Athletes step it up on the road to 2012

Jenny Meadows, Britain’s leading hope in the 800m, tells Frank Dalleres about nerves, pressure and giving up chocolate for her last Olympics

Q. HOW DOES IT FEEL THAT THERE ARE JUST 12 MONTHS TO GO?

A. It sparks off a lot of emotions and adrenaline. I’ve got a split personality: if I’ve just done a really good training session I think I can’t wait until the Olympics, but on another day I feel like I’m waiting for doomsday to happen!

Q. DO YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE GROWING?

A. Definitely. Swimming and cycling have been doing so well so athletics is now under a lot of pressure. You feel it nationally but also personally – this is meant to be the pinnacle of my career and its something you’ll be judged on forever. We’re all aware it will define our careers. This is probably my last Olympics and it’s something I’ve been working towards since age seven and three quarters. I used to be content just to go to some of the championships but since I won bronze at the worlds in 2009 I’ve followed that up with four medals at the last four championships. Obviously it’s great to be performing well but you’re not under the radar any more – you’re in the spotlight – and it does ask a lot of you to perform under that pressure. With the event being in Britain and an Olympics it just magnifies the tension and the pressure.

Q. WHAT WILL YOUR NEXT 12 MONTHS BE LIKE?

A. I’ve got some performance indicators in the world championships in Daegu in September, but otherwise I’m not going to change my normal regime. A lot of people will skip the indoor season for fear of getting injured but that’s something that really works for me and I don’t want to change a winning formulA.

At the track I’ve got a good work ethic and a successful training plan. But the part I can probably work on more than anything is away from the track, looking after my body, nutrition – that’s the one thing I’m not the best at. A typical woman, I love chocolate! I do have a good diet but there’s more I could do and it’s a case of leaving no stone unturned. Also I need to work on my relaxation as I’m hyperactive and find it hard to just sit down and watch a half-hour television programme.

I go away twice a year to South AfricA. It’s borderline altitude, which really suits me. Even though 800m is just about an endurance event I consider myself a sprint athlete. The training camp is all of January and then all of April.

Q. WHAT’S A TYPICAL WEEK LIKE?

A. Training is twice a day, for four hours, seven days a week, for 49 weeks of the year. As well as that I do an hour and a half of stretching sessions and a rehab sessions, and twice a week I go to Manchester for physio and massage. I’m also sleeping in an altitude simulation tent. I get three weeks off at the end of the season. During the winter there’s more mileage, maybe up to 60 a week, plus a couple of gym sessions working on strength and power. In the summer the exercises drop in volume but increase in intensity.

Q. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST OVER THE NEXT YEAR?

A. I guess I’m looking forward to securing my ticket to going to the Games. In track and field we won’t know if we’re going until about four weeks before – we’re not selected on national championships. Barring injuries and people coming out and running amazing times, I’m confident I’ll be there, but knowing I’ll be able to turn up at the Olympic Village will be a sigh a of relief – and a kick up the bum.

Q. HAVE YOU BOUGHT TICKETS?

A. My family applied and got tickets for the 800m heats, but couldn’t get any for the semi-finals or final. Athletes get one ticket each. If I progress, I think my coach and husband Trevor will get that.

Jenny Meadows is a Mitchum sponsored UKA athlete. The Mitchum anti-perspirant and deodorant range for men and women is available nationwide www.mitchum.co.uk

Helen Jenkins, former Triathlon World Champion, tells James Goldman how cutting loose in Vegas will aid her Olympic ambition

Q. HOW DOES IT FEEL WITH A YEAR TO GO?

A. A year before Beijing I wasn’t even thinking about it, but this time it’s the home Olympics factor that is in all British athletes’ minds. Everyone is thinking about it. I haven’t qualified so hopefully I can meet the selection criteria this year and then start looking forward to it a bit more. I just think there’s a big sense of anticipation that this massive event is going to happen in the UK. It’s definitely been brought into focus because we’re competing over the full Olympic course [next week] and ultimately it’s what I’m putting in all the training for.

