Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Andy Baddeley

I met Andy Baddeley by chance at the beginning of July 2009. He reminded me a bit of Dave Moorcroft, not just because he covered the same distances in racing but also, that he appeared to have a kind and helpful nature, which was something Dave Moorcroft certainly had in my experience of interviewing him many times.
 It was noticeable Baddeley did not bring up the point about his personal ECG monitor, stitched into his chest for his irregular heart beat but obviously, it is of little relevance to his onward athletic progress. I remember talking to 2:09 marathon man Tony Milovsorov about this, who said his irregular heartbeat had the doctors really flapping about in the hospital but it did not stop him achieving a great deal at the height of his powers. I am sure there are many others too. The hard facts already dictate that Andy Baddeley can compete with the best in the World. "I am not scared of anyone" He told me. His times back that up 1:46.32 (800) in 2007;3:34.36 (1500) in 2008; 3:49.38 (mile) 2008; 7:45.10 (3000 Indoors) 2008 and 13:20.99 (5000) 2009 and 13th in the European 11k cross-country Championships in 2007. He has made the 'Big' Championship teams and it is obvious, at the age of 27, he can go on and obtain some major Championships medals before 2012 is over.
   How did it all begin for Andy Baddeley who ran 4:18.1 as an Under 15 boy?" I started because a friend of mine wanted to go to some after school activities. I was about 10 at the time. I think his Mum wanted to get him out of the home and do some after school activities and he persuaded me to come along to do cross-country. He gave up after a couple of months or so. I was then at a primary school called Black Horse on the Wirral then."
   Were Andy Baddeleys'  parents interested in his running at an early age?
"My parents Neil and Diana were always supportive. My Dad used to take me to all the cross-country races at school. Mum came along to some of them sometimes. Often I would not let her come or both of them sometimes as, I just wanted to get on with it and try and do it on my own. That was not a reflection on them, more that I wanted to  focus on what I was doing.'
   'My Father was a 100/200 sprinter at school and county level. He is always interested to know what I am doing but would never question that."  
   In my experience I have met some interesting runners from the Wirral. One was a Senior Divisional Police Officer Maurice Morrell, who was a AAA's javelin Champion as a young man and a very good veteran steeplechaser and cross-country runner. He won major British Masters titles over the years and I mentioned that to Andy!
   "I know Maurice quite well. He was very good friends with my original coach Dave Jeffs. I always ran for Wirral till I went to University and then moved to Harrow. I moved to Harrow A.C. because I had friends who ran for them at Cambridge University.
   Going back to those early days when did he feel he could run well and get somewhere in the sport?
" I was pretty good at senior school but I probably did not take it that seriously. I would make the 'A' team for cross-county but I did not make the English schools track till I was sixteen so I only did the English schools for three years and was 5th 4th and 6th in finals."
    That must have kept your interest going with more of a hunger to do well, rather than having won everything at an early age?
      " Yes, I guess. When i got to University I realised how much training I could have been doing but studies got in the way a little bit.
At Cambridge he got a first class honours degree in aerospace engineering and he is still interested in aero dynamics but, at the current stage of his life he is a full time athlete.
   " I am always excited about aero dynamics (Formula One) that was why I did that degree"
   MIKE TURNER was somebody I had come into contact with and interviewed. He is  considered a guru on athletics and was not only Champion veteran over 5k at 45 but the English Cross Country Captain when England were top of the international pile in the in the 1960's. He was someone who studied at Cambridge and became a Dean of one of the colleges much later.
Andy Baddeley had this to say about him:-

" He was the  President of the Hare & Hounds. He was great. I was Captain in my final and fourth year so, I was more involved with him then, He is always very supportive of the team at university."
   Andy Baddeley had some good two lap wins and seconds in races for Cambridge University between 2001 and 2003 inclusive but it was not till he was down in London and, at St Marys and living in Teddington, running for Harrow that he ran 1:46.32 for a personal best at Watford in a BMC Grand Prix in 2007. However, I felt the most important thing to know was when he felt he could eventually run amongst the best in the World.
Of course he went on to show that possibly he had the most talent at the 1500/Mile. However, he won the won the European Cup 3000 in 2008, which was something midway between 1500 and 5000. In very early 2009 in Australia he ran his 13:20.9 5000m.

