During July I was undertaking Soar 6 training. In the build up to the Soar mile at the end of the month I competed in a couple of races. Some highlights included an 800m pb at Watford in 2:05 which was 4 seconds quicker than my previous pb of 2015. Some interesting aspects of this race was that I actually ran a negative split with a 63 second first lap followed by 62 seconds. My conservatism was based on the fact I’d ran an 800m earlier in the season with a 60 second first lap followed by a 68s second lap so didn’t want to do a repeat of that. As well – at Watford – I was heavily boxed in with 200m to go which hampered my sprint finish a bit meaning I could take confidence that there was more there.
Ironically it turned out this was to be my quickest 800m of the summer as I fell ill just prior to another planned 800m race a few weeks later so withdrew. It was a shame as a session of 8 x 200m off 2 minutes 30 seconds with all 200s ran in sub 30 seconds suggested I was perhaps ready to run a bit quicker.
Before 2017 my 1500m pb of 4:21 equated to running 3 and 3/4 laps of the track in 69 seconds. By July I’d improved this to running 68 second laps and in my next race a few days after the Soar mile I ran my new personal best in 67 second laps with 4:11 at Watford. This race was ran off the first 2 laps being rather pedestrian in around 69/70s with a strong second-half of the race. This suggests that there is further room for improvement time-wise.
Following the Watford 1500m 3 days later I laced my spikes again for the 3000m distance. Whilst I wanted to capitalise on my good form in hindsight it was a case of one too many races in quick succession without adequate recovery. I ran the first half of the race in 4:31 but slowed considerably in the second half finishing with a time of 9:17. Whilst it was a personal best I wasn’t best pleased as felt I’m capable of running considerably quicker than that. However as fate would have it that race in Oxford was my second and last 3000m race of the season so infact I’ll have to wait till next year before attempting to run a time I’m happier with.
At the beginning of August I fell ill with what a certain Isaac Makwala (World Championship 200m/400m runner) also had. This put me out of action for about 10 days and was unfortunate in timing as there were a couple of races missed and some key training sessions skipped as a result. Eventually later in August I ran a 1500m in 4:15 but knew I wasn’t feeling quite as nippy as before.
The track season can be long – and whilst physically demanding – towards the end of it the track season can become more arduous from a mental point of view as there is only so long you can focus on chasing races and times before the body and mind needs a break. As August drew on I was feeling more and more ready to end my track season. I ran the Ipswich 5k road race and was pleasantly surprised to finish in a time of 16:14 and spent the whole race close to Gemma Steel (previously 2nd place finisher at Great North Run) which meant I can’t have been doing too bad. Off the back of that race I decided I needed to have one more crack at a 5000m race. On the following Wednesday I ran the Wimbledon 5000m in a personal best of 15:49.
After the Wimbledon 5000m it was time for a couple of non-racing weeks to recharge a bit. As much as I wanted a break from racing before the cross country season kicks in there was one final track race I had in mind due to unfinished business from last year. The race in question was the South of England 10,000m track champs where I’d came 4th last year. The race takes place towards the end of September so basically a few weeks after the track season has ended and just before the autumn racing season begins. Whilst in many ways I wanted to continue my racing break I knew this was the one race I could make an effort to attend as winning an area championships medal has always been on the bucket list.
As the gun went off I found myself at the front of the race for the first of the 25 laps. As the next few laps unfolded I found myself going at a nice steady, controlled pace. 3 guys gradually got ahead of me and made a bit of a gap. However I wasn’t concerned about it as I felt good and was running under the premise of going steady to 5000m before making any sort of ‘move’. What I love about championship racing is that fact its the only time I’m competing on the track where I’m not obsessing about my pace/lap splits. Its pure racing at its simplest. Without about 10 laps to go I was approaching the guy in 3rd place. In two minds whether to be conservative and hold off my move till later or make it then I decided to just make it then and move quickly past. This proved a good tactic as I then built up about a 100m lead over the guy who was now in 4th. With 1st and 2nd place a long way ahead it was all about consolidating my position, not slowing down and pushing on as much as I could. Watching the laps tick off one by one I was delighted to finish the race in 3rd place and secure my second championship medal of the summer. It was great to finish the season on a high and prove to myself that if you don’t achieve what you want the first time around come back, try again and maybe you will succeed!