Commonwealth gold medallist Michael Shelley to contest world cross-country titles

Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist Michael Shelley will contest the Australian cross-country championships at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday. Photo: Andrej IsakovicIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mantra Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michael Shelley is following with his decade-long long-distance partnership with renowned Canberra coach Dick Telford.
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Shelley will catch up with Telford when he competes in the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships selection trial at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday.

Shelley will bypass the world titles in China in March, electing instead to direct his energy towards preparing for the London marathon on April 26.

The 31-year-old became just the fourth Australian to win the men’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games with victory at Glasgow last year in a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes,15 seconds.

Shelley has trained on the Gold Coast since 2005, working with Telford via correspondence. He transmits a detailed heart-rate graph of all of his training sessions to Telford from a GPS watch.

“We talk once or twice a week and I send him my training through the internet with the heart-rate graph, so I can’t slacken off and he knows what’s going on,” Shelley said.

“I can’t rehash old heart-rate graphs either because he’s on to it, not that I’ve tried it. He knows I train hard and I know he expects me to train hard, we just know what’s each other is doing. It’s been working out well since I moved back here in 2005, so why go changing it.”

Telford is one of Australia’s most revered distance-running coaches, having mentored the likes of Lisa Martin (nee Ondieki), Andrew Lloyd, Kate Anderson and Susan Hobson. He was the first sports scientist employed by the Australian Institute of Sport and was last year inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Shelley does the majority of his training individually and has encountered dangerous customers during his runs through the Gold Coast hinterland.

“I have to focus on some of the trails I run anyhow because there’s snakes and that sort of thing, so it keeps you on your toes,” Shelley said. “Training by myself doesn’t really worry me, but occasionally it would be nice to have another person with me so they could keep any eye out.

“I used to see [snakes] quite regularly, but this summer I haven’t seen any, so it’s been a good summer.”

The 12-kilometre cross-country event is at the perfect time and distance for Shelley ahead of the London marathon.

Shelley placed 65th at the world cross-country championships in 2007 and completed his first marathon in 2010, finishing 12th at the Rotterdam marathon.

He won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and 16th at the 2012 London Olympic Games, but says it’s difficult to put expectations on how he might fare at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“The marathon is a different beast,” he said. “Hopefully you wake up fantastic on the day and you’re training will pay off.”

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