I've run in a World Championships. That's pretty cool, right? Although the race itself certainly won't be remembered as one of my finest I still get to say "I ran at a World Championships." And hopefully in 2 years time I'll get to say it all over again?
Now that I've been back at SPORTTAPE HQ for a few days and just about caught up I wanted to write something to give a little insight into life as an athlete at the World Championships. It certainly isn't the glitz and glamour that many outsiders expect. In fact, it's almost exclusively the opposite.
Because my selection was quite late I didn't fly into Paris to meet the majority of the team at the holding camp in Paris, instead I boarded a train to London a few days out from my race. Although this was my first major championships I think it's safe to assume the process is the same once you arrive at the team hotel. First you report to accreditation, this is basically your athlete I.D for the length of the championships. You need it for everything from access to the food hall to boarding the bus to the track, and of course accessing the track itself. You're then assigned your room, given you key and left to your own devices.
Because every athlete prepares for a race differently who you are roomed with can be a huge factor. Fortunately I was roomed with marathon superstar Callum Hawkins, who was racing on the same day around the same time that I was. So our preparations in terms of food and sleep were quite similar.
This is where the public perception of being a full-time athlete starts to waiver. Once you arrive at the team hotel, you will spend 90%+ of your time there. Because of the importance of the race, rest is the most essential element, and side from preparation runs/sessions you will likely want to spend as much time sitting/lying down as possible. That's the athlete life. There's no media obligations (again for the sake of mental preparation), and because every athlete prepares in such varied ways everyone tends to keep to themselves aside from meal times. It's boring, but also essential.
Everything is looked after for you though. There are therapists on hand if you need any sort of treatment you may need - You may have noticed there were some British athletes taped up at the World Championships (hint: that was SPORTTAPE!) - as well as compression devices such as Squid for any acute knocks you pick up. I traveled with my own knee Squid after colliding with a steeplechase barrier and tearing my quad a couple of weeks before.
Then comes race day and everything changes. The boredom fades and the excitement and nerves set in. You travel to the stadium on an athlete bus, so there's a lot of your competition traveling with you. You warm up, report to call room and then...it's time to walk out to the track. A walk I'll never forget. Stepping into the stadium and seeing 40,000 people is something that can't be described, and then when you're announced and every single one of them cheers for you, it still leaves me speechless thinking about it.
Then once the race is over you get time to reflect on the race, and then enjoy being a spectator for a few days. When else will you get the chance to attend world class athletics for free?
In summary, it was an experience I'll never forget but also confirmed that the full-time athlete life is definitely not for me, SPORTTAPE is far too much fun.
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