Whilst many in Aberdeen must have felt they had been plunged back into the bleak mid-winter given the cold weather and smatterings of snow over the past few weeks, GB 400m runner Zoey Clark has been enjoying training in far more tropical conditions.
Dubai has been the venue of choice for Clark’s warm-weather training camp this year, where the Aberdonian – who represented Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics last year – has been completing preparations for her outdoor season in temperatures upwards of 30c.
Not that Clark has taken her foot off the accelerator pedal whilst she’s been out in the UAE – far from it.
Gruelling lactic sessions, combined with Clark’s continued commitments as an engineer for Wood Group, have seen her fill almost every hour of the day with both physical and mental activity.
But the intensity of a packed schedule is very much how Clark likes it, and the three-week training camp has left her keen to put her fine-tuning into practice.
Running mechanics and intensity sessions have been a staple of Clark’s training programme in Dubai Sports City, where she has been coached by her partner and former international sprinter, Ryan Oswald.
“We have had a much bigger focus this year on running mechanics on different parts of the race,” Clark explains.
“That’s one thing we have done out here – we’ve done a lot of sessions where we’ve really worked on how I’m supposed to run the bend which, up until this point, has never quite clicked with me.
“It’s nice to have the time to do that work and then implement it in other sessions – I’ve quite enjoyed that.”
Combining training with remote working
It hasn’t just been the warm weather that’s been beneficial to Clark, though; the time zone has also been advantageous. With Gulf Standard Time four hours ahead of British Summer Time, both Clark and Oswald have been able to juggle training and work without being too out of sync with their Wood Group colleagues back in Aberdeen.
“We do have to get training done early, mainly because it’s so hot out here – way hotter than previous training camps [I’ve been on],” Clark says.
“We tend to leave at 7am or 7.30am to go training, and we’re there for about two-and-a-half- hours. By the time we get back, have some food, and get logged into our computer, it’s around 8am back home, which is the start of the working day.”
All of this, of course, means Clark doesn’t have to take any annual leave, which she is saving up in the hope she will be spending plenty of time travelling and competing later this summer. The World Championships, Commonwealth Games, and European Championships are all still on the cards in what will be an athletics season like no other.
Domestic races to start soon
Within the next month, however, Clark is going to ease herself into her competition schedule. Domestic races over 100m and 200m are likely to form the early stage of her season before she gives her full attention to the one-lap event later in May.
“I don’t have a finalised first race yet, but at the beginning of May we’re actually going to open up with a 100m and a 200m, kind of like my approach for indoors, just to get rid of the cobwebs,” Clark says.
“A couple of weeks later we’re going to do a 400m at the East District Championships – again, a low-profile race just to give me time to find where I’m at, before moving on for some other competitions further afield on the European circuit.”
With a full-on training camp behind her, and a similarly full-on season ahead, Clark’s ability to acclimatise to whatever is thrown at her will surely work to her advantage, with the busiest year of her career set to begin.