Clive Ridley


How did your running journey start?

I can’t remember not running and always enjoyed Athletics more than any other sport at school. I was a decent high jumper but my sporting heroes were all runners:
Gordon Pirie, Chris Chataway, Dereck Ibbotson and especially Herb Elliot really fired me up.

What were/are your main/favourite distances?

I mainly ran 800 and 1500 with the occasional 3000. Ran one 5k.
I really enjoyed cross country and road relays. This was probably because there was less tension and demands on the nerves than you get with track racing.

What would you consider your greatest personal athletic achievement, and what did it mean to you?

I think we all judge ourselves by the races that gave us the most satisfaction at the time.
I remember beating Andy Catton to win the Essex 3K title many years ago and I got an enormous kick out of that because he had run a lot faster than me over 3K.
I also got a lot of satisfaction out of winning my Orion 15 Team Tankard when Walthamstow AC won the event in 1979!
Like all runners, whenever I achieved a PB I was glowing with pride for weeks after the event.

How did/has your approach to running change throughout your career?

The more you run and race the more you learn about what training suits you.
Having tried just about everything over 20 years or so, I found that my body responded best to high intensity, but fairly low volume track or grass interval sessions mostly just twice a week.
On the other days, it would be easy/steady runs of between 45 and 70 minutes.
In the winter the average mileage would be around 45 miles and in the summer around 35 miles.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

The Ovett/Coe clashes at the Moscow Olympics take a lot of beating. I don’t think I could choose between the 800 or 1500.

What injuries have you had, how did you treat them, and how did it affect you mentally?

How many pages can I use?
I must have spent an absolute fortune over the years on visits to Physios! I probably paid off the mortgages of at least two of them!
Generally, they were treating my hamstrings and my back. It wasn’t until I got to my forties when the surgeon x-rayed me and told me that I had been running all those years with what he described as a “broken back”: spondylolisthesis.
Now that’s really boring but it did explain why I’d wasted so much money over the years.
Nearly all runners are stupid: we just want to get on with the next session or race and tend to “live with our injuries” and treat the symptoms without really tackling the root cause!

I was probably the biggest dunce of the lot.

What was/has been your number one challenge throughout your career, and how did you overcome it?

Trying to manage my injuries without ever discovering the root cause. But in those days it was different: club athletes just didn’t get MRI scans or X-rays.
In the end, I worked around my injuries by “training smart”. That meant avoiding the things that I knew would aggravate it such as high mileage or high volume interval work.

What is your number one piece of advice?

Listen to your body and enjoy your running. Change things around regularly so that training never becomes a chore.