Athletics News

Verity Ockenden: “My journey has definitely not been normal”

Verity Ockenden: "My journey has definitely not been normal"

European Indoor 3000m bronze medallist reflects on the challenges she has faced after Olympic rejection, as she prepares to make return at the Night of the 10,000m PBs

Verity Ockenden is back in Highgate next weekend (May 18) as she will make her fifth appearance on the track at Night of the 10,000m PBs.

Since changing her set-up and moving to Italy almost two and a half years ago, the 32-year-old has had great success. Last season, she finished eighth over 5km at the World Road Running Championships and achieved a lifetime best of 15:18 in Riga, Latvia.

Ockenden has since gone quicker on the track and recently clocked a super 15:16.29 over 5000m (May 1) in Modena, Italy.

However, it has not all been plain sailing for the British athlete, opening up about the struggles she’s faced – describing it as ‘putting herself back together’ – as a result of not making the Tokyo Olympic team.

While the On athlete hoped to run both the 5000m and 10,000m in the Japanese capital, she missed out on qualifying and watched Eilish McColgan, Jessica Warner-Judd and Amy-Eloise Neale make the trip instead.

Ockenden has since been on a journey, and with the help from On, now has Paris 2024 in her sights.  The first priority however is Highgate.

Her best time at Night of the 10,000m PBs came last year when she clocked 32:34:16. This time round, with a different training set-up, she hopes to break the 32-minute mark.

AW chats exclusively to Ockenden below:

Verity Ockenden (On Running)

How has the 2024 season been for you so far?

I think from the outside looking in I would say it’s nothing special what I’ve done so far. My first 10km of the year in Valencia was probably the most high-profile road race that I’ve ever done and it went horrifically for me.

So, it was a tough start of the year in January and it really felt like a disappointing run because I felt like my training had been going really well and it felt like the perfect race to show that off. I got quite a bad chest infection which really ruined it and I was then out for a month.

It was one of those scenarios where I should have made the executive decision that I didn’t make and I should have called it [Valencia] off and said I am not ready to race.

It’s really hard to say no to things and so that was a tough lesson to learn that it would have been better for me not to go.

But everything since then, such as running Trafford in 32:01, the Podium 5k event and Cheshire 5km, have all been…

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