The next 18 months are important for any athlete with aspirations of competing at the upcoming World Athletics Championships, and next year’s Olympic Games beyond that.
But for St Mary’s University student and distance runner Daniel Jarvis, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
The 23-year-old has just finished the penultimate year of his Business Management degree and is in the hunt for Team GB selection as he attempts to make the gruelling step up from junior to senior athletics.
Jarvis has represented his country twice on the European stage as an under-23 – at the track championships in the 3,000m steeplechase in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in July 2017, and at the cross country championships in Samorin, Slovakia, later the same year.
But the Bedford and County runner admits the step up is largely make-or-break, and he is doing everything possible to carve out a long-term career in the sport.
He said: “This is a big year for me as I go into the last year of my degree. I’m at the point now where I’m transitioning from being a junior going to the European Championships, to trying to make my name as a senior athlete on Great Britain teams.
“I want to make the World Championships squad in September and October, and then after that I want to make the team for the European Cross Country Championships later on in December.
“At senior level, there’s a lot more depth in terms of the standard and the qualifying times on the track are a lot harder to achieve.
“The transition out of university can be very cut-throat if you’re not at a level where you can fund the lifestyle and are able to live, train and compete.
“That’s where people can fall out of the sport and it’s something I think about a lot – there are times when I don’t want to miss training and when I do need to be really consistent.”
Jarvis is hoping to qualify for the World Championships and compete among the sport’s elite in Doha.
To qualify for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Jarvis must run the standard of 8:29 in the 3,000m steeplechase and finish in the top two at the British Championships in August.
In cross country, a top-four finish in a trial race in Liverpool later in the year would seal his spot in the squad for the European Championships in Lisbon.
Ahead of his final year at St Mary’s, Jarvis identifies the sacrifices he has had to make to maximise his chances of success, and he is confident he can accomplish his targets.
“If you don’t get the race right on the day that can be it for you for that championship and for that year. It’s one of the hard things about the sport,” he said.
“But I’ve got a strong belief in what my coach (Mick Woods) sets me in training. Likewise it’s about me being committed to the training and the lifestyle of being an athlete.
“I’ve been at university for three years and I’ve had to balance working, training and my degree.
“There are quite a lot of social aspects you have to drop – you’re not able to go out partying like the standard student.
“You’ve got to stay a lot more committed to your running and your studies and the rest and recovery in between is what keeps you going.
“I’m only 10 seconds off the standard for the worlds team, which is only just over a second a lap.
“In a normal week I’m running seven days out of the seven and just getting my head down.”
Jarvis has had to sacrifice a typical student lifestyle in order to balance work, training and his university commitments.
With little over two months until the British Championships in Birmingham, Jarvis is in full training mode and recently spent three and a half weeks on an intensive camp in Portugal.
Despite suffering from an Achilles problem in recent weeks, the two-time Windsor half marathon champion insists he is in good shape ahead of such a crucial period.
He said: “I’ve had a little niggle, but I’ve been to see the physio quite a few times and I’m back racing at the British Milers Club Grand Prix in Watford on June 29.
“I was running between 90 and 100 miles a week and I have had some of the best training for a long time.
“In terms of taking my running to the next level and being able to do it as a full-time job, it’s something that is quite key so we’ll just see how it goes.”
Featured photographs/Peter White