AW’s editor examines the enduring appeal of one of the sport’s bona fide legends
Consistency is key for Ben ReynoldsMay 23, 2014
AW catches up with the masters athlete who has produced a string of good performances later in life
Ben Reynolds has competed for more than 30 years, but it has been only as a veteran that the Thames Hare & Hounds runner has found the consistency that his obvious talent indicated.
He has won a world veteran 5000m title, four successive British Masters cross-country titles and now an M50 London Marathon title.
Working in the City of London in finance and IT and living in Oxfordshire, much of Reynolds’ day is taken up with commuting – and he is legendary for running to work.
“The commute is one hour 40 minutes door to door, but longer if I include a run. I run six miles from Paddington to work, near Liverpool Street station, from Tuesday to Friday,” said Reynolds.
“Leading up to London this year I also did a few sessions with a group at Parliament Hill track and, guess what, it’s rather enjoyable and beneficial. I am not sure why it has taken 40 years for that realisation to hit home.”
Reynolds’ history is that of the gifted amateur who thought it was “just not cricket” to train.
“For me, the lack of intensity has probably helped with injuries and enthusiasm”
“At school I was solid but not outstanding,” he said. “I was on the fringes of the Kent cross-country team most years but only made it to the English Schools twice.” (He was 133rd in 1978 and 79th in 1981).
“We hardly did any track at Sevenoaks School and I wasn’t a member of an athletics club as it seemed over-keen to join, so I never got close to schools track and field,” added Reynolds, who then wondered what it was that delayed his breakthrough.
“With hindsight, I was hindered by my upbringing, which instilled an instinctive scorn for hard training, it being only one step removed from cheating. I never referred to ‘training’ as a schoolboy and would instead tell my family I was going for a ‘practice run’, which sounded less intimidating. After all I ‘practised’ the cello, I didn’t ‘train’ on the cello.”
After a series of solid runs as a senior, it was as an M45 he really began to blossom and ran 15:14.90 to win world masters 5000m gold in Lahti in 2009.
On his current training schedule, he said: “I generally tick over at around 40 miles a week. I don’t see how you can do high mileage, commute, hold down a job and keep the family happy at the same time.”
However, he did 70 miles a week in his build-up to London this year.
He added: “For me, the lack of intensity has probably helped with injuries and enthusiasm. Against that, it is a source of regret now that I never performed to a level of which I might have been capable. ‘Good considering’ is a sad epitaph.”