Gary Thornton - From Strength to Strength

  • Posted on: 23 March 2006
  • By: Vincent

Gary Thornton has been running with Galway City Harriers since the mid 1990s. His first run was a city schools cross-country race "just to get a half day" but when he came second PJ and Ollie invited him to join the juvenile section.

In this article Gary outlines some of his recent race performances, his training regieme and his plans for the year ahead.

Can you outline your recent racing form?
Last year was the start of some significant improvements. Once I started to work with coach David Burke in May 2005 my training and racing started to improve. Towards the end of last year I showed improved performances in winning the Holloymount 10k (31:19), the Inter-Clubs Cross Country (9th) and a win and PB in the Fields of Athenry 10k (30:34).

My first race of 2006 was in the Stormont International cross country. It has been my best race to date under the new training regime. I was agressive for the whole race and had to mix it with some top athletes. I finished in 29:19, 11th overall and third Irishman (Alistair Cragg 29:09, Seamus Power 29:16).

I then competed in two cross country races in Cardiff and Belgium which didn't go as planned. I was still confident of a good performance in the national indoors and inter clubs cross country.

Can you remember much of the the National Indoors 3000m race?
Yes, the National Indoors took place in the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. This is such a great location and there are truly top quality facilities.

I sat in the group for the first 1100m of the race. Once the pace slowed I thought for about 2 laps about making a move and weighed it up in my mind. I basically was using this race as a springboard for the National cross country the following weekend. I didn't turn up to run a slow tactical race. I wanted a quick time and if that meant doing most of the work for the remainder of the race I was willing to take up the running. So I moved to the front of the group and pushed on the pace.

Gary Thornton at the National Indoors 2006

I gradually wore the group down to four athletes. With 600m to go Joe Mcallister (St Malachys Belfast) made a break for home never to relinquish his lead. I got caught in a massive struggle for silver and was pipped on the line by Dave Doherty (Togher AC).

Initially I was disappointed but in hindsight I ran a 3000m PB of 8.24 off what was essentially a cross country training plan.

And how about the National Cross Country?
Well this was following weekend after the National Indoors. Unfortunately it didn't go as planned. In fact I had a nightmare race, there was never anything in the tank.

Do you know why?
I can account for it now after an in depth look into my training trends over the previous 12 weeks. It's my first winter under Dave's direction so we are both learning what works for me and what doesn't. We took some risks to see how it worked out. Some things worked well, and they'll stay in my training. Others didn't and they have been scrapped for the meanwhile.

So what's your training regieme like now?
I'm running about 80-90 miles per week. A typical week at the moment is something like:

Mon am 5 mile easy pm 8mile easy
Tue am 5 mile easy pm 2-3 mile warm up (Tempo run 30 mins) & 2-3 mile warm down
Wed pm 10 mile easy
Thu am 5 mile easy pm 8-10 mile easy
Friday am 8 mile easy
Saturday am 3 mile warm up 10/12 x 1min hills 3mile warm down
Sunday am 15 mile easy

All of this running is done of a heart rate monitor which accompanies me on every run. My heart rate levels are determined by my V02 Max and lactate levels which I obtain by testing in DCU twice a year. It is a very simple idea which measures your fitness level. The results are used to adapt the training programme. It is definetly working.

I train mostly on Sandymount beach or Ringsend Park near where I live. The sand is great for easy and tempo runs. I usually do my long run in the Phoenix Park with Paul McNamara. In the next few weeks I'll be starting track sessions in Ringsend Stadium with the sessions tuned to the goals for the upcoming season.

And what are your goals for Summer 2006?
My main focus is on the AAA 10,000m and the National 10,000m on the track. I also hope to make improvements across the board of distance races and collect a few more PBs.