21 Nov Matty Hynes: Ex-semi-pro footballer turned runner aims for Rio 2016 after winning English 10k Champs

Three years ago Matty Hynes was playing semi-professional football for Stokesley FC and his experience of running amounted to just a handful of middle-distance races whilst at school.

Fast-forward to last Sunday and the twenty five year old from Middlesbrough established himself as one of the foremost distance talents in the UK after beating a quality domestic field at the Leeds Abbey Dash to become the England 10k champion.

From relative novice to the top of the 10k road game, Matty’s victory at the weekend didn’t come as too much of a surprise to him despite some of the more-experienced names in the field.

“I feel that run has been a long time coming. Training has been going well since the summer and I knew the course was flat so expected to improve my PB. But seeing the quality of the field beforehand, I decided to just sit to halfway and try and win. The splits were uneven and it was a slow first 5k but I’m really happy to be England 10k champion.”

The Asics-sponsored athlete’s potential was clear no more so than this summer when he twice broke his 5000m best at consecutive BMC races. A 14:03.97 clocking in Solihull in May was followed up with 14:02.89 a couple of weeks later at Sportcity despite the effects of an injury caused by an undone shoelace in the first race already beginning to bite. With no skin left on the bottom of his left foot and tendonitis developing in his right as a result, Matty’s summer was curtailed just as it seemed to be getting off the ground.

With all that now firmly behind him though, the North Yorks Moors man is looking ahead and says his future lies where it began in 2010 – in the marathon. Matty quit the semi-professional football pursuit after suffering a badly dislocated knee in 2010 and he turned his sporting urge towards doing the London Marathon for charity instead. The then twenty two year old went on to run a pretty remarkable 2:43:40 off just twice per week training.

V__FF33“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I trained twice a week – 20 miles on a Sunday that I would just run as fast as I could and 10 miles in the week. It worked out OK and then after the marathon I was introduced to my coach Stan Markley through a mutual friend. He said I had talent and that within a few years I’d break 14 minutes for 5k. I thought he was having a laugh – I couldn’t even run 36 minutes for 10k!”

Markley – a 47 minute 10 miler and 2:16 marathoner in his day – has since proven to be pretty canny in his talent-spotting and, after guiding Hynes to 34:10 for 10k within a few months of training, the pair have continued to better that mark year-on-year as they embark on a six-year quest together towards Rio 2016.

“I owe so much to Stan – in my opinion, he’s the most underrated coach in the world! I think he’s so intelligent in the way he approaches things. He’s not a big believer in high mileage and is all about quality. Our whole approach is being geared towards being a marathon runner and running fast in Berlin in 2015. Since 2010 we’ve had this six year plan towards Rio and I’ve got total trust in him.”

Markley’s role in Hynes’s rise has been vital; without Stan Markley would we be speaking to the Matty Hynes, the England 10k champion? The necessity of the coach was a topic brought up by David Lowes in his blog Do You Need A Coach? in Athletics Weekly this week.V__1FEF

Writing about the undoubted need for input from someone more knowledgeable and the athlete-coach balance being the potential difference between success and failure, Lowes concluded that “everyone needs someone, whatever that capacity is”.

The intuition and confidence Markley has in Matty is reciprocated in his faith and admiration in his coach’s methodical approach that has got him to where he is today, saying “his support – he makes 50 mile round-trips to just see me train – is brilliant and to be honest, I gained more pleasure out of the win at Leeds for Stan than for myself.”

So far, Matty doesn’t run any higher than 80 miles per week in the winter and no more than 60 in the summer. His training is often solo and very much focussed on the Cleveland Hills near his home in Middlesbrough.

Typical winter training week:

Monday – 1h (am); 30-40′ (pm)
Tuesday – Session (track/park) e.g. 8x1k/2′ rec
Wednesday – 1h (am); 30-40′ (pm)
Thursday – Hill session e.g. 12x400m hill
Friday – 1h (am); 30-40′ (pm)
Saturday – Tempo/Hills/Race
Sunday – 1:30-40 (in the hills!)

Speaking about his aims for the winter and the coming year, cross country is not on the agenda as “my knee lift and stride length are not really fit for cross country” and instead Hynes wants to gain more experience on the track over 10,000m ahead of his Berlin Marathon attempt in 2015. But with an August 2014 wedding on the horizon, his race plans have been forced to go under a little consideration

“The marathon in 2015 is the focus so we’ll run a couple of 10,000m races on the track next year. I hope to run quick enough to gain selection for the European Cup 10,000m in June and I’d like to run sub-64 and try and make the world half marathon championships.

We’re looking for a half marathon next February-time and we originally thought of Reading. But I’m going to Krakow for my stag do the week before so it probably wouldn’t be the best preparation.”