He first started running seriously back in 1981.
Up until then, Stephen had dabbled with various sports including squash, football, and weight training… So, he had a fairly good level of fitness.
Meet Stephen Kelleher
I was introduced to running by a very dear work colleague and friend Basil Nielsen from New Zealand, a reigning European Masters middle distance champion at the time; he said he saw some potential in me and I believed him.”
He mentored Stephen for a while and now Stephen says that he has so much to thank Basil for.
In his early days of running, Stephen focused mainly on road running and completed his first-ever marathon at Harrow in 1983.
I set myself a tough target of sub-3 not really knowing what to expect; I was ecstatic with the result of 2:59:42.”
The next 2 marathons in 1984 however were far less successful for Stephen… He was just outside 3 hours on a flooded Birmingham course and then had to survive a 90F heatwave at Slough where over 50% of the field dropped out.
I achieved greater success though, in London in 1985 with a sub 2:50 clocking and in 1986 I achieved a lifetime best at London with 2:43:50.“ – Amazing!!
Stephen managed a further 11 sub-3 marathon clockings up until 1995, the best of which was 24th place in the last ever Polytechnic marathon in 1993 in a sub 2:47 time.
After 1995, injuries and the aging process made the sub-3 holy grail target so much more difficult for Stephen to attain.
I persevered nonetheless and came very close on several occasions. To date I have now completed 31 marathons and I and not stopping yet; I have further targets to attain.”
He tells us that the best of these was the last ever-famous Polytechnic marathon in 1993 where he finished 24th at 2:46:50, Stephens 2nd best time.
Besides road running, I love Cross Country and I have been the XC Team manager for my current club Finch Coasters for the last 5 years. I am assuming they have given me this responsibility because of my experience rather than my ability.”
One of Stephen’s previous clubs was Crawley and he was honored to compete in the same National Cross Country team as the 3 times winner (and 1984 Olympic 5000 4th) Tim Hutchings, one of GB’s greatest ever cross country runners.
When he turned 50, Stephen ventured into the world of Biathle, a sprint event involving a 1k run, 100m swim, and a further 1k run.
I felt that being a newbie to the 50’s age group and that the event was biased towards the running sections I may have a chance of doing well.”
So in 2007 he competed in the UK series and British championships and qualified for the World Championships in Monaco!!
I surprised myself and got a podium place, with a bronze medal in the MV50 age group. After that, I competed at the world championship level for the next 2 years but was unable to repeat the success of 2007.”
Love For Running
Stephen believes that running has helped him in several beneficial ways.
“I have a very positive attitude; my glass is always half full not empty. It’s also given me great confidence in my work career and helped it to be a successful one”
Running had introduced Stephen to some great people, many of which are now his close friends.
Whilst I haven’t achieved any outright lifetime PBS recently (and realistically I won’t be doing so unless I try new distances) I have had some notable performances.”
Last year in Stephen’s 16th London Marathon, he managed 3:27:57, his fastest time for 12 years and well inside the London Marathon Good For Age time of 3:45:00.
He also ran his second-best time for 10 years over 5k a few weeks ago with a time of 21:21.
His half-marathon run a few weeks ago at the Wokingham Marathon was his fastest time in 12 years (1:36:31).
Enter… Coach Parry
I have been with Coach Parry since March 2021 and I have enjoyed every minute!”
Stephen thinks that as we get older we need to factor in more recovery runs into our programs and accept that we can no longer perform (training or racing) at the same level as in our younger years… (We couldn’t agree more!)
He was having difficulty accepting this and felt that the Coach Parry program would help discipline him to do so.
I must confess though I do try occasionally to lead out our much younger club runners on training runs and this becomes a tempo session for me.”
Biggest Contributor To Stephen’s Success Story
The biggest factors contributing to his recent success are having a structured program to follow (“something I have lacked for several years”), the strength training classes each week (“hosted by some great coaches”), having a forum, and a live coaching call weekly.
I also strongly believe that being a member of a running club helps considerably with training workloads and motivation.”
Stephen reaches the MV65 age group in the next couple of months and the prospect of being the youngest in his age group excites him!
Knowing that this will be an opportunity to perform well against my peer runners. I aim to continue making marginal time improvements over 5k to marathon when compared to the last 12 years and to stay injury-free.”
Struggles Along The Way
The last few years of training haven’t gone all to plan for Stephen and he has had to overcome a foot stress fracture as well as a cardiac ablation procedure for Atrial Fibrillation.
The latter is something that I am very mindful of and periodically I have had reoccurrences which interrupt my training.”
Hardest Part Of It All
Stephen says that he has found interval training to be the hardest part of the Coach Parry program, which he has followed in reaching his goals.
It has not only been the physical aspect of achieving the times but also the mental aspect and self-belief that you can smash the sessions.”
He has found recently that doing these sessions in a group is helpful.
I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to stats. I have maintained training diaries ever since 1981 and I know details of every session I have ever done including route, distance, times, and pace.”
That’s why he knows that as of today he has completed a lifetime mileage of 77,500 miles.
My target is to emulate the great Ron Hill and reach 100,000 miles, hopefully within the next 10 years.”
Stephen hopes that 2022 is going to be a big year for him in terms of running.
He has a marathon at the end of April in his birth town of Blackpool, the primary aim being to comfortably get inside the London 2023 Good For Age by time of 3:45:00.
In May I turn 65 and enter a new age group and in October I have my second marathon of the year the London Marathon. I am hoping that Coach Parry will keep me on the straight and narrow road to success.”
Amazing Stephen! Trust in the process and we’re sure that you’ll be able to stick on the straight and narrow road to success with no problems at all! 🙂