It’s Ieuan, writing from a hotel room in Berlin. I’m here with the rest of the Great Britain team competing at the European Championships.
I was fortunate enough to gain automatic selection for these championships following my second-place finish at the British champs a month or so ago, which enabled me to prepare fully without the uncertainly of my place on the team. I flew out to Berlin last Saturday - 3 days before the race, plenty of time to ensure a full rest before the big day.
I have discussed before how being at a major championship isn’t as exciting as one might think. Of course, getting to compete in these games against the best that Europe has to offer is incredibly exciting in itself, but outside of the competition athlete life really doesn’t offer much to write home about.
Aside from a couple of short walks, and times I was out running, I spent the majority of my first 3 days I’m Berlin sat in my hotel room; resting, stretching, watching Netflix and using Squid on my slightly swollen knee every few hours. This is the life of a full-time athlete.
You run, rest and repeat.
It’s certainly not the most mentally stimulating. For someone like myself that is used to working 9-5 (or so) every day, it’s definitely a step outside of the norm. Whether that’s a good thing I’m still not 100% sure. The extra rest should certainly help performance, but there’s a lot to be said for routine.
On the day of the race you can sense the nervous energy in the hotel. Athlete mannerisms change, I’m certainly guilty of it once I start truly focusing on the race at hand. We were shuttled to the warm up track just outside the main stadium. Here I managed to get some last-minute mobility work with my therapist (SPORTTAPE instructor Adam Rattenberry) and then it was time to start the warm up.
Before most races we have to report to a ‘call room’ (sometimes 2) to get our kit checked and put on our leg numbers, before being led out onto the track. Usually this is between 20-30 mins before the race is due to start.
This call room was 40 mins, the longest I’ve EVER experienced.
This means you need to run through your full warm up routine, and then try and stay warm and race ready for another 40 minutes afterwards, with limited space and resources for drills and further stretching. It’s a challenge, maybe a little less in the 30-degree heat.
Were then walked from the warm up track down a long tunnel to the underneath of the stadium. You start to hear the roar of the crowd and adrenaline rushes your body and focuses you even more. This is where we wait, some competitors sit. Some move around trying to stay loose.
Running onto the track I had tunnel vision, I couldn’t even take in the incredible stadium where I was now competing. There was time for a few quick strides offer 50m before we were called to the line. On your marks...
Although the race didn’t quite go to plan I’m incredibly grateful to be here. You spend your athletic career dreaming of these moments, and it’s hard to explain that once they come, everything changes. Just being here is no longer enough.
So, I’ll keep working hard and hopefully next time I’ll make the final. At some point I’ll watch the race back and analyse, work out where I can improve, but for now that can wait. Athletes are their own worst critic when things don’t go exactly as planned. For now, I’ll cheer on the rest of the team.
I’m incredibly fortunate to be part of the SPORTTAPE team. You won’t find a group of people who are more supportive. The team is a man down right now whilst I’m in Berlin, but I doubt anyone would be able to tell. I’m back in the office from next week and I’m looking forward to it, but above all, I think I owe everyone a coffee!
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