The last five weeks can I guess be categorised as the ‘business’ period of the summer track season, with the British Under-23 Championships and World Championships Senior Trials taking place through June and July. Being away racing, working and training has meant keeping this regularly updated hasn’t been possible, but nevertheless the next period of the season provides a training interlude to build into the final races of the season, a good opportunity for an update.
The last five weeks purely fits into two halves: frustrating and promising.
After running another 800m PB of 1:54 in the British League, I was confident heading into the National Under-23 1500m Championships, although illness struck six days out from the race. A cough turned into a virus and chest infection, but drugged up (legally I may add), I toed the line for the heats with the best 25 Under-23′s in Britain. The heat was comfortable, and I took the win in a slow sit and kick race just outside four minutes.
We then had about 30 hours until the final and I felt recovered and controlled through 800m, getting myself into a good position to kick hard but physiologically my body didn’t want to react. Amazingly I couldn’t even muster up a usual kick in the last 60-70m. It was an awfully strange feeling as I despondently crawled home in 9th place.
Two weeks later after feeling like i’d got over the illness, it turned into a mirrored performance in the third British Grand Prix 1500m at Watford. Looking back I was probably just too eager to run well in the opening laps, but again the fatigue just hit me as I finished a distant 13th just under four minutes after another very slow closing lap.
These two performances were tough to take, but it’s impossible not to run well after putting together month upon month of consistent, committed and quality training.
Now for the promising half…
Into July, and we headed to Kingston to continue Bristol & West’s spectacular rise in the British Athletics League. I raced over 1500m and wanted nothing more out of the race than a win and a confidence boost. Both boxes were ticked after a slow first 800m, the pace slowly built as me and clubmate Steve Mitchell gained a six second advantage on the rest of the field to come home in 3:52 and a 56 last lap for a Bristol 1-2. The cheesy cliché every point counts couldn’t have been more evident on the bus home as It was a win for Bristol & West by a measly point, keeping us firmly on top of Division 3 and on our way to successive championships.
Since annoyingly running the Olympic Trials qualifying standard two weeks late in 2012, i’ve been looking forward to this years World Championships Trials and the Friday night 1500m heats didn’t disappoint. The experience and opportunity to compete with Olympians and professionals in front of a healthy crowd at the Alexander Stadium was something I can take a lot away from. I was never really in the race to make the final, but to run 3:47.07 off a 64 first lap and to beat six athletes was something i’d have taken before the race. More importantly though, nothing seemed daunting and a spot in the 2014 Commonwealth/European Trials 1500m final is the firm target.
Looking back through the stats, Saturday night’s Oxford British Milers Grand Prix was my first ‘paced’ 800m since August 2011, when my PB was 1:56. I knew I was capable of running a solid time over two laps this summer, but as coach sarcastically said beforehand “you might aswell just go and do it then!” I was lucky race director and fellow Oxford athlete Chris McGurk sorted me out with soon-to-be pro-pacer Caspar Eliott who took me to 500m on 1:51 pace and after a little falter on the windiest part of the track with 200m to go, I kicked for home going through the gears in the final 100m to take a two second win in 1:52.69, a PB by over two seconds.
The race can be seen here: http://www.athleticos.org/coverage/250947-2013-British-Milers-Club-Oxford-Grand-Prix/video/717918-Mens-800m-G
I was also given the chance to pace the Peter Coe mile, of which I took some of the best Under-17 milers in the UK to 1200m of a mile in an exciting race. It was great speaking to a group of them afterwards, passing on to simply enjoy their athletics and stay healthy as there are plenty of years to progress and run fast. I’m not too sure many of them believed my 1500m PB was 4:28 as an Under-17.
My philosophy is always to simply build gradually each year, be it strength, endurance, mileage, volume, performance or commitment and that box has been heartily ticked. I’ve certainly learn’t that making big gains off the competition field is dangerous and thinking of where you want to be at your peak is paramount, and not for the next race/season.
I have one more 1500m in just under a month, but whatever happens, it is the third year in a row of personal best times at every distance. Progress.