Most athletes train between five to seven days a week. Personally, I train in track work six days a week – flat speed work, speed and power endurance as well as hurdling technique. I also spend time in the gym for strength and conditioning sessions. All of this, as well as keeping up with my university workload, leaves little time for the typical student social life.
I am fortunate to have been a part of a sociable and incredibly supportive group from the age of 13 until coming to university. Despite competing for different clubs, we are a team and family. The group consists primarily of 400m hurdlers and a few 400m flat runners. There were a few other sprint hurdlers but they gradually dropped out of athletics or moved groups as life and other commitments took over.
I arrived at university with the intention of following my coach’s plan from home and hurdling every other week with my new coach, June Plews. Training became lonely however, especially in the cold, dark winter sessions.
I have always had a structured routine whereby my life consisted of school, work and training. I knew there would always be someone relying on me to show up and complete my session with maximum effort. Suddenly, I was thrust into a world where everything I did simply depended upon my own motivation. And let me tell you this it can be incredibly difficult to motivate yourself, after a full day of lectures and studying, to go and complete 15×200 in the pouring rain and cold, especially when you know you’ll be running alone.
A culmination of this, not performing at the standard I expected, a recurring injury, a heavy workload and personal problems – everything became just a little too much. I decided to make the extremely difficult decision to take the 2015 summer season off athletics and work on strengthening my mind-set.
In September, I started training again, and started my role as Track and Field Captain of the Athletics and XC team (I will be President for the 2016-17 academic year). I was determined not to have a repeat of the previous year and luckily my second year timetable meant I could train with June and the rest of her athletes more frequently. I also follow her sessions on the other days. Working closely with her has not only improved my hurdling technique but we have also corrected years of incorrect form in my running. I have learned to run again, as she says. It’s helpful to have other athletes to push against in training, as well as receiving feedback from June.
Away from the track, I have made the most of the offered Sports Scholar Workshops, whereby I have gained knowledge in nutrition, social media training, sports psychology and strength and conditioning. The latter was my favourite and I am looking forward to working with Sports Lab in the future to further improve my performance.
I am now back at home, following June’s plan under the guidance of my other coach, Marina Armstrong. After a rocky few races at the start of my season, all the hard work has finally paid off – I ran a huge personal best in the 100m hurdles. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season pans out, hopefully dropping my time even more.