Following a pretty mediocre 3000m, 2400m of which was in pitch black darkness, the last three weeks have really brought on some quality training. Sessions on the track with the University group in Oxford have worked nicely and regardless of ability have proved if you are willing to work together with other athletes, it will work. A few sessions I would chase athletes starting efforts earlier or take shorter recoveries in order to make workouts benefit everyone, and I think we found the right balance. Running goal 1500m pace for 4,5 and 600m efforts is a real confidence boost heading into a race period and the importance of doing this alongside others makes running at pace feel far smoother and relaxed, if you can try and not be too competitive. Easier said than done.
I opened up my regular season after moving back to Bristol at the first British Athletics League, with a strong newly promoted Bristol & West team at the hurricane epicentre that is the Cardiff International Stadium. I found out on arrival I was doubling up, 800 and 1500m, but the sole aim was a strong 800 and if the opportunity came, run a decent time. Warming up I was hoping a few lads were going to take the pace on, but 150m in I found myself at the front and tried to stay relaxed and not push on too hard. We got to the bell in 59 seconds, and I just stayed relaxed and tried not to react too much and try steadily to build up the final lap. I felt like I had a decent lead going into the last 150m, with the home straight into a howling gale, so if anyone did attack me I wouldn’t have heard them coming. The clock stopped at 1:54, meaning a 1 second PB and negative splits of 59/55 seconds. This was really reassuring, considering 10 months previously running 1:55 was flat out in a paced race, and hopefully now in a decent paced race in good conditions it can be further lowered again.
As I was the ‘B’ runner in the 1500m later in the afternoon, it was a case of insincerely going about the race, but making sure I finished 1st B string. The pace was slow to 800m, then slowly built up as I came home in 4:06, comfortably first B runner. A good days work and made even better by Bristol winning the match in dominant fashion to kick start our second successive promotion campaign.
After an easy week last week we headed to the first British Milers Grand Prix in Solihull full of confidence, and in the ‘A’ Elite race for the first time ever. The pace asked for was 58 and 1:56 at 800m, so I was looking forward to tagging onto the back and just seeing what happens. Sadly from the word go it was apparent nobody wanted to run fast. We crawled to 400 in 64, followed by a 62 and having started on the complete outside I never got onto the kerb and continually got barged about, needlessly wasting energy. This obviously turned the race into a one lap burn up, and I didn’t help myself being in lane three as two athletes pushed inside me and I was on the back foot from the first step. I ended up running 3:52 in 12th place, a time a year ago that was a PB and we were delighted, so nothing to be too worried about, it was just a silly race. I’m not sure what people hoping to go to major global championships this summer are gaining from that race, as they should be beating domestic fields anyway.
Interestingly in the list of ‘What we Expect from Athletes’ published by the BMC, one point is ‘Run at the pace stated for their race and not attempt to slow a race’, so maybe a few words will be exchanged before the next Grand Prix. Hopefully anyway.
This week has a more endurance focus before we start the build up of races towards the National Championships. I’m lucky enough to be linking up with Steve Mitchell throughout the summer, and we seem to work off each other well, with very similar aspirations for the season. Everything is streets ahead of where it was this time last year, off the back of the best winter ever, so the races will come. Well, they better.
“If you can’t run faster than that, get off the track!” British Milers Club Founder Frank Horwill MBE 1927-2012