Common Runner Athlete Q&A: Alex Brown

It is hard to believe that Alex Brown, featured in this week’s Q and A, is still only an U13 athlete. Already in her short running career, Alex has secured more regional and national medals than most other athletes will achieve in a lifetime and, under the guidance of Phllip Kissi, she looks set to win many more titles.


Having been part of the hugely successful U13 girls team during the 2012/13 season, she has led the same team to new heights this season in their clean sweep of southern and national championships. For those who may have been in hibernation for the last six months, the titles include: Southern Road Relay Champions; National Road Relay Champions; Southern Cross Country Relay Champions; National Cross Country Relay Champions; Southern Cross Country Champions; National Cross Country Champions, and Alex has been an ever present.

On Saturday 22 February, Alex produced an outstanding and fearless performance to finish 2nd in the national cross country championships, within 24 hours of suffering from a vomiting bug. Such is her commitment and courage, Alex was not content to sit in with the pack, but instead took the race to all others, missing out on first place by what must be one of the smallest winning margins, one hundredth of a second.

She led her team to a massive win in the blue ribbon event of the winter. Alex’s ability spans track as well as road and cross country, and in the summer 2013 season she headed the UK rankings in the girls U13 1500. Below, Alex highlights her interest in a range of activities outside of athletics, which I would fully endorse as a very healthy approach for our young athletes.

Keith Newton

Age: 12

Event: Cross country and 1500m

Coach: Phil Kissi since early summer 2013. Before that it was my Mum! She let us stop whenever we were tired, just estimated the distances we were running by jogging them herself, and was always talking to someone instead of timing our rests.

Best Performance: Winning the 1500m at Gateshead in the English Schools Cup for my school which topped the U13 UK rankings for 2013.

Typical weeks training:

Winter and summer:

Mon – piano – so no sport.

Tues – netball practice before school: endurance session with Phil and my sister Kate, at Battersea after school.

Wed – lunchtime netball practice at school. Wed after school – rest.

Thurs – netball fitness before school with school team: netball match after school if we have one: then Surrey County Elite netball training in Cheam for 2 hours 6.30 – 8.30pm. Very hard work!

Fri (since Christmas) – steady 40 min recovery run if time and if I am not too tired: if I am tired then night off.

Sat – 11.00am, club netball training for 1 hour 30 in Richmond. If I did not run on Friday night I might do a 40 min steady recovery run before netball.

Sun – speed session with Phil on Wimbledon Common: or Club netball tournament

Favourite Session: Anything short or recovery run!

Least Favourite Session: Anything long with hard intervals!

Main Inspirations: David Rudisha. Mum wants me to say Seb Coe!

Key tips to someone starting athletics:

Keep up your other sports. Do not just do running. It is really good to have a team sport. You learn ball skills. Training is less painful and you will be very fit so can keep going longer than the person you are marking. This really irritates them and they start fouling you!

My other tip is that you learn to deal with stitches and the pain! Everyone gets stitches all the time it’s just a case of learning to run through them.

Other Sports/Hobbies:

I love netball despite being very small. I have been playing for nearly 4 years. I play Goal Attack for school and Centre for my club. I also made the Surrey Elite England Pathway squad in October. Very scary at first. The other girls are massive! I play Centre and Wing Attack with them. Training is tough! You have to trial every year to keep your place. My club team (Richmond) are the Surrey Club Champions and we defend our title in May!

I am also made to play the piano. I am taking my Grade 7 soon.

Until last summer I used to do lots of karate. I was a brown belt. My karate coach said I could only do my black belt if I stopped running and netball for a while to train properly and fully commit. My parents said when I reached year 8, I could only fit in 2 sports so had to drop one . They said my school work was more important than sport as I was not good enough at it to earn a living as a sports person. I wanted to stop piano but was not allowed! I stopped karate.

Best Place Visited: Greece.

Favourite Food: Chicken pie and anything with chocolate!

Favourite Music: I play the piano. I sing very badly! I like Taylor Swift.

Favourite movie/tv series: TV – House, ER and Big Bang Theory. Film – Jaws. Theatre – Phantom of the Opera.

Best Joke: Two men in a forest meet a bear. One starts to put his trainers on, the other says, “What are you doing? You can’t out run a bear.” The man replies, “I know. But I’ve only got to out run you!”

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