GB Cross Country runner Tom Anderson is one of Southampton University’s finest athletes and recently received his Full Colours at the Athletic Union Awards Ball. Tom has had a fantastic year competing in the European Trials in November, the BUCs Championships in February and the World University Championships in April. The Scene caught up with him to talk about Olympic Trials, America and Inception because eve n GB athletes need some downtime.
So Tom, what are you studying?
I study French and Linguistics and I’m now in my fourth year having taken a year abroad last year in Grenoble in the Alps. I had a great time, it was only a few hours flight from here. I did lots of skiing and not much running. I didn’t really race much Cross Country last year because I was in France.
What about the Summer track season, did you compete then?
Yeah, I competed on the track last summer and despite the fact that I’d had a year out it went really well. I didn’t really know what to aim for and just enjoyed it. I competed in the 5000m, which I would say is my favourite but it’s not really. I found my niche in the 3k and 5k last year though. I always knew that this year was going to be intense so it was good to have a more relaxed track season.
What’s your current training regime like and how do you manage with training and a degree?
It’s really hard, training is such a massive part of my life. In a way, I’d say that lectures fit around the training because I find it really hard to let a training session slide. I always have time for training because it’s what I want to do. I’d say I probably train around 10 hours a week, which includes running, circuits and gym sessions.
Do you do any warm weather training?
I went to Portugal warm weather training with my training partner Phil. He competed at the European Cross Country Championships, we’re at about the same level and we’re both trained by my dad. We’ve known each other for about five years and he’s my best mate.
Is there rivalry between you, say when you compete together?
Actually I’d say that when Phil and I race together, it’s more he and I against everyone else. It’s nice to have someone else you know in the race with you, and we push each other. At the World University Championships he shouted ‘Get Up, Hurry Up’ at me.
How did you find the experience of competing at the World University Championships?
It was amazing, I’d love to do it again and again. I learnt a lot about myself, about training and about making the next level. It was the first competition that I’ve competed in at that level and it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve done big races but they’ve never been that quick. I just went with the pace and held on for as long as I could. For the first three-four laps it kind of worked, then it started to go backwards. I’m happy with my performance though. It was more about the experience and it was definitely a positive. Especially because I don’t get as nervous now, well I still get nervous but not in the same way.
How did you do at the BUCS Championships in Cardiff this year?
I came 7th, it was an awesome day. I wasn’t expecting to do anywhere near as good as I did, I just ran and didn’t think about it too much. The team were fantastic.
Why didn’t you expect to do so well?
I had some kind of glandular, nasal infection and felt tired a lot of the time, it was horrible. I managed to keep up training, but not as much so I guess my legs were pretty fresh for BUCS. The sad thing was that Phil, my training partner, went to the Europeans while I was recovering from illness, I’d have liked to have gone.
Tell me a bit about your coach who also happens to be your dad…
My dad is an ex international Marathon runner, he competed at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur so I guess I have big shoes to fill as an athlete. I’ve always been inspired, growing up in that environment. His knowledge is amazing, I’m very lucky.
So, what’s up next?
I’ve got a low key 1500m this weekend ahead of the BUCS Outdoor Championships the following weekend. I’m competing in the 5k and I’m really excited. It’s really good that the University gets the opportunity to race at the Olympic Stadium, the depth of the competition will be stronger so if you want win a medal you need to run really, really well. We have a 25 strong team which is brilliant. I achieved a lot this winter and as a club we achieved a lot at BUCS Cross Country Championships. We’ve had results and recognition. The whole club has worked really hard. I don’t think we’d be going to the BUCS Outdoor Championships if it wasn’t for Jon the Club President.
Do you have any more big competitions planned for the Summer?
I’m hoping to go to the Olympic Trials, in Birmingham on the 23rd and 24th of June because I’ve already run the 5k qualifying time which is 14.20 as my PB is 14.10.5. I went to the World Trials last year and ran with Mo Farah, I’ve been watching him as a runner so I was completely star-struck. I’ve got to be a whole minute quicker to go to the Olympics though and it will take years to get it down.
Do you think that you are on course for the Rio Olympics in 2016?
I’m planning on going to the States for two years to do an MA in either Linguistics or teaching English as a foreign language. Probably to Chicago, the University of Illinois. I’ll be under the guidance of another coach but still be coached by my dad. I’ll know after those two years about Rio. But at the moment I couldn’t be happier about how things are going.
With exams approaching how are you feeling?
With exams and BUCS fast approaching I know I don’t do myself any favours. When it comes to work I’m just like ‘go away.’
How do you relax? I’m guessing you must have a pretty busy schedule.
To be fair I don’t really de-stress, I’m pretty highly sprung all the time. But I watch movies, I love Inception. I watched the Social Network recently and I thought it was fantastic. I play XBox and I do normal stuff.
We wish Tom and Southampton University Athletics Club all the best at the BUCS Outdoor Championships. Tom is definitely an athlete to watch in the future, Good Luck at the Olympics Trials.