Tom is an athlete who is passionate about improving sustainability in sport. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
Throughout my childhood I loved sport and being active, however, due to having Cerebral Palsy, I was never that good at sport and was always picked last. I could not walk until I was 3 years old and was uncoordinated throughout school. I did not think of myself as an athlete at all.
How did you first get into ultra running?
During university, I rowed for the university and tried to continue rowing afterwards. I did not enjoy the amount of time spent at the club getting ready to row etc. so I started running and got into Adventure Racing. I loved the endurance aspect and the adventure of racing all day or all weekend, but I was unable to find a team locally to train or race with, so I explored other endurance sports and started ultrarunning.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
Grand 2 Grand, a 6 stage 250 km ultra marathon that starts at the north ridge of the Grand Canyon and finished near the top of the Grand Escalante, in Arizona and Utah. I loved the desert terrain and the people running and volunteering in the race.
What is your proudest achievement?
Due to my cerebral palsy, every race I complete and every year I can continue racing and training is an achievement for me.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
During my first ultra marathon, a 100 km run along the Thames Path from Fulham to Henley, the hip flexor in my left leg blew up (my weaker side due to the cerebral palsy) and meant I struggled to lift my leg. This meant I had to limp the last few hours to the finish line and struggled to walk for about two weeks afterwards.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I practice mindfulness on a daily basis and keep track of what I’m grateful for everyday. These practices help me keep setbacks in perspective when they happen. I also practice self compassion and I remind myself that we are often much harder on ourselves than we would be to others, so I try to think about what I would tell someone else in the same situation. Then I think about any controllable errors I had made or anything to change in training and use this experience to improve the race strategy or training.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
More is not always better, the focus of training should be efficient use of the available time and just adding more volume is not always the answer. It is important to know what the purpose of each session is and the execute the session as planned.
What are your goals?
My goal this year is to complete Run to Refuge, running 80 marathons in 80 days around the coast of England and Wales. This is to support the work of the TRIBE Freedom Foundation, to End Modern Slavery and support survivors of human trafficking.
Who inspires you?
I have been inspired by a lot of people throughout my life especially teachers, who never treated me as disabled and expected me to take part like every one else at school. More recently, Tom, Guy and Rob, who set up TRIBE after running 1000 miles across Eastern Europe to bring awareness about Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
I have also been following Damian Hall for a number of years and his focus on taking on record attempts and international races, whilst reducing the environmental impact on his schedule has been a wake up call for me to be more conscious about the impact of training and racing. His exceptional accomplishments, alongside being very humble is something I’d like to emulate.
Why work with Sundried?
Over the past few years I have become conscious of the waste involved in sports, especially the use of single use plastic in nutrition and drinks packaging and how unsustainable the sports clothing industry is. I am really excited to be able to work with a brand that has sustainability at its core and who are investigating ways to reduce the impact that sports clothing has on the environment.
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