Hannah England: My goal is to make the Moscow final – and absolutely no excuses
Keeping track: I'm in far better shape than before London 2012
Saturday 10 August 2013
I’m in Moscow now but just before we left our holding camp in Barcelona for the World Championships Christine Ohuruogu did her captain’s speech. In it, she said how there is a mentality today of people taking the path of least resistance: people too often look for excuses, like their finger hurts or their cat died.
We have a predisposition for making excuses, whether that be seeing the start line for my heat of the 1500 metres and thinking “I didn’t want her in my heat” or deciding you’re not up to it because of the wind.
To emphasise that point, Christine told the story of a Spanish sea captain who took a force to invade the Aztecs, I think the first time anyone had attempted that for 60 years so he was quite brave to even try it. He ordered his men to burn their ships and, in so doing, remove all possibility that they might fail. He told them that, if they wanted to go home, they would have to do so in the enemy ships. As it was, they didn’t all die but it was a speech that definitely had an impact on the team.
For me, I go into the World Championships with no excuses and with happy memories of my silver medal in Daegu, partly because that medal was such a big surprise. I feel I’m in as good shape as 2011, although obviously it’s difficult to compare exactly. What I do know is that I’m far better off than this time a year ago. At the training camp for London, I had to spend 30 minutes warming up my Achilles just to be able to go on a light run; now it’s simple, such major stresses are gone. OK, you still find things to stress about but, as Christine says, those can’t be excuses.
I’ve not competed since my victory at the national trials, after which I immediately flew off to Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees for two and a half weeks before spending a week in the holding camp in Barcelona.
The reason for that is Font Romeu is an altitude training camp and the thinking is that you either come down from altitude three days or else 10 days before you’re due to compete. That’s to do with your red blood cells and your blood volume, which is boosted by training at altitude. When you come down and compete just a few days afterwards, your body just feels amazing, it’s like you’re flying.
But after about six or seven days, your body starts to feel a bit sluggish as it adjusts to being back at sea level effectively. By 10 days, the science suggests you still have a lot of red blood cells in your body, hence the thinking behind the strategy.
Mo Farah’s a bit different. He will have come down from altitude about three days before his 10,000m tonight and feel amazing. Plus, he’ll probably sleep in an altitude tent between the 10,000m and 5,000m.
I’ve tried that, and occasionally do it at home, but it just doesn’t work for me. It’s such a noisy environment with the whooshing of the air and a major championship isn’t that conducive to sleeping well anyway. And should you be in a tent, you need to do so for about 12 hours a day, so popping out for a coffee or whatever isn’t necessarily the most straightforward thing.
The days in training leading up to a championship are quite mundane and repetitive for an athlete. For me, I’ll get up about 8am, have some breakfast and then meet to go out for a run about 9.00 to 9.30. Prior to Moscow, that tended to be running trails and then coming back for more food and a bit of treatment. Then it was out training at 5pm, usually on the track, mixing up speed and endurance. It equates to about three hours of training a day and an hour of treatment.
Other than that, I tend to read or else watch TV. I’m reading The Understudy by David Nicholls, the author of One Day and Starter for Ten. As for my viewing, in Font Romeu it was the end of the Tour de France. More recently it’s been the Ashes.
The day of my win at the trials, I remember claiming to be tired, the same day that Chris Froome won a mountain stage, so I didn’t really have any argument in a tiredness comparison after watching that. Sadly, I wasn’t out in Font Romeu to watch the Tour come through, as some of the others out there did.
I’ve missed the highlights but England retaining the Ashes has helped fill the gap left by the end of the Tour. Sadly, training out there meant missing the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, which was massively hard to watch. It was the right choice for me to make, with Moscow in mind, but it didn’t make it any easier seeing the packed stands and hearing from athletes like my husband, Luke, who was competing, that the experience was similar to the Olympics. Thankfully, the day in question I had one of my best sessions in Font Romeu.
Now in Moscow my first goal is to make the final. It’s hard to think further ahead than that, particularly as 95 per cent of the girls in the field will have the same aspiration. Once you get to the final anything can happen, as I found out in Daegu.
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