English squash player Tom Richards put aside the time to talk to us about torn ACLs, competing at next year’s World Championships in Manchester and staying up late to chat with George Harrison.
How did you first get into your sport?
Both of my parents play squash and so when my Mum took my brother down to the local squash club I used to tag along. Inevitably at the age of 4 I found myself on court and haven’t looked back since!
If you had to describe your career in three words, what would they be?
Enjoyable, injuries, unfinished.
How would your teammates or fellow competitors describe you?
Attacking with a never say die attitude.
What would class as your proudest moment – either in sport or outside of it?
In squash it would be the 2 European team championship titles that I’ve won whilst representing England. Outside of sport I’ve been lucky enough to be best man for both my brother, Charlie, and my friend Matt, both of which were extremely enjoyable.
If you weren’t a sportsperson, what job do you think you’d be doing?
I’d either be working in the city in some respect or running a beach front café in California!
Squash is an extremely physical sport and so involves a lot of different fitness training. Typically I train twice a day, one session will be on court which will be mainly hitting but may also involve squash specific fitness drills. The second session will be off court and can vary between weight training, running, bike sessions, swimming, essentially anything that’s hard work.
Can you tell us what you are looking forward to in the next 12 months – competitions, etc?
There’s plenty to look forward to and nothing more so than the World Championships, which will be held in Manchester next year. If selected then there’s also the European Team Championship and the World Team Championships in quick succession.
Mammoth mattresses are known for their health benefits, particularly for people recovering from injury or taking preventative steps to maintain condition. Have you suffered any injuries during your career?
Unfortunately I’ve suffered many injuries throughout my career. Too many to mention!
If so, do any of them still hinder you today?
I’ve been lucky enough to have exceptional medical care throughout my career so nothing in particular still hinders me. Early in my career I ruptured my ACL, which is a ligament in my knee and whilst my knee is fine I still suffer a few muscular injuries, which may be as a result of that.
Would you consider rest time and recovery an important part of your training regime?
Extremely. Training and playing can be very tough on the body and so recovery is paramount in order to be able to compete throughout the year.
Ideally, how many hours of sleep do you aim for a night? Do you usually reach your target?
I like to get around 8 hours of sleep. Most of the time I do reach my target but with the nature of our tour being global we have to deal with jet lag frequently and this can sometimes lead to a sleepless night.
What impact does it have on you if you feel you’ve not had a good night’s sleep?
It does make you feel lethargic the next day. As squash is a fast sport, if your reactions are even slightly off then you can notice a big dip in performance.
What kind of a sleeper are you? Perhaps a light and restless sleeper, or do you sleep like a log, as the saying goes?
Somewhere in between, sorry to sit on the fence! At home I rarely wake up in the night but in hotels I’m more likely to be woken.
You must travel a lot from training camps to competitions. What would you say is a must-have to ensure a good night’s sleep away from home?
After 12 years of travelling I’m still not sure! Ideally you like to go to bed at a similar time to when you’re at home but in reality this isn’t always possible. One thing that does always help me is making the room quite cool, especially in hot countries.
Do you have an optimum environment to sleep in – e.g. warm and cosy, cool and clean?
Cool and clean would be my preference. I’m certainly not a neat freak but I like to know where things are. I also like to make the room as dark as possible so will quite often unplug TVs!
What is your typical bedtime routine? Do you like to relax in bed with a DVD? Read a book or magazine? Or is it straight to bed and lights out after you’ve brushed your teeth?
I like to read a book for a bit before bed or listen to some music.
How did you find out about Mammoth mattresses?
I first came across Mammoth through the British Athletes Commission. Mammoth are benefits providers to UK Sport funded athletes.
Which model did you purchase and where from?
I bought the Mammoth Performance 240 from Bedtime Superstores in Staines.
What attracted you to Mammoth in the first place and how are enjoying your rest on the mattress?
When I first came across Mammoth, I instantly liked the idea that you can improve both your sleep quality and aid your recovery. This really attracted me to Mammoth. I can safely say that it is the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in, if I could just transport it to all the hotels I stay in then that would be the icing on the cake.
If you could have a (purely platonic) late night chat with anyone, dead or alive, who’d be worth losing sleep over – and why?
If I could have a chat with anyone it’d probably be George Harrison (closely followed by John Lennon). I’m sure he’d have enough stories to entertain me for a few weeks!