Athletics: Christie's extra graft pays off as focus turns to 'A' standard
He may have used up most of his annual holidays on an intensive three-week training block in America last month with his coach Mark Carroll, but Mark Christie (26) feels it was definitely worth it.
Knocking nine seconds off his 5,000m personal best by running 13:28:21 when fifth at the Payton Jordan meeting in Stanford was big payback for his efforts and has renewed the Dublin-based Mullingar Harriers man's confidence.
"I ran a PB (13:37.36) there last season too," he said. "The first 4km tends to be very slow but, unlike last year, I was expecting the kick this time and thankfully was able to go with them."
It was only his second run of the year after an opening blowout in Auburn, (where his mentor Carroll is now the university's distance coach) and his time was just outside the 'B' qualifying standard (13:27 flat) for this summer's World Championships in Korea.
His challenge now is to get into enough high-quality races this summer to get him closer to the 'A' standard (13:20), not easy given the gap between the Diamond League and racing's next tier.
As Christie points out, the British Milers Club offer great 800m and 1500m races but few 5km events and his next race is likely to be a 3,000m in Leiden (Holland) in June, where he ran his 3km PB (7:50:13) in 2009.
He credits consistency of training -- he skipped the post-Christmas cross-countries -- with making such a significant improvement.
After graduating top of his business class in DCU, he was the first Irish athlete to benefit from the Institute of Sport's career development initiative.
This means that his employers (Microsoft) allow him to work a three-day week to facilitate training, which he describes as "the best case scenario".
Christie was a regular top-six performer at European junior level and it will be the next generation of top juniors and U-23s who should provide the highlights when the domestic track season kicks off with the Woodies DIY/AAI Games in Santry on Sunday (11.30-4.0).