High flying junior and number 1 ranked* club member Tom Webb talks about how he manages his training between his triathlon commitments and the successes he has already achieved.
Interview - January 2024
When did you start running/what got you into running?
I have always been active and sporty. I would say that Parkrun in Taunton was a big factor in me starting running, it seemed like it was quite easy. I then saw that there was a course record for U10’s and I wanted to get it. I remember dad took me for a big breakfast after I beat it, and it has kind of gone on from there. I liked running, it was not a chore to me and when I realised I was quite good at it, I liked it even more.
I attended Bishops Henderson Primary School in Taunton and there was a really good sports teacher there called Mr Low. He pushed me on and was a standout in my sport. He organised for us in Year 4 to attend the Somerset Schools Athletics Champs which was a series of events held at my eventual school, Millfield.
Somerset Athletics Champs at Millfield 2016
I went and I won which was not really expected against the big schools. It set the fire for me I think, and dad got some photos which I think will be shown a few times in my life regardless of sport! It shows the importance of education and sports and having people really dedicated to making you better.
My first success at my eventual home track and school!
I had a nasty injury in my heel linked to growing when I was about 12 and it lasted for 2 years, it was very frustrating as my running basically stopped and I moved more towards cricket. Thankfully it cleared up almost overnight, so it was great to start picking things up again and shortly afterwards and without a club I joined WCH! Kids that had been beating me were suddenly looking over their shoulder and it just made me more determined to win. I set a 800m record at Taunton Prep School that had been around for decades. Parents were not allowed in the school to watch due to Covid but my dad managed to climb some sort of tree or something to watch from afar…. I think one local resident had some concerns!
Taunton Parkrun 2019
I started front running at a very young age it seems, still haven’t learnt!
How long have you been a Wells City Harriers member for?
I have been running for WCH now for about 2 and half years. I train at school so I don’t make the club nights unfortunately, but I would like to at some point. Paul Chadwick really looked out for me and made me feel welcome from the very start. I think things like this make a huge difference to feeling part of a club.
Do you have a running 'hero' or someone that inspired you to run?
I was just 4 when Mo was part of ‘Golden Saturday’ at the Olympics, but I have seen the replays and he is amazing. I think that Alex Yee in Triathlon is my inspiration…. He ran a sub 28 10k a few years ago in the UK Champs and could easily be a pure runner but is an Olympic and Commonwealth Games medalist in Triathlon, he is well known for his brilliant run leg of Triathlon so he is someone good to try and follow. I also like Jacob Ingebrigtsen.
What runs do you enjoy the best?
Fast ones, faster the better and the runs where you know you are improving speed and fitness. I race quite a bit, but I use a lot of the races as experience and link them to Triathlon where I have to train a lot. I have been doing a lot more aerobic conditioning in the past 12 months but overall, I am quite careful of how much impact training I do, and I am able to do that with my cycling and swimming.
What distance races do you enjoy running?
I think my best distance is 3000m on track although I love road 5k running. Triathlon will eventually be 5 and 10k running and maybe further so I need to be at my best in those distances.
I do a lot of 1500m’s and some 800’s but mainly for speed work and they are good fun.
Where is the best place you have run?
It would have to be either California where my dad and I ran along the boardwalk of a massive beach and also Athens during a Biathle because I was in front, and I knew I was going to win a big event and there were loads of people cheering me on.
California running 2018.
In this country I am going to say Yeovil Track. I was super proud to set a Somerset record in the 3000m there last year. It is really bad to hear about the issues they face with possible closure when lots of kids just like me use it as their local competition venue. I hope it can be saved from closure as I love running there and for Yeovil Olympiads.
Athens Biathle Euro Champs 2022
You are a triathlete. How do you schedule your training to include running, swimming and cycling?
This is the hardest part by far. It is very tricky. I love cycling, it’s probably my strongest of the three sports but it doesn’t really win the Triathlons I do. I do more swimming than the other two sports put together. I have been improving my swim with the aim of getting to the run at or near the front and then I feel really confident that my running will be effective. I use Training Peaks and my dad has used it a lot and works it all out. He is data mad and says that he can predict my performance and I hate to admit it, but he is often right!!
I was selected to be a member of the Southwest Triathlon Academy and they form part of the wider national set up. They give lots of advice and education around combining the sports, so it is really important to my development.
I do somewhere between 9 and 16 sessions of training a week and that can be pretty hard to balance but I try to stick to a routine and work hard. Overall, that is all that matters, just being motivated to train and hard work. Running is a huge part of it all. I want to get to a place where my run is as best as it can be and use it either as running only or as the last leg of a Triathlon.
Do you have a preferred event in the triathlon? Do you see yourself specialising in one as you get older or is the plan to continue as a triathlete?
It has to be cycling, I love it, but I know I need to keep things very broad. I would like to race bikes but there are quite a few risks. It is still my favourite sport though and I have been doing Time Trials and doing well; they are a bit safer. I got a mountain bike for Christmas this year and that is really good, being out in the countryside is nice.
I don’t want to commit to anything for the next 18 months or so and see where we are. I think I will have more of an idea after this season's British Super Series in Triathlon and certainly next year because the run distance doubles to 5k and that will help me.
I think I would do pretty well if I was a pure runner, but I don’t see the need to commit to that at the moment as I have plenty of time. I am enjoying training and competing as I am and hopefully things fall into place!
Do you/did you participate in any other sports?
