After becoming the British 400m hurdles champion in June, Seb Rodger went on to gain selection for the Rio Olympics and he told AW how he got there
Going to the Olympics is every athlete’s dream. To put on the Great Britain vest and represent my country at the biggest sporting event in the world meant everything to me. Even having done it now, it still doesn’t seem real.
I achieved the qualifying time for Rio on the very last possible day. In future, it would be nice not to leave gaining the qualifying time quite as late, as I think I almost gave everyone heart failure. Despite having won the British Championships and Olympic trials, I still needed that time, and the excitement and relief of running the Olympic standard when everything was stacked against me was amazing.
My best moment in the sport is still winning the European under-23 silver medal in 2013. Winning the British Championships and running the Olympic standard are right up there too, though.
When I am happy it shows in my performances. To work hard and have everything come together at the right time is so satisfying, not just for myself but for everyone who has helped me on this journey.
My dad mentioned to me at the start of this year that he really wanted me to try to become British champion. In the final, I had my coach screaming down the home straight with my parents and friends in the crowd. To be on the podium with my medal and the warm Müller yoghurt given to winners really was so satisfying.
I knew training was going well after I ran a PB 46.48 over 400m indoors in Vienna in February when representing England. I was the only British athlete to get the World Indoor Championships standard.
For a couple of years I was based in Bath. I had a great experience, learned a lot and met some great people. However, for whatever reason, it didn’t work for me. After an injury-filled 2015 season, I made the decision to move back down South to East Sussex, back to the set-up I knew and trusted, close to my family and I basically picked up from where we left off in 2013 with my coach Steve King.
I have started really enjoying the sport again. I’ve felt that I wasn’t happy for a couple of years, that my passion for the sport had disappeared. But I’m back. I love stepping on the track to race again, have a lot of fun at training and am not taking it all too seriously. I’m just going out there and enjoying it.
My favourite sessions tend to be speed work. I just love that feeling of running fast. I don’t tend to have any sessions I really dislike, but I suppose hill running really gets me feeling rough. I don’t often get lactic, but hills certainly mess me up.
I see my physio every week. He has helped me stay physically and mentally in shape. He knows exactly how my body works and what I need to keep ticking over.
It’s really important to have chill time away from the track. I do that by spending time with friends or by swimming with our young puppy, Sasha, on the beach.
The best thing about being a 400m hurdler is the satisfaction that comes when all the different technical components of the event click together. It is such a test of speed, endurance, and having the ability to hurdle, read distances and trust yourself. Of course, like every event it has its moments and can be so frustrating, but there’s nothing that comes close to the feeling of getting it right.
TYPICAL TRAINING WEEK
Friday am: Rehab
Saturday am: Hills 3x45sec down-along-up hills. 6×15-20sec sprints
Monday am: Hurdle work – 1×8 hurdles with 8-10min rest. 1×7 hurdles. 1×6 hurdles. pm: Weights and rehab (how much I lift changes depending on how my body is feeling). 4×4 full cleans (starting around 80kg, finishing on 95-97.5kg). 4×5 heavy half squats 130/140/150/160kg. 3×6 Swiss ball dumbbell bench 30kg. 3×6 rebound pogos, first two sets with 2kg dumbbell in each hand, last set no weight. 3×5 TRX work, keeping hips square, working into press-up position. Achilles loading 1x10sec hold. Ab circuit and rehab. Balance work on wobble board
Tuesday am: Longer lactic session – 350m, 300m, 250m, 200m, 300m (8min rest). pm: Extended warm-up, drills. Hurdle walkovers for hip mobility. Sprints over small hurdles working on technique. Warm down
Wednesday am: Second weights session. 3×6 Hang-cleans 85kg-95kg working on bar speed. 3×5 single-leg RDL 20kg bar. 3×5 Jumps on to high plyo boxes (dropping off small step rebound off floor). 3×6 weighted chins. Rehab band work. pm: Physio with Greg Funnell (Optimum Muscle Care)
Thursday am: Speed session 180/160/140/120/100 8-10min recovery. pm: Light stretching
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes