Laura Robson: ‘I was way too competitive at school sports days’

Hello! What have you been up to recently? I just had surgery on my wrist so I’ve been recovering from that for the past few weeks.
You do some running for your training – I know this because I was at the track in Barnes recently and you and I were the only wet, windswept runners there. You seemed to be doing fairly short sprints – how much of that do you do as part of your training? My trainer and I usually do four track sessions a week, mixing between 400m, 200m and 100m so there is plenty of variation. We also do a lot of timed training – 90 seconds on, 60 seconds off type thing.
Where is your favourite place to run and why? I absolutely love running in Richmond Park; it’s so relaxing – unless you go on the weekends when the cyclists are on the warpath.
Do you remember your first ever race?? I don’t remember my first race but I do recall various school sports days where I became way too competitive. We were seven or eight years old and I had a very stern conversation with my relay team-mates about how crucial it was for us to win.
So when was your first ever tennis match? I played my first match aged six. Neither my opponent nor I knew how to score so our parents had to help us out from the sidelines.

What’s your greatest running achievement? I always enjoy long-distance running but it’s not very tennis specific, so I don’t get to do it too often. I won a silver medal for 800m in some sort of national school championships when I was 11, does that count?
When someone asks for a training tip, what do you tell them? Find the perfect pair of shoes and have orthotics fitted if you can. Did wonders for my knees and ankles.

Do you like training gadgets? Every time I’m on the track I use a Polar heart-rate monitor and watch. I think all the GPS watches are very cool though.
Do you exercise to music? I generally don’t use an iPod for track work as I’m focusing on heart rate and times. When I’m in the gym or running alone there’s always music. If I’m in the weights gym I usually go for rap or rock music; for running it’s dance or cheesy pop.

What’s your favourite post-race indulgence? A Nando’s chicken pitta with pineapple!

What is the worst thing about running? I went through the usual patellar tendinitis when I was still growing, so my knees prefer it when I’m not running.
And the best? The mixed feeling of exhaustion and bliss when you finish a really tough session.
What do you eat on the morning of a race, long run – or indeed match? I go for a mixed muesli with some added flaxseed and lactose-free milk.

What’s the furthest distance you’ve ever run? I’ve been on runs where I’ve lost track of time, but the longest official race I’ve done is a 10k.

Do you ever run barefoot? No thank you! I run in Adidas Boosts and the cushioning is perfect for me.
If you had to choose who to watch, would it be Mo Farah or Usain Bolt? Too tough to choose! I’d love to watch the tactics of one of Mo’s 10ks and the raw speed of Bolt in person.

Who is the greatest runner ever? I think there are so many phenomenal runners. I grew up watching Cathy Freeman, Kelly Holmes and Michael Johnson, so I’d say they are my favourites.

Laura Robson was speaking at the launch of Virgin Active’s Active Aces, a tennis coaching programme that will run at its 21 racquet clubs;

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