Going the distance – Steve Gibbs

Every Month we now feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A.
This month it's Steve Gibbs.






When did you first start to run?
It was during my last year of middle school, so I would have been 11 years old. At this point I was a keen swimmer, swimming for my local club and county. Our PE teacher entered a group of us into the Great Yarmouth Schools Cross Country at Somerleyton Hall. Apart from a few practise laps around the school field I had never experienced a cross country before but was told it would be muddy so ran in my football boots. I managed to win the race and went on to run for Norfolk Schools. After this I was invited to join my local athletics club Great Yarmouth and District Athletics Club, where my passion for track and field and running really took off. The rest as they say is history.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
I love the simplicity and freedom of running. The fact you can just get out there and do it with very little organisation and planning. I do also love the way running mimics so many other things in life, you only get what you put in. There no cheating it. The most rewarding part of running to me is when you have a tough race or session where you push your body way past the point when your mind tells you stop. I love to experience and test myself constantly.


What’s your biggest running achievement?
I have been very fortunate to have achieved and experience some great things through running and feel fortunate to love a sport that I happened to be ok at. I don’t tend to talk too much about my biggest achievements, but these would include representing Norfolk and Wales in 800m/1500m and Cross Country along with a GBu20 vest for Cross country. Qualifying for the championship start at London Marathon is also up there as I remember watching the Marathon every year as a 12-13-year-old on the BBC telling all my family that one day I will run it. But I do have to say that my biggest achievement by far is being the 2-time reigning champion of the The Braydeston Mile.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?

Haha, Who knows! If I could have been a sprinter I would have, but unfortunately, I’m not very fast. Joking aside what motivates me is the total challenge of testing you body and more importantly you mind, seeing how far both can be pushed. Your head will always tell you stop way before your body needs too and I love testing myself to see how far both can be pushed. Distance running can not be cheated. You cannot turn up to a race without training and expect to perform. This is what motivates me to get out and put the miles in, knowing that the guys I will be racing are doing the same. That is why I believe there is so much mutual respect between runners of all levels as we all know how much work and effort each of us has put in to be on the start line.


What kinds of things do you think about as you run?
Not a lot really. My wife often asks me this question and honestly, I don’t really think of anything. I am not a deep thinker in life anyway. Obviously, I am always listening to my body and how it is performing, thinking about pace, cadence, driving forward through you toe, the normal stuff, but I have also been known to totally switch off on longer steady runs and run past roads I was supposed to turn down, not realising for a mile before turning around or adjusting my route.

On the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?
I do still get nervous before any race. I think this is a good thing as it shows the race means something to you and that the body is preparing itself to work hard. I wouldn’t say I have any superstitions that if I didn’t do would stress me out, but I do like to wear a brand-new pair of socks for an important race. The rest is more of a tried and tested routine that I know works well for me. I will have the same breakfast, wear some compression tights the day before and morning of the race to give me that light leg feel and get to the venue early to have a good warm up. For races like London Marathon where you can buy lots of event t-shirts or items with the event name and year on it, I don’t like to get anything until I have completed the race.


What’s your next race?
My next goal race is the Virgin London Marathon, where I will be starting on the Championship start. I will race 2 half marathons before this about 5-6 weeks out. These will most likely be the Coventry Half Marathon and Colchester Half Marathon. They are both races I have done before and offer very different challenges on the course which make them ideal for my marathon preparations. If I can find a 10K a couple of weeks out from London I will also race that.

What’s your favourite running shoe?
I am a self-confessed shoe geek so love to have lots of running shoes. I do try and run in several different shoes of differing styles depending on the session or race I am doing. At the minute I am loving my On-Running collection. I train in the On Cloudflyer and On Cloudflow for my longer sessions and the On Cloudrush for more tempo runs. For the marathon I plan to use the On CloudX which a nice lightweight shoe which offers a great level of cushioning for the longer distance.


Who’s your running hero?
I have lots of running hero’s as I can’t think of anything better than watching track or road races and often sit watching older races on YouTube. In no particular order, Steve Prefontaine, Hicham el Guerrouj, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Ryan Hall, Eliud Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang, Wilson Kipketer, Neil Featherby and Richard Sales. All honest athletes that work hard and make it a true run race. Not frightened to force the pace and lead when required.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
What can I say. Where else can you work with a bunch of like minded crazy people who are all totally focused on providing good honest advice about everything to do with running but can also back it up with tons of qualifications, knowledge, and experience. For me it’s the perfect place to work. I get to talk about running all day with a group of people who share my passion. I love hearing and talking to all our customers, hearing about their running goals and challenges as well as helping them progress further.


You can catch Steve at Sportlink Halesworth where he's based as the manager of the store.