Dean Macey, 23, from Canvey Island, Essex, is the most successful British decathlete since Daley Thompson. He won silver a medal at the World Athletics Championships in 1999 on his senior international debut, finished fourth in the Sydney Olympics, and earlier this year battled through injury to claim a bronze at the World Championships in Canada, scoring a lifetime-best 8,603 points. Next summer he tackles back-to-back decathlons: the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, followed by the European Championships in Munich.
How much training do you have to put in?
You begin your training programme up to seven months before a particular competition. But this year I've had to start especially early as I will be competing in two decathlons very close together next summer; my current programme has been extended to nine months.
That's a bit hardcore, isn't it?
Yes, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to do either, especially as the Commonwealth Games are in Britain this year. It's going to be tough, but it'll give me a good opportunity to break the British record. I'm aiming for that, trying to peak at the right time.
How do you control when you peak?
After months of training, you have to have an easy week before a competition to allow the muscles time to recover, but only after all the work has been done.
What are the components of your training?
The first eight to 10 weeks are conditioning work, starting with long runs of 20, 30 or 40 minutes, and also weights. The next two months are endurance rather than cardiovascular work. In the last three months, it's out-and-out speed work.
What specific exercises do you have to do?
All the muscles I need are dynamic, so I do a lot of bench presses and squats. I do weights in order to train my muscles rather than build them up – they need to become quick under stress, so I also do a lot of medicine-ball work.
Have you got any special training secrets?
There's an isotonic drink called Powerade I swear by. I've been drinking it since about 1996. I take it everywhere; it's like my credit card, except it tastes nicer and isn't always empty.
How do you wind down?
I like golf and fishing, but I've got a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Babe, and I find the best relaxation of all is just to go out for two or three miles with her. She comes on every single training run as well, but I have to keep calling her back because she always beats me.
When did you decide to be a decathlete?
I didn't really, someone just suggested it to me. I tried the octathlon when I was 16 and won the national finals. I won a decathlon at 17, and within three years I was the world junior silver medallist. To be honest, I only did it for a laugh, and I tell you what – I'm still doing it for a laugh.
Do you have a specific diet?
Not really. Basically, I eat what I want. Fortunately, I like all the good stuff, and eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat. I have a lot of bread, chicken, pasta, fish, rice and potatoes, but once a fortnight I try to have a curry, to treat myself.
What is your favourite decathlon event and why?
My two best events are the long jump and 400 metres, but I tend to enjoy whichever ones are going better at the time. In general, I get more satisfaction out of the running events, as they take more energy and need more work. There is no pain barrier in events like the shot put – unless, of course, you drop it on your foot.
Interview by Jonathan ThompsonReuse content