Elliot Giles: Rising star shares first altitude camp experience

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Elliot Giles: Rising star shares first altitude camp experience


Elliot Giles is one of the rising stars of British athletics

The 22-year-old surprised many with a superb race at the British Championships last year to upset the apple cart and take the 800m title. His victory also secured him a spot at the European Championships in Amsterdam a few weeks later.

The fairytale continued as the ‘outstanding talent’ scooped bronze – which should really have been silver – and ran the sub-1.46 clocking required to book his spot to Rio.

While the Olympics didn’t quite go to plan, goals had been ticked off and huge strides had been made. Barely twelve months had passed since Elliot was left broken in a million pieces following a serious motorcycle accident.

Now, with London 2017 on the horizon, Elliot is back in the game and grinding out the winter work that will put him in contention this August.

Here is the exclusive first part of Elliot’s experiences on his first British Athletics Endurance altitude training trip to Potchefstroom, South Africa.


THIS TIME last year I couldn’t run let alone dream of being part of the British Athletics Endurance altitude training camp to South Africa.

How much a life can change in athletics with a sprinkle of dedication, desire and motivation to reach the top. Thanks to UK Sport and National Lottery funding, this is what training at 1,400m altitude in Potchefstroom, South Africa was all about.

Barry Fudge, the head of British Athletics Endurance, has thought long and hard about the application of strategy and the creation of the performance environment of the altitude camps. He started to test his ideas last year in Flagstaff, USA – a camp that returned huge dividends and performances from a number of UK athletes in Rio.

2017 ‘Potch’ was to be the start of the British Athletics altitude camp strategy for the new Olympic four-year cycle and I was selected to be one of those making their altitude-training debut.

Early starts and precision planning

My eyes were wide open to the experience. The day would begin with your alarm going off at 6.45am and jumping out of your altitude tent bed for a specially designed breakfast under the eyes of a nutritionist. We weighed in and had hydration testing at 7.30am before heading out onto the field at 8.30am for training.

This was more military than holiday camp – and that was just the first half of the day.

Barry Fudge was there setting the tone and preparing the performance, expectations and inspirational environment he wanted the camp to operate in. That meant all the athletes’ physiotherapist appointments were booked and planned in advance, and mealtimes, restaurant table layouts, track times, gym times, travel, running route layouts, sunscreen factors and so much more were all taken care of. No matter who you are, though, if you missed an appointment or session, you would be brought in and asked for the reasons why.

One-on-ones with the nutritionist, physiotherapist, physiologist and Barry were set up to discuss all performance aspects and lifestyle for our duration on camp. We were also informed, in no uncertain terms, what was expected of our performance, our conduct and us, down to dressing correctly for meals.

But after a few days of being around the likes of Laura Muir, you kind of got the feeling that this ‘ain’t no disco’ and it’s serious business. Not that you even needed reminding.

Read part two and find out more about Elliot’s first experiences at altitude, the science behind the sessions,  Steve Cram’s invaluable insight – and the biggest laugh of the month-long trip.

Words by Elliot Giles
Image from Matt Yates