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Haile answers your questions
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Send your questions to Haile Gebrselassie

Haile Gebrselassie is arguably the best distance runner ever - and it doesn't take long to work out why.

Between 1993 and 2001 the pocket-sized legend was unbeaten at 10,000m, breaking 15 world records in the process.

Haile had to settle for silver in the world 10,000m behind fellow Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele earlier this year.

But he is aiming to regain his crown as the world's premier runner at the 2004 Athens Olympics by winning a third straight 10,000m gold.

Thanks for your many questions. Read on to see Haile's replies.

Harold Or, Singapore
Would you consider trying for marathon gold in Athens instead of the 10,000m?

To be honest, I did consider running the marathon in Athens for some time, but I believe that it will be too hot in Athens.

The heat can cause serious problems to the health of an athlete and as I still want to run for several years after the 2004 Olympic Games, I do not want to take any risk.

I will therefore run just the 10,000m.

Brian Pollard, Vancouver
Which distance did you enjoy racing the most? Why?

I just like running, but if I had to pick one distance, it would be the 10,000m.

For me it is the ultimate challenge, combining both speed and endurance.

I also managed to win the most medals (four gold medals at the World Championships and two gold medals at the Olympic Games) in the 10,000m distance and still hold the world record.

Niall Cave, Silsoe
How old were you when you first became interested in athletics and long distance running?

I got really excited about running when I heard comments on the 10,000m race at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980, but I was still too young to run.

I always told my father that I wanted to become a runner, but he wanted me to be a farmer.

A few years later, I started to run to school and at the age of 13 or 14 I first competed in a school competition.

This is when I really started to enjoy running myself. My first international competition was in the early 1990s.

Catherine, Dorset
What do you think about when you're running?

That's a very funny question. It really depends. While racing, I mainly focus on tactics. When going out for an easy run, it can be my family, my plans, my business.

And at serious speed sessions, I just try to focus on the programme and the way I feel. In general I try not to think too much and concentrate on my running!

Johnny Jellicoe, Briancon
Which European distance runner do you admire the most and why?

It is not easy to pick one athlete, but if I have to, I would choose Paula Radcliffe. She is a very nice person and is one of the best athletes on the track, cross-country and the marathon.

Her new world record on the marathon surprised me a lot, as I did not expect that a female runner could already run 2.15. This time is absolutely wonderful!

Andrew Coffer, Chester-Le-Street
What has been the best advice you have had in your career of athletics?

Actually, there are two important pieces that helped me a lot:

1. Work hard! This is what my father has always told me. Nothing comes for free, so if you want to achieve something you will have to work hard.

2. Take your time! This was the first advice of my manager Jos Hermens. He explained to me that if you work hard and make the right choices, things will come your way.

In the beginning of my career I thought I could run a race every week. I felt great and wanted to show people how fast I could run.

Jos taught me not to run too many races and to train and rest well. When I started to do this, my performances got even better!

Ivan, Santa Clara, Cuba
Are you under any special regime or are you free to eat anything you want?

I do not follow any special diet. I just try to eat healthy food, including a lot of vegetables.

I really love to eat hamburgers and fries, but I try to limit eating them as much as possible.

I believe that an athlete should eat whatever he or she likes, as long as the food is healthy, has sufficient carbohydrates and proteins.

Please try to avoid fatty food!

Mick Rice, Galway, Ireland.
When your competitive career is over, will you still run for fun?

For sure. I really love running and I cannot imagine that one day I will stop. I hope that I will stay healthy so that I can continue running and jogging for many more years.

Alan Maddock, Northwich
Do you get more pleasure out of winning a race by a wide margin or by out battling your closest rivals in a tight finish?

This depends on the race. At a major championship it does not matter if you win by 10 seconds or just by one hundreds of a second, as long as you win.

But when trying to break a world record, I try not to look to my competitors but just run as fast as possible. Both ways can give me great pleasure.

Alex Byrne, Surbiton
What is your training schedule?

My schedule is secret! I also believe that it is not useful to copy the schedule of another athlete.

I generally have 13 training sessions a week. On Sunday I only run once. Each week, I try to do 3 speed sessions, one long run (1/2 hours) and one or two Fartlek sessions.

The rest of the sessions are endurance runs that I try not to run too fast. They help my muscles to recover from the hard training.

Alan Buckley, Leeds
What do you do to help you recover from your hardest training sessions? How much sleep do you have each day?

I go to bed early (9.30 pm), but also wake up early (6 am). During the daytime I try to sleep, but this is difficult as my daughters try to keep me awake.

For me it is not so important to sleep, as long as I can take a rest. In the afternoon, I try to rest for two hours.

Next to sleeping a lot, massage also helps to recover well from training. When I train really hard, I make sure that I have daily massages.

Aaron Hersh, Boulder, USA
Who is the most fierce racer you have competed against and is there one specific race that stands out in your mind as particularly tough?

My main rival has often been Paul Tergat from Kenya. My favourite race is the 10,000m final at the Sydney Olympic Games. After 10,000m, the difference between Paul and me was just 0.06 seconds!

The gap was smaller than at the 100m final! I was very happy that I won and it was my most difficult victory ever.

Auburn Staples, Raleigh, NC
I'm a college runner averaging about 110 mpw. I was interested in how much water you drink.

Sometimes my legs are really tight and I think it's from lack of enough water. How much should I be drinking on a daily basis?

First of all, I am surprised that you already run 110 mpw. Please try to do more speed work and use your mileage for recovery. Maybe you are running too fast at your long runs?

Or maybe you are not recovered from speed training before starting your next training session?

I usually try to drink two litres of water, next to the tea and juice that I use daily. In Athens, where it will be very hot, I might even drink three litres a day.

Haile factfile
Date of Birth: 18 April 1973
Place of Birth: Ethiopia
Events: 10,000m, 5,000m, 3,000m, 1500m, Marathon
Olympic golds: 2
World golds: 4
World indoor golds: 3

Did you know?
Haile starred as himself in a Walt Disney movie called Endurance

:: International athletics

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