USA’s Brenda Martinez has been a prominent member of the middle-distance elite for several years. Here the 2013 world 800m bronze medallist chats about the difficulty of peaking for the US Trials and then a major championship.
Hectic racing schedule
“The greatest challenge I’ve faced is to stay on top and stay healthy for a prolonged period of time. The sport is so demanding and very stressful and this was very true of the 2016 season when I was hoping to make my first Olympic team.
“It is always very hard for US athletes. The US team is surely the hardest team to make and to have to peak at both the US Trials – which is like a mini-Olympics or mini-World Championships – to qualify to make that top three and then to peak again for the championships is physically and emotionally very stressful.
“I had made US teams before at the 2013 and 2015 IAAF World Championships but last year I was chasing my first Olympic team. My heart was set on qualifying for the 800m and to not do so was a big disappointment. In the end, I bounced back to run the 1500m, where I managed to qualify in third to make my first Olympic team in my secondary event.
“To race six races in 10 days was one of the hardest challenges I’d faced in my career. I was on a high, but by the time I got to the Olympic Games I had nothing left and I was completely drained. The motivation was still there, and I hoped that once I got to Rio I would be fine, but that wasn’t the case.
“Looking back, competing in my first Olympic Games was a great learning experience and after I took my end-of-season break I decided to approach training and racing a little differently.
“I took on an attitude that I had nothing to lose in training and I think that has also been reflected in my racing, where I have adopted a less conservative approach. I am taking the first lap (of the 800m) in high 56s low 57s and I saw the benefit of running such a way after running 1:58.78 early season (at Eagle Rock). I then set a season’s best (of 1:58.67) to qualify for the US team for the 2017 World Championships.
“This season we focused on strength work up to US nationals and it was only after nationals I have started my peaking work for the World Championship in London. We have adopted a smart approach to training where we want to reach a peak at the right time. My legs feel snappier. I just need to be confident that I can race to my capabilities (in London).”
Steve Landells for the IAAF