At some stage of their careers most athletes reach a turning point.
A breakthrough, a realisation, a moment that will always been seen as pivotal.
For Camille Buscomb, who is now recognised as our best female distance runner since Kimberley Smith, it was borne out of anger and frustration.
She had just finished 14th in the 10,000m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with a time that was well below her best.
Racing close to home on the Gold Coast, Buscomb also faltered in the 5000m (12th) and those runs had followed sub-par efforts at the 2017 World Championships.
There was no doubting her potential. She had been recording swift times for years, since qualifying for the World Youth Championships in 2007 and winning her first New Zealand title five years later.
Buscomb committed full time to running at the end of 2016, and had seen discernible gains, but the final piece of the jigsaw was missing.
"I had to find the balance between working hard and enjoying what I am doing," Buscomb tells the Herald. "I thought; 'This is ridiculous. 'I can't train any harder, can't put any more energy into it, can't eat any stricter or say no to family and friends any more than I already am. This is too intense. If I want to keep going, I have to at least love what I am doing and enjoy it."
It wasn't a matter of flicking a switch, but there was a gradual, steady adjustment.
Buscomb, who has been part of Nic Bideau's Melbourne Track Club since 2016, tweaked her weekly schedule, cutting back on the kilometres, and tried to be more relaxed about her food intake. But the most important change was on the mental side.
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"I decided to make it more of a lifestyle," says Buscomb. "I was more involved in what I was doing and not being so hard on myself. I get to travel the world and race, so I need to appreciate the time I get in different places and meeting new people. I was trying to enjoy myself a bit more and switch on when you need to…not be so intense."
The first sign of dividends came in the 2018 European season. She lowered her 3000m personal best by 20 seconds and generally felt in flow in the various meetings.
"It was a lot better than I had ever done," says Buscomb.
That carried into 2019, with personal bests at the prestigious Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University, before a new peak at the World Championships in Doha last October.
The sweltering conditions were tough but Buscomb never faltered, finishing inside the top 12 for both the 5000m and 10000m and slashing her best times.
"I used to put myself under so much pressure ... by the time I got to the race I was so tired," says Buscomb. "But I took everything in my stride, wasn't tense and stressed and I enjoyed the people, the atmosphere and the stadium."
"In the end, I ran better than I had ever run. I thought, oh man, this is cool.
This is way better than being so strict and hard on yourself. I had more energy when I needed to use the energy for racing, rather than being too intense and almost run down at times."
The Olympic qualifying standards for Tokyo were a lot tougher than the 2016 Games – almost a minute faster in the 10,000 and nearly 10 seconds quicker for the 5000m – but Buscomb delivered, making up for the disappointment of missing out on the Rio Games.
She became just the second Kiwi woman, after Smith, to break 15 minutes for the 5000m (14:58:59) and ran an impressive 31:13:21 for the 10,000m, almost two minutes faster than at the 2017 World Championships.
Those times, which put her ahead of luminaries such as Anne Audain and Lorraine Moller showed she had found the key.
But it also meant she took the subsequent Olympics postponement harder than most. The 30-year-old was on track to peak for this year but now has to recalibrate for 2021.
"I've been working really hard to achieve the level to do well at an Olympics," says Buscomb. "When I ran the automatic qualifying times, I was like 'yes, I'm finally getting to the stage where I can start performing'. So, it was such a shame. I wanted to race this year."
The Covid-19 curve ball meant considerable upheaval for Buscomb and her partner, New Zealand hurdler Cameron French. They relocated to Bath in March 2019 and were enjoying the northern hemisphere life; the training and competition opportunities were plentiful and their massage therapy business was growing.
Buscomb came home for her sister's wedding in early March, with a return ticket via the United States, where she had locked in a month-long training camp at high altitude in Arizona.
"I left and said 'bye, I'll see you in a few weeks' but then everything changed so fast," recalls Buscomb
Flights were cancelled as it became clear she couldn't return to Europe, while Cameron packed up their life in England, before scrambling to get a ticket home.
"I woke up one morning, the Olympics were postponed and we are in level 4 lockdown," remembers Buscomb. "Do I go for a run? Where do I go running? I thought I was going to be able to drive but you had to run from your house and [my parents] live near State Highway 1 (in Cambridge). I thought 'oh my gosh, I don't even have a treadmill'."
But overall Buscomb found lockdown a "special, family" time, and has been back in full training since the end of April, pounding out between 100 and 140km a week.
She completed a 3000m 'virtual race' last week, competing against other runners from across the globe. Buscomb has entered the national cross-country championships (August) in Dunedin and also has the Auckland half marathon (November) and national road championships (November) on her schedule.
Buscomb is mentally prepared for a quiet 2020, before hopefully resuming with full noise next year.
"I will be keeping near that level I had, but not at that level," says Buscomb. "It's a balance between not dropping back too much but not wanting to push too hard."