Phil Nitchen


Stopsley Strider Club Member Profile
This month’s club member is Phil Nitchen aged 37.

I am a supervisor for the bus operation at Luton Parkway.

Did you do sport at school?I played a lot of football and really enjoyed the end of summer term when the athletics started. I wasn’t the quickest, but always did well at the longer distances. 

When did you start running & why?
After my Mum died from breast cancer in 2009, I managed to get a charity place for the 2010 London marathon to run in her memory. It was a truly amazing and very emotional experience and I loved every minute, even the horrendous blisters. I’ve been running ever since.

What made you come to Stopsley Striders? 
From the outset of my running life I wanted to join a running club, but I worked permanent night shifts, so it wasn’t feasible. When I finished the night shifts I immediately joined the striders. I didn’t get off to the best starts though as I turned my ankle on the trails on my first run. It didn’t deter me though, I’m just more careful now.

What is your favourite run/course?
The London marathon is far and away my favourite. I grew up very close to mile 7/8 of the route (the area that never gets shown on the telly because the camera men are afraid of getting the stuff nicked) and also the place where all the water was getting stolen last year. It has amazing support and also has that nostalgic feel for me. The 2 times I’ve have previously done it, there has always been a load of my old mates cheering me on outside my old local pub.

What is your best run?
My best run was the reading half in 2013. I have never felt so good on a longer distance run. My pacing went out of the window because I felt so comfortable and I ended up going a lot quicker. I finished in 1.39.04. It also finishes in the football stadium, which as a football nut was the cherry on the cake, even the £12 I had to pay for parking didn’t upset me.

What was your worst run?
I would say the Bournemouth marathon last year. I hadn’t trained very hard, and was really out of shape. I run it anyway, but had an awful run/walk/more walking. I was so glad when it ended. When I got the finishers medal the strap broke, which pretty
much epitomised my race.                                                                                          

What was your most memorable run?
London aside. I would say my most memorable run was the Portsmouth waterside marathon in 2013. It was very windy and in the 2nd mile my shoe got stuck in wet sand and come off. I very nearly stacked it, but was caught by a runner behind me. I shook it off and on the return leg at the same spot, (mile 24), the tide had come in, so I was running through about 250 meters of thigh deep water. Then the last two miles was along the sea front into an extreme headwind. Despite this I managed to get a PB which still stands today.

Do you like cross-country? 
I prefer road running, but always enjoy myself running as part of a team. My missus does her nut when I clog the shower up with mud though.

Assuming you have spare time, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I’m a massive telly addict, so every opportunity I get I will sit in front of the telly. Other than that, I spend time with my 1 year old daughter and my 10 year old daughter (when I have her), although the 10 year old is more like a 13 year old nowadays.

How many times a week do you run?
I try to run 5 times a week when I’m fit, I love having the consistency I get from injury free running.

What is your average weekly mileage?
25 to 30 miles a week usually

Do you do speed work or specialist training?
I do speed work when I can. If I miss speed work, I will try to get a hill session or hard effort run in.

Do you follow a diet regime before competing?
I have a small domino’s pizza the night before, and Weetabix in the morning for half marathons and above.

What piece of your kit do you think is the most important? 
Vaseline. I chafe a fair bit, so this is what helps the stinging in the shower to be less of an ordeal.  

Who is your hero?
Steve Cram was always the runner I looked out for when athletics was on the telly, he always seemed to win. 

What do you like about the club?
There is no elitist attitudes at the club, any time I have joined a quicker group, I have always felt welcome. It is also very friendly and I always have a good laugh whoever I run with.

What would be your advice to a new club member?
Just to keep with it, you’ll find your feet soon enough and when you do, you will go from strength to strength. Best thing I ever did in running was join striders.

What is your running song to get you over that line?
We’re going down the pub – Sham 69

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