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Looking back down the Track

Richard Piotrowski Eagle AC, September 2023

When approached for a contribution to the newsletter I was a little apprehensive writing about my running years, but decided it might be of interest to some of the club members as my early running years differed so much from the world of running today.

I joined Eagle AC around 8 yrs ago and have enjoyed representing the club on many occasions.

However, my running life started many years ago at the tender age of 16. I took up running having given up the Pole Vault, not quite the standard of Mundo du Plantis, so I switched.

I won my first proper race in the Youths Army Championship in 1964 when I was 17 yrs old in 4.30.8 (which was a record at the time) for 1 mile.

In the same year, I broke the National Boys Club record over 2 miles (9.27.3)

Still with the British Army, I was posted to Germany 1965-67 where I ran for an athletic club called Iserlohn, near Dusseldorf, running approx. 50 miles a week in training.

During that time, I achieved:

10000m 30.55.4 (ranked 7th in world)

5000m 14.57.8

When I returned to the UK, I joined Belgrave Harriers and ran regular national races/relays etc. I remember running around Wimbledon Common with 20-30 international top-class running in full tracksuits covering 10 miles in 54-55 mins. This was a regular occurrence at that time. The opportunity to run and train with international athletes was an inspiration to me. It certainly contributed to the National titles I won in both track and cross-country events.

In 1970 I moved to Reading, Berkshire and joined Reading AC. At that time, we used to run between 60-100 miles per week. The most I ever ran was 115m for the week. I specialised in the Steeplechase as the competition was so strong in other events, where I was ranked 4th in the club. Between 16-24 yrs old I won Youths, Junior and Snr Cross Country County titles, including track titles over 5000m and Steeple chase.

With Reading AC I won an international cross-country race in 1973 in Germany with road and cross-country relays at national level.

Richard Piotrowski Berkshire Cross Country Champion 1976

Races at that time were mainly 5m to 10 miles. There were no half marathons and the only full marathon which took place once a year which was a national event. So different from today where many runners focus on marathon running. Then rather than endurance, the focus was on speed, speed, speed. Part of the training schedule involved running twice and sometimes 3 times a DAY, covering 50-100 miles a week with 2-3 speed sessions, 200’s/300’s/400’s/600’s/800’s/.

My PB’s in my early years:

  • 800m 1.58.8

  • 1 mile 4:16

  • 5K 14:30

  • 4 Mile 19:14

  • 5 Mile 23:50

  • 6 Mile 29:17

  • 10K 30:55

  • 10 Mile 48:55

  • 3000m SC 8:52

Reflecting on my ‘running’ life, I can honestly say I really enjoyed both the training and the racing. My advice to anyone new to sport is “you must enjoy it,” otherwise it is never rewarding. It is essential to do speed work regularly to help build and maintain speed in your legs. Many people can run 10-20 miles a day at whatever pace suits them, but it is harder to run at high speed. I am convinced it was the speed work done in my early years that has helped me continue running into my 70s.

We would like to thank Richard for this look into his running history. Richard is well known, respected and much loved runner in Cork. He continues to represent the club at both a local & national level as well as competing as a member of the British & Irish Masters teams on the International stage. We wish Richard continued success in his running career and thank him for taking the time to put this article together for us.

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