Interview Numero 4 – Fraser Clyne

He is probably the most respected, down to earth, passionate, smiley and successful runner in the north east. Everyone who is into running knows who he is, but he would never be the one to tell you.

If Kyle hadn’t mentioned that he was a 2.11 marathoner and Commonwealth Games athlete before my 1st interview with him a few years ago, I would have just thought I was being interviewed by a good sports journalist who was having a slow week. Albeit a looks-like-he’s-built-for-running journalist…! (Note: not once have I called you old, Fraser!)

Fraser Clyne has won some major marathons around the globe, and has been successful in all distances from the 3k to the 100k (holy smokes, that sounds harder than an Ironman!). He has travelled the world, trained and raced in some of the most beautiful places on earth, met some amazing and inspiring people, has written a couple of books (and is currently in the process of writing one on running, guys!) and now spends time PRing (Public Relations, not Personal Records!), and writing sporting articles for the newspapers – interviewing slow pokes like me. Fraser, I hope you don’t think you’re wasting your time when you’re listening to that dictaphone and typing away – we should be the ones interviewing you!!

That being said, I know that the local running community who read this blog would LOVE to have someone interview Clyney for a change, so I have tried my best…!

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What is your favourite sporting memory?

 I have loads of great sporting memories but the best ones aren’t anything to do with me or any major events. I simply love seeing the smiles on people’s faces at the end of a race in which they have achieved their goals or realised their dreams, at no matter what level. These are the best memories.

 

What would you say has been your best achievement?

 Hmmmm…….if we are speaking about running….. then there’s no single achievement that stands out, but I have many good memories.

I guess winning my first marathon in Oakland, California was special, and finishing second in the US championships in Sacramento, California (which was totally unexpected). I was always proud to represent my country and enjoyed competing for Great Britain in three World Cups and for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and five world cross country championships. I represented GB and/or Scotland on the track, roads and cross country at 3,000m, 5,000m, 10,000m, half marathon, marathon and (whisper it), 100Km. Oh… and I did the world mountain running championships once (it was on the bucket list).

I competed all over Europe, the USA, Asia, Africa and Australia and I ran 22 sub 2hr 20min marathons, including at least one every year between 1982 and 1992, all of which I’m sort of happy about.

 

Where was your favourite place to train?

 As you might guess from the previous answer, I loved running in California. I spent a lot of time there in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I competed in 10 marathons, a half marathon, a 20Km and a couple of 10Km races in places like San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and San Diego. There are so many beautiful places to run and the climate is wonderful. Everyone was so positive as well, which makes a big difference. At home I always loved running the woods at Hazlehead, Countesswells and Tyrebagger. Nowadays I also enjoy running at Scolty and at Balmoral.

 

 

What was a typical day for you back then (if you remember!)

 That’s a bit cheeky asking if I can remember!! So the day would be simple …..work/run/eat/work/eat/run/sleep.

I trained twice a day most of the time and I also had a full-time job although I was lucky to be given additional time off for international trips. I started work early, did my main training in the middle of the day with a second session in the evening.

 

What is a typical day for you now? 

Interviewing people and writing articles about it must be so interesting!

 Yeah, there’s no such thing as a typical day. I am self-employed and every day is different, which is fantastic, although there’s obviously deadlines to be met all the time. I write for a number of newspapers, magazines and web-based outlets; I do PR work for a few major events (eg RunBalmoral,  Loch Ness Marathon); I give talks about running and training to clubs, companies and other organisations; I am involved with the Running the Highlands training weekends at Balmoral Castle; I do a bit of personal coaching which means I try to run most days; and I’m currently working on a new book (I’ve written a couple of football books in the past but the next one will be about running). I love going to races, chatting to other runners and meeting so many fascinating people with wonderful stories to tell.

 

What was your race prep like? Pre-race routine?

 I liked get to the venue early to begin my warm-up and check out the course. I preferred being on my own in the final 20-30mins before the start of the race just so I could get my mind focussed and go through the routine of getting into the zone (as you might say now). It’s important to concentrate on the task and not be diverted by anything. You wouldn’t want to ask me anything in the final 10mins before a big race!

 

 

What would you say your toughest race was?

 All races were tough! I trained hard so I could race hard. But some stand out as being not only physically tough but also mentally draining. My first significant track international was at Crystal Palace in front of a capacity crowd in a live televised international just before the 1980 Olympics Games. I finished last and that was a sobering experience, but it made me determined to do better. The 1986 Commonwealth Games marathon was also hard because I’d been struggling with lower back problems in the months leading up to it and I knew I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be in. I struggled from the start and never felt comfortable. I felt as though I was running with the brakes on. It was so frustrating to be competing in front of a home crowd knowing I couldn’t do as well as I was hoping to. I finished 10th but it was physically and mentally exhausting.

