Sean Chalmers believes a move to Aberdeen will enhance his running career and could lead to him making a serious bid for a place on the Scotland team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The inter-district cross country champion, from Dingwall, has taken up a PE teaching post at St Machar Academy, having held a similar position at Fortrose Academy.
Although he has been in the north-east for only a few months, the Inverness Harriers member is already reaping the benefits from training with a strong group of distance runners which includes Scotland internationals Cameron Strachan, Michael Ferguson and Myles Edwards.
He said: “I was getting a bit tired of training on my own up north. Now I’ve got in with a good squad here in Aberdeen. It’s great to be able to train with Cameron, Michael and Myles.
“It makes it easier to get out and do a session when you’ve made a commitment to meet up with others. If you are on your own and faced with going out in the dark, cold and wet after work, it’s easy to maybe give it a miss.
“I’m still finding my feet and adjusting to the change of scene, but it has been good so far.”
Chalmers showed excellent form at the weekend when finishing fourth in the Run and Become Sri Chinmoy Invitational 5k at the Fife Cycle Park.
His time of 14min 21secs sliced 19secs off his previous best time set on the track last year.
Inverclyde’s Jonny Glen outsprinted national cross country champion Jamie Crowe (Central AC) to win by 2secs in 14:06, with former Great Aberdeen Run half marathon champion Kris Jones (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) third in 14:10.
Chalmers made up a huge amount of ground over the final 2k of a highly competitive race in which nine athletes finished inside 14:30.
He said: “I was too cautious early on as I had no idea what shape I was in for a 5k. I only had just over a week’s notice of the race.
“I wanted to make sure I finished strongly, so I sat in the second group for a long time. There were about 10 runners in the lead group then a bit of a gap to my group. At one point I think I was lying in 14th position.
“After about 3k I was feeling good and ran very fast from there to the end.
“I know that the next time I can go out harder and would probably try to go with the front group. I definitely feel there’s more there.”
His training partners Ferguson (14:35) and Edwards took (14:49) were 11th and 22nd respectively from an invitation-only field of 30.
After having no races for months because of the pandemic, Chalmers will be back in action for the second time in seven days when he competes in this Saturday’s Scottish 3k cross country meeting at Scone Palace.
He said: “It’s a bit short for me, so hopefully it will be muddy and that will slow down the faster guys a bit.
“There’s also a 10k at Forres the following weekend which I’m keen to do. I don’t know much about it, but it would be good to try to get under 30 minutes there.”
Chalmers is also taking a longer-term view in Aberdeen and admits the 2022 Commonwealth Games is on his radar.
He said: “I’d like to focus on my running a bit more in the lead-up to 2022, but that depends on a number of factors.
“My coach, Mark Pollard, has been speaking about the marathon, but it’s quite a big jump in distance over a relatively short period. The 10,000m is another possibility.”