Lauren Wells Running Tips
Lauren Wells is the current Australian Champion in the 400m hurdles and reached the semi-finals in this event at the World Championships in 2015. She has competed at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and the London Olympic Games.
Lauren is aiming to compete in the Rio Olympics this year. She will be giving you some expert running tips in the lead up to The 2016 Australian Running Festival.
Growing up as a local Canberra girl, I was always very active. Whether it was rollerblading with the other kids in the street or going down to the local oval to throw the javelin with my family, sport and being active has always been a large part of my life. However, I never imagined that one day I would be representing Australia at the Olympic Games in the 400m Hurdles! No to mention running in front of a crowd of 80 000 people!
I often get asked about the type of training involved in 400m hurdles and how do I manage to keep training so hard. I always say to people that training is ‘my time away from life’ when I get to focus on something I love and not worry about anything else! I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a session, especially one that has tested me mentally as well as physically.
I believe that one of the most important elements of training is PATIENCE! It is a very hard skill to learn, because naturally we always want to see immediate improvements, but it certainly comes in handy. No matter what level of athlete you are, or even what aspect of life it is in, being patient when you’re trying to achieve something is essential in maintaining motivation. Set little goals or aims and make sure they are realistic. Lots of little steps will help in achieving your big ‘end result’, but being patient and trusting in the process is just as important!
- Control the controllables - no matter where in the world I am racing and now matter how big or small a particular event is, I always try to keep things consistent with what I would normally do back home. For example - I always eat a breakfast that is similar to what I would eat at home before a training session or race. I also try not to worry about the weather; you can't control it but also it will be the same for everyone, so embrace it and don't let it throw you off.
- Nerves are good! I believe that nerves are a sign of how much you care about your race. Personally, if I'm running on my home track in Canberra or in front of 80 000 people at the London Olympic Games, I like feeling the butterflies in my tummy! I think that when those butterflies disappear, it might be time to step away from my sport. I love to harness the nerves and use them to my advantage rather than allow them to control me. I train hard because I absolutely LOVE competing and I use my nerves in a positive way.
- Keep it fun - I LOVE my athletics and everything that comes with it; but mainly the feeling of accomplishment after a really tough session and obtaining personal bests both in training and in competition. I am able to enjoy my sport because my training is varied and 'fun'. There are certainly sessions I dread, that is natural for any athlete! But I certainly don't hate any aspect of my sport. Having a variety of sessions and people to train with all adds to the love I have for my running every day.
Week leading into the big race
By now, pretty much everything is done! You've done the hard yards in training so now it's time to get through the last few days before you can put all of the training to the test! Leading into a big race for me, I usually will complete a reasonably tough track session early in the week, typically a Monday, followed by a gym session that is reduced in volume on Tuesday. On Wednesday I will do another track session however it will be focused on high quality and low volume. This way, I will feel good about my session and not end up too sore after it. Thursday will be a rest day from gym and usually the Friday, day before race day, will be a warm up consisting of a light jog, some run throughs, stretching and some drills. This day is all about feeling ready for the big race!
Day before the big race
Nerves have probably started to kick in by now and that is both a good thing and completely normal! I always believe that the butterflies in my tummy before any race, no matter how important, they always show me just how much I care about what I am about to do. They are a good source of motivation, as long as you can harness them in a positive way and to your advantage. The day before a race comes down to personal preference, in terms of what you feel like you need exercise-wise. I know some athletes prefer to 'taper' into the race, by scheduling more rest days. Other athletes prefer to keep training right up to the big day. You just have to work out the best approach for you.
Yay, the big day has finally arrived!! Trust me when I say, if you had an ordinary sleep - it doesn't matter. If you don't quite have the same breakfast you always have before training - it doesn't matter. If it is raining - it doesn't matter. What matters is your preparation leading into the race and knowing that you have done everything you can to get yourself to the start line in excellent shape. All of the training has been done and this should be the most exciting part - you get to finally see the results of all of your hard work. Have a goal in mind, a realistic one, of what you want to achieve from your race and go for it. It won't always work out, but when it does, you will feel an amazing sense of accomplishment. In the times you don't quite reach your goal, focus on the positive things from your race and then constructively go through the parts you'd like to improve on for next time. Similarly, if you have an awesome race and smash your goal, set another one, just a bit higher for next time! There is always something positive to take from an event so be fearless and just go for it!