Right now, the Olympics seem far away. But if you are an athlete, you are always hunting your next big challenge to prepare for. The UK Olympic Trials are taking place March 26 and two of our SAYSKY athlete are participating in the trials, which could lead to a spot on the UK Olympic team. We had a talk with Becky Briggs and Paul Navesey about their preparations and expectations for the big day.
If you are curious to find out more about the training and thoughts towards the Olympic Trials, then head over to our Instagram @sayskycph on March 18, where Becky will do a takeover and take us through her preparations for the big day.
Could you start by introducing yourself?
Becky: My name is Becky Briggs, I am originally from East Yorkshire, but I am currently based in London for my training and studies at St Mary’s University. I am a SAYSKY athlete, and I have competed for Great Britain in the 2019 World Cross Country championships and the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships (where I was the youngest competitor) and I also hold the British U20 half marathon record.
Paul: I am an endurance athlete based in the UK. I have been part of the SAYSKY athlete team since early 2019 and love that they break from the normal running kit!
I love to race, particularly on the roads, from 10k to marathon. Nothing beats a good running race. It is beautifully simple.
Could you tell us some about the trials?
Becky: The Olympic Trials are being held on the 26th March in Kew Gardens, London. The course is multiple laps and an elite only field where I’m competing in the marathon distance.
Paul: With the Tokyo Olympics being moved to summer 2021, the Great Britain team currently only has one athlete selected. In order to select a full team a race has been organized and will be hosted in Kew Gardens in London. With 30 male and female athletes invited it is going to be a very high standard field, racing 12 laps around an impressive garden!
The distance of the trial race is the marathon, which is also my favourite distance. Although I just bloody love to race and am happy to be competing at 10k or Half marathon too.
Could you take us through your training week and preparations leading up to the trials?
Becky: In a standard training week, I will run 150-160 kilometers, this usually consists of 2 sessions and the rest is steady mileage. I have really enjoyed the change in training over the winter to prepare for this race, the challenge has definitely kept me motivated.
Paul: I have worked with Allison Benton as my coach since 2015 and step by step we have refined the best method of training for me.
Through Allison’s vast coaching knowledge, discussion and of course some trial and error, we have refined a training method, step by step, that works for me. I really enjoy the tempo sessions. My body responds well to it and it has brought me my best results. We are by no means done and will continue to work. A typical week would include a good steady run to start the week. Comfortably fast for around an hour.
Through the rest of the week, I will have a couple of sessions that will incorporate some good old fashioned long reps; 1k, 1500m, 8min, 10min - you get the idea! And also of course some tempo running. This varies from progressive tempos to long marathon paced tempos with the longest being around 30-32k. There is no buzz. Aside from that I will have quality long run and plenty more jogging!
What is the hardest part of training for such an important race?
Becky: I suppose it is trying to stay fit and well right throughout the training block. So, I am just making sure I am doing all the extras like stretching, getting plenty of sleep and eating really well!
Paul: The challenge for me really has been that the race has no atmosphere. There is no buzz. No one else is racing outside of the trials race. Due to Covid we have a lockdown presently in the UK and no events are taking place. So, although we are hugely privileged to have a race there is no sense of excitement.
Obviously, we have a lack of facilities available too due to the lockdown situation. So, much like everyone else, there is no option to avoid ice and snow which can interfere with training.
These are all obstacles that most of the field will have to have overcome and although challenging, we will get through!
I am sure it will be hugely exciting once race weekend arrives and everyone is fired up for a race!
Are you nervous or mostly just excited?
Becky: I am extremely nervous but with that, I am incredibly excited and very grateful to be able to take part in an Olympic Trial, that in itself is such a special opportunity!
Paul: I rarely get nervous before a race, I get more nervous about training! By the time I get to the race, I know that I have trained as best as I can, and I can’t get enough of a good hard effort on the roads!
What are your expectations for the trials?
Becky: To put all the hard work to good use and hopefully do myself, and all those who support me, very proud!
Paul: I will be aiming for a PB from myself. From the race itself I expect plenty of people to chase the Olympic standard of 2:11:30 so it will be super interesting to see who holds on and who meets the man with the hammer!
List of PR’s:
5k - 16:36
10k - 34:09
Half marathon - 72:54
Full name: Becky Briggs
List of PR’s:
5k - 14:07
10k - 29:33
Half marathon - 64:56
Marathon - 2:17:16
Full name: Paul Navesey