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Athletics: Aberdeen AAC’s star coach Aaron Odentz putting focus on his own running exploits at Run Garioch

Aaron Odentz was named the Young Coach of the Year at the 2022 Aberdeen's Sports Awards. He is pictured alongside Original 106 presenter Claire Stevenson and awards host Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards.
Aaron Odentz was named the Young Coach of the Year at the 2022 Aberdeen's Sports Awards. He is pictured alongside Original 106 presenter Claire Stevenson and awards host Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards.

When Aaron Odentz lines up on the start line at Run Garioch on Sunday, it will give him a rare chance to focus solely on himself.

The 22-year-old Aberdeen University student, who is due to graduate with a degree in economics this summer, has taken on a key role as one of Aberdeen AAC’s main distance coaches – quite a challenge, given he has his own running career to manage.

But it is a test which Odentz welcomes more readily than his exam papers, the last of which he saw off just two weeks ago.

He will be running in both the 5k and 10k races in Inverurie when Run Garioch returns after a three-year absence.

The event is part of a long haul season for Odentz, which has already seen him dip under 70 minutes for the half-marathon when he competed in Inverness in March.

The Aberdeen athlete is feeling positive for the months ahead, which is going to see him continue to prioritise half-marathons – but he sees this weekend as a good test of his current fitness before he goes on to compete at the Scottish 10k Championships in Kilmarnock next month.

Odentz hopes to complete the season in October with the London Marathon.

‘I was training a lot better than I was racing’

He said: “Training’s been going quite well – it was probably about this time last year that I really started to up my mileage and realise that what I wanted to do going forward was probably the 10ks and half marathons, with an eye on the marathon at some point in the future.

“Training went really well last summer, but nothing seemed to click in races. I was training a lot better than I was racing.

“Over the winter things started to click into place, and I made my first district team since I was an under-17. I was really happy with that, and went on to perform quite well at the nationals, but since January my main focus was on the Inverness half marathon.

“That was my first half and I set the target of going under 70 minutes, which I did – just.”

Run Garioch.

When Odentz isn’t training, he spends a significant amount of his time coaching.

He took on the challenge of leading Aberdeen AAC’s performance distance running group last year, and he says it’s a challenge which allows him to keep learning more and more about the discipline of distance running on both the track and the road.

“I love it,” he said. “You’ve got so many different people – none of them are professionals – they’ve all got jobs, or uni, so they’ve got to balance (the demands of athletics and day-to-day work).

“You’ve got to make sure they’re still enjoying everything.

“You’ve got to adapt how you speak to people, how you write their programmes – everything has to be adapted to the individual.”

Coaching means less time to relax

Due to his coaching commitments, it is unlikely Odentz will have any time to relax on Sunday after his races.

Although none of his athletes are competing alongside him in Inverurie, many will be running at the Scottish Athletics Outdoor Opens in Kilmarnock and Inverness.

Despite a busy weekend, he will look to find some pleasure in the pain, given Run Garioch is a local event in which he has enjoyed competing in during previous years.

Odentz said: “I think the Garioch event is really good – there’s always a good atmosphere and, although Inverurie is not my hometown, and I’m local to Aberdeen, there’s always people you know cheering you on.

“It’s a really good day out.”

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