Q & A with Jon Albon

A few weeks ago we asked folk if they had any questions for Trail Running World Champion Jonathan Albon – here’s a few of the questions with responses from Jon

How many hours do you train per day?
Changes from season to season. In the winter between 20-30 and in the Summer less as I’m racing.

How do you stayed disciplined with your training?
Most training I love to do so that’s no problem. The stuff I don’t like I try to make as fun as possible. Failing this I remind myself of the benefits because they have to be huge for me to do something I don’t enjoy.

Over longer distance how do you keep well fuelled? What’s your go to?
Set an alarm on your watch for ten minutes. Every beep take a sip of your drink. Every second or third take a Sports Jelly (gel). Every few hours take a FeelGoodBar. For longer than 6 hours think about other solid food.

Best advice for improving cardio capacity?
Build a big engine with lots of slow  training and loooong zone 3 intervals. Some weeks before the big race do fast speed work and race pace intervals. Best to find a form of cross training you enjoy so you don’t have to do all your hours on your feet.

How do you set yourself back on track when you feel yo have lost motivation and the will to train?
I stop training until I enjoy it again or find a different kind of training to do.

Do you do a lot of core strength work and what exercises if so?
At least once a week during the winter. Any workout that makes some burn is likely working.

Thoughts on intermittent fasting?
never considered it. Sometimes I get hungry because I forgot to bring enough food and this is enough for me.

Tips for uphill running?
Pick a heart rate, don’t go over it and to pace yourself from the beginning.

What do you think about muscle weight for running where you need to be light but for your Obstacle racing…
If I was super competitive in say the Skyrunning I would want to be smaller. And a little bigger for OCR maybe… However, I just want to be healthy, like a climber that can run.

What’s your favourite speed workout?
20 x 400m with 30 secs break

Toughest thing you’ve ever done?
Running with Stian Angermund-Vik at 4am, the day after doing lots of heavy squats.

What other sports do you practice to improve your running capabilities?
Strength training, mainly legs, skiing and cycling.

Injury prevention methods?
Find a form of cross training that you like as much as running.

Would you eve have a crack at a Bob Graham?
I would love to. At present I a busy enough with racing but I feel that I haven’t experienced enough of the Lakes and to see it all would be pretty fun.

How important is the brain (as opposed to your physical fitness) in accomplishing your race plan during the race?
The mental side of things is massive. In high performance sport I don’t think it is more important than being physically prepared, but it is hard to win if your head isn’t in the right place. I find I doubt myself a lot during the first half of most races and have to keep telling myself to stop thinking. By halfway I am usually in the groove.
If people are simply going out with finishing in mind then I think mental fortitude is everything, because they just have to fight the temptation to stop.

Favourite gear you take on long mountain runs?
Starting to be poles, they help a lot and make a long run a bit more interesting.

Does fear enter your mind on a technical downhill? How do you overcome it?
Not during a race. Too much concentration.

If you could only do one sport, what would it be and why?
Ski touring because it’s really fun and you can do more of it without getting injured.

Do you ever get shin splints, any tips if you do?
Yes. Find a form of cross training with less impact. Roll your foot on a ball. Don’t bother running if your shin hurts. Build up running very gradually. Use 10% treadmill intervals.

Favourite Mountain to run on in Bergen?
Ulriken… I just wish it didn’t have the top cut off so it was 1000m tall (the tops not really cut off… but it does look like it)

Do competitor tactics always come into racing, or do you sometimes just run your own race?
I try to always run my own race and sometimes don’t even know who the people I am racing are. That being said there are small tricks that can help. I don’t usually do these on purpose but some just come naturally. Like laughing, joking, smiling and chatting with competitors in the first half. I am doing this because I am enjoying the experience of the race but most people get phyked out by it because they are so focused and I am looking like I am on a jolly.

What techniques does he use to look after/ maintain his feet in one piece during longer races?
I am fortunate to have built up pretty hardy feet, so my feet look after themselves. I usually run in the socks and shoes I race in though so maybe this is the best thing. Also if I am wearing a new pair of shoes and do feel any rubbings early in a race I find a stream, get the shoes wet, then carry on running and they usually break in much faster.

The best advice to performance?
Be at peace with yourself and how fit you are at the time, otherwise you won’t be patient enough to improve or you will be upset that you used to be better.

Fav pre ‘long run’ meal/snack and do you count macros?
I know how to do macros on excel. Porridge with Mountain Fuel Morning Fuel added and 5 scrambled eggs on bread.

Will you try racing Kilian Jornet this year?
I doubt it. I am sure Kilian has big plans but I don’t think our paths will cross. People have to realise that I am two levels beneath Kilian though. I am working on it, but it takes time…

Did moving too Norway help develop you as an elite athlete?
No, I moved because my girlfriend at the time was Norwegian. Once I arrived my training evolved a lot with far more hill running that jump squats in London parks. Once I moved I didn’t get another job and accidentally become a full time athlete. After 5 years I am finally falling into a groove of not over training and periodizing my training without a full time job to plan around.

Favourite race venue?
Mountains, mountains are one of the last places on earth humans haven’t destroyed because it’s not economical to do so.

How significant a factor in your later success was surviving a week without hot showers on the 2010 Cambridge University Orienteering Club – CUOC training tour?
That week still holds a place as one of the stranger things I have done in my life…and that’s saying something ?

Pic: Limone Skymasters Alexis Berg