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David King – August 2015: A learning curve

David King – August 2015: A learning curve

The RPMF-supported hurdler gives an update on his “rollercoaster” summer season

Track and field is an unforgiving sport which takes no prisoners. You must be able to perform at your best when it matters the most and if you are unable to do this, people will not remember your name. This is a truth that I, and many other athletes, have had to face, but it is how the truth is faced that determines your potential to make your name recognised in the athletics world.

So far, the 2015 season has been like a rollercoaster ride in a library; although there have been both high and low points I have been able to learn from them all while I enjoy the journey and develop. The process of learning is something that helps to keep me motivated, even when at the lowest points of the rollercoaster.

Although I have had many successes this season, two words that have taken the top spots in my vocabulary over the past few weeks are ‘disappointed’ and ‘gutted’. I write this blog not to spread negativity, but to share my journey of how I have reacted to the setbacks that I have faced.

“Track and field is an unforgiving sport which takes no prisoners”

My season began with a personal best at the Loughborough International in May, which was hugely encouraging for the season ahead. I then ran two further personal best times at the England Under-23 Championships in (windy!) Bedford to take a close second place finish. As a result of this, my expectations for the season rose!

Thanks to help from the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund I was able to gain some international experience racing around Europe in Weinheim, Bydgoszcz and Mannheim. Unfortunately I did not run as well as I had projected for myself and this came as a real shock for my coach, James Hillier, and I.

We went in to the European Under-23 Championships knowing that I was physically ready to run fast and were thrilled when I ran close to my personal best to qualify for the final as the fastest qualifier. However, I failed to execute my race in the final and I finished fourth – we were gutted!

“The process of learning is something that helps to keep me motivated, even when at the lowest points of the rollercoaster”

At the airport on the way back from Tallinn I sat down with James for two hours while we discussed what happened. This was such an important process as I felt unable to pinpoint exactly what went wrong in the final. We decided that the only thing that differed between the heat and final at the Europeans was my mind-set. I ran the heat knowing that I had to execute my race in order to run fast – and that I did. But I ran the final with excitement; thinking about winning the race and beating others instead of concentrating on what I needed to do in order to achieve those external goals. On reflection, this was also the case for the European races I did after the Loughborough International. Many underestimate the importance of psychology in competitive track and field!

This reflection process made me so motivated to adjust my mind-set going into competition that I made a late decision to enter the Loughborough European Athletics Permit meeting. I approached the race with the utmost respect for the other competitors and with full concentration of what I needed to do to execute my race. I managed to put together two of my best races and ran both races within 0.05 of my personal best.

Competitive track and field is one big learning curve in which no experience is a negative one as long as you learn from your low points in the rollercoaster ride!

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