• Club: Hastings Runners

  • Status: Coach

  • Race Wins: 40+

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  • Select your key races early in the season & plan your training around these.

  • Don’t over race, use non-key races as hard training runs.

  • Warming up – the importance of this cannot be over emphasized!

  • The shorter the race distance, the longer you should be warming up beforehand.

  • Always include one speed session per week, even if training for a Marathon.

  • Running inside your race pace improves your cardiovascular capacity, running form and pace judgment.

  • Run tall, run relaxed ….. try to run as smoothly as possible

  • Make sure that your arms are gliding nicely by your side and not waving all over the shop

  • Rest Days are key, at least 2 a week from running to allow your body to recover, especially after a hard race.

  • Have an easy 2-3 days prior to a key race, so that you are raring to go when you line up on the start line!

  • Cross training such as swimming and cycling. Espcially as you get older to combat muscle loss and wear & tear.

  • Being influenced by how others train. Every runner is different and should plan accordingly

  • Running on an injury. You could make it worse and need a long layoff

  • Running 10 miles the day before a 10 mile race is not advisable (Oops)

  • Make sure you check the start time of a race. You ain’t winning if you turn up late.

  • Never assume a course is the right distance. Often they are slightly longer.

  • Don’t run a course blind. Check the route online or on strava to prepare

Nick Brown

Written by Simon Linklater

Posted 16th June 2019

What is so humbling about the running community is the free time individuals are willing to give up in an attempt to encourage others to participate and also achieve their goals.

Without these leaders in our society, many aspiring runners would simply avoid taking that leap of faith. But with gentle encouragement and guidance so many have benefitted and reaped the rewards by getting fitter and improving their mental health.

Nick Brown is one of those leaders.

He’s taken his experiences and lessons gained from running at a high level for over 20 years, to spur others to get involved and help them fulfil their potential. We should all be thankful for inspirational leaders like Nick.

Nick Brown is a coach for Hastings Runners. Now in his early 60s he is able to share his wisdom and knowledge to help fellow runners improve their technique and performance.

But despite taking over 1000 Track Sessions for the club, doing weekly efforts sessions for 6 years and setting up the juniors, Nick still felt there was more he could do.

Alongside his wife Helen and friend Peter Cocker, he played a huge role in bringing Park Run to Hastings in 2015 and for 3 years was responsible for recruiting new Race Directors and allocating volunteer roles each week.

Nick also set up a Walk2Run scheme in Hastings which set out to introduce complete beginners to running. Weekly sessions helped inexperienced runners build up their stamina and confidence until they were ready to take on a 5k race.

Nick estimates as many as 80 runners have completed his Walk2Run courses and seeing individuals lose weight or improve their self esteem through running has given him great satisfaction.

Nick himself was an excellent runner, but he has an air of humility about him these days and rarely talks about his own achievements when coaching. His running story begins with him Mum. He talks about her achievements with great pride. Before Nick was born she was the Surrey & Kent County Champion at both 400 and 800 metres. She finished 2nd in the National Junior X-Country and was on the brink of being selected to represent Great Britain in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

Whilst running was in his blood, it wasn’t until his mid 20s that Nick took up the sport himself and he was never a born winner at school. It was when he moved South to Hastings and joined the local Athletics Club his times began to improve. It was a great era for the sport with the Ovett v Coe rivalry sparking a real surge in popularity and many say the overall standard back then was far better than it is today.

A busy lifestyle which involved 13 hour work days in the City meant Nick had to find time to fit in his training and lunch time runs were a common part of his plans. He joined Dulwich Runners for whom he still represents today and would train with them in midweek after a long day in the office. A common excuse we hear among runners these days is “I don’t have time”, Nick’s reply to that is simple “You make time”. He did.

Winning races soon became a habit. In total Nick won as many as 40 races and became the No.1 athlete in Hastings Runners for 15 years. He boasts a hugely impressive 10k PB of 34:37 which he clocked in Brighton in 2005, some 17 years after his previous 10k best of 34:49.

He won the first two stagings of the Beckley 10k in 2005 and 2006, a race still going strong today. This was around the time Nick’s marriage ended, but rather than sitting around and feeling sorry for himself he set himself the goal of running a 10K PB. He pushed himself harder than ever in training, focusing on intense 3 or 4 mile sessions to improve his speed & beat his achieved his goal in Brighton in ’05. He’s now able to look back fondly on his efforts during that tough time and it’s just further evidence of how running can help during our darkest moments.

A few years later he met his current wife Helen through Hastings Runners and quickly set about helping her improve her times. It wasn’t long before Helen was smashing out 5K’s in 22 minutes thanks to some words of wisdom from her new husband.

With his 50th birthday fast approaching Nick took on the challenge of competing in the East Sussex Sunday XC League for the first time. He was in the category M40-49 so was up against runners almost 10 years younger. Not only was he competitive but he won his age category with a race to spare. He was the only runner to finish in the Top 10 in all 6 races and capped off the season finishing a close 2nd at Pestalozzi Village.

Representing Dulwich in Road Relays has been a huge honour for Nick. Since 2007 he’s competed against some of the best runners from all over the country and after some agonising near misses the team were able to claim Silver in 2012. In 2013 in the BMAF National Relays the team won a Bronze in the Masters Road Relays in Birmingham and a Silver in the Cross Ccountry relays in Derby. Both in the MV55 category. A bronze at Crystal Palace in the M60 Category in 2017 also followed.

It wasn’t all success though and Nick admits to some classic mistakes he’s made down the years. Once he was so nervous about a 10 mile race he went and did a 10 mile run the day before, including up the steepest hill in Hastings, trust me it’s brutal. Safe to say come race day, nerves were the least of his problems.

That’s probably not as foolish as forgetting to check the start time of a race. Nick and his good friend Martin Noakes arrived at Hellingly in fine fettle at 10am ready for the expected 10.30 start, only to find their competitors on the start line ready for the gun to go off. Martin was not happy.

Nick is a fanatical Park Run tourist and so far has clocked up 48 different venues. He set himself the goal of holding 10 Age Category records simultaneously and came agonisingly close to achieving this feat. With 8 locations in his pocket for the quickest time in the M55 category, Nick was just 2 short.

He made the 130 mile round trip to compete in the Bognor Park Run and was all set to make it record number 9 only to miss out because the course was slightly longer than 5km. He was 1 second off the record that day. By all accounts the Race Director at Bognor is not on Nick’s Christmas card list. The record at Canterbury also alluded him by a second.

Unfortunately injuries have taken their toll. Nick believes his running technique and natural forefoot strike has played a bit part. 6 of the last 12 seasons have been lost to injury and watching fellow runners claim prizes in his age category has been a tough pill to swallow. A recent knee operation has left the future in doubt in terms of running to his true potential again but the doctor did say it’s the best recovery he had ever seen, so there is still hope.

Despite the frustration of not being able to run, Nick continues to help others through his coaching. If I had a pound for every time Nick cried “get those arms moving Simon”, I’d be writing this poolside from my Spanish Villa.

If you have an experienced coach like Nick Brown in your club, don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. Their wealth of knowledge is there to be shared and if they are anything like Nick they will be more than happy to take time out to chat to you and help you improve your running.

Be Like Nick.

#BeaRunnuR

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