Momentum Sports Academy: Athlete Blogs

Welcome to the Momentum Sports Academy Blog, which will showcase the progress of our Academy athletes.

Our first participants in the blog are two of our most decorated athletes: Phoebe Law and Mae Thompson. Both in the Under 20 Women age group, Phoebe and Mae are among the most promising young athletes in the country. Phoebe has found success in Cross Country and long distance track events, while Mae is fast rising up the rankings in the 200m and 400m Hurdles.

We hope that this will be an informative and enjoyable read, as well as a source of inspiration for all runners.

3rd November 2014

Mae Thompson

Track and field has become an even bigger part of my life since starting US college. I have had to overcome many challenges adapting to life here in New Jersey, but I think the hardest has been adjusting to a new coach and a new training group, especially since I have been training with Momentum Sports for so many years. Despite this, I love my new training program and I'm learning new things every day. My weekly schedule consists of five training sessions and three sessions in the gym. This is a large increase to what I am used to, so the first couple of weeks were definitely a struggle, I definitely discovered the meaning of sore! But now I am feeling healthier and stronger than ever approaching the indoor season.

This year I am looking forward to travelling around the country with my team to compete. And my goals are to hopefully run sub 60 for the 400mH which will hopefully allow me to qualify for the NCAA national championships in Oregon. In the mean time, since the 400mH isn't run indoors, I am excited, and a little apprehensive, to run the 500m at our first indoor meet in December.

Phoebe Law

Winter has finally arrived and with winter training brings many more and longer reps- just the way I like it! Gone are the spikes for training, it’s all about the racing flats and trail shoes from now on. Of course winter also brings the cross country season, along with its compulsory mud and rain.

My first cross country of the year happened to also be my senior debut in the Surrey Ladies League in Richmond Park. There was my first advantage: The course. I train in Richmond Park several times a week, so to have a race on my home course was a perfect start to the season. I already knew every inch of the course meaning it was a lot easier for me to judge the pace in the race. However, despite this knowledge I still ensured I had enough time to walk the course beforehand as I always do. As usual I was pretty nervous, especially when more and more formidable looking women kept turning up.

My main fears for the race were the length of it and the start. Worrying about the length was ridiculous, although it was the longest course I had ever run; I frequently cover double the distance in training, so I tried to banish that worry. The start did prove difficult as there were 375 runners, but luckily I managed to get to the front so after a fast start I suddenly found myself in 4th place. From then on I could stop worrying and focus on sticking with the women in front. By halfway I was in 3rd place, and in the end it came down to a final 400m sprint between me and the woman in 2nd place.

This was where all the summer speed training paid off and I dug in to sprint clear, overtook her and finished 2nd. I was exhausted by the end, but very pleased with the result, though me being me, I’m wondering can I get 1st next time? It was a great start to my first season as an U20 and I’m now looking forward to (and training hard for) my next few races.

25th August 2014

Mae Thompson

After what has seemed a short but sweet season, I have now moved out to the US to continue my training. In summary, since the last blog, (sometime around English Schools) I've found it hard to refocus and make a success of the remainder of the season. I've heard from many people that after a major championship it is hard to come back and run even faster times straight away, as it takes a lot of mental and physical preparation. I've found this very frustrating, and it has left me eager to pick up where I left off next season, especially in the flat 400m and 200m.

However, my last few weeks in the training group have definitely been great fun. A small number of us made a very memorable outing (perhaps for the wrong reasons) to a Watford open meeting, to which we got lost and stuck in traffic, arriving just in the nick of time to race. I also won my first intercounties title earlier this month at the South of England intercounties Championships.

I have had my most successful athletics season ever, and the feeling I get from standing on the podium has definitely left me hungry to start training hard over the coming winter months and hopefully come back stronger and faster next season, in my last year in the junior age group.

It was a sad goodbye (even if it's just for little while) to Momentum Sports, who I have been training with for four years, and I wish all the athletes the best of luck with their sporting careers.

Phoebe Law

My season has finally drawn to a close and it has been better than I ever could have imagined. I always come into the track season counting down the months until cross country starts again. But this season was different, after improving my PBs hugely since last year, I suddenly realised how exhilarating it is to start chasing times on the track! I also did my first set of track nationals at both English schools and English champs, which was a whole new experience and very exciting. The track certainly surprised me as to how much fun it could be!

