The inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships will take place this weekend in Cardiff (Wales) where local long distance champion Nic Harman is set to take on a world class field.
A brilliant run in the Australian Half Marathon on the Sunshine Coast in August, saw Nic return home with a bronze medal and a Western Australian ‘best on record’ performance of 64.16. The performance earned him selection for his first Australian team, adding to a growing list of achievements and accolades in recent years.
The event will take place on the 7th of October, where the Commonwealth’s elite will race ahead of an expected 25,000 runners of all ages and abilities on the 13.1 mile course. The Championships also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cardiff Empire Games.
Ahead of the Championships, we caught up with Nic to talk miles and marathons and give us an insight into his world before he made his way to the Welsh capital.
Talk us through your half marathon on the Sunshine Coast - what were your goals going into the race, what was your race plan, how did the pace feel?
Raf Baugh (my coach) and I set a time goal between 64:30 – 65:30 and perhaps looking to be on the podium. The end result on the day was personally better than I anticipated relative to the goals we set. In terms of the race plan – we targeted a pace of 3:05 which was about on pace for Ray Boyd’s 64:37 which he had run in Noosa in the 1999 National Championships. As the race played out on the day, at the 5 kilometre mark I was about 30 seconds adrift from the lead pack; however, I did manage to eventually catch up to them at the 13 kilometre mark when the race had slowed. The pace felt controlled as I was very much running my own race up until the final 5 kilometres where the pace elevated to below 3 minute/kilometre pace.
How did you receive the news of your first Australian selection?
I received a call from Miles Thompson from Athletics Australia that actually woke me up as I had slept through my alarm in the morning for my run.
No doubt the culmination of a lot of hard work, what does the Australian selection mean to you?
It’s a great question, as I haven’t actually given my Australian selection time to sink in with training being the number one priority with the event set for October 7th. I know that I am without a doubt incredibly blessed to be a citizen in a country like ours where we are spoiled with opportunity and provided with every chance to prosper in what ever we choose to do. With that in mind, the fact that I am able to represent these Australian values through my passion in life is deeply humbling and satisfying. I am also aware that many people are not gifted with the opportunity to represent their country so this puts this opportunity the more special.
What are you most looking forward to at the Commonwealth Half Marathon Champs?
As an athlete I am most looking looking forward to engaging in the competition among international calibre athletes. As this is my first selection I have nothing to lose and everything to gain out of this incredible experience. On a more personal note I am looking forward to giving it a red hot crack while sporting the Green and Gold colours along with the national flag on my chest – it doesn’t get much better than that!
What are your goals leading into the championships?
I will probably need to discuss this further with my coach. A time goal would have to be breaking 64 minutes for the Half Marathon. In terms of what this opportunity presents to me as a developing long distance athlete, I will be able to get great insight into competing on a world stage and see how I stack up against the competition. So another goal would be to learn as much as possible from this stand alone race and hopefully use it as a launching pad into what I hope to be more national representation in the near future.
What does your typical training week look like?
Monday – 60 min AM (6 x 10 sec strides after) then 30 min PM
Tuesday - 30 min AM then a PM track session down at AWA Stadium
Wednesday – 85 min AM
Thursday – 30 min AM then a PM Threshold session
Friday – 75 min AM (6 x 10 sec strides after)
Saturday – Tempo session AM then 20 – 30 min PM
Sunday – 2 hour AM Long Run
Favourite part of the training week?
It would have to be Sunday long run that is normally ran with my mate Jack Dunn – he’s great company but his obsession with almond milk is a bit unsettling. I believe strongly that for a distance athlete the long run is the most important run of the week as all the fatigue accumulated throughout the week from the mileage mimics that of a distance event in a way. It’s all about consolidating the training done earlier on in the week ahead of the following week.
Biggest challenge in training?
I find the biggest challenge in training is preventing injury when in key training blocks and also maintaining good mental health. I strongly believe that there is a mental component and physical component to balance when training, the two are supposed to share a form of synchrony. It is when this synchrony is reached, the body as a whole can perform optimally and absorb training load. This balance to me is the key to preventing injury and staying psychologically healthy.
Any pre-competition routines?
Of course a thorough warm up is a must for all runners of all abilities. For me this includes drills and strides after a 20 minute jog to ensure my body is at an optimal level to compete. About 2 hours before this I do take down 1-2 LCM bars for a quick top up of the carbohydrate stores and a hit of caffeine to light the fire before the warm up commences.
Do you get nervous? If so, do you have any strategies to combat nerves?
In a sense I do get nervous before competition, but I regard these nerves as a positive as they allow me to anticipate the competition ahead so I use them to my advantage. Having this anticipation allows me to wire my mind for racing but at the same time I ensure these nerves never hinder my performance on the day. If I had to give advice to someone who was struggling to overcome nerves ahead of competing, I would encourage them to only ever control the controllable and at the very least just embrace their love for the sport by just simply running.
Favourite distance to race?
At this point in time it is the half marathon.
What’s your next big goal following the championships?
Upon returning from the championships Australia will be going into the track season, so the emphasis in training and racing will be track racing. Primarily the goals for the track season will be to run personal bests for the 5,000m and 10,000m.
Where can the WA community watch you race next?
Once I return from the Commonwealth championships I will be racing at the [WA Athletics] Stadium up until the end of the track season. Every track season Athletics WA puts out a timetable that rotates through different track and field events from week to week so there’s every opportunity for one and all to improve on their current personal bests – would be great to see everyone down there.
Any plans to progress to the full marathon?
Raf and I have long planned on progressing to the full marathon with now the intention of making my debut next year - everything permitting. We believe that the best place to compete in the marathon is in Japan given their depth of field, frequency of long-distance road events and climate at the right time of year.