Run Norwich 2019 winner Iona Lake targets fit and healthy end to year after illness
Illness threatened to derail Iona Lake's ambitions for 2019 but after victory at Run Norwich she tells Mark Armstrong that she plans on playing the long game
Victory at Run Norwich 2019 marked the end of a difficult couple of months for Iona Lake.
On the back of 2018, which saw her represent England at the Commonwealth Games, the 26-year-old hoped to kick on this year, targeting a place at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in September.
All was going to plan as the City of Norwich AC athlete set a new personal best of 34:57 at the Vitality 10K in May. However, a few weeks later Iona was struck down with a chest infection that threatened to derail 2019.
Unable to run at all for five weeks, it left her training schedule in tatters and frustratingly saw her miss several races, which were geared towards peaking for the British Championships in August to earn her place for the Worlds.
"It was a nasty chest infection that unfortunately got into my lungs as well and the doctors were worried at one point that it could turn into pneumonia, which fortunately it didn't," said Iona, whose illness was further complicated by the fact she also suffers from asthma.
"The antibiotics also gave me a few side effects so it was a difficult time and I wasn't able to run at all for some time.
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"At least when you're injured you can do a bit off aqua jogging or something but if you can't breathe properly then it makes it difficult!
"I had my calendar all planned out for the year looking to peak for the British Championships at the end of August but I've had to miss a lot of races."
Thankfully, Iona's breathing problems started to ease a few weeks ago meaning she could target a comeback at Run Norwich.
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Given how her training had been so interrupted she went into the race with low expectations, especially as CoNAC team-mate Dani Nimmock was also expected to be competing.
However, Dani had to pull out on the eve of the event with a foot injury, leaving the door open for Iona, which she was only too happy to walk through.
"I knew it would be difficult to win if Dani was competing and I felt really bad for her when I found out she had to pull out. It did provide a little extra motivation though as I thought it might give me more of a chance.
"I planned to run it at a tempo pace which for me is about six-minute miles and I got talking to a boy from Norwich (in the race) and we worked together quite well.
"At the start there were a few girls in front of me but I just wanted to run my own race and see where it took me.
"I went through 5K in about 18 minutes, which isn't my fastest, and then I tried to pick it up a bit. I think in reality I was just maintaining but it felt so good coming across the finish line.
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"I watched Run Norwich a couple of years ago and really wished I had raced it at the time.
"So it was pretty cool to run this time and win it."
Iona's goal for the rest of the year is to get back running healthy and injury free. That said, being the top class athlete she is, means she still has one eye on making the GB team for the World Athletics Championships.
"I just need to see how it goes - I've got a steeplechase race booked in because I need to get one race in before the British Championships (held in Birmingham on August 24/25).
"I think the World Championships will come a bit too soon for me but you never know. I've got to run a sub 9:40 so we will see.
"It might be better to just focus on running healthy and injury free and focus on the Olympic trials which take place normally at the end of May or start of June (2020). I really want to make sure that I'm okay for that and I would rather not risk it this season."