Mitchum Q&A 1: How to Set and Stay Committed to Your Targets

Hi all,

In our first Mitchum Q&A, we're joined by GB 110m hurdler Will Sharman who'll be answering your questions about focused training - how to set and stay committed to your race targets.

Will is going to be online between 1pm and 2pm today to answer your questions about race training - and tips drawn from his own experience training at elite level.

110m hurdler Will started out as a high jumper and decathlete, and his track career includes a fourth-place finish in the 2009 World Championships. He is also a classically trained pianist, holds two university degrees and was coached by Gladiators' John Anderson.

We're opening the discussion now so Will can get stuck in straight away at 1pm (rather than having to deal with too many questions all at once). But that's enough from me - time for your questions!



  • Hi Will,

    Do you have a mantra or a phrase that you say to yourself to keep yourself focused during difficult training sessions?

    Also, what are your favourite pre-training and post training snacks?


  • Hello Will,
    how do you manage the ideal target/training/actual target cycle?  By way of explanation- I want to improve my marathon PB- I set a target (say 3:30, from a PB of 3:48).  I enter a race (say) 16 weeks out and start on a training programme which should make me faster.  At what point in the training programme should I decide on what my actual target should be?  My ideal target is a big jump from where I am (but should be achievable based on my HM PB).  I've not done speed work before now so it's a bit of a jump into the unknown.  It may take several cycles (train/race/train) to get there.

  • Will, my question is how you deal with disappointment? e.g. if you don't achieve the target in a race or training cycle; - what's your strategy for dealing with the disappointment or frustration and moving on.

     Thanks.  Impish

  • Do you ever have a day where you just can't be bothered and if so how do you get yourself back in the right frame of mind?

  • Hi Will,

    I was lucky enough to win a training day at Loughborough Uni with you in March and just wanted to thank you - I took alot away with me that day which helped me in the half marathon I recently completed.  I have only run 2 half marathons before and was doing really well with 8 min miles - unfortunaely cramp hit at mile 9 and I struggled to the end (still acheived my current PB (1hr 58min) but dissapointed as I was on for doing so much better)!!!

    I am really keen to do a marathon now but seem to have a bit of a mental block as 13 miles seems long enough for me - I don't know how I could possibly do the same all over again!!!  Any hints and tips on how to motivate yourself to the next target in mind!!!

    Thanks  again!

    Sarah  image

  • I'm currently following an 8 week training plan for 10k, and while I was very motivated to follow the plan and complete all the speedwork in the early weeks, I am now finding it more difficult to motivate myself to push as hard, now that I am in the middle stages of the training plan.

    Have you got any tips for keeping up the motivation levels?

    Thanks Ben

  • Hi Will,

    What are your kitbag essentials?



  • Hi Kate,
    I just try not to think about anything too much and try and block everything else out. Have a blank canvas and you'll automatically fall into your pattern.
  • Hi Emily,
    I don't have a mantra as such but I find the following quote from Muhammad Ali 'I hated every minute of training but I told myself don't quit now, work hard now and live the rest of your life as a champion'.

    I don't really snack before training I just have a bowl of porridge and then immediately after training I'll have a protein shake. Later on in the day I'll start eating normally again and come back and have lunch.
  • Ferrous Ferret

    I'm not a marathon coach so this is a hard one for me, but if you break it down it's not as scary to improve per mile as it seems when you think about losing 18 mins off of the whole thing.

    During your training cycle it's going to be difficult as you'll feel fatiqued. Use your previous marathons as a starting point for training and look at the areas that you struggled with then. Did you find you weren't as fast as you'd have liked? If so then you'll need to work on your speed. if you struggled with endurance then you'll need to work on that. But don't neglect the areas of strength either.

    Keep on training and good luck.
  • Hi Impish,
    With regards to disappointment you're just got to get on with it, refocus and move on to the next target. There's no magic solution that question, you just have to get a new target, that one has gone and the quicker that you can start being positive then the better it is for your next challenge. If you have to then give yourself a window where you can rant and rave but when that window is over then that's it, it's time to stop thinking about the negative and start focusing on your next goal.
  • Hi Will,

    Do you find it hard training and competing in hot weather? What is the ideal temperature for you?

