As he eagerly awaits to compete in his first Commonwealth Games Tom Marshall reflects on his life as an athlete.
I was speaking to friends a few weeks ago and they were asking how the Glasgow Grand Prix went. The more answers I gave, the more I realised that it might be good to give an insight into life as an athlete at major events, including the previous few weeks on Camp in Australia ahead of Commonwealth Games.
Now there are others far more qualified than I am to detail their experiences. I’m not a full-time athlete. I work 9-5. I have never been to altitude, and I have never lived life as a pro athlete.
However, I have been fortunate enough to have raced at some major meets (multiple Grand Prix events, a Diamond League, the Euro Champs, a few high standard meets across Europe and in the USA, plus the upcoming the Commonwealth Games).
The first meet you attend is certainly daunting. You sit in awe of some of the world’s greatest athletes, wondering what it takes to be as good as them.
Watching them warm up, looking quick and fit! It’s not until later that it dawns on you that you’re in the same race as them. It’s certainly a stomach churner!
You soon learn the key is to take it in your stride. Not to ignore the likes of Kiprop, O’Hare, Grice, Wightman, but to believe that you deserve to be on the start line next to them. To believe that you’re good enough to compete.
Every few moments that you’re at a meet, you bump into some of the greats. In the meet hotel, having breakfast, warming up at the meet, in the call room, watching from the best seats in the house as you’re waiting to stride out before your race begins.
You’ll see Schippers, Farah, Muir, to name but a few. And you really do have to try and forget who they are, keep your head down, and try to fit in!
Just here now for instance at the Camp leading up to the Gold Coast 2018, you see the cream of the crop every day. Doyle, Sharp, Dry, Wightman, O’Hare, I can go on and on, but you train along side them.
But it’s a phenomenal experience. Every time. And every time you go to a meet, you believe more and more than you belong.
The atmosphere is always incredibly chilled. These athletes are always very relaxed, calm and always ready to chat to you. They make you feel like you belong.
You chill, relax, enjoy the time off work, enjoy doing nothing all day (and that really is the case… you sit in a hotel room until it’s time to train/ race, then go home)!
Not always luxurious though and the hotel can range from a one-star self-catering to a five star overlooking the Thames. But always a valuable experience.
And when the race comes around, you go to the warm-up area, prepare alongside some of your sporting heroes, and go and do what you do!
Sometimes in front of big crowds, roaring as you and the rest of the field tear down the home straight, and sometimes with nobody watching, yet with five to ten Olympians in your race. It’s always eventful, and always enjoyable!
As I write this, I’m sat next to a World Championship steepler watching videos of Steve Irwin, and a World Championship (British Champ) Marathoner, who is probably plotting how he’s going to destroy me at FIFA the next time we play.
They’re both fantastic athletes, and yet it’s completely chilled.
Yesterday we went and have a coffee with a Diamond League winner (I’ll let you guess who) and it’s just everyday conversation. It really is that relaxed – even when it comes down to business.
And on a final note, what a sport this is to be in. Everybody is incredibly welcoming and nice, but above all, humble!
This is varying a little as normally we’d be doing lone reps this time of the year. But due to the upcoming games, here is a typical week:
Monday: 8 miles and weights
Tuesday: Track session… 1 mile tempo (4.50), 4 x 400 (60.8 av), 3 x 400 (57.6 av), 2 x 400 (56.8 average), 1 x 400 (53.7)
Wednesday: 8 miles and weights
Thursday: 10 x 100-metre hills followed by 3.5 miles steady at 5.32)
Friday: 7 miles and weights or rest
Saturday: Track session… 1-mile tempo (4.41), 8 x 300 (40 sec average closing in a 38.7).
Sunday: 12 miles
Tom Marshall is part of the ‘Fast 10 – class of 2018’ and this year will share his running journey every month. You can read Tom’s previous posts here and further information about the ‘class of 2018’ can be found here.