The Epsom & Ewell athlete is one of many British runners reaping the performance benefits of living stateside

Rosie Clarke credits a move to study and train in the US for what she describes as “a dream indoor season” that saw her make her GB debut when finishing sixth in the European Indoor Championships over the metric mile in Prague as well as improving her 1500m PB to 4:12.10 at the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville.

Reflecting on the indoor season, the 23-year-old Iona College student says: “The Millrose Games is one of the biggest indoor events in the world and I was over the moon when I heard I’d got a run in the Wanamaker Mile and also earning my place on the GB team – it was something truly special.

“I’m delighted with how my running has progressed since coming to Iona and the cross-country season was also a big stepping stone for me. This past winter was the first time I felt remotely confident on a cross-country course and I’m hoping to keep on working hard and for my outdoor season to follow suit.”

Although crediting the set-up and training partners she has at Iona, Clarke is still coached by Tom Watson at Bristol, whom she is quick to credit for her improvement. “My training has always been totally individualised, and Tom is great at knowing what type of sessions I need and helping me to avoid injury,” she says. “The coaches at Iona have given me even further support and guidance, making suggestions and adaptations where they see fit.”

Speaking of her training, the Epsom & Ewell athlete says: “During the winter, Tom and I try to maintain a real balance in training, with the aim being to build my endurance base, without totally neglecting my speed. The major emphasis in the autumn is to build a really good base of aerobic endurance and then around four to six weeks out from the indoors, to concentrate on what he calls the “fast endurance” and mixed-length efforts.

“We combine quite a lot of training, such as doing threshold and short hills, as well as track sessions that utilise a mix of effort lengths. The idea is to always finish the session with some faster running, when the legs are tired, as race practice.”

Clarke also implements some yoga into her training regime, finding it both helpful and relaxing.

Currently studying for an MBA in management, as well as an advanced certificate in Sports and Entertainment Management, all of Clarke’s classes are in the evening and so she has found it really beneficial to be able to train during the day.

With an interest in a future career in sports management, she is planning next year to move back to the UK and live in Loughborough. She explains: “I really want to be in the best possible environment for my training, and I am hoping that by working with some of the top people in the sport I shall achieve this.”

Clarke on pre-race and post-race food

A self-confessed “foodie”, Clarke enjoys fresh, healthy foods and a good steak after a session. She reveals: “I am often motivated in sessions by what I can go and eat afterwards! I am also rarely seen without a coffee in hand, particularly prior to races. A good flat white is probably my greatest weakness.”

On her favourite and least favourite session

She names her favourite session as something like: 2km (4 minutes recovery) + (3x600m – 2min 30sec recovery) + (3x300m – 2min 30sec recovery). Clarke explains: “I like to have the longer effort at the beginning to get my legs moving, and then gradually pick up the pace as I progress through the session. My least favourite session is a threshold run. I literally dread them – they are Tom’s favourite!”

On her training group

At Iona, Clarke has a talented team of athletes to train with, including NCAA cross country champion and European cross-country silver medallist Kate Avery. She says: “It is a fantastic set-up with supportive coaching staff. It was great having such a brilliant group to train with in the cross-country season, but it becomes more difficult for us to link up now that our respective race distances vary so greatly. We train in a variety of locations in the surrounding area, with my favourite being The Armory.”

She also trained on an indoor track this year, due to the snow in New York and added: “I loved my set-up with the group in Bristol, and did not want the style of approach to undergo any drastic changes so Tom has stayed heavily involved. I really miss the Team Watson guys while I am in the USA.”

On her goals

Having enjoyed her GB debut in Prague, Clarke says it has made her more determined to succeed. She explains: “My main target for the coming season is the NCAA outdoor championships. I placed fourth in the mile at the NCAA indoor championships in March and I am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve over 1500m in a couple of months.”


January 2015

Monday: (am) 6 miles easy + drills and core. (pm) 4 miles easy.

Tuesday: (am) Track session: 3x600m + 150m with 90sec and 2min rec + 2x150m ‘floats’ changing pace – targets: 1min 38sec-1min 42sec and 18-20sec. (pm) 4 miles recovery run.

Wednesday: 8 miles easy.

Thursday: (am) 5 miles steady – target: increase pace every mile, 5min 50sec down to 5min 35sec. (pm) 4 miles recovery run.

Friday: 6 miles easy.

Saturday: (am) Fast endurance – 10min (90sec recovery) + 5min (90sec rec) + 3min – target distances: 3km, 1 mile, 1km. (pm) 4 miles recovery run.

Sunday: 12 miles run.

Clarke says: “This is a basic strength and conditioning programme with the focus on core strength and the ability to maintain strong form when fatigued. In addition, having had some Achilles tendon issues and being a forefoot runner, I have to do some specific work with my calf muscles. My standard daily post-run exercises include: straight leg heel raises over a step, ankle strengthening and mobility work with a theraband, side clams, lying straight legs raises (front and side) for hip strength, rope stretching and additional calf stretching using board against a wall.”

» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes