Milly Clark has had an amazing 12 months which included an Olympic Qualifying performance in the marathon last October. Milly has confirmed she will run the Greater Sydney:10 on May 7 and took time out this week to chat about her breakthrough year and the possibility of being nominated to compete for Australia at the Rio Olympics. Good luck Milly!

ANSW:  You are a proud Sydney Uni and Athletics NSW member and enjoy running many Athletics NSW events. Can you rank your top three Athletics NSW events and why?

MC: 1) NSW Road Relays

I have really enjoyed running these in the past few years – especially being part of the Sydney Uni team. I think I tend to run better when I’m running as part of a team. I think it’s awesome for us distance runners to get the opportunity to run in a relay team – cause let’s just be serious I don’t think I’ll be getting the call to be part of the 4x100m relay team any time soon! 

2) Long Course XC

There’s something fun about cross country. On the road and track you can find your rhythm and settle in for the ride – but it’s much harder to do that on a cross country course! It keeps you guessing. Its tough but I think it helps build strength – especially over the 8km distance. I really enjoyed the Kembla course last year – the muddy course added a little extra spice! 

3) Sydney:10 Not just because it’s the race coming up! I love racing on the roads – no matter the distance. It’s where I feel most comfortable and able to find my legs the best. I really like the timing of this race as well – it is usually after I have had a bit of a break and rest so it is good to get out and see where I am at and what I want to work on for the rest of the year. Finishing in the stadium on the track last year was also really cool. It seems as though the race builds and builds every year and it is really fun to be a part of.

ANSW:  Your amazing 2:29:07 Olympic Qualifier in Amsterdam last October was out of the blue yet since then you have run Personal Bests for the half marathon with 70:48 to place 13th at the World Championships and a 15:47 for the 5000m in Sydney this month. What have been the major factors to get you to this new level?

MC: I am extremely lucky to have so many great and supportive people in my corner – not just for emotional support but physical support as well. In the 6 years I have been distance running I have remained injury free and have been able to keep training consistently without much interruption. This is largely attributed to all those people behind the scenes that no one really sees on race day. The physio, chiropractor, acupuncturist, strength and conditioning coach have all helped me develop into the athlete I am today. Consistency and patience have been major factors in my progression in the last few years. My coach Jimbo has also been one of the most reliable and important factors over the years. Running is more than just turning up and doing the training and I am so fortunate that Jimbo understands the importance of maintaining balance in my life. Now that I have found a great balance and appreciate all the people that support me – I just find myself loving every training session and run I do. You always perform well at the things you enjoy doing!

ANSW:  Has the recent success changed what you do day to day, week to week?

MC: To be honest, physically not much has changed. My weekly training ‘template’ has remained fairly consistent over the past year or so. My sessions differ each week and my long runs vary in length or time depending on what I am training for. I guess what has changed is the way I approach training and running now. Running and competing is such a mental game and something that I have lacked in the past. I am much more confident in my ability than I was a year ago – I think once you do something you didn’t really know you could you start believing in yourself a little more. I also completely trust my coach and everything we have worked on together for the past 2 years. I stopped wearing a watch to record paces or splits and have enjoyed learning how far I can push myself and when I need to ease off a bit.

ANSW:  It appears you are a strong probability to get the ’gig’ to Run for Aussie in Rio in the marathon. What would this mean to you?

MC: One of my friends asked me this the other day actually – I am not quite sure what I would do with myself! One of my earliest memories is watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with my Dad – seeing the emotions of the athletes that experienced such pain and glory is something that I have really aspired to feel for myself one day. There is nothing more satisfying than achieving your goals or dreams no matter how big or small. For me – I think back to that 7 year old sitting in front of the tv and remembering how I was inspired by all our Aussie athletes. I hope that if I have the chance to represent Australia at this years Olympics – it will be my turn to inspire someone watching on their tv.

ANSW:  This interview will be read by many of our Sydney 10 participants. Can you give us some clues on putting together a good run on the Sydney 10 course?

MC: My most favorite ‘saying’ and something I tend to race by is “slow and steady wins the race”. Over longer distances especially, I tend to begin on the more conservative side and as the race progresses find my legs and gather more momentum. Its feels better to finish a race strong than to go out to hard and pay for it at the 6km mark! When it gets particularly tough towards the end of the race I always tell myself its already hurting a lot – going harder wont make it any worse! The quicker you run the sooner the pain goes away. Instead of paying so much attention to what splits your watch is showing – why not try push yourself on feel? Because you never know – you might zip into the stadium and be greeted by a pleasant surprise on the clock!