Stopsley Strider Club Member Profile – Ian Pitkin
Occupation: Contracts Director for a grounds maintenance contractor.
Did you do sport at school?
I played football and cricket for the school. I was a reasonable athlete, but not very good at any particular event, so didn’t represent the school.
When did you start running & why?
I started running three years ago on my own to keep fit for cricket. I then decided to run the St Albans half marathon with a work colleague. Injured myself training and had to abort, but decided to carry on and ran the Luton half later in the year.
What made you come to Stopsley Striders?
I wanted to improve my running and race more.
What is your favourite run/course?
Of the races I have completed the Ridgeway Run would be my favourite. Very hilly with a fabulous view from the top. Must wear my glasses this year!
What is your best run?
Luton Half Marathon 2016. This was my benchmark having completed the event before joining the striders. I went off very quickly over the first seven miles, up and down the hills of Luton Hoo, common mistake! I slowed up, but managed to keep going and took ten minutes off my 2015 time. I had previously looked at other runners in the 1 hour 40’s thinking this beyond my capabilities.
What was your worst run?
This would have to be this years Brighton marathon, my first. Despite my years I am an inexperienced runner. I had trained since Christmas and followed my plan running five times every week, gradually building up distance to 21 miles before tapering. A temperature of 14 degrees was forecast on the morning and I had ambitiously targeted 4 hours, game on I thought. By midday the temperature was 21 degrees. I didn’t realise quickly enough and ended up being pulled off the course by a St Johns medic after 21 miles suffering from heat exhaustion. Amazingly, 45 minutes later I had recovered sufficiently to complete the last five miles. 5 hours 11 minutes was not the time I was hoping for.
What was your most memorable run?
Brighton marathon, I learnt a lot. Some things are beyond your control and you need to adapt to them.
Do you like cross-country?
I really enjoy team races, great club spirit. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or slowest everyone is very encouraging. I generally like the diversity in distance and conditions, from 3k to marathon, road running to cross country.
Assuming you have spare time, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I can’t sit still. I have an allotment which takes up much of my time and provides a host of healthy fruit and veg all year round. I aspire to the ‘good life’ and will one day have chickens as well. I also like to watch my two boys playing cricket, a lovely way to relax at the weekend, often scoring.
How many times a week do you run?
I always try to make club nights on Monday and Thursday, long run or race at the weekend and often an extra run on Tuesday. Marathon training increases it to five.
What is your average weekly mileage?
Typically about 20, but this varies depending on the distance I am training for. During marathon training this increased up to 40.
Do you do speed work or specialist training?
I am not particularly quick on the flat, so I prefer hills. This is a mental state I have conditioned myself to believe, I don’t really! I do a lot of hill work; I have always found myself to be strong on hills during races compared to runners from other clubs.
Do you follow a diet regime before competing?
Always porridge on race morning, with a banana. I am lucky to be tolerant of any foods, pre race. I like variety when carb loading, my favourite is long grain rice with black beans, avocado and egg. There is power in those beans!
What piece of your kit do you think is the most important?
Everyone say’s shoes so I am going to be different, nipple protectors. Just as painful as shoes if you get it wrong.
Who is your hero?
Sir Ian Botham
What do you like about the club?
There is no elitism in the club; everyone has been so friendly and helpful. So many people have given me the benefit of their experience, particularly during marathon training. I have made a completely new circle of friends.
What would be your advice to a new club member?
Don’t think there are limits to how far your running can progress. This year I have achieved times I didn’t believe possible 12 months ago, for a 52-year-old beginner.
What is your running song to get you over that line?
Sounds boring but I never listen to music when I am running. If I ever need a song to get me over the line, it would be September by Earth, Wind & Fire.