Running 400m hurdles is not the only thing Caryl Granville's really good at - she has some innate blogging skills too! Her debut post in this section is a "Guide to Competing Abroad" - a handy guide for all of you athletics globetrotters out there!
I'm writing this blog en route to Belgium (again) and thought a guide to competing abroad would come in handy for any newcomers to the circuit.
Number One: LEARN THE LANGUAGE: You don't have to become fluent overnight but knowing a bit more than 'Bonjour, je m'appell Caryl, je suis galloise' will come in handy. Downloading a phrase book on your phone (or buying one from a bookstore like they used to do in the olden days) will get you through most of the situations you will come across. It also allows you to point at the word instead of having to say it in a Welsh accent and make it all the more confusing!
Don't think everyone will speak English (even though they probably do), it's always nice to make an effort.
Number Two: BRING YOUR OWN TOWELS: We are accustomed to going to UK hotels and being greeted by vast quantities of towels. Apparently, this is not the case in Europe. I learnt the hard way last year and resorted to buying 'Mop Covers' as a makeshift towel (towels were €20, I'm not made of money).
NB: mop covers do not make good towels.
Number Three: BRING YOUR OWN FOOD AND WATER: Anyone who has met me could tell you that I am a very fussy eater so going abroad is always risky business. I have been subjected to such delightful dishes as horse, rabbit, kangaroo, mysterious meatballs and my all-time favourite - snails. It's best to come prepared for such situations and pack the things you usually eat pre-comp, within reason. The most convenient foods tend to be ones you can just add hot water to and are also easy to carry. When travelling, eat anything you can get hold of, even if it is a burger and chips, it's better than not eating at all!
And a water bottle is your best friend. Dehydration is the enemy.
Number Four: MAKE TIME TO SIGHTSEE: there's no point travelling all over the world to only sample the airports, train stations, hotels and tracks. Book a later flight home and go sightseeing. There will be a LOT of walking involved so best to save it till after you compete.
Number Five: TRAVEL ADAPTORS: I've gone through a lot of travel adaptors by letting people borrow mine. I won't always be there guys, bring your own!
Number Six: BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE: a boring one I know, but that one time you risk going without will be the time you fall over a hurdle and break a leg.
Number Seven: BRING ENTERTAINMENT: races abroad tend to be evening events, and those hours before them can drag. Bring along a box-set and be everyone's best friend!
Number Eight: DON'T BE AFRAID TO TRAVEL ALONE: the 'Six degrees of separation' theory refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. In the athletics world it's more like 'One degree of separation'. Where every you go there will always be 'a friend of a friend' there.
Number Nine: WEAR SUNSCREEN: You are British. You WILL burn. There's nothing worse than trying to run fast while your shoulders are on fire. Put some sunscreen on, or learn the hard way.
Number Ten: REMEMBER YOUR SPIKES: No, I haven't been silly enough to forget my spikes, yet. But my spikes ripped at training the night before leaving for Belgium. Luckily for me, and through the 'One degree of separation', my friend of a friend was Simon Jones of RunnersLife who came to my rescue with a lovely pair of Saucony spikes! He's now a self proclaimed modern day Jimmy Saville so if you have any problems you can find him here (http://www.runnerslife.co.uk/simon-jones/profile) and Sim'll fix it.
So have fun, run fast and remember your passport!
Now for a shameless plug of my Twitter account - @carylgranville