INTERVIEW WITH SEAN MULLER
Interviewed in January, 2016
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Interviewed in January, 2016
I am 36 and I have been running with Sean since November 2012.
I am very fortunate to live down the road from Centennial Park so I try to make every session. I train with the morning group as it fits nicely in with being able to train hard and then still make it to work on time. It’s a great way to start the day in the company of like-minded, positive friends.
I was a sprinter at school and college and played rugby but after moving to the UK following my under graduate degree in South Africa I ballooned out in weight to around 105Kgs at my heaviest.
Moving to Australia at the end of 2005 with my then girlfriend motivated me to get back in the gym and start swimming to shift some of the weight. My girlfriend ran in the UK but I detested anything over 400m. She challenged me to the City to Surf in 2006 and on one run of 3KM in training I ran with her finishing in about 90 mins.
I got sick on heartbreak hill, was totally smashed and couldn’t walk for about 3 weeks afterwards. After having the entire office laughing at me I then realised I had some serious work to do and further weight to lose (I was about 90Kg at the time). What followed was a series of races where each time I got a little better as more weight came off but it was still a struggle and I had no idea about a proper training cycle or program and I just ran pretty much the same each day. I also had no idea about the different types of running shoes and was sold the most expensive pair by the sports store (they obviously saw me for the novice runner I was).
I played most of the time on the wing or in the centres (12 or 13). I was relatively quick over 100m and this speed definitely helped. I’ve played for a number of clubs and at school but that was many moons ago. The game is definitely still in my DNA but at my current weight it gets tougher and tougher to get hit by those 120KG blokes and keep on getting up.
In South Africa I was definitely mainly into track and sprinting. When we were kids my sister excelled at the 400m while I liked the quickness associated with the 100 and 200m where I could get the race out the way and go and sit in the shade afterwards. Each year I was subjected to the school cross country run (4 or 6KM) and to me that one day was pure torture.
Once I reached university I would very occasionally venture down to the local running club for their regular Thursday night 8km time trial (it’s a South African club institution to do a regular 8KM TT). This again was pure torture but something I did for general fitness. The depth of runners in some of the clubs was totally amazing – some of the people I ran with went on to represent South Africa on the international stage and I count myself lucky now that I had that amazing opportunity (even if I didn’t see it at the time).
I’ve run with a few groups in Brisbane and QLD over the years. My favourite QLD group is River City Runners started by my good mate Digger Hargreaves. They are a really really friendly group and have an amazing family feel to them (much the same as SWEAT does). Everyone in both groups is so positive towards each other and this translates i to more of the feel good factor. Everyone seems to know Digger and he pops up at most running festivals around Australia and New Zealand. He is also the Comrades Marathon ambassador for Australia and New Zealand and does a sterling job each year in ensuring that Aussies and Kiwis who go abroad to South Africa for the race have an amazing time. On a more personal level, Digger has continually encouraged me to strive further in everything I’ve undertaken in life but also to share any good fortune that happens to come my way with those around me.
My running has improved off the charts since joining the group. When I joined I only ever hoped to go 85mins in the half marathon and I’ve now gone as low as 79. I’ve set PBs in every distance from 5K to the marathon in every year since joining Sean. The program is proven with many different athletes of different strengths and sizes. Regular training in the positive SWEAT environment and with Sean as coach will get you to your goal.
What keeps me coming back is seeing the improvements made by the great group of juniors and by seeing other people come on in leaps and bounds. The positivity within SWEAT has helped me through some challenging times and this is something that is echoed by a number of other people in the squad. The power of positive thinking and acting can have tremendous impact on someone’s life and it is something very special to see someone emerge from a darker place thanks to renewed belief they have in themselves and their life potential that gets unlocked through the simple act of running with the group and mixing with encouraging individuals.
Breaking 3 hours was special – I put this down to the training program working and Sean and the people in the squad who believed in me and forced me to believe in myself. Some of them were in my ear at every training session and this definitely helped.
My main target race in 2016 will be the 90KM Comrades Marathon in late May 2016. I’ve run it before but am yet to achieve my full potential over that distance. It’s great to have so many positive folks in the squad to undertake those long lonely long training
runs with. To be honest there is not a whole bunch of people that one could approach and say ‘Would you like to join me for a 3 hour long run on a Sunday?’
You play a special role as the ambassador for SWEAT. Tell us about some of the events that happen through the year.
The family feel of SWEAT is very unique. The group train hard but we still enjoy BBQs, mid-year functions, the Christmas party as well as coffees and breakfasts after the weekend runs. There are also book clubs and dinner clubs which encourage mingling outside of running.
There have been many friendships formed through the group and even a few marriages.
Aside from running 6 or 7 days a week I also try and get in the gym 4 times a week and try and swim if I have the time in between work. A lot of this is for injury prevention, general fitness and strength. I firmly believe that for the vast majority of people some form of strength work, cross training or yoga is good.
I highly recommend Sean as a coach. It’s very simple – Sean’s methods work and Sean genuinely cares about his athletes no matter what level they are at and what events they take part in. This was very evident to me from my early days with Sean when I went to run the 2013 London Marathon and although I was very fit from Sean’s program I unfortunately got food poisoning the night before and ran a less than ideal race. I was so depressed after the race and didn’t want to run another step. I was stunned to have Sean phone me up in London and talk me through the race and get me back on track to running again.
No matter if it’s assisting with a lift to an event, helping to find a young athlete a sponsor or welcoming athletes from the Indigenous Marathon Project to train with SWEAT as part of their program, Sean definitely cares and has assisted countless national and international runners from the very beginning as juniors right till they reach the top level.
Emil Zatopek – as though his generosity of giving one of his Olympic Golds to Ron Clarke wasn’t enough I love how he reacted when the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia and told him he should either run for them or go clean toilets in Siberia and he reacted by saying ‘Bring on those toilets..’ Who is your favourite non-running sportsperson? Steffi Graf – tennis was another love of mine growing up. She was always ice cool on court and although strived for perfection she was always extremely polite and gracious in winning or losing. I’m in total awe of her feat in 1988 when she won all Grand slam singles tournaments in one year as well as the Olympic gold medal in singles. A massive inspiration and I reckon she’d have beaten many men on the tour at that point. To top things off she now has her lovely little family with Andre Agassi which is proof that good things happen to nice people.