My last race of the season sadly did not go to plan, but it did teach me some valuable lessons. It was a British Milers Club gold standard race that I qualified for by the skin of my teeth (0.09 seconds which is a very small amount for a 1500m!). As a result it was quite a scary prospect to compete in such a high level race. Matters were made worse when on the day there was hideous traffic leaving me only 20 minutes to warm up, which for those that know not enough. It was fairly windy and after getting boxed in early I ran a pretty unspectacular race, getting nowhere near my PB. Despite this, it was a valuable experience and taught me that even if things don't go as planned, it is still possible to run a decent race. Also never trust the M25! After a great season, I'm now looking forward to my first winter race in October.

24th July 2014

Mae Thompson

Having recently competed in my second English Schools championships, I am still ecstatic about bringing home a silver medal. As a young athlete I always had the ambition to compete at English schools, and after four years of not making the team, I was delighted to be selected for the first time last year, where I finished in 6th place.

After equalling my personal best in the Surrey trials last month, I was pleased to be selected once again this year, but went in to the championships slightly more apprehensive than before, as the pressure was on to perform.

The championships are run over Friday and Saturday and were this year held in Birmingham. Having competed in the same stadium just two weeks before, the thought of racing on the track wasn'I t too daunting, as it is for many of my fellow competitors.

After running comfortably in my heats, I approached the final hoping to finish in the top five. After a hard first 300m, I gave absolutely everything in the home straight to just take the silver medal by 0.04 seconds, in a massive PB that I have been striving for all season.

I remember lying on the track after I crossed the line, wearing the biggest grin. I couldn't quite believe it! Standing on my first major championship podium was the best feeling in the world, and is really worth all the hard work I have put in for so many years.

Having only reached English schools during my time in the senior age group, my advice to any young athletes reading this is to keep training hard and persevere, no matter how many setbacks you may have.

Phoebe Law

English Schools finally rolled around and I felt ready. Ready for my event, but perhaps not so ready for the long wait I had to endure before I was able to compete. The championships were on a Friday and Saturday- my event (the senior girls 1500m) was on the Saturday afternoon. So for me, the waiting itself on Friday was as big a challenge as the race itself. Our team travelled up to Birmingham on Thursday afternoon and that evening Mae and I, along with another athlete, went for a 'short' jog. This ended up being an hour long as we got hopelessly lost in the Birmingham nether regions...but we still managed to be tucked up in bed by 9.30pm ready for the next day!

Friday was difficult getting to the stadium at 8.30am and not leaving until 7pm without competing myself. A long wait. But I was in the same boat as some other athletes so we spent the day wandering around the stadium, cheering on our team and playing frisbee! Finally the day itself arrived, I was incredibly nervous, but by looking at the race competitors (including two who were off to the World Junior Champs in under a week) I knew conditions should be perfect for a PB. My race like hell. I knew that if I could just get stuck in and try and stay near the front, anything could happen.

Again it was a very hot day, so despite having a good warm-up, I was already sweltering in the heat. The race itself is a bit of a blur. I know the first 800m felt much faster than it actually was, with me sitting in 5th place. My legs felt so heavy that I began to doubt that a PB was in reach - however with 600m to go I pulled myself together and started to attack the race more aggressively. Running what was perhaps the fastest 600m I have ever run in my life, I closed in on 3rd, almost catching her in the final metres, but ended 1 second behind with a new PB. I was ecstatic...but at the same time unable to speak as my throat was burning so much (I knew I must have run fast for that to happen!). The whole experience of running in such a big stadium in a high quality race was amazing - and I'm looking forward to improving on 4th next year. I am now concentrating on the inter counties and my first BMC gold standard race.

29th June 2014

Mae Thompson

I had another busy weekend of racing this week competing at the England Athletics U20 championships (21st-22nd June), my biggest race of the season so far. Preparation started on Thursday, where I focused on hurdle drills and block starts, with Friday being all important rest day. Arriving in plenty of time is an important part of helping me stay relaxed before a race, so with the championships being in Bedford, it was an early start on Saturday morning. This season, I have found a set of stretches and drills that I like to stick to before a race, which includes jogging around the venue to get more of a feel for my surroundings.

