16 December, 2013

Former OCWK athlete looks back on difficult year that ended with a European Bronze

Now enjoying a rest week after the European Cross Country Championships, Charlotte Purdue has come through a roller coaster year with three stress fractures, her experiences through our flagship programme ‘On Camp with Kelly’ helped her prepare for the challenges ahead.

I first joined ‘On Camp with Kelly’ in 2009, I loved being part of ‘On Camp with Kelly’ (OCWK) as it gave me the support I believe I needed to become the athlete I am now aged 22.


During my junior career, through OCWK I attended an Education Camp which took a group of us to Berlin to experience the 2009 IAAF World Championships. As part of the small group, I also attended the Team GB Holding Camp in Portugal as part of the trip so that we could see what it would be like to attend a major Senior Championships.

Having only previously competed in Junior championships this was a really exciting and key trip for my development as an athlete. It not only showed me how very different Junior and Senior Championships were but also helped me to realise what it would take to reach the next level.


‘Pictured fourth from left at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin with Wilson Kipketer.’

The following year, I was really happy to make the England team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Dehli. Luckily thanks to media training given to me through OCWK and Kelly herself, I was prepared for every aspect of this trip. I didn't feel overwhelmed by the whole experience allowing me to compete to my best and finish 4th in the 10,000m and 6th in the 5,000m.

Although the official Sport Education and Mentoring programme ‘On Camp with Kelly’ has now unfortunately ended, I am still in regular contact with Kelly and also the other girls who were part of the programme. Fast forward a few years and last weekend it was great to be back competing for the GB team at European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. The last 13 months has been tough to say the least, but hopefully the time out has made me a stronger athlete.

During my time out through injury I was often reminding myself of my future goals (being the European Cross Country). This kept me motivated during those tough days when all I wanted to do was run and had to instead go to the pool. I made many changes to my training schedule due to my injuries, such as reduced mileage, more strength training and more attention to recovery strategies.

I was really proud of my Bronze medal (Women’s Under 23 age group) at the European Cross Country as for me it symbolised a year of hard work in the gym and in the pool. The limited running training I have had has shown that running is only a small part of training, as Kelly also demonstrated during her build up to the 2000 Olympics where she was also struggling with an injury. 

I am really lucky to have had support from St Mary's University College and my coaches Mick Woods and Richard Blagrove who have continually supported me throughout. My advice to anyone who is struggling with injury is to reflect. Reflect on what caused your injury and what you can do to change yourself as an athlete so that injury is prevented in the future. There is always something that as an athlete you can improve on, so constantly seek improvement and stick at it!

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