The 1989 Houston marathon was probably my toughest day.I ran the first half in 65min 5secs, which felt ok, but after 18 miles I really began to struggle. I battled on and, despite struggling, at 23 miles I was still on schedule for a 2hr 13min time. I ended up finishing ninth in 2:16:11. A guy passed me with 800m to go and beat me by a minute!! Pretty awful.

 

What did a hard week look like?

 I’m gonna bore you with more than one week’s training. So here’s what I did between the Berlin marathon on 30th September 1984 and the California International Marathon at Sacramento on 2nd December 2004.

 

Sun 30th Sept: Berlin Marathon, 6th, 2:15:21 (Finished strongly, feeling I could have run much quicker).

Followed by two weeks of easy running.

 

Sun Oct 14: 22 miles steady

Oct 15: AM 8 miles; pm 5 miles

Oct 16: Am 4 miles; pm, 2x6x90sec hills, 1x3x45sec hills (4 mins recovery between sets)

Oct 17: pm: 10 miles

Oct 18: am 6 miles, pm 8 miles

Oct 19: am 9 miles; pm 5 miles

Oct 20: 3x6x90sec hills, 4 mins recovery between sets; pm: 10 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 102 

 

Sun Oct 21: am 14 miles

Oct 22: am 6×600, 6×300 alternating, 60secs recovery between each rep.

Oct 23: am 9 miles, pm 5 miles

Oct 24: am 8 miles, pm 2×1000, 10 miles, 1x1000m

Oct 25: am 8 miles, pm 5 miles

Oct 26: am 6x1200m (hilly mixed terrain), 3 mins recovery between each

Oct 27: 20 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 101

 

Sun Oct 28: am 14 miles including 60mins of mixed fartlek

Oct 29: am 7miles; pm 5 miles

Oct 30: am 4x5mins, 4mins recovery; pm 5 miles

Oct 31: am 8 miles, pm 12 miles

Nov 1: am 6x600m/300m, alternating, 60secs recovery; pm 6 miles

Nov 2: am 10 miles

Nov 3: am 10 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 90

 

Sun Nov 4: am Ayr half marathon, 1st, 64min 53sec

Nov 5: pm 11 miles

Nov 6: am 20x200m back to back followed by 20×200 with 30secs recovery; pm 5 miles

Nov 7: pm: 19 miles

Nov 8: am 4x5mins with 4 mins recovery; pm 5 miles

Nov 9: am 10 miles

Nov 10: am 10 miles; pm 6 miles

Total Weekly Mileage: 100

 

Sun Nov 11: am Aberdeen 6 mile road race, 2nd, 30min 00sec 

Nov 12: am 11 miles

Nov 13: am 5 miles; pm 4x5mins with 3 mins recovery

Nov 14: am 5  miles; pm 10  miles

Nov 15: am 6x1200m with 3 mins recovery; pm 5

Nov 16: am 10 miles; pm 5 miles

Nov 17: am 10 miles

 

Sunday Nov 18: am Edinburgh to Glasgow relay, 7 mile stage in 32min 05sec.

Nov 19: am 10 miles

Nov 20: am 7 miles; pm 5 miles

Nov 21: am 4x5mins, 4 mins recovery; pm: 10 miles

Nov 22: am 10 miles; pm 5 miles

Nov 23: am 5 miles; pm 6x1200m mixed terrain, 3 mins recovery

Nov 24: am 14 miles; pm 4 miles

Total weekly mileage: 100

 

Sun Nov 25th: Travel to San Francisco

Mon –Sat: easy running, 30mins per day, 20x100m strides on Saturday.

Sunday Dec 2nd: California International Marathon,Sacramento 2nd 2:11:50

 

Notes:-

The steady runs were all done according to how tired I felt. The midweek 10’s were all generally very fast (ie not much below a 5min/mile to 5:10 average).

The long Sunday runs were of variable pace, but usually included a fairly hard 10-14 mile block again at not much below 5 mins 20min pace (although they were run over mixed terrain including forest trails).

I would normally taper for the races done during the build up, but on this occasion I wanted to experiment by easing off very little for races such as the Ayr half, the Edin to Glasgow and the Aberdeen 6.

Usually I would recommend taking it easy for 4-7 days before any significant race

 

Earlier in the year I did a lot more hillwork, sometimes doing the hill session three times a week, sometimes twice a week. This was generally 3 sets of 6 reps up and down a tough hill which took about 90secs to run up. The recovery was a jog back down. The recovery between sets could be 3 or 4 minutes.

