Paul Navesey

APRIL 2019: Paul Navesey runs for Crawley AC, and trains in Brighton with Allison Benton’s AB Training group.

You might recognise his name as the winner of this year’s Grand Brighton Half Marathon.

Paul has been making giant leaps forward, of late, over a range of distances, and is in fine form as he makes his final preparations for Brighton Marathon this Sunday.

There is, as yet, no runner who has managed to win both the Brighton Marathon and Brighton Half Marathon, let alone in the same year.

Could it be achieved this Sunday, on the 10th anniversary of the Brighton Marathon?

To give you an idea of the range of Paul’s talent…

In 2016, he was British 100km Champion. In February this year, he smashed his personal best time for 10k (29:33 at Chichester), currently ranking him 6th in the UK. He also happens to be 11th in the UK over 5k, based on his time of 14:07 in Amagh earlier this year.

His current marathon PB is 2:23:26 (Frankfurt, October 2018), although his recent tempo runs would suggest we’ll be witnessing a much faster time this Sunday.

I met up with Paul for a chat, a few days before marathon day.

Paul, you’ve had several significant wins. What would you say has been the best experience in your running, so far?

So far, I’d have to say being able to run a big PB over 10k. It had been a long- term ambition to break 30 minutes for 10k and one I mentioned to Allison when we first met to chat about coaching. Also, the training group had been getting closer and closer to running under 30 mins so it was fantastic to be the first of many to do that!

Chichester 10k would be closely followed by the race experience at Armagh 5k. If you have the standard to enter, that is a must-do race!

Producing superb results over a broad range of distances is impressive. What would you say are the key differences in training for races at the shorter and longer ends of the spectrum, and what are the common factors?

A lot of training is pace based for me. So, I believe that training at the relevant paces for the event you are preparing for is important. Come race day, you are physically prepared and mentally you are used to the pace and will be confident of what you are able to run.

Having said that, plenty of marathon-pace training seems to have worked well for the shorter races so far this year so I am excited for the summer!

The AB Training Group has been delivering more and more great performances. How important is it to have a group of runners, of broadly similar ability, to train with?

Allison as a coach, and being part of the group, has been invaluable. They can’t be given enough thanks and credit.

Allison has proved her coaching ability multiple times, with a variety of athletes over a range of distances. I have complete faith in her, then combine that with the hardworking nature of the group and the results will come!

As a personal trainer, you no doubt promote the importance of strength & conditioning as a key part of any running program. To what extent do you think that has played a part in your own successes?

I definitely feel that all athletes will benefit from including an S&C program within their training. There are lots of benefits and it depends on your needs as an athlete as to how you use it. I struggled with injury throughout 2018 & used it mainly to rehab injuries and reduce the weaknesses that lead to them. In this build-up, I have maintained important prehab exercises and introduced back more specific performance-focused exercises.

I will do at least one session a week, ideally two if work and other training commitments allow.

What will be your focus this Sunday – time or position? And how do you envisage the race panning out?

Haha! I think it will be a fast race, given the field of athletes that are there. Given that company, I think running to compete will just result in a fast time.

How the race will pan out is anyone’s guess; it would be boring if we knew what would happen! I look forward to seeing how it goes and will just be as adaptable as necessary throughout.

Every athlete needs some downtime every now and then. What do you do when you’re not training and racing? Do you have other hobbies to take your mind off running?

To be honest, anything involving food! Happy to do a bit of cooking or find somewhere new to try.

I have also been able to visit some cool places but have a lot of other countries I’d like to visit… where I can maybe try more food too!

In terms of the final stages of preparation, what will the last couple of days look like, as we get closer to race day? And is there anything specific you’ll be doing on race morning, to focus the mind and calm the nerves?

The last couple of days will look very easy! A small amount of jogging, a couple of coffee shops and a little extra sleep. Not the most exciting, hopefully saving some excitement for the race!

I don’t have anything specific that I have to do pre-race, except put my left shoe on first…

I will also try not to bore the world of Instagram too much, but no promises! Ha!

What would be your key tips for our many RunBrighton runners, taking on their first marathon this Sunday?

Know what your goal is, stick to that plan and enjoy! Remember this is meant to be the fun part.

The alcohol-free beer at the finish is nice too, so grab one of those!

Paul, it’s been great to chat. Thanks very much for your time. I’m sure there will be a huge number of local supporters keen to track your progress on Sunday morning. Have a fantastic run!

By Mike Bannister