Spotlight on... Neil Cameron
Tell us a bit about your running history
Erratic is the keyword here. I did a lot of track stuff as a junior but I pretty much gave it up in favour of other interests, sailing and swimming primaril a\nd I did no running at all actually during my debauched University years.
I really got back into running when I joined the police force some years later. Three months at the Training Centre in Cwmbran and in the Dorset countryside soon got me into shape and hooked me on running and racing again. I’ve never been fitter or faster since. Cwmbran is a rough town and I can highly recommend ‘angry locals’ assisted speedwork around the estates there.
I never looked back from there really although I did dabble in Triathlon for a bit where of course running is still on the menu. Being overtaken by a bloke on a bike with a basket on the front at Blenheim Triathlon one year made it clear that the Brownlee brothers could breathe easy for Olympic selection. So, I gave up and concentrated on just the running and open water swimming.
I joined Totton nearly 4 years ago with the intention of getting faster again. As it turned out, great people, good training, why would you ever leave??
When and how did you come to join Totton Running Club?
I met a girl called Emma Stride at an NCT (learning about babies) class. She convinced me to come along to a session at Deer Leep one evening. It was not a gentle run in the forest with happy, pretty people like in the adverts. Instead a gnarly psychopath (no offence intended Sean), tried to kill me by making me run headlong through the forest, smiling at me all the way. Anyone who has been in a fartlek session with Sean will have experienced this. I’m glad we don’t have bears or wolves in the forest, I would have been easy prey for them by the end of it. I felt pretty good afterwards though so just kept coming along.
How often do you train and what kind of sessions do you do outside of the club?
I get to most Monday sessions and the odd Wednesday, pending other family stuff. Most of my other runs are as and when I can fit them in. I work from home now so this helps a lot and means I can get out during the day sometimes. My general aim is to run 4 days a week. I’ll often fail, but I do get in the pool quite regularly which helps. The next few months will see a big rise in mileage for me. It’ll be interesting to see how I get on with that….
What's the most valuable piece of running advice you've ever been given?
My Grandfather once told me that when interviewed by the BBC about the reasons for my success on the track I should just say that I moved my legs like that (wiggling fingers to look like a running person) faster than anyone else. It was his (rather obscure) way of saying try not to take running, or life, too seriously. It’s supposed to be fun. Still good advice, which I sometimes forget.
Also, more practically, Sean once told me something about running hills which transformed the way I run them. He probably doesn’t realize it but it’s made me look forward to them instead of dreading them.
Where do you like to run and have you run anywhere particularly memorable?
Anywhere wild really. Like many in the club I do love running in the forest. I’ve run in the Forest of Dean a few times and that’s lovely too. However perhaps my favorite place is an obscure part of Plym Valley (near Dartmoor). There are bits of forest there that really do feel untouched by man. Sadly most of my running is pavement based though at the moment.
Do you have any running experiences you'd care to forget?
Like most I guess I’ve had some races where I’ve performed poorly at best. Nothing compares though to the Solent Half. 2014. I’ve struggled in races before but this was like some kind of medieval torture. Hot, hilly, and an over enthusiastic start followed by about 8 miles of unrelenting pain and misery. I was a runined man by 11 miles. People kept stopping to ask if I was OK or needed help. It was a very emotional couple of hours for me. Thankfully I caught up with Gemma at Mile 12 and we ran over the line together which was nice.
What is your running highlight or best achievement so far?
Actually it was watching my son run his first little ‘race’ last year at the Lordshill 10K. He takes after his dad I think because he also cried a little bit at the end! I’d love to see more local races will (small) kids sections in them. It’s great fun.
Do you have any future running goals?
So many. So little time.
1) I’ve really enjoyed being involved on the coaching side of things with Totton, it’s very rewarding. I’d like to do more of that in the future.
2) I’ll never stop wanting to get faster. Honestly though, this is an ego thing and more about being in front of certain people rather than being the best I can be!
3) I’ve entered the Brighton Marathon in the spring which will be my first Marathon. Really looking forward to surviving that. Off the back of that I might try a middle distance Triathlon. Still can’t find a basket to fit my bike though.
4) Complete a 10 mile race without crying at any point.
5) Continue to avoid running any race with the words ‘ultra’ or ‘endurance’ in the title. Or where being electrocuted is considered ‘an obstacle’.
6) Be in a running photo that makes me look good instead of twisted and almost unrecognizable. That’s going to be tough though.
What is more satisfying - racing or training?
Racing. I wouldn’t train at all if it wasn’t for the anticipation of a race. I would likely eat pies instead. I just love the nervous energy before a start. Don’t get me wrong, I love training with the club, but I always have to have a goal race in the diary.
Do you have any pre-race routines or rituals?
Unfortunately yes. It’s nothing to do with warming up or nutrition or anything useful though. My race number must be on straight. It’s something most people don’t take seriously enough. It can make all the difference to a PB attempt. Get it right people!
What keeps you out of trouble Monday to Friday?
My I sell Aerospace components to people much cleverer than me. I have two small children who literally fill all of the rest of my time, despite desperate attempts to avoid them.
Which other running club member do you most admire?
Tricky this, because so many people work hard to make the club what it is. I’ve a particular respect for Shaun who just seems to always be there supporting the club in many different ways. I’ll avoid the obvious other ones then and say then that I admire those who really dig in on a hill, or who always go for the line in a race even if they don’t need to. Two good examples here I think. Shelby Vincent, and of course, my nemesis, Anthony Mostran.