Whilst in Soria, Spain during May I saw a link to a competition inviting runners to apply to become part of the Soar 6. Each summer Soar (a running clothing company) organise a Mile racing event at Battersea Park. This year 6 runners were given the opportunity to be trained in the build up to the Soar mile by international medallist, sub-4 minute miler and former Olympian Matt Yates.
I applied and was fortunate enough to gain a place. For 8 weeks I met on a weekly basis with Matt, Barry Elwell (Matt’s colleague) and the Soar 6 at Mile End for training sessions.
At the beginning of the programme I was asked what my target time for the mile event being held towards the end of July was. I figured that off a 4:21 1500m pb that I could probably run one at around 4:40. However I really saw the training opportunity with Matt as a way to improve my speed so ambitiously I set my target time as 4:29 which basically meant running around 67 second laps of the track for 4 and a bit laps.
Training sessions were very structured. With considerable time put into warming up effectively (including stretches, drills and finally fast strides). The whole onus of training was on getting us to run fast. An example session was 5 x (470-550m, 1 minute rest, 110m) with 2.5 minutes recovery between sets. My training plan throughout the 8 week period was intense with a further 2 sessions a week on top of the guided session at Mile End.
In the build up to the Soar Mile I knew the training was working as I was breaking personal bests at 800m and 1500m and suddenly my target racing pace wasn’t feeling quite so daunting. I really enjoyed getting Matt and Barry’s input and training in a brand new environment. Arriving at Battersea Park for the Soar Mile event I could feel the adrenaline pumping. All Soar 6 runners were given special Soar 6 kit which meant we stood out. I knew I wanted to deliver my best performance so raced the race how I race most when trying to run a certain time and that’s by even-pacing.
I hit the first 400m in 67 seconds and a good few of the field were ahead leaving me just ahead of the mid-pack. I then followed up lap 2 with another 67 second lap. On the third lap I noticed a couple of people around me struggling a bit with the pace so this motivated me and I managed to clock another 67 second lap whilst picking off a couple of the runners ahead of me. Going into the last lap the race had really come into its own as the athletes were all really strung out. The lactic was building up ever so quickly now and my breathing was strained. Coming into the home straight I was exhausted but knew I was close to my target. As I approached the line I could see the clock ticking 4:29 ahead. I crossed the line thinking I’d done my target time. I sat down in exultation trying to catch my breath again. It was only once the results were made available that I found out I’d ran 4:30.02 and had finished 3 hundredths of a second outside my target time. Whilst I was annoyed in the heat of the moment about that I realised later on that in the context of my season I’d make some big improvements and could only take a lot of positive feelings from that!