Whitehead goes the extra mile
Going the extra mile is a phrase which is easily associated with Richard Whitehead ahead of the London Paralympic Games.
The 35-year-old congenital double leg amputee from Nottinghamshire was thwarted in his attempts to compete in the Paralympic marathon but is undeterred.
Far from satisfied by distances of 1000 metres in training as he prepares for the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the Paralympics, he also embarks on longer runs which bemuse his sprint colleagues.
"I am an endurance athlete," Whitehead, who runs on prosthetic legs, said from an Aviva training camp in Portugal.
"I've still got my base-level training in place. I'm still doing 35 miles a week.
"While I've been over here I've done runs at night, just as 'me time', to self-evaluate and go through things in my head. It's nice to be able to have that time.
"For me it's about something I enjoy, but also I feel it's where I'm from and that's the reason I'm so strong on my 200 metres towards the end.
"As long as it doesn't impede my training at all, it's fine.
"It's more about maximising the ability of the athlete."
Whitehead and his coaches Liz Yelling and Keith Anton believe his long-distance training do not compromise his track work.
Indeed, his sprint credentials are proven - he is the 200m world champion and world record holder - and he hopes to claim glory in London.
"The sky's the limit really," he added.
"I've got every chance of still being the world record holder and world number one."
He has made one concession - he will not be running a marathon until 2013.
Whitehead had been hoping to compete over 26.2 miles in London against arm amputees in the T46 class.
However, he was frustrated when in April 2011 the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favour of the International Paralympic Committee, insisting classes should not be mixed where the impairment affects a different part of the body.
Even though his Paralympic marathon chance has gone, Whitehead is determined to improve his world record of two hours 42 minutes.
"I've got some unfinished business," he said.
"I want to get down to 2:35. It's the B standard for a female marathon.
"I know it's possible, because I've done a lot of work around the six-minute mile mark on longer runs. I just need to put that together in a marathon."