THE BACK STORY
Andrew Lemoncello has been one of Britain’s most versatile distance runners of the last decade representing his country for cross-country, mountain running, road running and track, including in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He moved to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2007 where he is married with a young daughter, Isla, who was born in June 2013 with Downs Syndrome. Through some challenging early weeks and months, the family were well supported by the National Down Syndrome Society.
To show the family’s appreciation, last October Andrew made a successful attempt of the treadmill world record for the half marathon raising £20,000 for the organisation. This year, he is targeting a place at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where he hopes to represent Scotland in the 10,000m.
FAVOURITE TRAINING SESSION?
10 X 1K with a one minute recovery. It’s a lot different doing it up at altitude than at sea level (Flagstaff is 7,000ft above sea level). Up here it gets so much harder because the one minute recovery goes by so quickly and you are still breathing hard. That’s one I do when I am building up for a marathon.
LEAST FAVOURITE SESSION?
Any kind of steep hill reps at altitude. You are trying to suck in oxygen in every orifice in your body when you do them up here. Especially the really steep ones, you are tired after the very first rep.
ESSENTIAL PIECE OF KIT?
My Oakley Radar shades because I use them so much. Even in the middle of winter it’s really bright during the day, so I pretty much have them on constantly all year round.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS?
Build up gradually and enjoy it. The biggest mistake for beginners is going from zero to a full week of training. Just building it up gradually can really help you more.
Also, it’s really important for people to go out running with a purpose or it can seem a slog. Knowing what that goal is, whether it is to lose weight or to try to break 2 hours in a half marathon is really important.
FAVOURITE MUSIC TO RUN TO?
Dance music. I like a guy called Tommy Trash. I do some DJ-ing, so I make up my own mixes and playlists that I run with. Usually I head out at 5am to get my training in before my wife goes to work I really enjoy being out on my own and listening to my music.
Really good beer. Flagstaff is a small town, but we have seven micro-breweries and they are all really good. My friends are involved with breweries. I’m off it when I’m in training. But when I’m not training, I’ll head down there and have a couple of pints.
I want to have a really great race at the Commonwealth Games. Maybe go for the Scottish record in the 10,000m? I only have 14 or 15 seconds to find, so it would be great to get back to a level of fitness where that was possible. If I could just get a PB there, that would be great. Then the Rio Olympics would be special. At that point I’ll have to re-assess, I’ll be getting older and my knees will be getting weaker.
WHY GLASGOW 2014 IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME...
Anythime I get to run in Scotland is a real treat for me, it’s the people in Scotland who I used to run against and train with. They are the ones who have helped me enjoy the sport and get to where I wanted to. Running in a stadium packed full of Scots going crazy will be really special. The last two Commonwealth Games I have had to turn down. The ones in Melbourne in 2006 I wasn’t able to do because I had university commitments in the USA. For Delhi in 2010, it was a conflict with a marathon I was trying to run in December and trying to run one before in India would have been too hard on my body.
The Great Edinburgh 10K, probably because it’s so nice to be home and to be able to run with people I used to race against as a kid.
BEING A FATHER HAS HELPED MY RUNNING...
It helps you dig deep when you are suffering out there. You want to make your kids proud of you. Just thinking about her when racing and training has helped me. She has her own difficulties, having Downs Syndrome. She’s really determined and works really hard in her physical therapy sessions. It’s amazing to see from a baby that’s just a few months old. It’s really motivating for me to work just as hard as she does.