THE man widely regarded as the greatest endurance athlete of all time has urged Mo Farah to put his marathon ambitions on hold and stretch out his dominance on the track for as long as he can. And, yes that includes competing for England at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Farah has been reticent to the point of apathetic about the summer showpiece at Hampden Park, and he has earned the right to run wherever and whenever he wants after adding the World Championship 5,000 and 10,000 metres double to his Olympic haul of 2012. But Haile Gebrselassie passionately believes that the 30-year-old should not rush into the marathon career on which he is now training his eyes.
“Mo should stay on the track for the next two years or so – for the Commonwealth Games and Rio [the 2016 Olympics], in fact. He should focus on 5000m and 10,000m. Then he can really move up to marathon. I have already told him this,” said Gebrselassie.
“By running 3mins 28secs for 1,500m he’s proved his speed and now he is doing the London Marathon. He will do that and then he can come to Glasgow for the 5000m and the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games. I still hope he will.
“I don’t see him doing the marathon in Glasgow 2014. I’ve spoken to him about it, as I say. I asked him ‘Why are you running a marathon so early?’ He told me he simply wanted to know what it was like – to get an idea of the feeling. I did the same thing myself back in 2002. But, after that first marathon, I decided ‘the time is not yet’. I think Mo may feel the same after he runs in London in April.”
If Farah is amenable to advice there is no greater authority on distance running than an Ethiopian whose CV is replete with Olympic and World Championship gold medals, indoors and out, plus world records at half-marathon and marathon.
The 40-year-old was interviewed by the Scottishathletics magazine PB when in Glasgow for the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run, and he registered his disapproval at the fitness habits of young people in Scotland and the wider world. “Youngsters in Britain, in Scotland, run far too little in my opinion. Far too little. And not just in Britain, I tell you. In Addis Ababa, because of technology and lifestyle, very few are now running enough,” he said.
“It used to be that going to school here would be by walking or maybe by bike but in UK and Scotland everyone is using a car. That is why kids are not active enough.
“I believe the schools in Scotland have to arrange something – and I don’t just mean for physical exercise. A PE class once a day would be one thing but I actually think the system, the way they learn, should be in a different way.
“For science periods or things like that they should be getting outside too. They need to move more, they need to run more. There’s no question in my mind, also, that kids will learn better if their bodies are active as well as their minds.
“Not only kids, by the way. Adults should run more because it is good for them and it is the perfect, how do you say, ‘stress-buster’. So many things in this life now are miserable. Millions of people have problems, have stress.
“They need to sweat more, they need to escape more. They need to relieve the stress on their bodies and in their minds.”