Steve is a personal trainer and an athlete who has achieved some incredible feats. He talks to Sundried about training, racing, and what's next on the horizon.
Have you always been into sport?
I got into sport in a bigger way just over 20 years ago when I suffered a back problem. I decided I needed to get fitter so I wouldn’t be affected by back pain throughout my life and so I entered the ballot for the London Marathon and got in first time. Crossing the finish line changed my life and inspired me to quit my job making pizzas and train to become a PT. I still make pizzas but just for myself!
How did you first get into triathlon?
I signed up for a triathlon on New Year's Day in Edinburgh 5 years ago and loved it. I had done very little swimming in training but loved the thrill of trying to catch everyone on the bike and the run. I’ve done a couple of sprint distance triathlons and a couple of Ironman 70.3 races since then. My main sport is running, I have done loads of marathons, but love the extra challenge triathlon offers.
What's been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite marathon is at Loch Ness. It’s a fantastic course - downhill from the start, rolling hills and an amazing atmosphere towards the end in Inverness. The scenery is stunning, everything you’d expect from a race in the Scottish Highlands! I did love the Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 too. The sea swim was easier for me than I thought it might be, the cycle route was good and I loved the run section for the views and also because I got into my rhythm and nobody passed me!
What's your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was completing all 4 races at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in 2014. I ran the 5k and 10k on the Saturday then the Half Marathon and Marathon on the Sunday. I ran them as a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of my dad who died the year before.
The Saturday races were fine but Sunday was the most amazing day! The Half Marathon started at 8am and I had to race it and finish in around 1:30 then meet my friend to give me a lift back to the start on his motorbike. The Edinburgh Half and Marathons both finish in Musselburgh, outside of Edinburgh and so needed to get a motorbike back to the centre of Edinburgh for the start of the marathon.
We were held up in heavy traffic on the way back and so I had to sprint to cross the start line before they lifted the timing mats. After that, the marathon was the easiest I’ve ever run as all I needed to do was get to the finish, so I chatted to lots of people all the way round. The last 6 miles were tough but the feeling when I saw the finish line and crossing it was just the best experience ever! My wife and I raised over £10,000 in combined fundraising activities that year.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
My only racing disaster happened last year at the Stirling Marathon. My plan was to try and get the qualifying standard for a Good For Age place for London (sub 3:10). I was on target, but let’s just say that my body took a different reaction to a caffeine gel than I was anticipating and I had to make an emergency toilet stop. I think that might’ve been around 15-18 miles and the rest of the run became more of a jog and nowhere near my target!
How do you overcome setbacks?
I believe that there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback, so if something happens, I think about why it may have happened, what I can learn from it and what I can do next time to make it better. Using this approach stops me from letting things get to me and usually feel good as I know how to solve the problem.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
The advice I did get when I started out from my dad but chose to ignore it is that running (or any activity) should be about enjoyment first, have fun doing it and make it something you look forward to doing for how it makes you feel. I was always about trying to beat my times on every run and getting annoyed when I didn’t run faster.
The penny finally dropped and is the foundation of what I teach my PT clients - to make exercise feel enjoyable, like playing and something to look forward to rather than something they need to do. When they switch off from thinking about pace, distance etc and focus on how it feels, it changes everything and all the metrics they want come later on.
What are your goals?
I still want to get that Good For Age time for London! I’m going to be 50 in December and wanted to do it before then, but many races got cancelled this year so I’ll do it next year instead. London is where my marathon journey started and I want to go back but earn my place. I’ve got in through the ballot, charity place, club place etc and so the only means I haven’t done so far is by Good For Age.
My immediate plan for this year is to run the 4 Edinburgh races again but all in the one day as virtual events. Other than that, I’m doing most of my PT by video call and want to demonstrate that you can get great results training from home and don’t need a gym. Some of my best running happened in brick sessions in Ironman training and I’m currently training my body to get back there again. How to run faster while using less effort!
Who inspires you?
I’d say my clients inspire me and people like the Brownlee brothers and Calum Hawkins, the people who have smashed it or are smashing it by doing things their way and not following what the ‘experts’ say they should do.
Why work with Sundried?
I’ve seen the lockdown as an opportunity for us all to change and do things better. I came across Sundried after my wife bought one of your products. After looking at your website, I liked how you are an ethical brand and what you stand for. I’ve also bought one of your t-shirts and really like it. I want to work with more ethical brands moving forwards. In addition to this, I am also planting trees for every new client I work with.