The Welsh athlete chats about her superb performances this year and gives an insight into how she trains.
When Charlotte Arter ran a PB 32:15.71 at the recent Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs to finish third overall and first British athlete, it was the culmination of years of hard work and consistency in training.
The Cardiff AAC ace shot to the top of the 10,000m UK rankings with her dominant display of endurance running at the Parliament Hill track, ahead of US-based exciting talents Alice Wright and Charlotte Taylor. Her time also places her 23rd all time, no small feat for an athlete who works full-time and has only been with her current coach for a year and a half.
We caught up with the 26 year-old after her Highgate success, which followed similarly impressive victories in the Cardiff 5k and the Brighton 10k earlier in the year, along with a third place at the inaugural Big Half Marathon in London, and a strong performance at the World Half Marathon Championships.
Fast Running: Congratulations on your phenomenal run at the Night of 10,000m PBs! Could you tell us about the race from your point of view?
Charlotte Arter: Thank you! This was the third time I’ve raced Highgate and it’s one of my favourite races of the year. This year’s event was certainly the best one yet.
The atmosphere was amazing and the bridge allowing spectators on the inside of the track heightened this even more.
Credit to Ben Pochee and his team, as this sort of event is great for British distance running.
I couldn’t have been happier with the end result, to secure my spot for the European Championships, my first major championships on the track, and to take bronze and finish silver as a team in the European Cup made it even better.
The race didn’t pan out as expected, I certainly wasn’t planning on being at the front of the chase pack! The plan was to tuck five-six down the line, but after the first lap I found myself near the front, so just tried to stay relaxed.
I felt good around 5000m so I decided to push on, and the crowds on the back and home straights certainly made the last half go much quicker and easier!
FR: You’ve made significant improvements over every distance in the last 18 months – to what do you attribute that to?
CA: Consistency. I’ve been coached by Chris Jones (I was coached by James Thie before Chris) for just over 18 months now, and in that time I’ve been consistent in terms of mileage, sessions and gym work, and it’s all just come together this year.
FR: Your 10,000m and 10k times this year have been world class, do you have key sessions you can tell us about that have helped you achieve such fantastic results?
CA: I think this is down to a much bigger aerobic base which has developed over the last few years. I would say it’s a combination of this and two key sessions a week of larger volume which has led to the improvement over the longer distances.
An example of a 10k type session would be 2-mile tempo, 6x600m, 1-mile tempo, 8x400m.
FR: You run for Cardiff, do you train with them? If not who do you train with, do you have a group, or do you run mostly on your own?
CA: I do most of my runs on my own, which I‘m quite happy doing and it’s often easier when fitting runs in before and after work. It’s a chance to switch off, put the headphones in and zone out.
I try to link up with the other distance groups in Cardiff for sessions, especially in the winter, but generally speaking, most of my training is solo.
FR: What do you do for a living or are you a full-time athlete?
CA: I work full time at Cardiff University as a Performance Sport Officer, effectively coordinating the High Performance Programme for student-athletes, which I really enjoy.
They have been great with providing me with some flexibility in terms of training and racing.
FR: Do you have a strict nutrition plan, or have you just worked out what works for you to enable you to be fuelled up and to refuel properly for each session?
CA: I have no strict nutrition plan, I just try to make sure I have a good balanced diet and fuel and refuel the best I can. I’m all about the balance and often enjoy a G&T or wine most weekends!
FR: What does an average training week look like for you?
CA: A typical week is anywhere from 75-85 miles. I have two sessions a week, usually Tuesday and Friday with about 6-8 miles of work on the track or road.
All other days consist of easy aerobic running ranging from 7.00 – 6.30 pace with usually two runs a day, before and after work.
Saturday tends to be a rest day and Sunday a long run of 14-15 miles, sometimes on hilly trails and other times on the road, where I will build the second half of the run. I’m also in the gym before work Monday and Wednesday.
FR: What’s the focus race-wise before the European Championships?
CA: My next race is the NYRR mini-10k in New York on June 9th, which I am really looking forward to.
I’ve no other races are planned yet, but I will look to get on the track racing some 3000m and 5000m as well as a bit on the road, with the main focus getting in the best shape possible for the Europeans in August.
FR: Can you tell us a little about your time in America, and how much that experience has shaped you as the athlete you are today? Do you think we should adopt a similar system here in the UK?
CA: America was amazing, I had the best time out there both from a running perspective but also the lifestyle. It was a great way of life and the 300 plus days of sunshine in Albuquerque certainly made it more enjoyable!
I’m glad I did my undergraduate degree in the UK to experience university life and develop as an athlete though. Going to the US to do my post-grad then allowed me to further excel my athletics career and live the life as a full-time athlete.