Monday, 14 July 2014
All in, or nothing
I’ve now gone past the half-way point of my season, so it seems like a good time to reflect on where I am, and what progress has been made. It’s been an intense period of learning, with some real highs balanced out by some fairly extreme lows. My times have been coming down consistently over the course of the season, and I am able to replicate a level of performance which proves I have made some really good progress. The two big competitions that I had were something of a mixed bag. The first, the Middlesex County Championships (MCC) in May, didn’t go to plan. The conditions were absolutely horrendous, with a huge headwind, driving rain and low temperatures. I was also seeded into the fastest heat of the day, and was certainly given a harsh reality check by the experience. However, I tried to focus my frustration and disappointment and turn it into a positive, by using it as my motivation to increase the intensity of my training ever further. I had a month between the MCC and the South of England Championships (SEC) in June. Whilst I felt that my training was going really well, in the two open competitions I took part in I didn’t reach what I felt was an acceptable level of performance considering all my hard work. Consequently, with one week to go to the SEC, I assessed every aspect of my preparation, and decided that it was my diet that was letting me down. With a few tweaks to what I ate and when, I felt more energetic, and felt like my muscular endurance was better in training. The SEC ran over two days, with the 100m on the Saturday and the 200m on the Sunday. It was the top 4 into the semi-final for the 100m, and the top 3 for the 200m. I finished 5th in a new personal best in the 100, but despite running another personal best in the 200, finished last. The 200m was a pretty chastening experience, as I didn’t even feel remotely competitive. Without a competition for another month, I was left with the opportunity to really think about what I’m doing and what I’m seeking to achieve. In truth, in the darkest moments, I felt that I had nothing left to give, and that after committing so resolutely to something I care about for nearly 2 years, that I might be best served by stepping away from it all for the sake of my sanity. But truth be told, I think that was determined by my looking at how far I have to go, rather than how far I have already come. When I looked at my performances at the SEC in 2013, I had finished last in both my races, and in considerably slower times, so the improvement made was evident, and I also now have the confidence to know that I can produce my best when the pressure is on and it really matters. With 5 more competitions between now and the end of August, I have the opportunity to try and bring my times down even more, and finish the season on a real high by running in front of my family in Newcastle, who haven’t had the chance to see me run yet. I am also now the only member of my training group, after Montell decided to move on. I was sad to see her go, and will miss both the fun side to our sessions as well as the competitiveness that training with an elite athlete brought, but it does at least mean that the focus of every session is entirely on me now, and I’m optimistic that this extra attention will allow me to develop my technique even quicker. I guess one final thing I’d like to mention is a message I received from someone that I used to go to school with over Facebook the other day. They mentioned that they’d been keeping an eye on my progress, and hoped that I was still sticking to my dream. This message really touched me, and has provided me with an extra motivation for the next two months, so, thank you, sincerely.