   " In my fourth year at Cambridge. I did my finals in my third year. It was my Masters year and I finally asked ANDY HOBDELL, my current coach, about coaching me. I met him in 2001/2002 at a training camp in Portugal. I got on pretty well with him and till then I sort of self-coached myself through University and, when I got into that 4th year I was Captain and I had to set training for the rest of the guys in the University and did not really know what to do so, I had been in regular contact with Andy over the years and essentially I was asking him what I should set and, doing it myself and it got to the point that Christmas of that year when I was doing  all his training anyway.'
 
What qualities does his coach have then?
"His willingness to learn, quite a rare coach in that aspect. He is not convinced he is right all the time.If he speeks to someone and foresees what someone else is doing and, it is a good idea, he will discuss it with me and whether it is worth incorporating it with the training I was doing  Often we will often talk about quite a lot of detail about training and racing. He will change my mind or I might change his mind. We have a very strong relationship. I think the most important thing is the relationship we have had. Since 2004 he has been coaching me and over that period I have probably spoken to him almost every day."
   From time to time Andy Baddeley has shown his ability to do cross country and had some quite good results and some very good results
"Cross country is important. I did not get to do as much as I would liked to have done this year. Before and after the Olympics I had a little injury. After I was having that I came back a little later than I normally would.
I run close to 100 mile a week even in the track season. In a major Championship you need the strength to run three races in five days. Of course the recovery is important.
I like getting on the track but I am on the track a lot less now. Certainly before I was coached by Andy and I coached myself I was on the track all the time.
I mentioned the fact that if you are on the track all the time injuries are more likely to come for many people and, that I remembered how different people are about which surface they feel can cause more injuries.
John Walker told me he used to like to run down the Great South road as training in New Zealand rather than meet potholes out in the fields, Rod Dixon said he used to run in the forests and in the countryside. It really depends on the person and their particular feelings about training on different surfaces?

   " A lot of my training is quite bulky. I would not want to run 6 miles with a heart rate monitor on the track. You obviously can't do hill  training on the track!. I try and mix it up. The only option is to stay fit all the year round. I don't think there is anything more important than being fit all year round. My tapering for big races is relatively short. The specific work I like to put in to run 1500 it is relatively short and, as I say try and stay fit all year."
   I asked Andy Baddeley which races that  he has done so far in his life would he mark out as special to him?
   "The Dream Mile that I won is Oslo last year (1. A.B. 3:49.38; 2 Haron Keitany (3:49.70) and 3 Deresse Mekonen (3:49.72) The year before in Sheffield in the rain when I beat Lagat over 1500 in Sheffield in 3:34 in the hammering rain. I won that against a good field." (1 3:34.74, 2 Rui Silva 3:35.92)." The other race he thought was important to him was the Olympics (3rd in heat in 3:36.47; Qualified in 3:37.47 also in 3rd place. Finished 9th in final in 3:35.37)-
   " The Olympics is  the whole point of everything. I did not come away with a medal which was disappointing.'
   ' People tell you about the Olympics before you go and, its just another race. It is impossible to put it into words how you feel. Certainly how I felt afterwards as well. I would not say I was immediately disappointed, sad or happy, angry. I just did not have any emotion at all. Everything you trained for has been and gone in three and a half minutes!"
   Regarding his Winters
" I have spent from January to March in Australia for the last three years training in the sun so, I could do their outdoor season so, I have not needed to do the indoor circuit ."
"Was there an athlete he particularly admired as a racer over the years?"
  " Of course you have to  respect everyone when you get to the Olympics because everyone has their National vest on. You have  to be aware of how different people run and in what way.'
Hicham El Guerrrouj was the one I looked up to as a racer. He  was incredible. He was the one I grew up watching.El Guerrouj did the double at the Olympics and although I don't think he wanted to retire necessarily but I think he found after that his motivation was not there and he stopped at the right time.'
   Which other sports did he enjoy?
     " lots of sports I am looking forward to playing when I eventually retire. Tennis is the big one. I live for Wimbledon every Summer Those two weeks of Wimbledon I would be glued to the television. I miss my football. I played football till I was 16. A bit of swimming but found that a bit boring. Now I associate it with having injuries and cross-training. Tennis and football I am keen to be back involved with."
   Andy Baddeley has run well on all surfaces so, which one would he favour racing on?
    " Definitely the track is favourite. I just love it."

Alastair Aitken

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