Donore Harriers’ athlete John Travers got his season off to a superb start at the IFAM Oordegem meet in Belgium over the weekend, breaking the tape in his busy 5,000 metres event in a personal best of 13.43.
The time falls just short of the qualifying standard for the European Championships – by a single second – a target for the season which Travers is remarkably laid back about achieving.
The personal best comes in the midst of an interesting time for the runner, who is currently on paternity leave after the birth of his child. He admits his own tiredness, but nevertheless is on flying form on the track.
“I’m more happy than disappointed,” Travers said of the bittersweet combo that saw him grab a PB but fall short of the European mark.
“It was a big PB, about ten seconds, so I really can’t complain. I could have gone harder from the off, I hung back a bit as I didn’t want to get too involved.
“It was a really big field, 35 runners without a staggered start, so I started at the back and came through. I could have run a little bit quicker at the start, in hindsight, and I probably ran an extra 40 or 50 metres overtaking people, too, so I’m confident enough I can build on things and get the time later.”
Whether he does get the time or not, however, is not all that critical to Travers, who is taking a relaxed approach to the season.
“Obviously I’d love to get it,” he says, mentioning the late July cut off for qualification. “But I’m also trying for the 1,500 metre times, so I’ll be setting the 5,000 aside until the Morton Games, I expect.
“I was thinking about traveling out to a couple more races in Belgium over the next couple of weekends, but I think I’ll take a break as the start lists aren’t looking too strong.
“I’m really running to enjoy running now,” Travers explained of his relaxed take on it all. “If you go chasing times too hard it just doesn’t really work a lot of the time. Instead I’m just trying to enjoy it for what it is.”
There are certain parts of the season the middle-distance athlete doesn’t particularly love.
The cross country season in particular seems to stand out – “I do it for the club, and because it does benefit you from a fitness point of view” – but, overall, Travers’ new approach has taken him to the form of his life over the 5k.
The European Championships are there in the periphery, a tempting distraction he glances through his side window.