 

 Did you cross train? How often?

 Not really. I did 10-11 running sessions every week which left little time or energy for anything else! I did a bit of cycling if I couldn’t run, but that was about it.

 

Do you have any regrets?

 Running is such a fantastic sport which has, and still does, give me lots to be happy about, so I have few if any regrets. I’ve been fortunate to compete all over the world in major championships and big races and I’ve met so many friendly and interesting people along the way. I guess if I was doing it all again there’s a few things I’d do differently. I’d probably try to be more focussed. I was so keen to try anything and everything that sometimes I wouldn’t channel all my energies into one big important challenge. I loved running in marathons, but also liked 10Km and half marathons. I enjoyed track racing (a bit), cross country and hill running, so I was too easily distracted. 

 

What 3 pieces of advice would you give newbies and to current elites? 

 The advice is the same whether you are just starting out or whether you are striving for the the very top:

1) Surround yourself with positive people all the time…they will help motivate you to achieve whatever you want to get from your running.There is no place for negativity.

2) Always have dreams/goals/targets. Work towards achieving these, step by step, and never let anyone tell you anything is impossible.

3) Listen to others, but believe in yourself. It’s amazing what you can do if you are willing to learn, to experiment and to keep pushing your own personal boundaries. 

 

And I have a fourth one:

Always enjoy it, make it fun. If you enjoy it, you’ll do it forever.

 

 What was your diet like? 

 Ha, ha. The morning of my fastest marathon my breakfast was a piece of chocolate cake, a cup of coffee and a glass of water. That sorta sums up my diet. I’d eat anything and everything. It was often difficult eating enough to keep the fuel tanks up to capacity.

 

What are your hobbies outside of running?

 Eating, drinking and hugging!

 

Who is your favourite person to interview (*cough* Debbie *cough*) – haha who was actually your favourite and why? 

 Well, there’s a very talented young Aberdeen athlete who is preparing for her ironman debut this year……ha ha.

 

I enjoy speaking with all runners but I guess the most memorable interview experience I’ve had was with Finland’s legendary distance runner Lasse Viren. When I started running Viren was my hero. He was Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion in 1972 and 1976. A few years ago I was invited to Helsinki before the IAAF world championships. During the trip I was given the opportunity to meet Lasse at his home in Myrskyla, which is about a 60min drive from Helsinki. I was there for a couple of hours and we chatted about his career and running in general.Fascinating….and totally inspiring. He wasn’t too impressed by the fact that I had a faster marathon time than him. He simply asked: “But how many Olympic gold medals do you have?”

  

Most importantly:

When are you making a comeback???

 Ha, ha. The last race I did was in February 2003 and since then I’ve not been doing any structured running at all. A few months ago, however, my good friend Alison inspired me to get a little more organised (basically by telling me I had no real excuse to not be running again). So I’ve been training more and getting fitter (which wasn’t hard given how slow I’d become), although one of my achilles tendons keeps complaining…. and that has held me back. I know I can’t run as fast as I used to, but I’d like to be as fit as I can be and I know I’m well short of that! However, if the right occasion presented itself I might be tempted to look out the retro racing gear and make an appearance somewhere!

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(New Year’s Day after Ron, Kyle and I did our double parkrun *cough* debbiewastheonlyonetowinbothafterallthosevodka/whiskey/wineshots *cough*)

Well, you heard it here 1st folks – he might be tempted to race again!!!

And TWENTY TWO MARATHONS UNDER 2.20?!?!!?! WOW!! Safe to say I think I could only have beaten you in that final 800m in Houston, although I would have been <1 year old so perhaps not (although I was a fast crawler?)…Now I’m calling you old, Frase 😉 …!

Whenever you are feeling de-motivated, just re-read the above! If I manage to do half of what you did, Fraser, I will be one content little athlete!

I hope this has inspired you to reach your goals as much as it has done to me!

If there are any other questions that I missed/keep missing then PLEASE let me know! I can annoy ask Kylie Babez, Freyja and Ismael as much as you want!

Speaking of Freyja, SHE HAS (FINALLY!) STARTED A BLOG!!!!!!!!! If you like my over-dramatic, over-exaggerating, and overuse of exclamation marks and capital letters, she can not only match that, but while I am here trying to make the Worlds, SHE is trying to make the OLYMPICS!!!!!!! Road to Rio here she comes!! Find her HERE now – she is currently in Florida at the World Cup so pleeeeeeeease wish her luck!

Fraser – thank you so much for letting me pester you! I believe I can speak for all of us when I say we can learn soooooo much from you; you are truly an inspiration to us and we love seeing you at all our races!

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