Apart from swim, run and cycle I like cricket and I am a pretty decent wicket keeper and have played with the Somerset County Pathway. Unfortunately, I did have to make a decision there and I chose Triathlon as I have a scholarship for that at Millfield. Triathlon is, I feel, is the hardest sport to try and keep onside because you have to do three sports all the time whereas I could probably have continued with cricket if I was a pure runner. I am happy with my choice, and I will still play cricket in time.
What is your greatest running achievement?
It is definitely winning the U17 3000m National Champs in Birmingham last year. The race was perfect for me, and I ran a fast last lap.
It was absolutely brilliant; I ran a County and Millfield School record both set in the 1980’s and beat some of the best year 2 runners as a year 1.
I was so proud, and my parents and brother were there so that was really good and great for them to see my success which obviously I would not be able to do without them!
My cherished lion at the EA National U17 Champs 3000m – 2023
I was 4th at the Virgin Mini Marathon in 2022. It was total chaos but lots of fun. I started at the back of hundreds of kids and had to run through to the front. I nearly got the win, but 4th was pretty cool until I realised the top 3 got vouchers for prizes and the chance to have photos with Mr Kipchoge!
4th place at the Virgin Mini Marathon in London 2022
Are there any standout moments during your time at Wells City Harriers (for yourself or other members)?
Yes – being asked to do this interview. I am just a young lad and the others in the club have done so much more than me. However, there are lots of kids like me and if it helps somebody else then great!!
I think being awarded the young athlete of the year was a big thing for me. There are some great runners in the club, and I was pleased to get it along with Sophie for the female award, she is a top runner, so it was good to be awarded it.
I have really enjoyed the team spirit at the Street and Yeovilton 5k. Other athletes have been really kind to me and encouraging and some of their performances are amazing. I do my best to get the best times I can, and I think anybody who sees me near the end sees that, it doesn’t exactly come easily! I have had some great battles in those two series and long may it continue. I think overall there is a real sense that the club supports success of the youngsters and there are many coming through, I am already noticing Oscar B and his times so I can see a few more Street 5K times being needed or the records won’t last long????
When did you first represent Great Britain?
I am waiting for that in running, I can’t quite align to a big championship at the right age although there is one coming up, I have my eye on, but I will need a brilliant start to the season. I think U17 running is ridiculously hard. There are guys 12 months older than me that are super quick, and the running is really competitive. It is going to be a real battle to get a call up in my category, but I am definitely trying.
I have represented GB in Biathle (Run/Swim/Run) where I was Euro Champion in 2022 and in the same year, I won Bronze for GB at the World Champs Biathle.
I also won another Bronze last year in Germany in the European Biathle.
I have qualified for the GB Triathlon U20 age group team in the Duathlon run/bike/run this year in Portugal, but this could be very hard to attend due to GCSE’s, we await the dates!
How do you manage training and your studies?
My parents will say I don’t!! It is really hard; I know the importance of academics and I hope I balance it well. I like hard training; I think I get a lot of benefits from it. This is an area I have to be super focused on and there is always room for improvement!!!
You are in your final year of school preparing for your GCSEs. What are your plans for the next two years of your education?
At the moment I think I will stay at Millfield, I am part of the Triathlon Squad and therefore I’d like to continue but there are no certainties, obviously the facilities and coaching staff are great. There isn’t another school that has the set up Millfield has. I am also excited to get the chance to work with Brownlee brothers coach Malcolm Brown who is going to be spending some time with our endurance squad at school this year. Having him at our training sessions and being able to get his advice on both running and triathlon is going to be amazing.
I am not 100% sure what subjects I will study yet in sixth form; it will depend somewhat on my grades but it is likely to involve Product Design which I really enjoy as I love designing and making stuff.
Are you planning on going to university or college? What are you wanting to study and will the running/triathlon facilities have any influence in your applications?
It is really hard to say. I currently feel my best chance of success is to do Triatlon and use running as a springboard hence I compete in so much running to make it a real strong point. I think it’s a case of see what happens, keep working hard and hopefully opportunities present themselves whether in this country or abroad. Yes, the programmes will definitely influence my decision. Provided I am fit and healthy I very much hope to be progressing towards some really big competitions.
You have recently become the highest ranked member of Wells City Harriers (*according to the Run Britain handicap ranking system). How do you feel about taking the top spot?
I didn’t know that… that is pretty cool! I want to get better, and I want to be in the very top few U17 runners in the UK by the end of the season and do that as a triathlete. However, rankings are nice things rather than specific and measurable things and I can’t do much about them. I just run to improve my time, technique and experience. I find when someone is running hard with me, I am quicker, and I enjoy that. I would like to improve my XC as I haven’t always got the results I’d like.
What are your future plans with your running?
I am definitely aiming for a very good time in the 3000m, and I believe I can go sub 14:30 in a 5K this year – It is a target. I’d say this year that there will be numerous U17’s going close to that, I am definitely in a very talented year group nationally, so it won’t be easy.
Why Wells City Harriers?
I run for WCH because they are linked closely with my school, and they have a long history of producing good runners.
I still say that the welcome I was given when enquiring is what made up my mind! My dad says that Paul had processed my application inside a few hours and had me signed up. Simon Prior took me to the Road Relays and Cardiff Victory 5K, these things are really important because as the belief grows the nerves are not so bad and you run quicker.
I am really happy to be with WCH Harriers and I race with Yeovil Olympiads AC on the track in the National League so there are loads of opportunities. I see no reason to change that and will hopefully be a member wherever I end up.
Gwent league for the Harriers 2023
To view Tom's performances, visit his 'Power of 10' and 'Run Britain' profiles, by clicking on the images below.
*according to the Run Britain ranking system. Correct at time of interview.
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