- Kelly Sotherton's Olympic column
'I have mentally prepared for the worst'Kelly Sotherton December 2, 2011
I'm eight weeks into my heptathlon training and I'm trying to remind my body what doing seven events feels like! The important thing is ensuring I strike a balance between maintaining a good level in training and not pushing myself too hard that my body goes into shock.
If I'm being honest I probably pushed it a little too hard last week, so I'm paying the price now, but you don't find this out until you do it. This has had a slight knock-on effect on this week's training, and have had to tailor it accordingly, it really is a case of doing a little bit at a time and listening to my body.
I am still doing some 400m, but my training is similar to what I was doing a few years ago. I do one long track session a week, one workout on the grass, and one speed session. On top of that, I do the individual disciplines - hurdles, javelin, shot put and the jumps as well as plyometric training. I'm probably doing 50% extra training on top of what I was doing last year, but I'm twice as motivated.
Getting up in the mornings is a bit harder now it is dark, but this time last year we had snow, so it has been nowhere near as cold as it could have been. I don't mind the cold but last season there were so many weeks I couldn't run on the grass because the snow was too deep and the track was frozen solid!
Whilst in previous years I've gone warm weather training, I have to be sensible with my finances now I'm no longer a funded athlete so this is one of the sacrifices I'll have to make. Obviously it's nice to go away for a few weeks and train in a warmer climate, but instead I'll have to knuckle down and make sure I wear extra layers!
The last of my lottery funding ran out this week, so I'm starting to realise how tough things are going to be financially. I can still use the facilities at the Birmingham Performance Centre for free but if I choose to go to Loughborough or Lee Valley I have to pay. Having done a few sums, I think it will cost me close to £500 a month which is quite a chunk when you haven't got a fixed income!
I've been stringent with my finances throughout my career but my savings are not exhaustive so I have to find ways of bringing in income without disrupting my training. Being a full-time world class athlete is expensive, especially when you have had three years out of the sport.
Training will always be the No. 1 priority, but I try to make some appearances to help contribute towards these added costs so while occasionally I'll get asked to do something on a rest day, I'll make the concession, but I'm very conscious that this needs to be made up somewhere else so I'm careful in juggling these commitments.
I feel very fortunate in that two of my major sponsors have continued to support me. I couldn't have asked for more from Asics who have been great and I'm fortunate that Alfa Romeo have continued to supply me with a car through to next winter so at least I won't be walking to training!
Whatever happens next summer, this is my last season so I'm giving it everything I've got. With London 2012 the end of the line it's hard to think about anything else, but I have to set myself short-term goals. My training blocks are in four-week cycles, so each time I can tick one off that's a major bonus. The main target is to get through the winter unscathed.
I don't think any athlete makes it through an entire winter without missing some training for one reason or another, but if I can get through to the indoor season in February or March in a healthy condition I will be happy. Looking beyond that, the next major target will be my first heptathlon in May, and then the priority will be getting that qualifying standard, and only then can I really focus 100% on my Olympic dream.
You should never be negative in your approach but given what I am putting into this, I have to be realistic and I have mentally prepared for the worst. There is no reason why I can't fulfil my dream but it could all go wrong. If I pick up an injury in the run-up, I could just run out of time. But whatever happens, I can at least say I have done everything I possibly can. No excuses, I will have no regrets. I'm a big believer in fate - maybe I wasn't meant to be Olympic champion - perhaps Strictly Come Dancing is my calling in life!
Kelly is an ambassador for sports performance brand, ASICS.
Kelly Sotherton is a GB Olympic medalist