So I came 21st in the World. That day I’d been planning for since April has come and gone and is now just another happy memory that athletics has given to me. That focus, that goal, has passed but as is the case in athletics, another one quickly replaces the void. In my case, it is the European Cross Country Championships in December, where the best athletes in Europe battle it out over 10,000 metres of mud and dirt.
Seven weeks have passed since my last marathon. Three of those were taken up with eating junk food, late nights and essentially living a ‘normal’ life. However, now it’s back into training mode and considering I’ve given up my job to become a full time athlete its time I looked at all those small things that just might make a difference. I say small things, in actual fact I’m trying to sort out the large things first. Don’t ask me why, and I probably shouldn’t admit publically what an idiot I am, but up until 3 weeks ago I’ve been wearing shoes(racing and training) at least 2 sizes too big for me. It’s said that sport is sometimes a game of inches. Well I don’t know if you’ve ever compared shoes 2 sizes apart but believe me, that is quite literally an inch made up right there! My quickest lap in recent times has been 52 seconds. I sometimes wonder if you give Mo a pair of shoes 2 sizes too big how fast he’d be able to go. Either way I imagine wearing correctly sized shoes should save me some time over the course of a marathon. So my first rule for beginners: Buy a pair of shoes that fit!
Another big change I’ve introduced recently is strength and conditioning. I think it’s obvious from any photo of me that I’ve rarely been into a gym in my life. However now that I have the time to concentrate on it, with the help of the crew at St Mary’s Clinic, I’ve got a programme developed to improve my many weaknesses. I’m slowly realising that strength and conditioning should be a core component (excuse the pun, I couldn’t resist) of training with the aim of injury prevention and improving technique when fatigued. For any budding running enthusiasts or beginners I would highly recommend getting into the habit of doing even 15mins of conditioning work regularly. The difference it makes in how strong you feel is incredible.
And lastly, as the nights are getting colder and the sun is disappearing earlier I should probably come up with some words to try and inspire you to leave the comfort of your warm home. But I’m not going to sit here and write why you should get out the door and run. If you want it, there’s nothing I can say that will make you do it. It has to come from within. It has to be that burning desire to not necessarily be the best but desire to do your best. It is up to you. What I can tell you though, is that I have experienced some of the small rewards of what is possible if you sacrifice your time and your life to this sport and I can guarantee you that it makes it all worthwhile and then some.
I know one day I won’t have the chance to be Olympic champion, that dream will be gone. And once that day has passed there’s no way of getting it back. However, until that point I’m going to do everything I can to get that medal. I don’t want to waste one second, hell even one moment, letting go of that dream until I know I have to. Like all things, there are stepping stones along the way, of course there are. Sometimes I’ll fall in, sometimes I’ll bounce from one to the next. But in 3 years time at Rio there will be no more stepping stones, no more trials and no more sitting back. I will either be ready or I wont, and I tell you now, if I don’t get injured, then I’ll be ready and I will be there. And once I’m there, anything can happen. That is my dream. So it’s time to ask yourself, what is yours? Now go get out that door.