Jenny Meadows – World Champions medallist 800m runner

The client and their challenge

Jenny Meadows was an 800m runner who represented Great Britain for a number of years.

Her challenge was to deliver the performance at competitions that she was able to deliver in training. Her mind was giving her unhelpful thoughts that were stopping her realising her full potential, and stopped her enjoying what she was doing.  She experienced a number of injuries during her career which proved to be a big mental challenge.

She retired from the sport following an injury in 2016 which took her out of the Rio Olympic Games. She continues to be an ambassador for athletics, coaching and developing the next generation.  She faced the challenge of finding a new identity and life structure once she stopped being a full-time athlete.

The project

We worked with Jenny to help her understand why she was finding it hard to transfer her training performances into competition, and what beliefs she held that were holding her back. We worked closely with Jenny and her coach to practice mental skills in training and investigated how she could apply them in a competitive environment. Jenny worked really hard between sessions, keeping a diary and reporting back her thoughts. This helped us to understand what was going on in her mind and adapt the sessions as required. Her coach asked for advice about what he could say that would be helpful. Jenny is married to her coach, so this added another dynamic that needed to be managed. We also helped her to manage injuries more effectively, helping her gain perspective and reduce stress.

The outcome/benefits

Jenny and her coach reported having a better understanding of how her mind worked following the one to one sessions. They were able to complete a mental warm up together before she competed that enable her to perform to the best of her ability, and not be hijacked by unhelpful thoughts. She was able to get consistent times and enjoy what she was doing again. During periods of injury she was able to keep perspective and focus on doing what she could, rather than worrying about what she couldn’t do.

Career highlights include a bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships and silver medals at the European Championships and World Indoor Championships in 2010.

Quote

“I started working with Sarah as I knew that the good form I showed in training was not transitioning over to the competition arena. When I had my first session with Sarah, she instantly put me at ease and made me realise that a lot of the issues I spoke about were completely normal. ‘Normal’ suddenly felt very reassuring!

Sarah is a great listener, non-judgemental and very rational in her approach. Sarah’s professional and expert advice allowed me to process information more calmly and without emotion, then formulate management plans with her support and guidance.

Thanks to Sarah, I gained understanding of how I receive and perceive information and the skills and management strategies to allow me to cope with anything … well almost anything! Before long I was winning major championship medals; something I had always dreamt of and which I had believed happened to other people and not me.  Thanks Sarah for helping me realise, and then fulfil, my potential.”