As with my other national level competitions, I found the warm up area and call room procedure quite daunting as it’s very different to what I’m used to, but I’m starting to get used to it.

The conditions for my heats were perfect and I had a good lane draw (5). However, I felt I was slow out of the blocks and played the first 150m too safe, leaving me near the back of the field with 200m to go. This meant having to claw my way back up to the front runners, by attacking round the bend, and finishing hard, to place third and automatically qualify for the final on Sunday.

Finals day too brought near to ideal conditions, and having watched the heats back, I was able to approach the race with a clear strategy. This time I attacked the first 5 hurdles a lot harder, leaving me the tough challenge of trying to hold on for the last half of the race, and with the lactic kicking in hard at the top of the home straight, is no easy feat. I finished in 5th place, taking 0.5 of a second off my previous PB.

This still leaves me above 62 seconds, which I am aiming to dip under by the end of the season, but with some big races still to come (British Championships and English Schools Championships), I’ve still got some time to work on my technique over the hurdles and holding my form, which should help me to achieve that magical sub 61!

Phoebe Law

On Sunday 22nd June I went to my first national track meet - the U20 England national champs where I competed in the 3000m. And I’m not going to lie, I was petrified - the call room, warm up area and 'athletes only' entrance were all completely new experiences! Not at all like cross country nationals where you can just rock up to the start line 10 minutes before...

Training had been fine leading up to the day, but when the day itself arrived I was scared stiff. On paper, I was pretty much the slowest athlete in the race but I knew I had beaten some of the field over the winter in cross country which gave me some hope. Looking at the start list did not help my nerves when I saw almost all of the other competitors had either run for England or GB juniors. However I tried not to let that intimidate me too much, at least it meant there was absolutely no pressure on me.

Luckily by the time we were led onto the track in a long line I was feeling much better and ready to go. The race itself was fast, the winner led from the start, while the rest of us did the best we could to keep up! By the mid kilometre two packs were established - with me running in the second. But in the final km I was able to chase down the leading pack, closing the gap and overtaking some of them. I finished in 5th place with a massive PB - I couldn't believe it; I had done so much better than I thought I would! Despite it initially being scary, it was all an amazing experience and has given me a lot of confidence in big track events. It also has been good preparation for the English Schools where I have been selected to run the 1500m. I am now training for that.

4th June 2014

Mae Thompson

"I am an athlete". This is the slogan of a T-Shirt I received last week. But I still don’t really consider myself to be one, just someone who likes to run round a circle, sometimes over a couple of obstacles. I have been training with Momentum Sports for a number of years, and I’m still enjoying every minute. I train up to six times a week, with three of those being at the track with the rest of the group - these are the most fun!

My main event is the 400 hurdles, however, this is only my second year competing in it, so I still feel a bit of a novice. And I also enjoy the sprints, rather than middle distance events (but I've always been rubbish at throws and jumps). I am currently studying towards my A levels, and hope to attend University in the USA on a sports scholarship later this year.

Last year my highlights were competing in the English Schools final, and the CAU intercounties. And I finished 7th in the 2013 UK U20 rankings. This season, I have already set a new PB in the 200m, and equalled my 400 hurdles PB from last year, to win double gold at the Surrey County Championships this weekend. I am looking forward to competing in national events this summer.

Phoebe Law

Knee deep mud, driving rain - not everyone's idea of a great day out but that's just normal for a cross country race. I only discovered my love of running 3 years ago and have been training with Momentum Sports for two years and my love has continued to grow! My favoured event is cross country, but I also enjoy the track as well, mainly doing 1500m, 3000m and the occasional steeple chase (which is always worth a watch as I have fallen in the water jump more than once!) I train 6 times a week, twice at the track for speed work and the other times in Richmond park, where I do longer tempo runs and hills. The track sessions are always the hardest as I push myself to the limit, but they are fun too as we have a great training group.

Last cross country season my highlights were coming 4th in the Nationals and the CAU inter counties and also coming 3rd in the mini marathon- winning the London section. I finished the 2014 cross country season with a UK ranking of 4th. So far the track season has started well and I have set new PBs in both the 1500m and the 3000m but I am hoping to set even better ones as the season progresses.



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