Were you expecting to come 6th in the 5,000m at the Olympic Games?
No. Well, I was hoping to get to the final. I ran 13:20 in the heats and managed to rest up well after that. In the final I managed to pull it off running 13:08, beating my own Scottish record and setting a new PB.
What does this result at the Olympics hold for you now personally and professionally?
Lots of things are happening. I’m trying to give a lot back to the community and going to a lot of schools to speak to the kids and staff. Just yesterday I was with my old science teacher and talking about when at age 13 we measured our heart rates in class. Mine was around 38/39bpm. At first he didn’t believe it and made me do it again.
Career-wise, my coach Derek Easton and I are considering my options. A lot of doors have opened. Nothing has yet been set in stone yet, but exciting things are coming.
You qualified for the Olympics wearing only one shoe. What happened?
The laces had worked loose and so I kicked it off on the final lap. There was no way I was going to stop as I was on time to beat the Scottish record. In a funny way I think it gave me a bit of a boost. The adrenaline kicked in. Maybe I was running even faster without the shoe than with it on.
You had some excellent results as a youngster with very minimal training. What has your development been like as an athlete?
During school I was playing football and tennis and would show up to my running training sessions only twice a week. Besides that I wouldn’t be out on runs because I found it boring.
It wasn’t until I was 20 when running for the British team in Cardiff that I first really realised my potential. I beat a lot of athletes I respected that day. Two days later I sat down with my coach and said, “Let’s start training properly. Let’s get a proper plan down and see where we can go.”
So with natural talent like that, would you say nature is more important than nurture in developing as a world-class athlete?
I think both are important. I started running a lot more after Cardiff – but I was only running as much as everyone else around me already was.
On 5 March this year I stepped it up again – from then until the Olympics I didn’t have a single day off. Most days I was training twice. I would look around at my competition each morning and think, “well he’s out running. I should be out running as well!” So, yeah I’m trying pretty hard too.
And do you still need to work now to support your running?
My parents supported me financially as I slowly became more serious. Until last November I was working as lifeguard. I’d slowly cut down my hours until I quit altogether and become a full-time athlete. I still didn’t have any money coming in though.
I really want to thank my coach and also my parents for all those home-cooked meals. Now things are changing. After the Olympics I won’t be needing that kind of help anymore. I want to do those people proud.
I think you’ve already done that Andy! What’s next?
I’ve had a bit of a break since the Olympic Games. It’s going to be hard to better a 6th place result at the Olympics – that will be with me for the rest of my life. Next year I will be at the World Championships running the 5,000m again. If I place 6th there I’ll be happy with that, but it would be good to go one better.
How important do you think speed sessions are for runners?
I like to do mixed-pace sessions (also known as fartlek). These involve very intense periods of running, interspersed with slow jogging. When running these, keep the fast sections FAST and the slow sections short.
Joining a local club is great for learning more. To be honest though, just getting your shoes on and getting out every day is the most important thing.
Finally, describe yourself as a runner in one word.
Andy fuels his runs with the help of MyProtein’s Energy & Endurance range. For a full range of products, visit myprotein.com/your-goals/energy–endurance-range.list