Olympic legend and GB athletics icon Sir Mo Farah has yet another medal haul in his sights.
The four-time Olympic champion will race the 10,000m at the upcoming British Athletics Championships in Birmingham in an attempt to qualify for the re-scheduled Olympics.
After cementing his legend by clinching gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m at London 2012 – and repeating both feats at the Rio Olympics four years later – Sir Mo switched focus to the road.
But in late 2019, he announced that he would look to defend his Olympic 10,000m gold at the Tokyo Games.
Now, as the Olympics loom into view, and his training and preparation intensifies, he took a moment out to speak to MF.
Men’s Fitness: Firstly, how’s the Olympics prep going?
Sir Mo Farah: Training is going well. The postponement of the games from last year allowed me to take a step back and use the extra time to build a better foundation.
Due to Covid travel restrictions, I’m actually in the US at the moment for my latest camp as I couldn’t go to Ethiopia, but I’m really happy with where I’m at in my preparations. I’m looking forward to getting back to racing on the track.
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MF: Loads of people took up in the past year – what’s your best advice to those new and improvers?
Sir Mo: First and foremost, to enjoy it. If you can’t enjoy it, what is the point?
Don’t do too much too soon. Build up slowly and listen to what your body is telling you.
Get the right pair of trainers, too. You can get specific shoes depending on the type of runner that you are.
MF: In any endurance sport, fuelling effectively is just as important as training right – what are your golden rules of nutrition?
Sir Mo: Nutrition is a very important area for me. One of my first coaches said, “You wouldn’t own an expensive sports car and put poor fuel in it.” And that is how I have to treat my body.
But before anything else happens in the day, I have a coffee. For breakfast I might have toast, or porridge and a banana, then I’ll do my run or session in the gym.
I’ll be taking a sports drink during and after. Then I’ll take lunch, which could be something simple like a chicken-salad sandwich.
I’ll either have another run later in the day, or gym, or both, so I’ll make sure to refuel after that with a protein shake. In the evening it could be a pasta dish – I like spaghetti bolognese.
MF: Runners at all levels have days when they just don’t fancy it, so how do you keep motivation high?
Sir Mo: Just so everyone knows, I do have those days! But I just have to think about what my ultimate goal is, and how I have to really make every day count to get to that goal.
I genuinely enjoy what I do. Running makes me happy. Also, representing my country makes me immensely proud and I want to try to win more medals for everyone.
MF: How has your training evolved over the years?
Sir Mo: When I was younger I thought it was about running faster, for longer, and more often. Now I’m far more in touch with my body and I know what I have to do to be ready.
I’m also more honest with myself, so if I’m tired, I am prepared to take an easy day and push the harder session back.
MF: In the heat of battle – an Olympic final, say – how to keep nerves under control?
Sir Mo: People will laugh at me for this, but I just try to keep things simple. Obviously there’s a lot going on, but if you get carried away thinking about every potential scenario it would be too much and the pressure would build.
I just try to make the most out of each day, then move on.
MF: Who are your toughest rivals these days?
Sir Mo: The Ugandans, Cheptegei and Kiplimo, have been running well, but my experience has taught me to never underestimate anybody.
You know that the Kenyans and Ethiopians will have strong teams, the US has good depth, and so on and so on.
Everyone who stands on the start line will be trying to win the race, so I can just focus on myself and what I can do.
MF: You’re now a Therabody ambassador – how are the products aiding your recovery?
Sir Mo: I’m really excited to be a Therabody athlete, because I genuinely believe the products can help me before and after training.
It’s [percussive therapy] a great way to fire my muscles up for a session, then help with any areas that are tight after.
I’m also loving RecoveryAir after I’ve completed a good workout, because I can lie back and relax while the boots do the work!
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Sir Mo Farah is a Therabody athlete. Therabody is a world-leading tech wellness brand, creator of Theragun Percussive Therapy and provider of an extensive range of wellness solutions.
Interview: Rob Kemp