I always used to think I had the hardest sport – I imagine it’s a natural reaction to think like that. But watching Andy Murray at Wimbledon has given me a rethink. The intensity of that two weeks – not to mention the build-up – and the level of concentration required for the final against Novak Djokovic was just incredible.
I’ve always loved watching other sports, especially tennis. There’s definitely a mental parallel between athletics and tennis as it’s just you the athlete out there left to your own devices without a coach. It’s you that decides what you do, when you do it and how you do it.
Tactics are key and, personally, my tactics haven’t quite been right in the last couple of races and that’s been a little bit frustrating. But it’s hard to get races right at the same point as an intense training block, and the training’s been going really well.
At last month’s Team Championships in Gateshead, I’d gone into that race hoping to win but only came away with fifth place. After a race like that I can get quite cross with myself or be quite upset. I usually have a cry; my coach and husband leave me to it for a bit and then step in to pick me up.
In Gateshead, though, I had a think about it and reminded myself that at the same time last year I wasn’t even running because of injury. I think the problem in Gateshead was I was so nervous. I was excited to race and wanted to do well in front of the home crowd.
Also, I went out about 100 to 150 metres too early in the race, which wasn’t right. But it was good to go through a race like that – it’s also the perfect preparation for the World Championships.
Come my next race, in Birmingham, I was a lot more relaxed but I hadn’t run a race like that for a while. We expected a quick tempo to be set by the pacemaker and, no matter how many years I’ve been doing this, I still go into races expecting the pacemaking to follow the plan. That wasn’t the case this time, though, and there were a lot of girls bunched together in the final 200m. I switched off momentarily, thinking to myself, “This isn’t what I expected it to be”, and you can’t do that or the race passes you by. I’d just left myself too much to do.
I’m racing again today in the heats of the 1500m at the Sainsbury’s British Championships, which are also the trials for the Worlds. There are three of us with the “A” qualifying standard for Moscow and it has the potential to be really, really good. The organisers have it as virtually the last final tomorrow, so it makes you feel that little bit special – it hopefully shows the class of the field.
There’s great competition between myself, Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman in the event. We’ve all been British champion before and we’d all hope to be going to Moscow. That’s obviously up to the selectors and, in theory, there’s three spots available.
The heats of the 1500m at the British Championships are on my sister Jennie’s 24th birthday. I don’t know why, but somehow my races at trials always seem to fall on her birthday. She’s good enough to be coming along to watch me in Birmingham and, hopefully, I can give her a late birthday present of the British title the following day.
From an athletics fan perspective for the weekend, one of the people I’m most excited about watching is Jessica Judd. A lot of people have talked about her being one for the future, but already this year she’s shown she’s one for the here and now. She’s been incredibly successful as a junior athlete and has made the step up to the seniors look so easy.
All I want is a positive weekend of athletics stories. You can’t help but read the different stories in the past week emanating from doping laboratories and failed drugs tests.
I do read that stuff, it’s important, and I’m really glad these sorts of investigations are focused on trying to keep cheaters out of athletics. It’s important for the future of our sport to know that all, or at least most, are competing clean.
My plan beyond the weekend is to disappear off to Font Romeu for my final block of training. It’s going to mean missing the London Anniversary Games, which was a tough decision but the right decision to ensure I’m in the best shape for Moscow.
The thing is you need that sustained block of altitude training and coming back to compete in London would potentially disrupt my goals for Moscow.