How they train – Tom Farrell

Cumbrian runner crossed the Atlantic in search of distance success

Posted on June 2, 2011 by
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Tom Farrell (left)

Tom Farrell, who has come to the fore with some scintillating performances over the last year, is benefiting greatly from his time at Oklahoma State University. Recently in Palo Alto he clocked 13:26.59 for 5000m, which not only reduced his PB by 45 seconds but it was also a ‘B’ standard for the 2012 Olympic Games and the second fastest ever by a British 20 year-old. In the last few months he has also recorded 7:54.42 for 3000m.

His favourite session is a four-mile tempo run, which he does on the track. This is one of his training group’s staple work-outs that is done throughout the year. He says: “I have got so used to doing them that I can now use one of these runs as a test of my fitness.”

His least favourite session is a breakdown done on the cross-country course. This is normally structured by starting with a distance of around 2km, dropping all the way down to 400m then another 2km, with decreasing recovery. He adds: “There are two reasons why it is my least favourite. First because it hurts so much and secondly because it is on the cross-country course, which makes it hurt even more.”

His short-term aims are to be competitive in the remainder of his races in the current season and to represent GB at the European Under-23 Championships or the IAAF World Championships.

“It would be a dream of mine to run at the World Championships in Daegu, which would be a great chance to gain experience at a major championships, especially while I am still at a young age,” he adds.

His progression from an early age has been very steady. At the age of 11 he was training only once a week and a year later that had increased to two sessions.

He was coached by John Clementson at Border Harriers from the age of 13 until he left the UK in August 2009 to attend Oklahoma State University on an athletics scholarship.

He says: “I decided to attend university in America for many reasons. After doing some research into the best universities, I realised that the NCAA Collegiate system is much more serious about track and field and you are looked after and treated as if you are a Premier League footballer!

“There were a few risks involved with coming over here – a new coach, new surroundings, a whole new food system, the list is endless. All of these risks are things that I took into account and dealt with sensibly. It has all turned out what I would call perfect and coming to Oklahoma State was the best decision I have ever made.

“I would encourage any athlete who has aspirations to be one of the best in their event to look into attending university in America,” he continues. “The NCAA collegiate system is without a doubt the strongest, deepest and best collegiate system in the world. For example, a 13:45 5000m would have put you in about eighth place in the 2010 UK senior rankings. In the NCAA, just at collegiate level, it places you at around 21st in the rankings.

“The standard may be much higher, but the level of competition all over the country is much deeper too. Personally, I think that the NCAA collegiate system is the next step up from the likes of the English Schools, England Athletics Under17 and Under-20 championships followed by European and World Juniors. They are all great stepping stones to take before the huge championships like the Worlds and Olympics come along.”

Training winter week

» Monday
(am) 70 minutes steady.
(pm) Abdominal exercises focusing on the core (30 minutes), plus 35 minutes easy, plus strides

» Tuesday
(am) 4-mile tempo (track) at 72-76-second pace depending on the time of the year.
(pm) Ladders – strength, agility, quickness (SAQ) drills, hurdle drills, plus 35 minutes easy

» Wednesday
(am) 85-95 minutes steady.
(pm) Leg-strengthening exercises plus a lot of balancing work (30 minutes)

» Thursday
(am) 60 minutes steady.
(pm) Ladders – SAQ drills, hurdle drills, plus 35 minutes easy, plus strides

» Friday
45 minutes easy

» Saturday
10-mile tempo (dirt roads) – 5:50-5:10 mile pace or race

» Sunday
Long run of around 1:50-2:00

Training early summer week

» Monday
(am) Abdominal exercises focusing on the core (30 minutes).
(pm) 70 minutes steady

» Tuesday
(am) Ladders – SAQ drills, hurdle drills.
(pm) 6 x 800m (2 minutes recovery) at 3km pace (2:08, 2:06, 2:06, 2:06, 2:06, 2:04), plus strides

» Wednesday
(am) Leg-strengthening exercises, plus lots of balancing work (30 minutes).
(pm) 80-90 minutes steady

» Thursday
(am) Ladders – SAQ drills, hurdle drills + 35 minutes easy.
(pm) 60 minutes steady, plus strides

» Friday
(am) 45 minutes easy

» Saturday
(am) 4-mile tempo at 71-73-second pace or race

» Sunday
(am) Long run of around 1:40-1:50

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