Member Spotlight April 2024 Alexander Mathers

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Member Spotlights

This month’s member spotlight is Alexander Mathers, who’s been a member for a few years now but due to work commitments has only recently been able to attend our weekly training sessions. This hasn’t stopped Alexander wearing the famous Black & White vest, but I’ll let Alexander explain all.

1.How did you get into running and why?

I found at a young age that sports requiring some form of hand eye co-ordination were just not my thing, I was always last to be picked for football, cricket or rugby and never enjoyed the experience. I remember school during the 1980s completing the 1500m in my full school uniform (because I forgot my PE kit) and coming first and being the only one who actually enjoyed cross country. But it wasn’t until later in life after I had got the usual youthful distractions of cigarettes, alcohol and chasing round the opposite sex out of my system that I started to take running a bit more seriously. Competitive orienteering was a big part of my life for about 20 years where I ended being a coach and event organiser, but over the past five years I have drifted away from this and focused on trail racing and canicross which is a fairly new yet fast growing sport of cross country running attached to a dog or pair of dogs.

2.What kept you going when you first started running?

Running was something for me, no-one else in my friends or work group ran and it was my escape from daily life. If I felt like running, I laced up my inappropriate training shoes and went for a run of an undeterminable and unplanned length, no plan no structure just me on my own enjoying the great outdoors.

3. How much training do you typically do each week?

About 3-4 runs per week on average, I would love to stick to a plan but sometimes work and life in general has other ideas. I complete yoga every Monday evening which has massively improved my running and is great following a hard weekend of racing. My work schedule has also recently changed meaning I can now attend the club sessions, and this is something I am really enjoying as it creates some structure to my training week and holds me accountable to a date and time. I also lead a 5km social canicross run every Saturday morning. Outside of this I try to get one or two other runs in during the week.

4. Be honest, do you enjoy training?

No – I like to run for enjoyment, where I want and when I want. If I do have a specific goal or programme to follow, then it tends to lose some of its enjoyment, especially if I get a busy week and I begin to stress about missing a session.

Member Spotlight April 2024 Alexander Mathers

5. Do you do any other sports or fitness activities?

Ashamedly no, I used to swim regularly and do some indoor climbing, but Covid knocked that on the head, and I haven’t gone back since. Work keeps me active, and my two dogs require two long walks each day.

6. Do you manage to fit in any other hobbies?

When I have the time, I do enjoy long distance walking, especially where ridiculous hills are included. I like the solitude and tranquillity of the great outdoors, preferably without sideways rain where possible. Other than that, I’m usually pottering about in the garden talking to myself.

7. Tell us about some of the races that you’ve done in the past

I enjoy running with my dogs and the annual Fur Nations competition puts teams from England, Scotland and Wales against each other at three venues across the UK. These are completed over a Bank Holiday weekend with usually 5km Saturday, 5km Sunday and a 10km on Monday, on site camping makes it more like a running festival with dogs mixed in, and what’s not to like about that.

8. What’s your current running goal?

I’m about to compete with Team England at the Fur Nations which kicks off at the end of March so my training over the past few weeks has been focussed on preparing for this, and some of the longer distance trail races that I have already signed up for.

9. What are your longer term running goals?

I would like to complete an ultra at some point, but I need to condition the body so that I don’t completely destroy myself and write off weeks of running afterwards due to injury, maybe next year.

10. What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?

I’m a trail runner at heart and 95% of my running is off road. Most of my canicross races are either 5 – 10km and if it’s a non canicross trail race I will always go for the long course option 10Km+, I’m a cruiser not a sprinter.

Member Spotlight April 2024 Alexander Mathers

11. What are your proudest running achievements?

Representing team England at canicross and getting podium positions on each of the three UK legs during 2023. We worked hard on our training which definitely paid off.

12. Anything in your running experience you regret?

I tend not to look back and fret about things that I could or should have done, it will consume you and is not good for the head. The only things important are the things still yet to come is my outlook on life.

13. How many pairs of trainers/ running shoes do you have and do you have a favourite pair?

7 on the last count, including a set of cross-country spikes that my feet probably will never fit in again. I don’t really have a favourite pair, most of them are trail shoes and either made by Inov8 or Scott. I only own one set of road shoes and that probably paints a picture of my running preferences.

14. What’s your idea of running heaven?

Mud, hills and rocks, something that has a fair bit of distance (trail half or full marathon) with great panoramic views and some fast technical downhill running to keep me on my toes.

Member Spotlight April 2024 Alexander Mathers

15. What’s your idea of running hell?

Sorry folks’ unpopular opinion but it has to be road running, it absolutely destroys my soul, along with my knees. You won’t see me attempting any of the popular marathons.

16. What is the best piece of running advice you’ve ever been given?

Run your own race and take no notice of what others are doing or let them get into your head – running is meant to be fun so enjoy it!

17. Any advice to newcomers to running?

Don’t skip the warm-up and post run stretching if you want to keep running and remain injury free.

18.  What keeps you going when the going gets tough in a hard race?

The knowledge that my youngest daughter will never let me live down a DNF or any excuse for a poor performance, she’s my toughest coach.

Member Spotlight April 2024 Alexander Mathers

19. How do you relax/reward yourself after a race?

Coffee and cake obviously, maybe double it up with a bacon & egg sarnie if it’s been particularly arduous, after all I’ve earned it.

20. If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Trophee Des Montagne’s – which is an international canicross competition undertaken in the French Alps during late August and provides 10 races spread over 8 days. Basically, running up and down ski slopes attached to one of my lunatic dogs which sounds fun.

 

Just want to say a massive thanks to Alexander for taking part in our Monthly Members Spotlight, I think you will agree a fantastic read and looking forward to seeing more of you at club nights.  If anyone is wishing to take part and answer a few questions and sent in some of your favourite race (or non-race photo’s if it takes your fancy!) please email me at the address below. Bri.

welfare.male@quakersrunningclub.org.uk