The record-breaking middle distance runner on finding her feet at the top level
With one national record, three personal best times and two Olympic qualifiers across five rounds in nine days at the World Championships in Budapest, Adelle Tracey was reminded how much she loves championship running.
“I think I really thrive in that environment,” she says. “I knew that training had gone really well and all my preparation was there. We’d worked really hard with my mind coach as well, so I was in a really good space. I just wanted to see what all the hard work meant. There are very few times when your body feels so ready, you feel healthy, you’re enjoying it, and everything aligns, so I knew I’d be silly not to make the most of that and to see what I could do.”
Tracey, who switched allegiance from Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Jamaica in June 2022, ran a lifetime best of 1:58.41 to finish seventh in the 800m, improving the 1:58.99 she clocked in the semi-final. In the 1500m semi-final she ran a Jamaican record of 3:58.77 and narrowly missed out on making the final. It was a four-second improvement on her 4:02.55 previous best from last year.
Craig Winrow, her coach of 10 years, has guided her throughout and while the structure of her training hasn’t changed significantly the decision to increase her mileage following the 2022 World Championships in Eugene – her first year of doubling up over 800m and 1500m – has been crucial to her dramatic progression.
“We had a conversation after Eugene and I said I needed to get stronger because I was really feeling it going through the 1500m rounds for the first time,” she says. “We decided I needed to do more running. I was doing 1500m sessions but the mileage I was hitting wasn’t particularly high, maybe 50-60 miles per week, whereas this winter we tried to get a bit closer to 70 miles. I think that made the difference getting through the rounds [in Budapest].
“I was finishing the races feeling like I hadn’t been completely beaten up like I did last year, and I think that also gave me a lot of confidence going into the next round because I knew I’d recovered better.”
While Winrow has repeatedly proven his ability to help Tracey peak at the right time, the input from her mind coach Mike Cunningham and physiologist Georgie Bruinvels have also been invaluable.
Cunningham helps her to review her races and identify areas for improvement, training her mind and maximising her mental strength. Bruinvels is a senior sports scientist, PhD research scientist and female athlete lead at Orreco. She is also the co-creator of FitrWoman, a female health app that helps women to train, compete and recover in sync with their menstrual cycle.
“Something I’ve really struggled with over the years is getting my menstrual cycle to line up with performance and, when it hasn’t, navigating that,” says Tracey. “Georgie has been so amazing at supporting me through it.”
Based on her positive experience in Budapest – where adopting a one-day-at-a-time approach enabled her to get the most out of herself – Tracey is keen to double up at the Paris Olympics if the scheduling allows for adequate recovery.
“You never really know the significance of a moment until it’s passed, so I think that appreciation, particularly in the last 18 months, has been there fully for me,” she says. “I haven’t always had the opportunity to be in races at that level, so knowing I’m in such a privileged position now to double at a championship, it’s like I almost want to make the most of that opportunity and to see what I can do over both events. The 800m is my first love, but the 1500m is a new fun experience and I really want to see what I can do.”
Tracey is based in London and trains at St Mary’s in Twickenham. She spends three to four months of the year training at altitude either in Kenya, Flagstaff or Font Romeu (where she spent her pre-camp for Budapest), depending on the time of year.
Each training week incorporates 1 x 800m session and 1 x 1500m session and she complements her running with strength and conditioning (S&C) and yoga. On Saturdays throughout the winter (September – December and March) she does hills ranging from 30-90 second reps, preceded by 10 minutes of tempo on the flat.
Monday: (am) 6 miles steady; (pm) 4 miles steady. “I do my steady running off how I feel,” she says. “If I’m feeling really tired I’ll run slow and I won’t look at my watch. It could be 8:30min/mile pace or 7:50, but I probably wouldn’t run any quicker than 6:30/mile pace.”
Tuesday: (am) track session e.g. 3 x sets of broken up 1200m at 1500m pace or quicker with short recovery and lap jog recovery between sets; (pm) S&C
Wednesday: 6 miles steady run – option to double run in winter
Thursday: (am) tempo run e.g., 4-5 miles of tempo, either broken up or straight; (pm) core and conditioning followed by speed session (e.g., 4 x 80m, 2 x 150m, 1 x 200m or 300m)
Friday: rest day
Saturday: triple day – (am) track – typical 800m session e.g., 3 x (4 x 200m) or 6 x 300m off 4min; (pm) gym plus S&C then shakeout run of around 4 miles
Sunday: long run of 10-12 miles
“Something that replicates racing – I love a time trial, anything where I can run as fast as I can, so a 600m, or a split 800m.”
Least favourite session
“5 x 400m (sub-60) off 5min, so that’s pretty lactic and horrible!”
» This article first appeared in the September issue of AW magazine. Subscribe here
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