We’ve all been there, you’ve put in the training, you’re fired up and raring to go but for whatever reason it’s just does go right on the day.
Last Saturday I represented GB in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. Training has being going really well and I knew I was in great shape so was expecting a good performance. Unfortunately that didn’t pan out.
I’m not one for making excuses so I’m not going to be blame the dreadful conditions. The only excuse I will use is that I was a bit silly chasing a PB in a championship race with those conditions. I should have known better and changed my targets.
I started off strong and felt great going through 5k in 16.35 which is roughly where I wanted to be. Then we hit a little incline and I lost a lot of ground on the group I had been running with. This left me running solo trying to close those in front down which never happened. I’d slowed a bit by 10k and a lot by 15k. At this point it was just a case of hanging on and trying to pick up anyone in front who was dying more than me. I managed to do that and over took 2 girls but over the same section two girls came from behind and over took me.
By the time we turned back into the wind at 11miles my legs were gone and those last 2 miles felt more like 20! Having your legs go on you at 11miles is not a great sign for an upcoming marathon but I know I won’t be setting off as fast there so I’m not too worried. I managed to out sprint an American over the last 200 metres so I’ll take that as a positive as I don’t often win in sprint outs!
Anyone who watched the BBC coverage will have seen my post race interview where I said I wasn’t happy with my run. A lot of people have said I was being too harsh on myself but when you know that you are in good shape and you are out there representing your country it is very disappointing to run below what you expected to. I’d rather be honest and say that I wasn’t happy with my performance than sugar coat it and say it was a good run when I know it wasn’t and I dare say that there was plenty of people sitting at home saying the same thing about it!
Looking back I suppose it wasn’t too bad a performance, just not what I wanted. I finished 27th, 3rd European and 1st Brit in a time of 72.57. Maybe I was expecting too much from myself but I honestly thought that I could improve on my time and placing from the last championships back in 2014. As I said in my BBC interview I’m not going to panic over it. It’s done, I can’t change it, so I’ve got to put it to the back of my mind and focus on my main target which is London in now less than 4 weeks time.
I know training has gone well. Maybe a little too well and in a way a poor performance at Cardiff could be a blessing in disguise as had I ran really well I could have got carried away and blown things for the big one, London. Instead, I’m sticking to what I have planned out, making sure I’m fully recovered from the weekend, both physically and emotionally before doing anything hard again.
One of the biggest mistakes I can make at this stage is going into a workout still upset about Cardiff and pushing too hard to try and ‘punish’ myself for it. Doing that gains nothing but risks everything. If I start to dig a hole for myself at this stage I don’t have time to climb back out of and its game over before I even get to London.
I’m up in Font Romeu now for my final phase. I don’t get back until a couple of days before London. I love it up here. It’s the perfect environment for training and we have got a great support team around us. Right now there is still a little bit of snow on some of the higher trails but most of my favourites are run able. One of my biggest challenges these next few weeks is staying away from the almond croissants and Nutella crepes overwrite I’ll be standing on the London start-line looking like Mr Blobby!!
So yeah, everyone has disappointing races, but it’s how we recover from them that matters. In these situations you have two options; you either let it get to you, eating away at your confidence or you learn from it, put it in a box in your mind and move on. I’ve always said that one bad run doesn’t make you a bad runner and it’s true. If you get knocked down, you bounce back and show the world what you are capable of. Life would be boring if everything went to plan…
Keep your head high and your goals higher.