Malcolm Campbell, an elite-level runner, and Barbara Parker, a two-time Olympian for Great Britain, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd and shared tips to the audience of various ages on how they can improve and become better runners.
The assembly was organized through the irun project, an organization that works to train prospective runners.
“You do not want to be passed,” Campbell said. “You want to be the one doing the passing.”
Campbell and Parker both say their biggest win was their first one. They were never the fastest runners, but as Campbell said, “It’s all about who wants it.”
His main points to prospective runners was to be consistent with their running, stick to a routine, hold accountable the people they train with and keep a journal of the miles they run.
Campbell said he has run more than 55,000 miles — or the equivalent of twice around the world — since the mid-1990s.
Parker began running at the age of 9 and tried many events until she found her niche. She frequently questioned running as a teen, but eventually stuck with it when she found the right people to hang around and run with.
Parker said meeting up with people to run and developing a routine will help a runner improve, whether they are new or experienced.
That helped Parker prosper as a runner, as she represented British Olympic team in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000-meter run in 2008 and 2012. Along the way, she hired a sports psychologist to hone her talents.
“It’s all mental,” Parker said. “Running is 50-percent mental, and it is important to take your mind off yourself during a race.”
Parker is a big fan of core exercises because she believes it helps a runner become faster, stronger and prevent injuries.
Campbell emphasized the importance of finishing a race.
“Do not ease up before the finish,” he said. “One of you runners will eventually do it.”
Parker agreed with the sentiment.
“I was in the indoor championships, and as I was approaching the finish line, I slowed down, turned and saw another runner dive and finish ahead of me,” she said. “I ended up losing the heat and missing the finals.”
Campbell and Parker have run a lot of miles during their careers, but they assured that it wasn’t about the miles a runner tallies, but rather what he or she is doing. They both said that, with the proper rest, eating habits, hydration level and preparation, a runner can become the next professional or Olympian.
“Running has taken me so many places, and you never know where it will take you and the memories you will make,” Campbell said.
Campbell and Parker both reside in Marietta and frequently train alongside the Chattahoochee River. Campbell is preparing for a half-marathon in Naples, Fla., while Parker is taking a break from running to start a family, though she didn’t rule out the chance for one last run in the Olympics in 2016.