The MST Big Interview - Jonathan Wyatt (Part 2)
In this Part 2 of an exclusive online interview with World Champ Jonathan Wyatt, he talks to us some more about his racing, diet, all time favourite shoe and la dolce vita! For those who missed Pt1 just recap here, and enjoy…
Part Two – Running, food, life and shoes…
MST: There is little that you haven’t achieved in the sport, which races do you still see as a goal from a racing perspective? And do you see yourself returning to the marathon on a serious level?
JW: Of course an Olympic medal is the pinnacle for any sport and that is something that I haven’t been close enough to. I returned to try for an Olympic qualifier in April of this year and it didn’t go well because of a recurring hamstring problem that left me well short of the time.
I read an interesting article on compatriot Rod Dixon – and I think we share one philosophy that has guided our careers. We both run for the joy and lifestyle that it brings. Over the years this might mean we didn’t get some of the ultimate accolades but we believe in what we are doing and get great joy from it. This is certainly the reason why I am still running and I am sure is why Rod has enjoyed such a long and successful with arguably still the worlds best range of results over distances from 800m to the marathon.
I have raced cross country, track and road and mountain running and keeping my motivation and passion for the sport is the most important thing if I am to keep doing the training. I have to love what I am doing and right now I am enjoying off road events and the fantastic places that I am able to train and race in.
I think my road and track times are respectable, I enjoyed tremendously these races but I am always looking for new and interesting challenges to keep me excited. Maybe in the future team race, maybe multisport, maybe longer mountain races and maybe a some more road marathons such as New York. I don’t have a set plan for the future – I just get my Salomon’s on and go running!
MST: You have a deal with Salomon. What are your thoughts on their product? Do you think technologies these days (shoe design, new lycra, compression materials) help the mountain runner?
JW: Yes, Salomon has been a great sponsor but also a great partner. I am working with them to test product and develop some really good technical shoes and clothing that respond to the outdoor environment. They have a nice mix of fashionable product especially relating to the ski style and youthful fashions as well as super technical product that respond to some pretty tough conditions in the mountains.
Salomon is coming out and refining compression clothing by making the structure not only more visible than rivals but also more structural. It means that the tights and calf gaitors provide the right amount of hold (compression) and stretch (comfort). These I use mostly for long runs and where I know my legs will get sore from some descending. They are a great way of reducing muscle soreness and help you recover faster from training.
The shoes we are working on in two ways. Salomon is committed to off road and trail running but we also want to get more people to try it. They have produced shoes in the XT-Whisper (women) and XT-Eagle (men) that offer more cushioning and allow more hobby runners a way of training with a shoe that works well both on road and off road.
The other direction we are pushing shoes and I am working on this project in particular is really refining the off road shoes they handle the technical extremes of off road races but also making them lighter and faster. This is a project that feeds into the S-Lab line of products and our goal is to offer a lighter shoe that doesn’t compromise on the grip, stability and comfort for long and short off road races.
MST: Speaking of shoes, your all-time favourite?
JW: Well – this is a sentimental one and goes back to my teenage racing days when I had to buy my own shoes and shoes from the USA seemed very exotic and cool. I ordered from the US by post a pair of racing spikes – the Nike Internationalist in gold, white and ice blue livery. They were an upgrade for me over a pair of leather Gola spikes that had recently had the spike plate fall off after not only me using them but also a couple of other owners so a new pair of spikes just seemed like such a huge step up in the world!
Out of the shoes I use now favourites for me are – the Salomon S-Lab XT-Wings, and the Salomon Speed Cross. I use the S-Lab a lot in training, which are lightweight but offer cushioning and great stability over technical terrain. The Speed Cross are really comfortable and handle races from every distance including marathons and beyond.
I am now testing the S-Lab XT-Wings for next season and these are going to be even better!
AD: I know in the past you have competed in some multi-sport racing including the Crazyman in Wellington where you won that event. What are your thoughts on the benefits of cross training in general as well as its effects on strength / endurance training?
JW: I would love to get back and do some multi-sport. I cycle because I enjoy it and it takes the muscles away from a pounding situation while still getting cardio and aerobic benefit – also cross country skiing which I am doing increasingly now that I stay for longer periods in Europe. It has been brilliant to work with Salomon in this regard because their passion for off road sports matches mine perfectly and I have access to not only the best products for running on trails and mountains but also I have access to their ski’s including cross-country, touring and downhill, hiking product and some super technical clothing pieces.
I train mostly one run per day, but often head to the gym, mountian bike, road bike, hiking etc as a supplement in the afternoon. I think this also helps with motivation to get out and do something different in a different place.
I think that the priority is the run session which is why I do that in the morning and then if I am not too tired will do a cross training session. This supplements endurance. However I have found that if I do more than two bike rides in a week I feel it in the running so that is my normal limit.
You need to be careful that you still recover well before the next day.
AD: How much importance do you put on diet and is there anything you particularly like to have or avoid?
JW: Just good fresh food. In Italy we eat, pasta, pizze, risotto, polenta, potatoes – all pretty good carb foods but I have chocolate, the Italian espresso is pretty good. I try to enjoy the place and food where I am at and so also some of the local cheese here is ex quality too. But we have access to homegrown veges and lots of fruit. Did I mention the wine? Yes, that’s pretty good here, and with a friend of mine living 40 min away and starting his own cellar its something I enjoy from time to time.
MST: Is your Italian domestic situation long-term for you? Do you plan to return to NZ at some point?
JW: Yes, we are enjoying life in italy (my fiancé is Italian) and it’s a great culture that I enjoy. We will make a house here but also retain close ties with New Zealand.
MST: How is your Italian coming along?!
JW: An important thing to feel more integrated with the lifestyle, I am enjoying learning – not quite fluent but the local people really appreciate when you are speaking to them in their language. There are also strong differences in dialects locally and this does make it more difficult.
MST: Your website contains design and architecture work, how does this feature in your life? Is this something that you will concentrate more on in the future?
JW: I enjoy design and this is one reason for also working more with Salomon. It is a way of combing my love of running with my desire to make better products. I am also interested to work on ways of refining production processes and using materials that are more environmentally sustainable. Over 10 years racing in the mountains I have seen big changes in the levels of the glaciers in this time – one of the most visible signs of our impact on nature. If we are to enjoy running off road – we have to make sure that we preserve these places.
Back to the question though – yes I would like to work more also in architecture in the coming years and back inside this. I have done some projects and I still have an interest to continue with this.
MST: Who inspires you and why?
JW: I am not really inspired by the greats of the sport or in many other fields – but I do take inspiration from people as well as the environment around me and often I get most inspiration from regular people working hard and then going out in their spare time to train and race because its what they love to do. I am inspired by their commitment and for sure it motivates me to improve and also to take some time to talk to kids and people interested in running.
If I have to choose one person then its for sure my fiancé Antonella, for sure she is the person I respect and inspires me most of all in that she balances being a world class athlete herself with a personality that is generous and positive and is infinitely patient with me!!! She had fought back from some problems herself and has earned an Olympic medal but shows modesty and humility and gives a lot back to others in the sport from the youngsters through to older fans.
AD: Finally, you obviously live the sport, do you have a philosophy about life and sport, what keeps you in the game?
JW: I love the running and places that it has taken me over the years. I try not to keep doing the same thing every year so look for new races and new challenges and this has really helped me stay in it for a long time.
A huge thanks must go to Ali Dennis for kind permission for this joint interview and most of all to Mr. Jonathan Wyatt who has made this possible – if only all champions were as accessible!