photo: @jan_kirkham

The hardest, and most contrasting thing I find about continuous, long distance training in comparison to sprints, is the time spent in my head with no escape from my thoughts.

Running is where I found my friends and myself, a self-directed act where I didn’t need harsh persuasion to get me out of the door to training or competition. I knew that getting to the track was the best way to look after myself, physically but more importantly, psychologically. I think the biggest part of this was the distraction it provided me with, there was no time or reason to consider my worries or tangle situations in my head.

My whole lifestyle was set up to accommodate those few hours of the day where I could escape to the track. I knew what and when I needed to eat and made sure it was available to me. I was strict on the amount of sleep that I got, skipping nights out or leaving early from parties.

Those training hours gave me time for myself but not by myself.

photo: @jan_kirkham

You go quick for 50, 100, 200 metres, body moving at its full extension, arms in full range of motion, knees high and cadence quick.

Sometimes the distance might be short enough to skip the rhythm and sound of your breath, other times you breath deep, quick, gasping as the finish line approaches.

There isn’t time to think or consider the world around you, the problems in your mind or life outside of that single moment. On the track, racing and chasing to cross the line whilst maintaining your form, posture and composure, that is all there is.

When you arrive at the line, doubled over, hands on knees, heaving for breath, desperately trying to get it back under control, you feel high.

A moment of elation.

You moved fast, you pushed your boundaries, you crossed the finish line strong. The moment is shared with your coach, your partners, your friends and yourself.

You prepare each other for the next round. Encouraging and persuading that you have it in you. This session will not defeat you, it will be conquered.

Skipping or perhaps slugging back round to your start line. Feelings of dread overridden by determination. Desperately trying to shake the lactic out of your legs, the pain out of your stomach, the cramps from your arms and the inkling of doubt from your head.

You are committed to this rep, this session, this distance and this sport. You know the track well, its familiar, 400m round, your oval office. The unknown is closer than that, it’s what comes within. How fast can you really go? How much more can you push? How long will your legs, arms, body, mind hold and support you to that line? How much will this session prepare you for the next? How many 100ths or 10ths of seconds can be dropped from your current personal best the next time you race?

I’m convinced that this exhilaration is possible to grasp with distance, it’s only a matter of time until I find it.

photo: @jan_kirkham
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