Melissa Courtney is starting 2019 on a high – and not just because she is at an altitude camp in Kenya.
The Poole AC runner had a stellar year last season winning 1500m bronze for Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and setting a host of new best times.
But Courtney is aiming even higher this year as she targets a place on Britain’s team for the World Athletics Championships in Qatar in September.
And she is confident a month out in Kenya will again yield the benefits when she hits the indoor track next month with March’s Europeans in Glasgow on the horizon.
“I’m out there for four weeks before I head to Germany to race my first race of the new season in the 3000m,” said told britishathletics.org of her Kenya trip.
“For me, altitude training makes a huge difference, especially being an endurance runner. I’ve been doing altitude training camps now for four years and I’ve seen such a big benefit from it as an endurance runner in the 5,000m, it really does help.
“Some don’t get as good a response from it but for me, the higher I go the better the response is. I love going out to Kenya because it’s a real back to basics approach because you’re just running, eating and sleeping the whole time.”
As well as her Games bronze from the Gold Coast last April, Courtney finished fifth in the 5000m at the European Championships in Berlin and rounded it off with a team silver medal and individual eighth place finish at the European Cross Country Championships in Holland.
The 25-year-old added: “2018 has been an amazing year and it’s been a big breakthrough for me, some people would probably say that I’ve come out of nowhere.
“But it’s been a really long and steady progress and this is the first year that it started to show in my performances.
“Winning a Commonwealth Games medal to start the year and being able to do a lap of honour is something that I’ll never forget and it’s been great to continue that form all the way through the year.
“I’ve always wanted to do Euro Cross and to do it as part of that team that was so strong, just to be a part of that was amazing. Last year I got team gold for doing a mile and this year I got team silver for doing around five miles, it’s such a big step up.
“It was proper cross country and it was a long way out of my comfort zone and I showed from my performance in Tilburg and from the trials in Liverpool that I’ve come on such a long way.”
“Hopefully I can carry on what I’ve done this year, next year. It’s been such a good year and I really want to be able to continue that. I don’t want to plateau, I want to be able to keep going upwards in my progression.
“I’m targeting the European Indoors and the World Championships in Doha. If I qualify for the latter, it would be my first world championships and I really want to be a part of that team and get that experience.”