It was amazing to finally take time out for an end of season break, especially with a successful summer under my belt. Now back in the UK, switching back into training mode isn’t easy.
Taking a break and having a holiday is not like an injury-forced rest where you are bursting at the seams to get back to training again. It’s a lot more relaxed than that. And sometimes the body is craving more recovery time after such an intense season. Therefore, building back up again has to be a smooth process.
I need to be really careful how I approach my winter training this year because I have increased my training load too soon in the past and ended up injured. A mistake I definitely don’t want to make again.
I’m excited to get stuck into winter training as it’s been a rare occurrence over the last few seasons of my career. Winter is where the summer performances are made; the hard slog throughout the cold months creates leg strength and enhances an athlete’s endurance. In the summer, my training volumes decrease to allow certain aspects of my performance to sharpen up before I start racing. However, the majority of the hard work is done months before racing commences.
Over the next few months I have a few road races planned. Ideally, I would have LOVED to add in some cross country competitions – these are bread and butter training for endurance athletes – but it’s too much of a risk due to my ankle injury. I think I’ll have to give my body (and head) another year before returning to the uneven terrain again.
First up, I have a four mile road race in Manchester (USA). It’s not a key event in my diary as I have only just started running again this week but it will give me a base line to work from. I will use this race as a place mark in my diary to measure progress from here. Heading into the New Year I will definitely be doing a 10k road race – I just need to decide which one. It’s important for me to start racing over the longer distances throughout the winter so that in the summer when I return to the track the 5k should feel a breeze.
Depending on how training is going as we head into 2017 I might aim to do some indoor races too. The European Indoor Championships isn’t something I will be particularly aiming for but if training is going well, then I think, why not?
Every race is a learning experience and it’s been over three years since I last hit the indoors boards. I enjoy splitting up my training with races and I think it’s important for every athlete to do so. We are competitors first and foremost. It’s crucial that we don’t stray too far away from being competitive and racing others. Having a few races planned throughout my hard training months keeps me focussed and driven to achieve my summer goals.
These road races aren’t included within my major goals for the year. They will be used as important training sessions and as a guideline to my fitness levels at certain points throughout the year.
My main goal for 2017 will be the World Championships which return to London next August. I’m not sure if qualifying times have been set yet as the policy comes into place around early May 2017. Typically the times are similar to that of the Olympic Games. I was bitterly disappointed to miss out on breaking the 15 minute barrier over the 5,000m and so next year – I’ll be targeting a sub 15 clocking from the offset.
I can’t believe I will have another chance to compete in front of a home crowd. Very few athletes get such an opportunity within their athletic careers but I’ve been extremely fortunate to have experienced both London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. I have no doubts that Great Britain will put on yet another spectacular show – hopefully I can be on the start line to experience a similar buzz to London 2012 all over again.