For a lot of athletes, this year has the potential to be a BIG year, with the Olympics just months away. Whilst some have already consolidated their positions on the team and have their tickets to Tokyo, there are still a lot of spots up for grabs.
One athlete after a seat on the Team GB plane, is Jake Smith. After a phenomenal run at the World Half where he clocked 60:31 and a 10k TT on the track of 28:00, the Olympics has been a very realistic target for 23-year old Smith. The Cardiff-based athlete is coached by James Thie, who occasionally doubles up as pacemaker in sessions! We spoke to Jake ahead of the Olympic 10,000m trials in June.
Firstly, his unplanned marathon debut needs to be touched upon. For those that don’t already know, Jake was set to pace the Cheshire Marathon to 25km, but a combination of passion and feeling good led him to complete the entire 26.2 mile distance in an Olympic and World QT of 2:10:58!
Jake said, “It’s mad, honestly I loved every minute of the race. I looked at my watch, noticed my HR was still low and just wanted to run a quick time. I helped pace the guys to some fast times and couldn’t have asked for more as I was just feeling so good. Now it’s back to focus on the track.”
Every athlete responds differently to different training, but Jake Smith has come to know what works best for him.
“A typical training week looks like the following:
- Monday- AM: 8-mile progression (6:20-5:00) + 2-mile strides; PM: 45 mins CT in garage gym
- Tuesday- AM: 6-mile easy run, PM: Track session 10-14 miles
- Wednesday- AM: 12-mile easy run, PM: S&C
- Thursday- AM: 8-mile steady run (5:20-30) + 2-mile strides; PM: 6-mile easy run
- Friday- AM: 6-mile easy run, PM: Track session 10-14 miles
- Saturday- 40km cycle
- Sunday- AM: 18/19-mile long run, PM: S&C
I have enjoyed incorporating some cross training into my weekly routine/training as I feel I get quite similar benefits to that of running and it puts less stress on the body overall.”
You can also follow Jake on Strava; he isn’t shy about sharing what he gets up to.
Smith had a phenomenal race in Poland at the world half which put him third on the UK all-time list behind Mo Farah and Callum Hawkins. We asked him about the transition from HM to 10k training and how this varies for him.
“In terms of my weekly schedule the training for both the 10k and half followed a similar pattern. When I was training for the half, sessions were much more aerobic at a slower pace compared to training for the 10k now. For example, big sessions I did for the half build up were 2* 4 miles @ just faster than half pace compared to 3*3k @10k pace during the 10k build up. Also, sessions I am doing now are much faster as I want to develop my speed more so the paces for both the 10k and future half’s feel easier. I am incorporating 200s, 300s and 400s into my training plus doing a few 1500s and 5k’s before the Olympic trials.”
For some, their pre-race build up involves going abroad for training camps, but others prefer to get in the zone in the UK. If you’ve got a solid training group, a determined mindset and discipline, what more do you need? Smith is very much on board with this thinking.
“I’m not going on any training camps before the Olympic trials. I haven’t really looked into it and I think training in Cardiff with the group we have here is amazing anyway.”
However, ahead of the trials, Smith is looking to step outside his comfort zone and work on his top end speed.
“I have quite a few shorter races planned actually which I am looking forward to as I have always said I wanted a proper summer season. The trials for the 10k are on June 5th in Birmingham and before the race I am hoping to do at least 2* 1500s and 2*5ks. I have entered some races so far but it’s now looking at logistics and which races would be better to put my name forward too. The week before the 10k, I am looking to do a fast 1500m just to get that leg turnover working quicker before the race of the season for me.”
When chasing PB’s, weeks of hard work need to be put in outside of racing. We asked Jake how he physically and mentally prepares for big sessions.
“I get asked this question quite a lot hahah. I treat big sessions almost like races whereby I am constantly thinking about what I would like to achieve all throughout the day. I listen to music for most of the day to psych myself up. Sometimes I will admit I probably get way too nervous but that is the enjoyment I get from this sport, being nervous and having a good session. Like with races, whereby you target some more than others, I have a few sessions just like that to see my current fitness.”
To be in contention for achieving a place on GB Olympic team is an amazing thing for anyone, but to even be near that level at the age of 23 is a phenomenal achievement.
“It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was 8 years old. I remember watching the 2008 Olympics and saying to my parents I want to go there one day. So, I think just the fact I am possibly in contention to represent Gb on a global scale is unreal. I just need to get that title now, haha. Also, as I’m only 23, I know I’ll have a lot more opportunities in the future, but it would be great if I got into the team. It is an amazing feeling, but it is all well and good to say that now. I am heading into that race just targeting 27:28, so in my training I am trying to make sure I basically run faster than 2:45 per km for the majority of it to get a feeling of the pace needed.”
Having a dream is one thing but turning it into reality is another. We asked Jake when he realised the Olympics was a realistic target.
“It probably came last year when I raced the 10k TT on the track in 28:00 and followed it up with a 60:31 Half Marathon. I looked at some of the people I had beaten and who were around me and compared my times with theirs. I think that’s what really got me in the mood knowing all these people near me have run such quick 10k times.”
We want to wish Jake the best of luck in the upcoming months ahead of the trial and support him all the way.
Article by Hannah Irwin