Running for GB has been something I have dreamt of doing for as long as I can remember. There have been a few times where it was a possibility, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Last weekend however, I got the opportunity to pull on the GB vest for the first (hopefully of many) time at the European 10,000m Cup, and it didn’t disappoint. Whilst I hoped for a little more performance wise, I gave my all and enjoyed every second being part of the team!
A lot of the time, running is a very individual sport. There is the personal team of people that makes everything possible for an individual, but racing itself is a very individual event. You are racing for your own time or position, independent of everyone else in the race. They are all your opposition. However, last weekend was a team event, and it was so nice to be racing for others as well as for myself. It added another dimension, as regardless of how I felt individually, my performance could still give a lot to the overall team result. It was pretty incredible at the end to come away with a European team bronze medal!
It was also great to spend time with other GB athletes who you usually only see in passing as races. Most of the time you catch each other prior to a race when nerves are building and no one really wants to chat, therefore you never really get to know your opponents. The weekend allowed you to talk and really get to know the sort of people they are.
The Race: Experiences and lessons
The race itself was a very exciting event, but one thing it taught me, is that whatever event you’re in, it is just another race. I was quite nervous beforehand, and built the race up to be quite scary, but as soon as I was on the start line and the race gun fired, it was the same as any other race. This is why sport is such a grounding world to be in, because regardless of the vest you are wearing, or where you are running, you are doing the same thing you do every day. It doesn’t matter what event you are at, the practice remains the same and you have to keep working hard. No matter what level you reach, it is always hard work, and that’s the great part!
Being a championship event, the style of racing was very different to a race where everyone is chasing a time. There is a lot more to focus on and be wary of. The race started out very slow and messy. People were tripping up, pushing others, and it was very congested. It was very difficult to find a flow as you were constantly having to stop/start to prevent yourself getting tripped up. The race then started to pick up which spread the field out slightly and allowed you to run properly. It was however still quite congested and difficult to find your own rhythm. This is not something I have had much experience with so far and I found it did tire my legs more than normal. After about 7k, I found myself on my own and just had to focus on holding on and battling the wind. I was just so happy when I crossed the line and could officially call myself a GB runner.
Racing internationally does come with quite a bit of travel, but this is unavoidable. If you want to compete at a higher level, you have to get used to traveling abroad to do so. I do not have masses of experience travelling abroad to race, so it was great to get another opportunity to do this. The journey there was far from ideal, which is actually a positive, as it allows me to get used to racing when things don’t go to plan. We are so used to having the perfect preparation before races, but this can’t always be the case, so it is good to get used to disruption to routine.
Ultimately, it was an amazing experience that has left me feeling very hungry to get faster and do it all again!
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!