Dewi Griffiths says his excellent year, with numerous personal bests, all comes down to his 80’s running methodology of mixing cross country, road and track running.
The Welshman started in February with a 5K road personal best, breaking 14 minutes for the first time to finish third in the renowned Armagh 5K road race, before winning a record sixth consecutive National Cross County title later that month. His personal best form and adaptability over distances and terrain continued throughout 2017.
A seventh-place finish in the men’s elite race at the Great North Run last week (September 10), where he ran 62:53 to improve his half-marathon personal best by over 30 seconds, demonstrated that the 26-year-old is still vastly improving and should not be discounted after missing out on the World Championships this year.
The Swansea Harriers athlete said: “Going into the Great North Run I felt I was in good enough shape to run a PB because I’ve been beating times that I ran this time last year. I wanted to try and mix it with the best to see where I’d finish, and I knew if I did, a personal best and a top 10 finish were within my reach.
“Before the race, Steve Jones’ advice was to be competitive, so that’s what I tried to do and I think if I can compete like that in future races, hopefully, the faster times will continue.”
Griffiths headed into the Great North Run after a win at the Cardiff 10k one week prior, and while in the past he might have struggled running hard races in consecutive weeks, the Welshman now feels he is more than capable of back to back strong performances.
“I knew the Cardiff 10k would be a decent field, but I felt I was in good shape, so said to myself lets start off hard and just see what happens. I think to win the race one-minute clear and two seconds off my PB in windy and blustery conditions showed the kind of shape of I was in.
“To follow that up with a strong performance at the Great North Run was encouraging. In the past, two big performances in consecutive weeks would have been difficult, but I’m coming to that age now where I’ve built up the strength to be capable of running two big races close together and to be honest, at 26, I should be able to cope with that.”
“I’m hoping to run six races over the next six weeks so we will see how I’m feeling at the end and if I’m still standing,” he joked.
Before September, Griffiths approached the summer primarily focused on challenging the world standard for the 10,000m. He missed out on the time, running a best 28:16.07 at the Payton Jordan Invitational in May, but not to be disheartened he bounced back with two massive runs over 5000m and 3000m.
“The big focus this summer was the 10,000m, and I was aiming to break 28 minutes to challenge the world standard, but it didn’t quite happen. I was disappointed, but to finish the track season with big personal bests over 5000m in Dublin and 3000m in Cork, kind of made up for it,” he said.
Griffiths, who finished fifth in the 10,000m at the European Championships in 2016, said his strength as a runner comes down to his running education over a variety of distances and terrains.
“I think my performances over the years, whether it’s been the mountains, track, cross country or road running, shows that I am a strong runner. Back in the 80’s everyone used to compete across the different events. It would have been the road one week, track next week and so on. I’ve just really followed that mould really, but it doesn’t seem to be as common nowadays with most runners.
“While I enjoy the variation in my running, at this point in time the 10k and half-marathon are probably my better distances and events. But over the years I’ve enjoyed them all especially cross country, the mountains were enjoyable too, and maybe someday I might go back to it,” he added.
Another contributing factor to Griffiths’ success comes down his consistency with coach Kevin Evans, both proud Welsh speakers from Carmarthenshire. Evans previously had coached Andreas Jones, who went on to represent Great Britain at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“Kevin has been my coach for over 11 years now, our relationship is still going strong, we know each other inside out, and training is still enjoyable, so I don’t see any need to change,” said Griffiths.
While Griffiths’ and Evans formed a strong bond, there is also another experienced voice, Steve Jones, a running legend and former world marathon record holder to call upon.
“It’s nice to have a bit of input from Steve Jones, someone both Kevin and I respect. I am fortunate to have to access to his knowledge and experiences and he’s always available if I have questions about anything,” he added.
Griffiths will run the Cardiff Half Marathon in October before making his marathon debut in Frankfurt. Those races aside, the Commonwealth Games next year is the main target, where he hopes to put the bad memories of four years ago behind him. With the Gold Coast Games taking place early in the year, a full cross country season is very unlikely for the Welsh athlete.
“With the Commonwealth Games at the start of April next year, and the team heading out to the Gold Coast in March, I’m not sure if I will do a full cross country season, but I’ll definitely run a few races,” he said. “For the Commonwealth Games, I’ve run the 10,000m qualifying standard and the B-standard for 5,000m so I hope to be selected for both, go there, and run well. Four years ago I ended the race on crutches so I want a more positive outcome this time.”