Anthony Whiteman, sixth on the UK all-time list for 1500m, spoke to AW about his renaissance on the track as a masters athlete
This year Anthony Whiteman ran a 1:48.05 800m at the age of 42. Not only did he win the race, he improved his own M40 world record figures. In doing so, he beat many talented younger athletes and it put him at the top of the UK M40 all-time lists by a clear three seconds. Incredibly, it was his fastest time over the distance since 2003.
Two years ago, he ran a superb 3:42.02 over the metric mile at the age of 40. That performance was a world M40 record and four seconds quicker than a certain David Moorcroft achieved in the same age group. In that same year he clocked 3:58.79 for the mile to take the world outdoor record. Irishman Eamonn Coghlan had run slightly faster though with 3:58.15 albeit indoors in 1994.
Whiteman shows no signs of slowing down and reflects: “Internationally my breakthrough race was the Fifth Avenue Road Mile in New York in 1995 when I finished in fifth place clocking 3:53.5 and my best ever race was in Monte Carlo in 1997 where I ran my PB of 3:32.34 over 1500m after not being selected for the 1997 World championships.
“The experience I’ve gained over the years means I tend not to make mistakes in racing, so I can always get the best out of myself”
“I was on a bit of a mission to be honest! To run a time which then placed me fourth on the British all-time lists behind Steve Cram, Seb Coe and Steve Ovett was beyond any of my childhood dreams.”
A look at his Power of 10 profile shows little or no activity between 2005 and 2009. Whiteman explains: “I was ticking over playing other sports and working as a personal trainer, but I was running with my clients. I always had the sub-four-minute mile at the age of 40 at the back of my mind and if you are running sub-four then I would naturally be taking on the youngsters and beating them!”
The Shaftesbury Barnet runner adds: “I still enjoy the competition and being able to run in a pressure-free situation is always nice. The British Championship 800m final last year was the most I have ever enjoyed any single-race situation and I now try to approach every race just like that.
“I want to continue to break masters records”
“My professional running career is a standalone from my masters career. I have become the kind of athlete that I used to enjoy beating! I like competing over 1500m against the ‘jumped up’ 800m runners that cruise through two laps looking great and then wilt over the final 300m.”
Whiteman adds: “The best example of my current outlook on competing was in those British Championships and by being in the final due to smart racing in the heats I had surpassed all expectations. A 41-year-old athlete in a track final was unheard of – this was before Jo Pavey in Zurich this summer of course!
“None of the pressure associated with top-level athletics was present that day. Most athletes will not look forward to the preparation process of warming-up, call-rooms and so on. However, on this occasion I looked forward to warming-up, joking with the officials in the call-room and in the race I ran without any weight on my shoulders. It seemed perfectly natural to me to be in the bronze medal position coming into the home straight. The whole process was genuinely good fun and I try to make every race I run feel exactly the same.”
Interestingly, Whiteman concludes: “The experience I’ve gained over the years means I tend not to make mistakes in racing, so I can always get the best out of myself and make up for my relative lack of training.
“I want to continue to break masters records – there are some top athletes now approaching 40 and it would be nice to make them work hard to break some of my records!”
2014 – TRAINING PRIOR TO TRAFFORD BMC GP 800m 1:48.05
Saturday: Race in London 800m 1:50.1 2nd and likely negative splits.
Sunday: (am) 5 miles at 5:50 miling on seafront. (pm) Intense badminton with North East Lincs Badminton Club.
Monday: Park session on tarmac paths: 4x50sec with 1min, 25s, 2min recoveries at 400 /800m pace.
Tuesday: 12m at 6min miling (late for work). (pm) 20/20 cricket match.
Wednesday: Ran to track to find a school sports day taking place! Back to park to run 6x37sec reps with 90sec recovery (800m pace).
Thursday: Nipped out from Humber Runner Specialist Running Shop: 6 x hills with slower than normal recovery – not a steep hill but it takes 37 seconds.
Saturday: Jogged 10min while my boys did football training – then off to Stretford for BMC race.
1997 – TRAINING PRIOR TO MONACO GOLDEN LEAGUE 1500m 3:32.34
Saturday: (am) 25min easy. (pm) 4x800m with 45sec rest in 2:20. Then 2 sets of 300m with 30s rec, 200m with 30sec rec, 200m then 5min rec (40, 27, 27; 39, 27, 25).
Sunday: 10 miles in 63min.
Monday: (am) 25min easy. (pm) 27min steady.
Tuesday: (am) 25min easy. (pm) 1200m in 3:24 with 2:30 rest then 4x400m in 67sec with 30sec rest, followed by 4x400m with 2min 30sec rest 58, 58, 57, 56sec and then 4x150m in 18sec.
Wednesday: 24min easy.
Thursday: 6x200m with 2min recovery (28, 28, 27, 26, 25, 25sec).
Friday: 26min easy.
Saturday: Monte Carlo.
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes