- Kelly Sotherton's Olympic column
2011 is a learning curveKelly Sotherton March 3, 2011
Hello and welcome to my first column on ESPN.co.uk. I will be writing regularly, updating on my progress towards the London Olympics in 2012. But before then there's lots going on, with the European Indoor Championships, European Team Championships and World Championships, and I will keep you informed with what is happening in training and racing.
2011 is massively important for me because it is my first year back after having two years out and what is even bigger is the fact I have changed events from the heptathlon to the 400 metres. It is about learning a new event all over again, so that is my challenge to do something I have not done before and learning to be a competitor again. I have had problems with injuries and 2011 is also about getting to 2012 healthy. That is my main aim for the year really.
It is a learning curve for me as the heptathlon is such a busy event as you are always doing something, which is good in a way because if an event does not go so well you can make progress in another event. But 400m is about running technically well. So it is about getting used to the less varied training, It can be a bit boring in a way, but the more I get used to it and the more I get into it I am learning about the event and we are making it more interesting, but keeping it simple at the same time.
I am now committed to the 400m with a target for this year to earn my place in the relay squad for the World Championships. When it became clear that I had to leave the heptathlon behind, it always really was going to be the 400. The 800 was never a consideration, it is a crazy event. If I would have had a choice I would have long jumped because I have been long jumping all my life and it would have made sense as I had already jumped 6.79m but because jumping would have been just as risky as the heptathlon, it was jumping that I had to give up. Running is the least injury-prone event I can do, which is why I chose the 400m. Also I ran in a couple of relays in 2008, including the Olympic final, and that gave something to back up why I was choosing 400.
This year might be difficult as I am learning the event and the girls that we have are very good athletes and are at a high level and I know it will be tough to maybe break in to the individual events this year. It will be just as tough next year but I will have more of a chance next summer as I will have had two winters behind me and a year of running 400 so I will be in better shape and have more experience.
My aim is to be part of a successful 4x400 in a World Championship, making it into the top four and getting a medal. That is the aim for this year. It is also important to enter the winter healthy as I know that if I am healthy and can train then I know I can perform. I have a total respect for everyone in the event but I think I am up to the challenge. I am always up for a good challenge. I want to race this year and gain experience, which will help me next year.
I have a competition to focus on next week, with the 4x400m relay at the European Indoor Championships. Running 400m indoors is totally different to outdoors - as I experienced in the Aviva Grand Prix the previous weekend. Indoors there is a lot of tactics and you have to make lots of changes of mind. Where I made bad decisions, that is down to experience. I basically ran a rubbish race, considering what I did at the trials, and I just got my tactics wrong. Outdoors it would be a different story, no one can dictate to you and I am better suited to that style of race. Indoors I struggle massively through a lack of experience, which I am aware of, but outdoors it is totally different as you can judge it far easier.
I have lots to focus on this year and will be updating regularly, giving an insight into my training regime and how I have tailored things to beat the injuries I have had.
Kelly Sotherton is a GB Olympic medalist