Q. WHAT MILESTONES HAVE YOU EARMARKED?

A. After Beijing it was about progressing through four years and not trying to rush things too much. We’ve got through two and a half years without major injuries which is a huge relief. It’s good to see the work that I’m putting in and the approach of taking it slowly and sensibly is paying off. I hope I’ve still got a little more to improve on ahead of next year making big gains through all the disciplines. Hyde Park is our first Olympic selection event and then the Beijing world series final is another one in September. They are the two big ones this year but there is still a chance of qualifying next year too. Qualifying early would really allow me to focus on the Olympics and would take a lot of the stress out.

Q. DO YOU GET A HOLIDAY?

A. At certain points of the year I take two or three days off and that helps with injury prevention. I have time off at the end of the season, when I have two or three weeks off. My husband is my coach and he races too but he’s been injured this year. We’re going over to America and then we’ll have a holiday in Las Vegas with some friends. That could set my training back a bit but it’s always good to have a good blowout for a couple of days and then get back to normal.

Q. WHAT’S A TYPICAL WEEK?

A. I swim about five times a week and ride four to five times, then run seven or eight times and do all the gym work, stretching and recovery stuff as a matter of course. That doesn’t change in the number of sessions but it changes throughout the year in intensity. The training does vary a lot and that is one of the good things about triathlon. The most I’d train a day is five hours and the least would be three. I swim with a swimming club, run with a running club and have some friends who I cycle with but most of the time I’m with my husband.

Q. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST OVER THE NEXT YEAR?

A. I’m looking forward to Hyde Park but I am also dreading it. It’s just one of those funny things. I want to get out there and race and at the same time it’s like “oh my God” it’s going to be really nervy. There is a bit of a love/hate thing with me. There’s extra pressure because it’s a home race but it’s all pressure you put on yourself really. I always get that sick feeling on race day but that’s all part of it for me.

Q. HAVE YOU GOT TICKETS?

A. I didn’t even apply because if I don’t qualify I’m going to go on holiday while the Games are on and try to pretend it’s not happening. I won’t be able to watch any of it, especially the triathlon, as I’ll be so gutted if I miss out.

Helen Jenkins competes in the Speedo Tri-ELITE Wetsuit. For more information go to www.speedo.co.uk

British swimming’s golden girl Rebecca Adlington tells Frank Dalleres why there will be no rest for her until London 2012

Q. HOW DOES IT FEEL THAT THERE ARE JUST 12 MONTHS TO GO?

A. Everything is going well, there’s a lot of positivity around the whole site. As it gets closer and we see people qualify it will get more real and more exciting.

Q. WHAT COMES NEXT IN YOUR PREPARATIONS?

A. We’ve got world championships at the end of July then I’ll have a two-week break. I come back mid-August and then all the work starts for the Olympics. We’ll have a hard training block from September to December – full on endurance, pure hard work – and then from December to March will be a new cycle again where we work on pace stuff, you get your speed up ready for the trials in March. We won’t know whether we’ve qualified until then so it will either be the happiest or saddest time of my life.

Q. WHAT IS A TYPICAL WEEK LIKE FOR YOU?

A. Always the same, even leading up to the Games. Ten sessions a week, all two hours long, plus four gym sessions. You do 15-week block cycles, endurance first so that you get your base level of fitness, and then you work on your speed towards the end of the cycle. It matters what you do in the 15 weeks, not just two weeks before.

Q. WILL YOU GO AWAY TO TRAIN?

A. Nothing has been decided but we probably will go to escape the cold winter. That would be just my team – Nova Centurion – and the guys I normally train with. I prefer to train with the squad rather than on my own. I really prefer to have that encouragement and support, somebody to have a laugh with, talk to.

Q. DID YOU BUY TICKETS?

A. I didn’t but my parents got tickets for the 800m, which is amazing, they were very lucky. If I don’t qualify I probably wouldn’t be able to go, but I’d still love to do stuff with the media – I’d love to be able to commentate on the swimming.
Rebecca Adlington is a Speedo sponsored athlete. For more information head to www.speedo.co.uk