Former GB international Colin McCourt reflects on his early career and recent progress as he gets set to attempt a sub-16-minute 5km to avoid getting 17 tattoos
Athlete insight – Jess MartinApril 11, 2017
A surprise winner at the British Olympic 10,000m trials last May, Jess Martin (née Andrews) went on to race at the Rio Olympics and she told AW about her training
It’s hard to put into words the feeling I had when I won the British trials and gained automatic Olympic selection. Everyone dreams of that happening and for me it came true. It is one of the highlights of my career and I think will be forever. Someone must have been looking down on me.
I had my twin standing by the start line shouting the laps out to me so she was the first person I ran to. I really couldn’t believe it for some time. I knew I was in good shape. No one else did but me and my coach and sometimes that is the best way. I had no pressure going into the race.
I shared a room with Jo Pavey at the Olympics. She has become a friend for life who has taught me a lot.
Qualifying for the Olympics is special but having the chance to go with your husband (then fiancé, Dan Martin, a professional cyclist) made it even better. I was at holding camp during his race, but the race was on TV on my rest day, so I enjoyed it as much as possible. I remember walking into the Olympic stadium with Dan the day before my race. I felt so relaxed to have him by my side and on the day of my race I knew where he was sat and each lap it helped me knowing he was there.
I am very excited about what this year has to offer. The IAAF World Championships in London is my biggest aim. I know I can run faster and run some very good races so I am excited to showcase what I can do.
I met Dan on a training camp in Sierra Nevada. Not many people can say they met their partners on the side of a mountain. When we met I had no idea about cycling, so it’s been fun for him to teach me. We motivate each other in completely different ways. I love my routine and won’t worry about what the weather is like. I just get on with it. Dan trains more on how he feels and isn’t worried about not having a full structure. He trains in three day blocks. We are certainly lucky that we both do a sport, spending many hours training we both understand each other’s needs and the importance of rest and recovery.
I have been living in Spain for nearly three years. Socialising and drinking wine is a normal thing here. I have definitely found my love for wine and more importantly I have relaxed a lot; we eat out and enjoy nice food every week, which is certainly something that I think has made the difference for me. You have to switch off at night and my way is to enjoy a glass of wine when I fancy it. I think sport involves so many sacrifices that you need to allow yourself to live and it’s certainly worked for me.
My coach Josep has introduced me to training methods that are so different to what I have ever done before. Living at altitude and also making sure I have a rest day once a week are only a couple of the many things that have helped me. All the little things added together helped my improvement.
We have two homes. Our main one is in Andorra at 1400m so it is perfect for training, but we also have a base in Girona where we go when the weather is too cold in Andorra, or we want to train on the flat or without altitude. My group and coach are in Palamos, close to Girona, so I spend most of my time with them when I’m here.
We have a killer training loop near a campsite called Benelux. It is basically a tough cross country circuit. The big lap being 1300m and the small 900m. I’m not sure if it’s one of my favourite or least favourite sessions, but when I am going well on this circuit I know I am in good shape. We tend to use it all year round as I find it’s important to keep the strength throughout the year.
I started running on the Isle of Wight where I used to live. We try to go back a couple of times a year and really enjoy just relaxing and seeing family. It’s also great for Dan’s cycling, albeit rather hilly.
I eat a lot of rice as I find I can eat a fair amount and it digests quickly before training. After, I always drink the Etixx chocolate recovery shake. I struggle to eat straight away so I find this hydrates me while also helping me begin my recovery.
I listen to Taylor Swift the night before a race. I always do five strides to relax and make sure I am ready.
TYPICAL WEEK’S TRAINING
Friday: am 6km easy pm 4km easy – 12x(300 + 200m); 2km easy
Saturday: am 21km; 12x100m hills pm Rest
Monday: am 6km easy jog/rest pm 4km easy; 6km + 500m; 3km + 500m; 2km easy
Tuesday: am 16km pm 6km and hurdle drills + 6x200m + 2km easy
Wednesday: am 4km easy – 4x(3x400m) + 1500m; 2km easy
Thursday: am 16km pm 8km + 10x100m
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes