Partridge was the fastest British woman at the London marathon, and has been selected for the 2013 world championships in Moscow. She talks to Adharanand Finn about her first-ever race, her top place to run – and how she toughened up mentally
Hi Susan. Well done in London. What are your plans between now and the world championships in Moscow? I’m just having a couple of weeks’ rest. I haven’t started thinking beyond that yet.
Did you find it hot? Some people say it was.
That wasn’t hot. Conditions in London were pretty much perfect. Although, of course, we [elite women] did set off an hour earlier than everyone else, so maybe it got hot later on. But it wasn’t hot like Barcelona.
London was your fastest marathon ever. You’re 33, and it was your 9th marathon. Did you do anything different this time? I think I should have been running faster before, but last year in London, for example, I got isolated. Marathons can be unpredictable and little problems can be magnified over 26 miles. This year in London, everything just fell into place.
Saying that, I did change my coach this year. John Montgomery has coached me for 15 years and has done a brilliant job getting me to where I am. But I started training with Steve Jones [British record holder for the marathon] this year. The big change has been psychological. Steve has changed my approach to racing, making me more aggressive; paying less attention to the watch, less worried about my splits and times.
Do you remember your first-ever race? How did you fare? My first proper race was the Scottish under-15 cross country champs. I finished about 14th. I found it really hard, and I remember thinking: “I’ll never do this again.”
Where is your favourite place to run? I love going back home to Appin in Scotland. There are trails through the forest, lots of big cycle tracks, it’s flat, not busy, lovely surroundings. It’s the perfect place for training. And sometimes my Dad follows me on his bike.
What’s the best piece of running advice anyone has ever given you? After that first race at the Scottish under-15 champs, I was complaining about how hard it was, and my Dad told me: “It’s supposed to hurt.” That struck me. I thought it hurt because I wasn’t very good, but then I realised that running is about pushing hard, pushing through boundaries.
What is your favourite running gadget?
I don’t have one. I don’t like gadgets. I recently abandoned the Garmin. It’s too easy to get caught up letting the watch tell you how you feel. This is partly Steve’s [new coach] influence. He tells me to run by gut instead. With strict timing you’ll never surprise yourself.
So I presume you don’t run to music? Actually, I’ve started running with music more recently. Not for hard sessions, but for easy runs I like to put my headphones on.
What do you listen to? Well in the weeks before a marathon I have my own playlist. It starts with the Rocky theme [laughs]. That sort of thing.
What’s the worst thing about running? I guess the relentlessness of it. Every day, training twice a day, in all weather. A lot of it on your own, too.
What do you have for breakfast on the morning of a race? Cereal and toast. The same as every other morning.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever run? 26.2 miles.
Have you ever run barefoot? No. Nor would I.
Usain Bolt or Mo Farah? I have to say Usain, as he’s Puma, like me. If I wasn’t a Puma athlete, it might be a different answer …
And finally, who is the greatest runner of all time? I know it’s predictable, but I have to say Paula Radcliffe. That marathon PB [Paula’s world record 2:15:25] is incredible. Until you’ve run a marathon, you can’t understand how phenomenal it is for a woman to run that fast. The top world-class athletes can’t get close to it, even now.
source: Guardian By Adharanand Finn
Research Scientist Consultant
PhD, Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling
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– Search Scientist for over 7 years
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