ONE of the most content athletes at the end of this year’s Essex Championships will surely have been Adam Hickey.

The 23-year-old did the senior men’s 5,000m and 1,500m double in Chelmsford, adding momentum to a track season that is shaping up to be the best since his hugely promising teenage years.

Hickey was involved in a good battle with his former Southend AC team-mate Paul Whittaker in the 5,000m before sprinting well clear to finish in a personal best time of 14m 21.55s on the Saturday before returning the next day and “with heavy legs” winning the 1,500m in 3m 50.59s.

That 1,500m time would have been a personal best at the start of the season, but he ran a 3m 50.13s time at Watford earlier this month which added to a lifetime best 3,000m of 8m 17.62s set just weeks earlier.

So, after waiting six long years for a PB, three have come along in the space of a month.

“I’m really, really happy,” said Hickey. “Before this season, all my personal bests were set in 2005 or 2006. I think the 1,500m time (3m 51.81s) came from the Essex Champs as an under-17 athlete. It was a championship record at the time, then James Shane went and broke it the next year!

“It’s been a slog to get back to that level.”

Hickey believes focusing on a career in triathlon played a major part in his failure to really kick on as he entered the senior ranks.

“I think that was the main reason,” he said. “It would have been good to see what I would have done had I not had that focus on the triathlon.”

And he attributes his improved form, in part, to his move back home from Loughborough, where he was at university.

He said: “I moved back home from Loughborough in about August/September time last year and things have calmed down a lot since then.

“I was travelling back and forth from Loughborough a lot and that was a huge amount of travelling. It’s all meant I can focus on my training a bit more and it’s a lot more relaxed.

“I’ve not been injured as well which helped. I’ve learnt to listen to my body and don’t do hard sessions when my legs are feeling terrible for instance.

“So everything has been going well.”

And there has been one other major change to Hickey’s situation – his link up with Eamonn Martin, the former 5,000m and 10,000m national champion.

“Obviously I have known Eamonn for a while and it came about from just seeking him out for advice really,” explained Hickey. “Even though I have been running for a while, I still feel I have got a lot to learn and will always ask for advice.

“I have only been focused entirely on running for a couple of years and I think my body has only just got used to running every day and sometimes twice a day.

“With Eamonn’s experience of running 5,000m, it would be stupid not to ask for advice and talk to him. So in about February I went over to Basildon and it went from there.

“I felt like I just needed a bit of a change.”

Hickey, who joked he felt like a “bit of a traitor” when he first started joining in in sessions at Basildon, remains fiercely loyal to the Southend AC and is looking forward to competing in the National League for the club this season.

“Eamonn did say I could do the sessions at Southend, but it’s better being there with him in Basildon,” said Hickey. “And it’s definitely less windy in Basildon, so that helps!”

For the short term Hickey is just focused on getting his times down further still this summer with Martin saying he doesn’t expect to see his latest charge get the true benefits from his training for another year.

Hickey said: “The aim for this season was just to get all my times down. Hopefully my 1,500m time can come down even further because I was running with heavy legs on Sunday. So that’s what I’m aiming for.”