This is Paul Halford’s weekly column for RunBlogRun. This week, Paul writes about Dewi Griffiths and his breakthrough run last week over the half marathon distance. Paul helps us understand that a big PB comes after consistent work, and dedication. For Dewi Griffiths, there are lots depenending on the Frankfurt Marathon.
Dewi Griffiths excited for marathon debut after 61:33 improvement
The Briton has been getting advice from former world marathon record-holder Steve Jones
Dewi Griffiths remains open-minded about his best event after his breakthrough to 61:33 over half-marathon last weekend and ahead of his marathon debut in Frankfurt later this month.
The Brit took 80 seconds off his three-week-old PB at the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half-marathon and it was only after that he decided to go for the full distance.
Griffiths ran a 10,000m PB of 28:16.07 last summer but seems to have found his niche this autumn with his runs at the Simplyhealth Great North Run and then Cardiff. He may be capable of 2:10 in Frankfurt. “As a 63 guy you typically add 3-4 mins so you’re probably looking at 2:13. As a 61 guy who knows?” he says.
However, he’s not about to go for broke in his first marathon. “It’s obviously a shot in the unknown,” he says. “I won’t know if I’m a 10k runner or a marathon runner until I’m past 20 miles in that race, so in that sense I want to get to 20 miles feeling okay. I don’t want my first one to be a total nightmare and be dreading the next one. If possible I’d like it to be a really positive experience and be excited for the future.”
He had entered Frankfurt (October 29) after failing to gain the World Championships standard on the track. “My first thoughts [on Frankfurt] were back in the summer,” he says. “It was the only one really I could do [to fit in] with do all the races I wanted to do in the autumn. So I thought if I hit some of my targets in the autumn then I’d probably end up doing it.”
He has not changed his training a great deal, therefore, with the step up in mind. “A lot of people take the approach of having to change all your training,” he says. “The approach I’ve taken is doing what I’m doing but adapting it slightly and doing the 10k stuff and trying to run a marathon off it; just stretching the long run a little bit further.”
This method seemed validated when he went to Boulder, Colorado, to gain advice from fellow Welshman Steve Jones, the former world marathon record-holder and now coach.
“I had a bit of a chat with [Steve] in the summer and the approach I wanted to take was roughly what he was taking himself when he was running his best – 10k training and doing the long run a little bit further,” he says.
Griffiths says he thinks Jones wasn’t sure this year would be the best time for his marathon debut, but he adds: “I think after [Cardiff] he appreciates I’ve got to do it now in a way. Otherwise if I don’t do it I’ll always question what could have happened.”
He is hoping to double up over 5000m and 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast next spring.
His aims for the summer and the European Championships depend on how he does in Frankfurt, but if it is to be the marathon, he believes a medal is a possibility. “You never know with the marathon. It doesn’t always go to form,” he says. “If there is a bit of pot luck with the medals it’s probably in the marathon rather than 10k. We’ll see what happens in Frankfurt and hopefully by the spring I’ll have a decision to make whether I stick with the 10k for the Europeans or do the marathon.”
Griffiths, who lives in a remote part of Wales on a family farm, puts his improvement down to consistency rather than big changes.
“I don’t think there’s anything drastically I’ve changed,” he says. “I probably haven’t had the breakthrough I was hoping for. I’ve been a bit frustrated in the summer that I’ve only ran 28:16. I felt I was actually training better than that.
“For about three years now I’ve had that consistent training, nothing crazy – I’m not doing 150 miles like some of them – but I’m consistently getting in up to 100 miles now and I’m feeling good off it and able to race off it as well.”
While it is common to see runners switch coaches when they reach higher levels, Griffiths believes sticking with Kevin Evans for the past 11 years has been valuable.
“I know my strengths and weaknesses, he knows my strengths and weaknesses. They’re not going to change by changing a coach,” he says. “It’s up to me to try to apply myself in training and adapt my training to try to improve them. It’s evolved over the years, I’m not the same 14-year-old as I was when I first joined, but we have a chat at the start of the week about what we think we’ll do and come to a conclusion afterwards. I understand him and he understands me and I think that’s important when you’re trying to push yourself to the next level.”