I never thought I would be disappointed with a 6th place finish at the European Championships but sadly, I am. The good thing is that both myself and my coach know where we’ve gone wrong. There was such a huge build up to the Olympic Trials – a pressure I had never really felt before and a roller-coaster of emotions. It was self-inflicted pressure. I needed to make that Olympic team. I needed to know that every tear, every tantrum, every drop of blood and sweat which has gone into my training over the last few years has been truly worth it. Making my second Olympic Games far outweighs the heartache of the last few years; it’s an achievement which wipes the slate clean and makes me forget the low points that sport has thrown at me.
Unfortunately during that Olympic build up, I came down ill a few days before the trials. Thankfully, it didn’t affect me on race day, however, I made the mistake of getting back into a really hard training week, too soon. Instead of focussing on getting myself healthy again, I squeezed in some big, gruelling sessions. In simple terms, I over did things in the lead up to this weekends Europeans. Warming up, I felt like I was running on empty and unfortunately when the gun went, my legs did too. It was a mistake and one that’s cost me a good performance but these mistakes are the ones which will make me stronger in the long run. It’s a mistake that won’t happen again.
The 5,000m is a new event for me and completely different to the chase. Qualifying time racing compared to a championship race is gravely different. It was important for me to do the Europeans almost as a stepping stone to the big one in a months time. I needed to be thrown in the pond before being flung into the sea. Within that race alone, I’ve learnt so much and I know that I still have so much more to learn which is the main positive I can grasp a hold of out of this weekend.
It’s evident that I don’t have enough mileage in my legs or the strength I need in order to be competing again the best athletes in the world. At 45 miles a week, it is nowhere near the volume I need to be running in order to race at this level but this year was all about staying injury free, being sensible and building things up slowly. Those things I have achieved.
Someone wrote to me on twitter, ‘Don’t be disappointed, you’ve had a serious injury, surgery, a year out the sport, changed events, ran two olympic qualifying times in your first two races of the year, ran PB’s over 1500m, 3000m and 5,000m, came 2nd at the British Champs, 6th at the Europeans and on your way to Rio.’ – Reading that back to myself, was a bit of a slap in the face. I couldn’t of DREAMED I would be in this situation at the start of the 2015 or 2016 and so I have to put things into perspective; respecting where i’ve started from and the circumstances surrounding this year. I’m proud of what i’ve been able to achieve and feel silly for being disappointed but it’s only because I know there is so much more to give.
I’m heading straight up to the mountains of Font Romeu for a month’s block of training at altitude before heading straight into the Olympic Village for my 5,000m heat on the 16th August. Looking towards my race, I would love to make the Olympic Final. It’s extremely tough, especially in the 5,000m. The Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes are a world apart to the European and American athletes but with only three athletes representing each nation – there is definitely a few places in the final up for grabs. Making an Olympic final in my first year of the event would be a monumental achievement. I’ll be wearing the GB colours with a huge smile on my face and I know my family will be oozing with pride watching me compete on the TV. All the blood, sweat and tears will have proven to be worthwhile the moment I toe the line in Brazil.