A “refresher course” in correct running technique paid immediate dividends for Horsham runner Paul Atherton when he broke through for his first win in two years in the five kilometre Community Axis handicap, held at Haven near Horsham.
Having recovered from a nagging hamstring complaint that was slow to respond to treatment and exercise, Paul, 44, was frustrated that he wasn’t converting diligent training into race-day performances.
During the recovery process, his weight had soared to 88 kilograms, but hard slog on the training track and “calorie counting” had reduced that to 70 kilograms before the start of the race.
“It was (fellow Horsham athlete) Simon Coutts who asked me if I’d thought much about running technique, which got me thinking that maybe that was the answer,” Paul said.
“So I got onto the internet, various sites and experts, and figured out that I was losing efficiency by landing on the back of my heels. I’ve started running more on the ball of the foot and it’s meant almost instant improvement.”
In preparation for last Saturday’s race, Paul participated in a 5km time trial with the regular Horsham running group and ran a strong 22.13 minutes.
That run seemed to “clean out the pipes.” Revelling on the flat and fast course at Haven he ran a dashing 21.02 to overpower the evergreen front-runner Gary Saunders in the last 500 metres to beat the ever-reliable Sharon Howden by 13 seconds, with Gary hanging on for third.
“I’ve started to think I’m becoming a bit of a flat tracker,” the winner continued, “but that’s OK because now I’d like to focus on trying to run a 5km in under 20 minutes. I think my hamstring problems started after running a marathon, so I don’t have one of those on my agenda for quite a while yet.”
Chanel Scollary, who had a sizeable winning margin over a determined Alex Boan at the finish, won the Sub-Juniors division of the race.
By Keith Lofthouse