Runner Profile:  Thomas Leitch

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Our new ‘Runner Profile’ is a man I recognised at many races before I actually got to know him when we completed our UKA Assistant Coach course together.  Thomas Leitch, a fully qualified physiotherapist from Belfast participated in over forty races last year, which would explain why I continually bumped into him!  Thomas is a talented runner and extremely enthusiastic about the sport, this comes across almost infectiously when chatting to him.

Name:  Thomas Leitch

Current Category:  M40

Associated Club:  Orangegrove AC

Personal Bests:  5k – 18:07, 5 mile – 29:20 10k – 37:12, 10 miles – 1:01:05, Half Marathon – 1:21:54, Marathon – 2:57:49, Marathon (Off Road) – 4:01:31, 39.3 mile Ultra Marathon (Off Road) – 6:17:00

What is your favourite Northern Ireland event?  I really enjoy longer distances, especially off road.  So, it’s close between the Rathlin Challenge Run, Mourne Way Marathon and Glenariff Mountain Race.

When did you start running?   I have been interested in fitness for many years, especially running and cycling.  Two years ago, I joined Orangegrove AC, this has added fuel to my passion for running and I have made many friends and training partners through the club.

Why do you run?  I use it as a form of escapism; it gives me time to think and the opportunity to visit parts of Ireland that I’d never been to before.

What is your next race and what do you want from it?  The Connemara Ultra in April 2013.  I would like to finish it without injury and enjoy the experience.  I cycled part of the route last year when my wife was running and the scenery is fantastic.

What is your favourite training session?   My favourite session would be a trail run of approximately one and a half to two hours.  I also enjoy recovery sessions on the bike and using strength and conditioning sessions which include Pilates.

What is your favourite pre-race and post-race snack?  I usually have an early breakfast of porridge, fruit and coffee usually three to four hours before a race.  Post-race, I try to hydrate immediately then eat whatever I feel I can cope with and I am a fan of (my wife) Elizabeth’s double chocolate brownies!

What is your running ambition?  I’d like to remain injury free and enjoy running for the next 40 years!!

What would you consider your greatest running achievement to be?  This year I completed 40 races which included all eight half marathons in the ChampionChip Half Marathon Series, The Great North Run, Athlone ¾ Marathon and two marathons!  For 2012, my goal was to race as often as I felt able, for 2013, I want to focus more on quality rather than quantity, a maximum of twelve races.

What other sports do you like?  I am a keen road cyclist and have competed at the World Duathlon Championships. As a physiotherapist and athletics coach, I enjoy teaching Pilates and advising athletes on how to reduce injuries and achieve their goals.  I am currently working towards my coaching award and I have recently been helping out with the juniors at Orangegrove.  My coaching experience is something I hope to develop over the coming months, with aim of gaining success with our junior athletes.