Stuart Colley

1

How did your running journey start?

I grew up in High Beech and our house backed on to the footpath by the “Three Fields”. As a young boy, I used to be fascinated by watching the runners come past on a Saturday afternoon, slipping and sliding in the mud, some fast, some slow, but every single one giving it their all.
My father was a keen runner and a member of Walthamstow AC and he took me along and I joined the club. I remember racing at the old Eastway circuit and doing training sessions around the Waterworks roundabout with the club.

What were/are your main/favourite distances?

I enjoy most distances and love to race but my favourite distance is 10 miles. At this distance you can really find your pace and get into a good rhythm and push on to the final few miles. I love that sensation of running in a group, the beat of each runners feet hitting the ground together, each runner pushing each other on but nonetheless wanting to beat each other.

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

My greatest personal athletic achievement was completing the 2011 London Marathon in 3.06:38. I trained hard over the winter and everything went well on the day but I just didn’t quite have enough in the tank over the last 3-4 miles and was just holding on to make it to the finish in a respectable time.
My Father had run London in 1983 and 1984 and his best time was 3.01:45 so I was disappointed not to beat his time but it was an amazing experience to run past Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge, and to see so many friends and family out on the course supporting me.
My Father passed away in 2006 from Pancreatic cancer so I ran the marathon in his honour and I managed to raise over £4000 for the St Clare Hospice in Hastingwood, where they looked after him. Needless to say, it was a very emotional experience and on crossing the finishing line I burst into tears; when I saw my best friend afterwards I was sobbing uncontrollably; after weeks of hard training, the memory of my Father and the abstention from alcohol all of the emotions came out.

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

As you get older you realise that you cant just run and run and now I try to get something out of every training session that I do – it should be more about quality than quantity.
That said I think it’s important not to forget that we all love to run for enjoyment and a nice easy run through our beautiful Epping Forest with friends or on your own can be equally good for the mind as well as the body.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

Growing up I used to love watching Coe, Ovett and Cram going head-to-head on the track but my favourite race has to be Mo Farah winning Gold in the 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics.
We organised a bar and a BBQ at the clubhouse for the Saturday evening, there must’ve been 50-60 people crammed inside and the noise and atmosphere was electrifying, building, building as the race went on to its glorious conclusion and the preceding celebrations.
I was also relieved as 30 minutes before everybody arrived I had been clambering around on the clubhouse roof trying to position a TV aerial in order to get the signal.

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

A couple of months after the London Marathon whilst on a training run I jumped over a puddle in the forest and slipped. I tore a tendon in my foot – I thought it was Plantar Fasciitis at the time – and subsequently was out injured for the best part of 2 years. It was tough and I had several false dawns but it has always made me grateful to be out running no matter how fast or slow.

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

Injuries; since sustaining the injury in 2011 I’ve had a series of other injuries and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to run without having some sort of ache or niggle; you just learn to accept it as part of running and try to train smarter and be less punishing on my body – I cycle and swim much more now.

What is your number one piece of advice?

Enjoy your running. Running is a great way to discover the world around us wherever we are and to meet new friends. I’ve met many new friends through Orion and love to run in the Forest. I am currently enjoying discovering Madrid and have met some new friends through a running group.