Continuing his exclusive column for Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing magazine, Kemsing’s very own world record holder and Olympic athlete, Tom Bosworth, joins us once again to talk about his training in South Africa ahead of this year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“Being back in the UK since my training camp in South Africa has been great, I’ve seen my dog and my fiancé, and I’m back in my own bed. But it’s seems that the British weather has really wanted to test me.
Staying motivated in February with it’s 40mph winds, rain and hail in your face, and dodging falling trees, is all part of winter training, but three straight weeks of it is getting a little tiring now. Thankfully, at the end of February was my second indoor race of the year, round the 200m indoor track in the Glasgow arena.
The British Indoor Championships are something I always love to try and win, as the crowd always gets behind the athletes and it’s always a great atmosphere. Plus I’ve won the previous five editions so I was hoping to make it a sixth straight win and maybe even challenge my 5000m indoor British record, which stood at 18m 28s – yes I can walk 5k in 18 minutes!
After getting back to the UK I knew I had a few more big weeks of work to put away, after the near 500km I’d done in January, I knew I’d be on tired legs and as I said the weather wasn’t going to be anywhere near as kind.
Despite this, I took it a day at a time and continued to put away many kilometres every day, at a strong pace and focusing on my technique, as race walking is slightly different to running.
We have to land with a straight leg and make sure there is no visible loss of contact from the ground in our steps. So to make sure we are on good form, I jumped into the biomechanics lab at Leeds Beckett University and checked my technique with specialist, Brian Hanley. Sky Sports also joined us for their Olympic preview show.
Moving at faster than race pace on the treadmill, we did slow motion, muscle activation with step length and force to make sure I am walking with the most efficient technique, without any risk of receiving any red cards within a race.
Feeling confident from the winter training it was finally time to taper down my training. A full taper would have almost a full week of easy walking, but with bigger aims for the year we only tapered off a couple of days before. So Thursday morning I completed a 20k training session and then I knew it was almost time to race.
Harry and I drove up to Glasgow on the Saturday and was kindly put up for the night by middle distance runner Laura Muir. The following morning we headed to the arena and that’s when it gets real for me. In the warm up area I could hear other races going on, the crowds cheering and the announcers Introducing athletes and commentating on races. I love the buzz.
I knew I was in good shape, but what happened next blew my mind. I set off on British record pace, knowing that this is already an incredibly fast time that I set back in 2018. But it felt easy, the strength work I’d put in this winter to fix my back and hip problems were clearly worth it. I pushed on and soon knew I was well on for the record. I tried to get the crowds behind me in the last couple of laps, as I came round to stop the clock in a new British record, it was announced in the stadium and the crowd gave a great cheer! I love being able to showcase race walking at this level. 8 seconds I’d taken off the British record, the fastest time in the world and the 8th fastest time in history. I was truly speechless.
Focusing every day, sacrificing, time away from home, training in the rain are all worth it with results like this. And is encouraging for the season ahead. For me it was a visit from anti doping so my record can be verified and I can continue to demonstrate that you can achieve great things from training hard and being true to yourself. I tend to get tested around every other week around races. That means someone coming to your house, taking a blood sample and urine sample to be tested. It’s quite an invasion on your life, as we must declare our location every day, giving a 1 hour slot of where we can be found and we must be there. If not, you can also risk a ban if you aren’t where you say you are. Which can be very easily done if say your flights delayed or you plans happen to change last minute. Thankfully I’m good at keeping my anti doping instructions up to date and am happy to be tested for the sake of clean sport!
Next up for me is a few European 20k road races, where hopefully I can add to my current two Olympic qualifying times I have, and even perhaps go after my 20km national record.
You can follow my progress across all social media platforms, using @tombosworth or check out my new website www.tombosworth.com.
If you’d like to arrange a school or work visit please do get in touch or if you think your company would be interested in sponsoring an Olympic athlete do get in touch via my website or social media.