2017 – a year to embrace

Well, what a busy year 2017 has been (I am writing this on the 9th January 2017).

My running is going from strength to strength – I have already run a New Year’s Day parkrun, where I set myelf a new course PB at Tonbridge just 5 days after demolishing my 10 mile PB (by over 4 minutes). Then, on the 7th January (following some easy running during the week) I took part in my second Kent Cross Country Championships at Brand’s Hatch, where I beat the previous year’s time by over 7 minutes…

As for volunteering, I helped out at Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun on the morning of the above Cross Country race and then the following day travelled up to The Crystal in London (which is situated at Royal Victoria Dock) for an IAAF World Athletics volunteer selection interview – these Championships take place in London between the 4th & 13th August 2017. It was an enjoyable time, though lasted only just over an hour and I was able to return home in good time ahead of the 24 hour tube strike! The process involved being put into groups of six and working together to complete a couple of set tasks. We were provided 32 cards and each individual card either had the name of an athlete, the picture of an athlete, a discipline or a time/distance. These were 8 athletes from the World of Athletics and Para Athletics. Our task was to match the correct 4 cards together for each of the 8 individuals and I’m delighted to say that between the 6 of us we received full marks! For the other task we were divided into 3 pairs and provided with a scenario. I was paired with a lady from Tonbridge (of all places – bearing in mind that there were 50 people at this interview and around 10,000 people being interviewed in total over the space of a few weeks, many of whom had travelled across the country and some even from abroad) – and we were provided with a scenario whereby a mother had two young children with her and needed to travel from King’s Cross to the Olympic Park and also wanted to stop at a McDonald’s on the way. We were provided with a selection of materials (tube map, bus map, Westfield Stratford City guide etc) and managed to find the best route there and a McDonald’s in close vicinity. The final part of the selection process was a one to one interview and as I had also applied to be a team leader, I had some additional questions to answer at the end. I, along with 10,000 others now have to wait until March to find out as to whether we have been successful in gaining one of the 4,000 or so volunteer positions, so fingers crossed.

And so, January alone presents me with plenty more to look forward to. Firstly, in November of last year I volunteered to take part in a piece of Sport Psychology research which is being conducted by a PhD student at the University of Kent. The aim of the research is to investigae the role of self-belief in running performance. On January 17th I take part in the first of 4 visits (the second taking place a week later and the remaining two in the middle of February) where I will be required to complete a questionnaire, take a fitness test and have a chance to use the treadmill which I will be using for the next 3 visits. For the other 3 visits I will be asked to run 5km as fast as possible, before which I will be required to complete a ‘preload’, which is a short warm-up at a predetermined pace. During the runs I will be asked various questions surrounding my effort, my level of perceived pain and my current mood. This will be the third time I have volunteered to participate in a research study, having also been the subject of a nutrition study and one which looked into the anticipatory effects of physiological variables! Lastly, on the 28th January I take on the South of England Cross Country Championships, which take place at Parliament Hill and sees the senior men race over a distance of 15km.

I have plenty more to look forward to and keep me busy over the coming months, which include the final Kent Cross Country League race and the National Cross Country Championships in Nottingham (both of which are in February); the start of my Coach in Running Fitness course (first weekend in March, followed by a further training day in April and final assesment in July); my third attempt at the Half Marathon distance (Plymouth, in April); the third anniversary of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun which is the day before this half marathon and last but by no means least, the first anniversary of my very own running group, RTW Runners, in May 2017.

Finally, I embark on a career change with a full-time, intensive 5 week Personal Trainer course in London at the beginning of May. Having already handed my notice in with my current employer at the end of September with the view of moving into a role involving sport/volunteer development by the end of 2016 I was unsuccessful with any of the positions that I applied for and, in reflection, I feel that perhaps fate meant for me not to move into this field but rather into one which involves helping people to become fitter and healthier through physical training & coaching and so this is where my path continues. I must thank my current employer for being so kind as to allow me to continue in my current senior consultancy role and I am delighted to be working on a part-time basis (4 days per week). This additional time in my current employment will allow me to continue earning money whilst also pursuing my passion of running, coaching and volunteering.

I’d like to thank all of my friends, family, fellow volunteers and club mates for their support and here’s to a busy and successful year for all involved!

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