World and Olympic champion Kirani James is currently getting ready to open his 2013 season ahead of his World title defence in Moscow later this summer, but he took a few minutes out from his studies at the University of Alabama to report on how things are going.
“It feels like it’s been a long time since I stepped on the track for a competition. I had a long season last year, so for the first time since 2009 I decided to skip the indoor season this year to focus on the World Championships.
“I still followed some results of other athletes from the indoor season, but it’s completely different to the outdoor season. In some ways it can show what form athletes are in, but outdoors there are no banks, the turns are wider, there’s no break – it’s totally different.
“I really enjoy running indoors though, it’s really strategic. I might return to indoor running next year in time for the World Indoor Championships, but it really depends on how this season goes and what my coach says.
“Training over the winter has been good and consistent. I’d say I’m in good form, but we’ll find out for sure next week (April 13) at the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational, which is my first race of 2013. I’m just getting ready for that at the moment, and we’ve been working on everything – conditioning, stride length, speed.
“Last year I managed to break 45 seconds in all of my finals. I’d like to do the same again this year, but we’ll just have to wait and see what shape I’m in. My first race is always a kind of ‘let’s-see-where-I’m-at’ race. It’s really like a warm-up meet, and after that race my coach and I will go back to the drawing board and look at where I can improve.
“After that meet I’ll be running at the Penn Relays in an all-star 4x400m to take on the USA. Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad & Tobago will also be in the team, so it should be a lot of run and a competitive race against the US.
“After winning the World and Olympic titles in the past two years, sometimes people ask if it’s difficult to stay motivated, but actually I don’t find it difficult at all. My goal each season is to be consistent, and my long-term career goal is to have longevity spanning many years. Whether it’s an Olympic year, a World Championships year or an off year, you should take every season as seriously as possible and be as competitive as you can.
“This is a time of year when I like to keep things as simple as possible – just university and training without any extra distractions. It’s the calm before the storm, because in a couple of months I’ll be travelling a lot to various meets around the world as the season kicks in. Once that happens there’s no time to relax, so I’m taking the opportunity to do that now.
“University is good, they’re very flexible and I have a lot of time for myself. I’m a part-time student, so I still have a couple of years left, depending on how many credit hours I take next year.
“Once I graduate, I’ll most likely stay here in Tuscaloosa. It’s a very laid-back town – there’s not so much to do where you’d get carried away with yourself, but there are also enough things to keep you from getting bored. It really fits in well with where I’m at right now and I still have time for myself. I’m comfortable here and it works well for me, so why change it?
“For now though I’m looking forward to getting back on track next week in Nassau – wish me luck!