Kickstarting the New Season


It’s again been a while since my last blog… but to be honest, not much has been happening in the past few months, it was mostly just training, working for Uni and doing a local running race every now and then. Luckily this term was a lot easier workwise for me – which meant I actually managed to fit all the training in and still had time to do other things and enjoy Oxford a bit (before exam-madness hits again next term). I have also managed to stay injury free so far (touch wood it stays that way) which I feel strangely lucky about – probably because at around this time last year I was often in pain even just walking. And the thought of that makes harder running sessions so much easier – cause in the end I prefer being in pain from running fast so much more than being in pain and not being able to run!

But now to what has been going on since I got back from Oxford two weeks ago. After a week at home (including my Birthday), I headed to Germany to visit my coach Roland, where I’d be spending the week training. It was actually really nice to have someone there for once telling me what to do and people to train with (Anabel and the local swimming club in Ingolstadt (my club) and the running group). I even did my first track session in about a year and a half (I prefer doing my sessions around University Parks or Richmond Park rather than the track and I feel like I’m much more prone to injury if I run on the track) but surprisingly :P I did actually really enjoy the session! It felt strangest being known to the running group as “fast Sophia” without ever having met them before though.

On Friday, March 28, we then all (most of the Bavarian squad athletes) jumped in the Minibus and drove to Saarbruecken for trials (800m swim in a 50m pool and 5k run on the track). For the Juniors, it was the Youth Olympic Games Qualifying race qualifier and the first Europeans qualifier, for U23 the fastest person would get permission to race European and World cups (that didn’t affect me, because I was already given that privilege by being accepted onto the U23-B squad). I was the only female U23-B squad athlete racing, so there was a strange feeling of having to prove that I’m good enough for the squad there. But I also knew that I was actually in decent shape and am happy with my progress in training – so if there was someone faster, well, then they are faster.

The Juniors were racing on Saturday and watching them race didn’t make me nervous, but very excited to race (it’s finally getting close to racing season again!). A well done to all the Bavarian (and other) boys and girls racing on Saturday! Great races to watch!

Then it was my time to race Sunday morning, March 30. I have been improving quite significantly in swimming in the past few weeks, so was excited to see what I am capable of. I ended up with a 10.09 min – third fastest swim time of the day. A good 18s faster than my swim time from the test last year! If I keep going like that I’ll be fast in a few years ;) but the bottom line is: I was happy with my swim and knew that it should put me in a good position for the run! And to be honest… I was even more excited about the run. Having run a 17.26 (PB) 5k in a road race the other week, I knew I was capable of going faster than that – and who doesn’t get excited about the prospect of a new PB?

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After the first 1k, I was already in the lead (we started off in Gundersen method) and none of the other girls seemed to be running around my pace, so it was just me against the clock really (but with the Bavarian Juniors standing at one end of the track and shouting almost deafening loud at me every time I went past (cheers for that guys!) it wasn’t actually that bad!). Roland told me to run the first 1k in about 3.20 – and when I started off with a 3.23, he shouted at me to go quicker. But it turns out that was actually the very first time in all the races I can remember, that I went off at pretty much the perfect pace – I kept about the same pace for all of the first 4k. So the closer I got to the finish line, the more aware I became of the fact that I could actually not just run a PB, but run sub 17 here… And I somehow did! After 16.56min I crossed the finish line – shattered but my god I was happy! The next girl – Marlene, another Bavarian girl – finished a minute behind me and I was so happy for her – she is a Youth Olympic Games ambassador and spent the week in China and only arrived back in Germany the day before the race. And even though she was quite unhappy about her swim, the day still had a happy ending for her :).

And now I’m on a plane on my way back to the UK for a week at home followed by my very first warm weather camp this season (needless to say that I’m quite looking forward to that one…). That’s it for now… a well done to everyone who raced this weekend and a big thank you to Roland and his family for looking after me the past week – and everyone else who makes the things I am allowed to do possible!

© Sophia Saller 2016. All rights reserved. Impressum