- Kelly Sotherton's Olympic column
A case of trial and errorKelly Sotherton June 7, 2011
I've just flown back from the Czech Republic where I was competing in the Golden Spike meeting and completed my first 400m of the season. I was in the outside lane which means you have to go out really hard, and I didn't do that but I finished strongly and was pretty happy with my time of 52.59 in my first outdoor race since 2008.
I made my season debut at the Loughborough Invitational a couple of weeks ago but it was a disappointing start. I pulled up halfway through my 400m. People take buffers for lactic acid and mine hadn't digested properly and it came back up and I got major cramp in my stomach and I had to stop. But I did the 200m an hour later and was fine, but it did affect me and my ability to run and I didn't do as well as I should have so it wasn't the best start to the season.
When you run in Britain there is always a lot more expectation and pressure. The crowds don't know that you are only making your first race of the season and they expect you to do well no matter what. When you go abroad to race it is actually easier in many ways. In Ostrava I was running against the reigning world champion Sanya Richards and the European indoor champion Denisa Rosolova so I didn't feel the pressure as much as I would competing in the UK.
Probably in hindsight it would have been better to schedule my first race of the season abroad for that reason. At Loughborough the conditions were awful for runners - it was really windy. I had never been to Ostrava before but the atmosphere was magical - Usain Bolt was running and everyone was there to see him so there was a fantastic crowd and I really enjoyed it.
My next race is in Turin next week. I know what I need to do to improve on my last race and I have learnt from the mistakes I made and hopefully rectify those issues. Because I am still a bit of a novice at this event at the moment it is a case of trial and error to see what works and what doesn't. I know I have a strong finish so I need to start harder and have faith that I will have enough left in the tank to finish fast.
My race calendar all depends on how well I get on my races and how well my race agent does. I really need to be racing once every ten days to two weeks between now and the UK Trials at the end of July. I need at least four or five 400m races under my belt before then.
It's about making sure I run at the right meets. I don't particularly like running against other Brits this early in the season. I prefer to race against people I don't know as well and I like to compete away from the UK, especially earlier in the season because there is less pressure to try and win.
There is a plan in place for the summer but that will change depending on how well I am racing and training - there are all kinds of factors that contribute to the programme but it can change quite quickly - the plan is elastic!
It has been frustrating recently because my home track, the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, has been shut for two months as they are building a new stand for the Diamond League meeting next month. The track has also been relayed - we are just waiting for it to be lined - apparently there are only a couple of companies in the whole of the UK that can do this specialist task so that's why there has been a delay. It will be fantastic when it is finished but it has taken so long to get it ready.
It has been frustrating for me because I have to keep changing my plans and find other places to train - I often have to drive an hour to train at Loughborough which is not ideal, especially this time of the year, but hopefully it will be ready very soon.
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Kelly Sotherton is a GB Olympic medalist