US sprinter Noah Lyles (Getty Images) © Copyright
Series

High and low – Noah Lyles

IAAF Diamond League 200m champion Noah Lyles reflects on the rollercoaster ride he experienced during the 2017 campaign.


High

To be honest, my 2017 season was more of a high-low-high.

I had enjoyed a great winter’s training. I had started to lift proper weights for the first time and I was completing my running sessions at a faster pace. Where previously I’d be running 300m reps in about 36 seconds, I was now knocking them off at 34 or 35 seconds. My coach (Lance Brauman) encouraged me to fully commit. I made that psychology shift and ran the sessions more aggressively.

I felt at a new high during training and I was ready to tackle the world.

Noah Lyles setting a 300m world indoor best in Albuquerque (Kirby Lee)Noah Lyles setting a 300m world indoor best in Albuquerque (Kirby Lee) © Copyright

 

I opened up during the indoor season where I was unbeaten over 300m and set a world best time (in 31.87) to take the US Championships. In only my second outdoor 200m race I won the Shanghai Diamond League in 19.90 – the first time I had ever dipped below 20 seconds. It was a huge moment for me as it was something I had planned to run since my final year at high school.

Running a sub-20-second time gave me extra confidence. I knew I had become part of an elite club. To be one of the lucky few to break that barrier moved me from good to great.


Low

Shanghai was a great high, but it was also the beginning of a big low.

About 15-20 metres into the race, I felt something in my hamstring, which at the time I thought was cramp. I completed the race but as the night progressed, it worsened. Then, after flying back to Germany, doctors confirmed I had a two-centimetre hamstring tear on my right leg.

My first thought was, ‘how soon can I be back competing?’ I had big plans for the 2017 season. We completed the rehab and for four weeks I started to feel better, but close to the US Championships I started to feel my muscle could not handle block starts. I competed in Sacramento and won my first-round heat in 20.54, but I finished the race in a decent amount of pain.

Noah Lyles in action at the US Championships (Getty Images)Noah Lyles in action at the US Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

I did all I could to loosen up the body with the help of a massage therapist but I decided there was no point pushing my body through the pain and I withdrew from the semi-final. I knew I had up to two rounds to run and it made no sense to run. I made a decision to back off, to ensure the injury was completely healed and that I would start competing again at the end of the season.

I was very hurt by what happened and I was in tears that I was unable to run. But back in the hotel where my mother, brother and uncle were to support me, I made a decision that night to refocus. We agreed it wasn’t meant to be. There is a better plan out there and I have many more years ahead of me.


High

I returned to the US, carried out the rehab and then resumed training. My first competition back was the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels and I felt pretty confident. I thrive off the big moments and the great competitions.

I was drawn in the outside lane that day and I made a good start. About 20 metres from the finish, I felt like someone was on my left-hand side. Then with five metres to go, I felt like I needed to lean.

Noah Lyles wins the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels (Gladys Chai von der Laage)Noah Lyles wins the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels (Gladys Chai von der Laage) © Copyright

 

After the race, everyone was high-fiving each other and it looked like nobody knew what was going on. But when it was confirmed I had won the race (in 20.00 to defeat compatriot Ameer Webb by 0.01) I thought this was the moment I had prepared for all year.

Looking back, 2017 was probably one of the best transition seasons to being a professional I could have experienced. I had a great high with a world best and then a sub-20 second time. I had adjusted to a new training regime, picked up an injury, but figured out what my body needed to come back. I discovered that my base training was strong enough to quickly bounce back from such an injury and that I was still strong enough to win the Diamond trophy.

Steve Landells for the IAAF