Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Interview: Mike Skinner

Last month GB athlete Mike Skinner ran for East Kilbride Athletic Club in the McAndrew Road Relays. This week the club sat down with the runner to discover his passion for the sport.

Just like many athletes out there, Mike, who also works for a sports management company, juggles work commitments during the day and training sessions at night:

“You have to be organized and have good time management skills.” He tells the club.

“When I leave the house in the morning I will normally have kit with me for the evening session or run, some food/snacks for before and after and sometimes shower gear.

“I will normally try to pack all this the night before so I am not rushing in the morning. When I leave the house around 9am I know that it will close to 8pm before I am home again, or on session days even later.

“I’m not going to say it is easy but it is just something you have to do if you want to run well.”

In order to keep running well Mike admits that he has had to adapt his running over the years as he gets older. Skinner, who ran 800m and 1500m in his earlier years has progressed now to completing 5000m and cross country championships:

“Unfortunately I think that is just something that happens with age!

“I have been running for over 20 years now and I have realised that my body doesn’t recover as quickly any more.

“I cannot do enough of the shorter/quality sessions that you need for the 800/1500 and so I have had to move up in distance.

“That being said, it has been nice to have some change as there are new challenges and goals I can set myself.” Added the athlete.

One of the goals that Mike had promised himself was to pull on an EKAC vest and help the club out at a race. Last month he did just that, along with taking the younger kids out for a training session and answering all their queries about his career so far.

Skinner’s first club was Blackheath and Bromley, a south London club, and even do this day he is still a member. When asked if loyalty was important, Mike was confident in his answer:

“Very strongly I do, yes.

“I have been a member of Blackheath and Bromley since I turned ten years old and I owe a lot to them.

“The coaches that gave me so much time when I was younger, the club officials who do so much behind the scenes and the amount of success that I have been lucky to be a part of with the various teams, have all added to the enjoyment that I have taken from athletics.

“Me being a member and representing the club I think is a small price to pay for all it has given me.”
So not only does Mike give back to his first club, as mentioned earlier, he also helped out EKAC at the McAndrew Road Relays.
Skinner, along with the rest of his team, was required to run a 5K road race set around Scotstoun. Of his performance, the GB athlete wasn’t too overjoyed:

“I was a bit disappointed in my own performance.” He commented.

“I would have liked to have run faster but I say that after pretty much every race! I always think I could have done more.
“In terms of the race and being part of the EKAC team I really enjoyed it.

“For so many years I have been promising to come up and represent the club and so I am really glad I’ve done it now and I had a really enjoyable weekend.”

During his weekend at EK, Mike also took the younger athletes out for a training session and answered any questions that they had for him.

Mike admits that growing up he never really had an inspiration that got him into running:
“I am a big Chelsea fan and so I used to like all the Chelsea players but ones that you would never have heard of (I supported Chelsea when they were not as big and successful as they are now!)

“The individual I liked most though was a basketball player, Michael Jordan.” He added.

“Maybe because his name was also Michael but also because he led by example.”

So when he was younger Mike did what every other youngster does and dabble in a number of sports:
“When I was younger I played all sports.” He commented
“Football was my favourite and I played for the school team. 

“As I was in the football team and they knew I loved sport the school entered me in the local primary schools cross-country race.

“I ran in this race and won in a new course record! A coach from Blackheath and Bromley was at this race and asked if I was a member of an athletics club.

“At that stage I wasn’t and so they invited to go to the local track on a Wednesday night for some coaching. This I did and as they say the rest is history!”

For youngsters looking to get into athletics, Mike admits that youngsters need to enjoy themselves and learn to take the good with the bad:

“My biggest tips would be to make sure you enjoy it and don’t get too serious too soon.”

“I don’t believe a 10 or 11 year old should be training 6 times a week and not playing any other sports!

“Athletics is a hard sport and there will be some tough times to go through, be it injuries, setbacks or disappointments.

“But, when you work hard at something and you get the rewards it is an amazing feeling and if you can stick at it I have no doubt you’ll make some great friends and create some amazing memories along the way too.”

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