What we learnt about track running during a tempo run with a rapid track and middle-distance runner.
He may not think it, but Mo Hashi is fast. The track and middle-distance runner, who uses his spare time to compete in competitions up and down the country, has a current 5K PB at just 14 minutes 35. But what motivates him to get out on the track and how hard does he push himself? Here, we talk to him about his training style, being a body double for Mo Farah and training to the point of vomiting.
“I had to shave my head,” Mo says, laughing. “I wore a hat for weeks afterwards,” the runner is talking about being a body double for Mo Farah, who was shooting an advert for Oral B. “When the directors introduced us and said ‘Mo, meet Mo,’ he said, ‘What are you doing here?’ We’d met a few times before and seen each other on the track just a few weeks previously, he didn’t know I was going to be his body double.”
“I did the parts where you couldn’t see his face,” he explains. “So when it was just my legs, or me picking up a toothbrush. But they also used me to set the frame for the camera work too.”
But there was one slight difference, “I was a little bit taller than him, so they made me spread my feet apart, so I was shorter. It was filmed on a massive film set in West London and it was a long day.”
It’s not all film sets for Mo though, his day job is a store manager at Up and Running, a specialist retailer in London, which he fits in around his training. Life hasn’t always been this way for Mo, as he admits he didn’t find his passion for running until he was at university.
“I was a bit older, I knew I wanted to run and train with a group and then I found out about the power of 10 and coaching. I used to just go to random open meets,” he explains.
It was when he finished university in 2016 that he became serious about training, “When I came down to Bushy Park and experienced the hard training, the militant training, that was when I realised there was no messing around. The guys would have their phones out ready to take pictures of me (vomiting) at the finishing line.”
And it’s carried on ever since. “Last year I did a 9K volume session at Barnes, I ran one of the kilometres really hard, at 2 minutes 43 seconds. I didn’t care about the rest of the session, I just wanted to hit that one hard, and when I finished it I vommed my guts out. There were these two ladies running across to me saying ‘do you need any help’ – and my mates were like ‘nah, he’ll be alright’. Most PB’s or hard races, if I’m not sick, then I think I didn’t work hard enough.”
But Mo’s not always on top form and he can tell when he’s not done enough training. “I did the Battersea 5K in March and I hadn’t done enough speed work training, I was just doing lots of virtual races and I was training for a half marathon.
“Everyone was ready to race, but I was at the back from the get-go. I thought maybe they would come back to me, but I just hadn’t done enough training on the track at that pace. I was bang on pace for the first 3K, but I just couldn’t get any faster at the end. I just got slower and slower.”
But no matter how he performs, Mo always finishes the race. “I don’t like dropping out of races,” he confides. “I feel like when you drop out once, then mentally, it’s bad for you. I always make sure I finish, even if I’m crawling through the line.”
So, how does Mo prepare before a race and what are the lessons he has learnt over the years of training and competing?
Prep well before a race
“I will do a tune up session the Tuesday before a race because it gives me a lot of confidence. Then I’ll do some easy runs, and sometimes in the morning I’ll do a shakeout run and a stretch. The night before I’ll eat loads of carbs, prepare all my stuff. But if I feel tired, I’ll just rest and have a massage.”
What does a tune up session entail? “I’ll do a mile pace, take 3 mins recovery, then carry on with a 1K pace, some 800m runs, then 90 second rest, and carry on with 5 x 400m, and 4 x 200m. It’s a great way to get a feel for race specific pace, you’re still getting enough recovery but you’re just doing all the different paces in preparation.”
Feel the rhythm of your run
“Don’t worry about pace or time too much, think about how you feel. The minute you don’t hit the times you just get distraught at a time when you just need motivation and confidence. It’s okay to start off slow, if you’re trying to do a sub-3-hour marathon and your first mile is 7 minutes, don’t worry about it, as long as you feel good and finish strong towards the end.
“Sometimes people are so fixated on their times and PBs. Just stay relaxed and focus on your form – once you have rhythm it’s so easy to go up and down in pace. If you feel tired and want to start slow, do that. There are days you’ll feel really good, but you need to control yourself and pull yourself back.”
Stretch and do strength work to avoid injury
“I stretch a lot and do a lot of core and yoga workouts, there are lots of YouTube tutorials that I use. I may over stretch – I’m good on that front. But I just don’t do enough sessions in the gym, on strength work. I’ll start doing some in winter, but not continue. I think that’s my main problem, I neglect my strength work, so you’re always going to get little niggles.
“Luckily, I haven’t had any major injuries, but I did pull my Achilles at training camp. It was swelling quite badly, and I think if I’d continued to run on it then it would have torn. It was very painful, but I was very stubborn. I had taken time off work to do this training camp and wanted to keep going. Thankfully they had lots of physios which helped me.”
You can hear Mo’s full conversation on the Big Run podcast sponsored by exhale. We get to listen in on three post-run chats with track and middle-distance runners like Mo, along with GB runner Holly Rush, and ultra runner Mark Kerry. Keep your eyes peeled for more running insights coming soon, best shared over a cup of exhale coffee.
Interview: Danny Eastern
Words: Harriet Osborne