Monday, 13 February 2012

Chasing Olympic qualification - Paul Martelletti interview

At this time of year we are beginning to hit the peak of marathon training in Europe, so I want to up the content on the blog to help focus minds in those crucial last weeks of training, when we’re sharpening the opportunity to hit personal bests.

One runner currently sharpening their condition is Kiwi Paul Martelletti of Victoria Park Harriers. Known in the club as both a friendly and exceptionally quick runner, he has improved to Olympic standard level (A PB of 2:16:49 over 26.2 miles). This is a particular source of interest given the club is the nearest to the 2012 site.

Marders” is a dedicated runner (he has topped out at 162 miles some weeks) having worked at a talent he first realized as a young student in his native New Zealand. After returning to endurance running prior to coming to the UK, he is now knocking on the door of the Kiwi selectors, to be their representative in London this summer. 

Last year, Paul finished 14th in the Berlin marathon - the fastest ever race over the 26.2 mile distance - and recently tried to finish in the top 10 of the Xiamen race, in order to qualify for the NZ Olympic  ‘A’ standard. Unfortunately it didn’t go according to plan and in some discomfort, he came home in 20th place in 2:31:24

I was keen to understand the training and psychology required to finish in the top 20 of a major marathon, competing against the best in the world. What does it take to go from being a good runner to running with the elite?

In describing going from good to better, Paul identifies that having set his goal to improve, it was necessary to up his mileage and run more! As Bud Baldaro advocates, there’s nothing better for getting quicker than having worked up some serious volumes of miles.

Having developed his self confidence through running more miles, I asked how important Paul thinks the mental aspects of racing are. He stressed how crucial your mental state is in the latter stages of a race, as it can “get you down, if you allow it.” 

He anticipates the final stages to be hard so prepares in training accordingly.

 I asked whether he used visualization as a technique prior to or during races. He said he tries mentally running his splits prior to race day. Whilst visualising, he's anticipating what to expect, to kinesthetically ‘feel’ how he will experience the race to the finish line. 

Taking a good look at the race finish helps him complete race preparation. For more detail, check out his account of preparation prior to the Amsterdam marathon and how it helped him how to judge his finish to reach a personal best.  

He doesn’t necessarily identify any racing edge to achieve his positions and times, but the effect of competition makes him run faster. That and the fear of spoiling his stats! In January, Paul ran in China to try and finish the top 10 of a recognized race to get an ‘A’ standard for the marathon, and a place on the team. Having not achieved this, he is now aiming at either the London or Rotterdam marathon to get the time needed to run in London 2012. 

Overall, having the chance to qualify for the Olympics is something that 2 or 3 years ago he wouldn’t have thought it even possible so it is a bonus to possibly be joining the best athletes in the world. He says that if it doesn’t happen, that its not end of the world. There’s also the 2016 games, the Commonwealth games and Worlds. But being the best New Zealander is on his radar and something he is striving for.  Given that he posted on his Twitter account yesterday that he won the Sidcup 10 mile in 50 minutes 27 (after 21 miles the day earlier and a 110 mile week), it shouldn't be too long before that target is reached. Good luck in going for the NZ marathon place Paul!

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