Before we get to a race report on this weekend’s bronze medal at the National six-stage road relays, I’ve been digging through the LTC archive and found a little gem. Everyone has ups and downs in the year and back in early September, Joe Wilkinson was struggling to try and find fitness. Yet fast-forward to this past weekend and he was holding off the charge of Jonny Hay, anchoring LWAC home to the bronze medal and running our fastest leg of the day – here’s the journey through the eyes of the finger-wagger himself:
After a long but successful winter; passing a lot of people’s expectations on the Cross-Country circuits, I was full of determination, ambition, and most importantly fuelled with a bank of dirty miles. I knew I was ready to hit some very big times. Sessions were showing that I would destroy all my PB’s from 3000m up to 10,000m and in the first half of the track season this certainly was the case. An early 3000m at Watford revised my 2016 PB from 8:27 to 8:15. And very soon after a ten-day stint in Font Romeu, the Loughborough International meet allowed me to again take my PB down to 8:11.
These first two races of the season reassured me that the very big times were well within my capabilities. May to June proved this when my 5000m PB was obliterated from 14.50 to 14.19, and after just two 1500m races off near zero speed/ lactic acid work, I chopped a second of my 3:48 PB from last season. With the introduction of speed work, I had in the back of my mind that Matt Bowsers 3¾ lap club record of 3:43 was beatable. This was parallel to increasing my expectations of getting close to the 8-minute and 14-minute barrier in the 3000m and 5000m respectively.
However, three consecutive 1500m races in five days left my body in pieces. Just days after this it felt like my chest had a forty-stone sumo wrestler constantly sat on it. Three days rest didn’t do the trick to recover, and optimism turned into apprehension because I knew it was more than just a common cold. Luckily it was only bronchitis, but this led to a six-week period of stop-start training, next to no consistency, and unfortunately a significant loss of shape. I decided to end the season there.
However, three consecutive 1500m races in five days left my body in pieces. Just days after this it felt like my chest had a forty-stone sumo wrestler constantly sat on it.
Losing my head was the next huge mistake. Getting to the end of July, knowing my track season was over I let myself go with many appearances at the infamous Tuesday student night ‘Union’, more filthy appearances at Kinky Disco, but most appearances of all came at King Kebab post getting battered. Boss man had great tunes. One week in Malia was where I realised that I’d gone too far, my head needed to be firmly screwed back on if I wanted to make the LTC A team for the 6 stage road relays. I was not going to be a member that missed out on potential medals.
Trafford 10,000m came next to give my two weeks of getting back on the mileage bus a chance to show what shape I’m in. It wasn’t bad, 31:10 was okay, I did give up full effort after 6k but this gave me a great indication that I was under 31-minute shape again. However, I had four weeks to significantly improve to prove my worth for the team. This was going to be very difficult since the rest of the lads were in great shape, all very close to breaking that sub 30 magical barrier.
This will be my third-week training since the 10,000m, and consistent 85-mile weeks have put me back amongst the guys at the top again. A particular session to note is a six-mile tempo around the West Common in Lincoln, replicating a firm Cross-Country course. My last four miles were as quick as the last four at Trafford, bringing back my confidence that I’d be a handy member of the A team again. The teams are yet to be decided, but I know I’ve given myself the best chance I could to get a slot back into the hotly contested A team.
I learnt a lot this track season, listen to your body, be patient, and most importantly don’t lose your head when things aren’t going your way. Yes, the tunes in King Kebab are lit, but that’s not quite as important as seeing that gold medal sat on my windowsill when we win the Northern 6 stage team relay title.