    Thanks Alina

  • Hi Kas,
    When that happens I think back to a tweet from one of my training partners which said 'I'm aching all over, can't move today, but then I remembered that I'm not a wimp' or the earlier quote from Ali.

    On the days when you feel less motivated you've got to think about your competitors and what they're doing. They'll be out training and improving and I don't want to give them any advantage so I've got to be out there training as hard as I can too.
  • Hi Sarah,

    That's great, it was brilliant meeting everyone at the Mitchum Masterclass that day and I'm glad that I could help you achieve a new personal best.

    Something new is always scary and the only thing that you can do to overcome that feeling is to train hard and actually to do the event.

    If you've trained properly and completed those long distances beforehand you'll be in a position where everything bad has happened already happened and you will know how your body will react to that sort of endurance. So when you're ready to start the marathon it should just be a case of putting the training all together. It's times like this when you're nervous that you get the best results and feel most satisfied when you've completed it.
    Marathon's are meant to be difficult and painful and are designed to be a challenge but the rewards at the end make it worth while. Everyone at the start line will be feeling the same way even the elite athlete's. Just make sure that you're well hydrated and have trained and you'll be fine- you got a PB with cramp so imagine what else you can do!
    Good Luck,

  • Hi Ben,
    The training isn't always meant to be fun. You should be motivated by the fact that every day that you are training you're improving your body and ability to conquer the given task, in this instance an 8 week training programme. If you don't stay focused on the task and the goals that you have set yourself then you're going to find it difficult.
  • Hi Archie,
    My kitbag essentials are my spikes, my weightlifting shoes, lycras, a drinks bottle, heat rub, Mitchum deodorant and my towel. I also always carry a bag for the ice machine so I can fill it with ice if I injure myself during training.
  • Hi Alina,
    I could understand how the warmer weather could be more difficult for endurance athletes as they're more likely to overheat but for me it's easier as the muscles stay warm for longer and I don't need to spend as much time warming up. It's a lot easier to find shade in the heat than it is to get warmer when the weather is cold so I would always prefer to train and compete on a hotter day.
  • Great - what do you eat before a big event?
  • Thanks Will - I'll pass your words of wisdom to my son!
  • Thanks, I really struggle with overheating in hot weather, especially when I hit the 5km mark. Do you have any tips for staying cool?

  • Hi Will

    What's the best thing to eat before training and how long should you wait before training?
  • Hi Archie,
    I try and have a balanced diet all of the time. I think of training in a similar way to a big event so try and keep my diet consistant with plenty of water, carbs, protein and vegetables and I try to keep that the same every day.

    I eat quite a bit, about 3,000 cals a day as I need to make sure that I'm stocked up before an event and ready to compete. Just before an event I have a banana as it calms my nerves, it's rich in potassium and has good sugars in it.
  • Hi Alina,
    Yes, pour cold water over your head. It will trick your body into thinking it's cooler than it is. You want your muscles to stay warm so a cool towel or cold water on your head will sort you out.
  • Hi Will,

    What tips/advice can you give to help when you hit the wall?

  • I think that's all we've got time for, so unfortunately it's time to wrap things up. Thanks so much for your time and advice Will - and good luck for the outdoor season ahead!

    We'll be back next Wednesday lunchtime with another Mitchum expert - nutritionist Glen Kearney.


  • Hi Natasha,
    It depends what time you're training and each person is different so it's best to experiment until you know what's best for you. I train with one athlete that can eat a lot before training and it doesn't effect him badly whereas others can feel uncomfortable or sick.

    Before an intense training session, I leave it for 3 hrs before as I don't want to be uncomfortable when I'm running about but that's difficult if you're training in the morning as you've been fasting through the night so you might want to eat an hour before. It's important to have something before training as you'll need fuel to burn
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