Interview with Paula Radcliffe

26. March 2019

In 2003, Paula Radcliffe set a record at the London Marathon that would probably remain unbroken forever. Her time of 2:15:25 had still not been beaten 15 years later. In the meantime, the mother of two and six-time world champion has switched sides: she works as a coach for ambitious athletes and ambassador for various organizations.

Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon world record in Berlin last autumn and thus raised it to an almost unattainable level, similar to what you did 15 years ago. Is this as good as it gets or what do you believe is still possible?

I think Kipchoge took a huge step forward. We already saw in Monza that it was possible he could smash the world record in a big way. And now he has done it. I think he'll stay a little bit ahead of the others for the moment and the record will stay unbroken for a while. If anyone can get closer to 2 hours, it's him, and I think it will take some time before the 2-hour record is broken. This record will stand for a while.

You ended your impressive career in 2015. What would you do differently if you could turn back time?

I’m a big believer in “no regrets” - you give everything your best shot, are proud of the things that work out and accept the things that didn’t work out and kind of learn something from them. I obviously wasn’t happy about getting injured before the Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing as it meant I wasn’t able to run as well as I could. But I think I was lucky in most of the other competitions. Things worked out more often than not.

What are your training principles? Could amateur athletes also apply them? 

Yes, it’s mostly about enjoying running. That’s the biggest thing. To enjoy running and to have fun. But to also work on your strengths as well as your weaknesses. We have to work on our weaknesses, but we also have to recognise where we are strong and adapt the training and racing to suit our strengths. And it’s also important to have a plan and stick to it.
These principles, by the way, are integrated into my online training plan at running.COACH It’s best if you just try it out right away!

Can you give us a few tips for the final preparation before a race?

Particularly when it comes to a marathon or long-distance race, it’s really important to do some training runs in the shoes and kit you will be wearing on the day of the race. At this stage, you’ve completed the last main preparations so the focus should be on feeling good and recovering from all the hard work. I think at this point you should be doing easier runs with some fast strides as well as refuelling, stretching, and going for massages. And of course, make sure you get some good sleep during the race week because people often don’t sleep well the night before. You basically need to stock up beforehand. And eat well!

Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us?

I think the most important thing is to remember that rest is also an important aspect of training. People tend to forget this and only think about running and training non-stop. However, if your body and mind are tired, sometimes a rest day is the best training of all.

Foto: ZVG