Hannah England: I've got the right times – now to focus on the chess
Keeping Track: In her first column, the middle-distance runner looks forward to competing for Britain at European Team Championships on Sunday
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Running the 1500m is like chess on legs: it's a battle on all fronts with you taking on as many as 16 or 17 other girls and, to add to the challenge, my last few races have been very physical.
As the race nears its conclusion, the nervous looks begin, you can feel the slightly panicked moves and we all begin pushing for track position. It can be quite nerve-racking and you're very conscious of staying on your feet. That doesn't always happen. At the Diamond League race I ran in Rome earlier this month, one of the girls came crashing down with about 400 metres to go.
When it happens, you usually hear a scream and then just do your best to avoid going down too. That's really all you hear. It's not like runners shout at each other as they jockey for position. I don't like that feeling of worrying about being tripped but I love all the other aspects of racing, the pushing for position, that kick to the line.
I remember someone saying that in the 1500m you have the opportunity for just one defensive move and one offensive move in a single race, and it's all about using your energy at the right moment. At the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, I got that wrong. I found myself in a battle with the Russian, Yelena Soboleva, that began with 200m to go. OK, I held her off but three other girls passed me as I just died in the last 80m or so and finished eighth. Competitive instincts are a good thing but not if you don't learn to control them.
In Rome, the pace was a bit slower to start with – it was more tactical like at a World Championships, which is great preparation for Moscow. I felt great in those final 200m, passed a few of the girls and came fourth. Now fourth isn't a place I'm happy with regularly finishing in but I've now got two A qualifying standards for the World Championships, so I can concentrate on tactics and winning races.
The other race I did – last weekend – was in Hengelo, where a year ago I got spiked in the Achilles, which effectively ruined my season and my Olympic ambitions. Going back this year wasn't a problem. It was not as if the emotions flooded back, and the only reminder I had was when I saw the medical staff, who did not know my name but were like "Look there's the girl that got spiked last year, can we see the scar?", which was quite funny.
I love this time of year. I've done a bit of international racing, now it's home time. I run at Gateshead in the European Team Championships on Sunday, then it's on to the Grand Prix in Birmingham before the World Championship trials.
This weekend is one of the very few times you run as a team. I find I'm much more relaxed, become less insular and instead widen my periphery. I love each and every time I pull on a GB vest. After what happened last season when I got injured, I make sure I appreciate that experience every time as you don't know when it will be your last.
On my performance times this year against my competitors, I should be right up there. In fact, it'll be great to go out there and think about nothing but my position. Qualifying times are no longer a concern in my mind. I'll just treat it for what it is... a race to the line.
We have Perri Shakes-Drayton as our captain in Gateshead. She's so friendly and makes every effort to meet people. I think she'll be an excellent captain. She's got the most unbelievable work ethic and I'm certainly looking forward to her captain's speech.
I am the team's representative in the 1500m and that was my early-season target... to edge Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman to that. Both have run the A standard as well and it's looking good for all of us and for British middle distance as a whole heading towards the World Championships, although none of us will take that for granted.
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