reviewing the Seb Coe autobiography, Mo Farah’s effort (after Christmas for that one!), my trouble with Asthma, and doing an end of 2013 review and 2014 goal-setting post.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you all that I have had the great pleasure of becoming a father for the third time to Rosie Ruth, born on 7th November at 8:11am, weighing 8lb 8oz. Pics are on facebook!



One comment on “Mike Wells interview – 4th and final part! Mike’s advice for runners, review of Strava, and running literature recommendations!

  1. Mike Wells
    November 16, 2013

    Many thanks again for the big honour of writing these posts about me, Tim and big congrats again on the arrival of Rosie Ruth! Looking forward to hopefully meeting up in person very soon!

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