ANDY BUTCHART may be best known as a world-class track runner, but when the 5000m specialist lines up for the European Cross-Country Championships in Lisbon today, he is there for one reason, and one reason only; to win some silverware.

“I’m looking forward to Lisbon and I’m taking it very seriously – I’m Mr. Serious,” he said.

“The plan was always to only go to Lisbon if I was capable of medalling.”

Butchart has had a busy few months; following his elimination in the heats of the 5000m at the World Championships in Doha, he turned his attention to cross-country, winning the Scottish Short-Course XC Championships last month.

He skipped the European XC Championship trials in Liverpool a fortnight ago in favour of a road race in Manchester, America, but that was all with a view to being at his very best in Lisbon this weekend.

A third-place finish in Manchester behind Eric Jenkins and Edward Cheserek was, in Butchart’s view, the ideal preparation for the Euro XC Championships and the 28-year-old believes he is in the form to add to his European XC bronze medal from 2017.

Butchart is something of a deviation from the norm when it comes to elite athletes in that he is self-coached.

He returned to the UK this summer after moving to San Diego to be coached by renowned American coach, Terence Crawford, after things didn’t work out the way he had hoped. Whilst in America, Butchart realised that he was absolutely not suited to having a coach who he worked with on a daily basis hence the change of circumstances these days.

This is not to say he does not have any guidance at all, but he certainly doesn’t work with a coach day in, day out like most athletes do.

“There’s a few people I work with but 90 percent of the stuff I do is solely on me – I’m not getting coached like most people do where every day, they get told what to do,” he said.

“I can do what I want – the people I’m working with are advising me more than coaching me.”

It may be an unorthodox set-up but Butchart believes it is working perfectly for him. He concedes that it is much easier to self-coach when he’s fit and healthy and in good form as he is just now but he admits he likes being in the position of being in charge.

There is, says Butchart, often a tendency to over-complicate things in athletics. He believes if you keep it simple, you won’t go too far wrong.

“Some people think it’s odd to be in charge of everything myself but as a runner, you don’t wake up thinking I need to do x amount of press ups today or anything like that, you just need to go for a run,” he said.

“It’s not difficult. I think people make it more complicated than it needs to be. Whether you do 5, 6, 7 or 10 miles, it’s all the same thing – it’s just running.

“If you make it into rocket science, I think you’ll fail. I keep it a very simple process. That’s what I’ve been brought up doing. It’s done on feel a lot.”

One of Butchart’s strengths is his ability to move on from disappointment. He comes across completely sure of himself but things are not always as they seem. And he admits hearing Mahon’s thoughts when they parted ways was not always easy.

“When I left, Terence said to me that I’m the complete opposite of what my persona is. That was hard to hear from someone who I respected,” he said.

“I do get nervous but at the same time, I’m don’t because it’s just running. There’s so much more going on in life than running round in circles so I take it all with a pinch of salt.

“I am very serious and very competitive but I know it’s not the end of the world. I understand people who are very religious with what they do and everything but doing it like this is what makes me happy.”

Butchart has been a mainstay of the British team in recent years and if things go to plan, he will be at his second Olympic Games next summer. And he admits that even eight months out from Tokyo, everything is geared towards it.

“I don’t plan to do an indoor season, although I plan to do an indoor race but that’s just to see where I’m at,” he said.

“Then it will just be full tilt to Tokyo. It actually is already – it’s coming round pretty quick.”

Joining Butchart in Lisbon are his fellow Scots Sol Sweeney in the under-23 race, while in the under-20 race, Megan Keith, Cera Gemmell and Hamish Armitt will all be in action.