My LUCA: Henry Murdoch

Henry Murdoch is the current president of LUCA. A UCL grad, he’s no stranger to leading – as their president last year, he guided them to cross country, indoor and even varsity success. He’s not quite the classic athletics story though, as he says he initially ‘really hated running’ before finding his feet at uni. He now runs for Highgate, and spoke to LUCA to tell us a bit about his journey.

What’s your uni background?

I read History with French at UCL which included a year abroad studying in Paris. I have many fond memories from my four years at university.

What are you doing now?

I joined the Bank of England four months ago on their grad scheme.

How did you get into athletics?

I joined my school running club in Year 7 to help my fitness in my two main sports – hockey and fencing. In fact, I really hated running and was terrible at it. But I stuck with it for general fitness and by Year 12/13 I started making some small improvements. In my first year of uni, I was worried I’d be too slow to race and skipped the first three cross-country races. This was a huge mistake because LUCA events really are open to everyone. Over my four years at uni, I stopped other sports to focus only on athletics.

What does LUCA mean to you?

Inclusivity. I think the big strength of LUCA is that it provides an opportunity for any ability to race in a friendly, but competitive environment. One of the most memorable things from my last year at uni was seeing three of our runners who did the Couch to 5k programme in Term 1 compete for UCL at the Outdoors Series. It is also great to see so many athletes make improvements each year and knowing that LUCA is helping by providing London students the chance to compete is quite special.

How’s the presidency going?

It’s busy! There’s lots of work to get done and a fair amount of pressure to make sure we are putting on races and competitions that meets everyone’s expectations. However, this is a perfect opportunity to reiterate how grateful we all should be for the amazing work James Findon has done in founding LUCA and running it so well over the past years. It’s only now that I’ve taken over that I fully appreciate how much of his time he has given to LUCA. So, thanks again James!

How would you like to see LUCA develop?

I think LUCA is currently in a very strong position thanks to James. We now need to make sure that these high standards that have been set never slip. We will soon be announcing news of a partnership with the Vitality Westminster Mile that will give us a LUCA Mile Championship. So, watch this space!

Favourite LUCA race?

Wimbledon XC. It’s a classic cross-country course with trails, woods and, of course, hills.

Most hated session?

2000m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 2000m. We do this session once a year and it’s a fine line between love and hate. Judge it right and you feel great. Get it wrong and it becomes a long and painful session!

Favourite post run meal?

It’s not quite a meal, but chocolate milk is definitely my post-run weakness. I’ve had to limit it now to just after selected sessions or long runs!

It seems you’ve been right through from, would it be fair to say, beginner to now a quality runner placing well in big champs races. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Don’t try to do too much too soon! It’s good to be committed to training and to be determined to make improvements, but if you’re starting out it’s so important to take it one step at a time. If you try to copy some of the more experienced runners’ training without building up the base first, it could lead to injury. That’s why it’s so important to build up gradually.

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