Get to know: Celia Taylor Over the busy Christmas and New Year’s period the Yaya Village Hotel has been happy to host England International middle distance runner Celia Taylor and her husband Richard. A member of Coventry Godiva Athletics Club she has run 2:01.16 for 800m and 4:10.41 for 1500m. Celia is coached by Vince …Over the busy Christmas and New Year’s period the Yaya Village Hotel has been happy to host England International middle distance runner Celia Taylor and her husband Richard. A member of Coventry Godiva Athletics Club she has run 2:01.16 for 800m and 4:10.41 for 1500m. Celia is coached by Vince Wilson and runs in X-Bionic athletic apparel.
Hi Celia, can you tell us a little about your running background?
Sure. I started athletics as a 400m hurdler and moved up to the 800m in 2006 after suffering some frustrating injuries. During the previous year I had a successful attempt at duathlon, finishing third overall in the age group world championships.
I have been specialising in the 800m since then but have had quite a few injury issues, as most athletes do. It felt very much like one good year followed by one bad year and I struggled to put consistently good seasons together.
How did 2012 go for you?
Unfortunately 2012 was one of my more frustrating years. I had been considering retirement for a while and my initial plan was to give it everything to try to make the Olympic team and then retire after either making the team, or happy in the knowledge that I gave it everything I could and came up just short.
I changed coach at the end of 2011 and began working with Vince Wilson who I really enjoy training with. Things were going brilliantly but in January I suffered a hamstring injury which wasn’t properly diagnosed until August 2012. When the injury ended my Olympic dream it was very tough to take and I came close to stopping. Vince was extremely supportive and, together with Richard and my Mum, convinced me to keep training and to run the indoor season in 2013.
How have you been preparing for the indoor season?
In September I booked this trip to Yaya, which was a huge motivation and something I really needed to help me focus throughout the autumn. I could have given up without this to look forward to as it often felt like I was training hard with no real progress. I raced indoors in November and while the times weren’t sparkling there were some definite positive signs and I was pleased to walk off the track in one piece!
What are your goals for the indoor season?
My primary goal is definitely selection for European Indoor Athletic Championships in Gothenburg in March. I’ve come close to a Great Britain vest before and it would mean a lot to me to earn one before I stop competing. I would also like to run under 4:10 in the 1500m and under 2:02 in the 800m. I have half an eye on breaking 2:00 but on an indoor track I know that would really take something special.
How do you manage training so hard while working full time?
You have to be extremely organised, disciplined and probably a little bit sad! I get up at 5:45 to either run or do weights and I have to do my main sessions in the evening after work. I am very lucky that my job (as a Senior Lecturer at Birmingham University) is quite flexible as long as the work does get done. Unfortunately that means that I have to work most weekends and I’m also very busy while at work. I’m not looking forward to checking my inbox when I get home!
It certainly can feel like one big cycle of packing bags, preparing food and doing laundry and most nights I only get one hour to relax before bed. One of the great things about being at Yaya has been the 5 or 6 hours of rest and recovery time each day. I thought I might get bored but I could definitely get used to it!
Have you trained at altitude before and what brought you to Yaya Village?
Last winter I went to Potch in South Africa for two weeks and it really worked well for me. I felt like I had a third lung when I came back to England and I ran a 5 mile personal best the next weekend. I looked into returning this year but while the facilities were incredible the trails were far from perfect and it was also quite expensive. I’m also very keen to explore new places so I looked into Kenya and Ethiopia.
Yaya Village seemed to offer many advantages, especially as I was only looking to go away for about three weeks. There is significantly less travel to reach Yaya Village than Iten and it also works out cheaper. As everything is included at Yaya, which is great for athletes on a budget, I knew roughly how much it would cost and I haven’t had to spend much extra money since I’ve arrived.
How do you think your training has been in Ethiopia?
Can I tell you after I race? I have to admit I haven’t felt great while running but I know that part of that is because I have trained so hard while I have been here. I felt like with just three weeks at altitude I needed to make the most of my time so I jumped straight into hard sessions. Perhaps if I had more time I could have eased into things more gradually. I think training has gone well and there was one session where I felt like the track might not be a full 400m!
The trails definitely take a little bit of finding but you really can run anywhere. I was a bit nervous running on my own at first but when Richard arrived and I identified a couple of markers I felt much more comfortable. You just need to have the confidence to go out and explore! I have to say that the atmosphere here has been great. It’s been nice to have so many other athletes around and everyone supports one another. It’s also really inspirational to see people like Meseret Defar speeding past you… not so much when it’s the local children!
Everyone at Yaya Village wishes Celia good luck for her 2013 indoor campaign… we’d love to see you make the GB team! The Yaya Girls Running Program would also like to thank Celia and Richard for generously contributing to our fundraising effort for the January-April running season.