Sunday, 28 April 2013

Personal best

I've competed in 3 competitions since my last post, and I'm feeling pleased with my progress. In my race at Parliament Hill, I managed to finish 1st in my race in a new pb over 100m, which, considering that the weather was awful (driving rain, wind, freezing cold), felt like a decent achievement. Last Saturday I travelled over to Woodford in Essex to compete in a 200m race. The conditions were absolutely perfect and I felt like I'd prepared reasonably well for the event. I won the race in a new personal best, but still wasn't satisfied with my performance. I got out the blocks so well at the start that I'd almost passed the guy on the outside of me within 5 strides, and started to pull up, thinking I'd false started. It took another few strides to realise that I hadn't, and I had to accelerate all over again. It gave me confidence however, that if I can hold people off on the bend, I've got more than enough power to blow them away in the straight. All the work doing Olympic lifts feels as if its paying off as I feel much more explosive now, and as if I've got greater endurance too. The event yesterday out in Uxbridge was my first league meeting, when the entire club attends and competes over the full range of events. I ran in the 100m, where I finished third, beating my previous personal best, and won comfortably over 200m. The standard was as good as I've competed against so far, so I feel really pleased that I'm competitive even at this early stage of the season. It's been hard over the last couple of weeks to feel like I'm training properly of preparing as best as I can due to needing to travel quite a bit for work, so I'm constantly having to adapt my training around this. I've managed to arrange the use of a gym in Manchester thanks to a friend helping me out, and found a track that I can train at one night a week if I need to. It's been a difficult process, as after working so hard to get to where I am after 8 months, it feels like I'm putting further progress at risk, so I hope that I'm able to find a balance. In the meantime, I'm going to do everything I can to keep my times coming down, and hope that come the next time I compete on May 18th I'm in good shape and have plenty more top quality training under my belt. I'm looking to get another session or two with Rikki Fifton up at Lee Valley as I always feel like I push on really well after these. I feel pretty fortunate to be able to train with people like Rikki and Nathan (my coach) at London Heathside, as they are encouraging but push me hard in training to make sure I'm constantly improving. Over time, my times will start going down more slowly, and I'll be relying on their expertise to help me with increasingly technical improvements to make me a more complete sprinter. It's a challenge I'm already looking forward to.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The great outdoors

Following the first national competition I took part in in Birmingham, I took what I felt was a well deserved week off after a pretty gruelling 3 months of preparation and competition. During this time I went to Manchester to see my friend Ben Cartwright who is a personal trainer and S&C coach to do a movement analysis which would allow me to understand any imbalances in my movements and build in exercises and some pre-hab work into my routine to correct any defects. I also did my first hot yoga session which was pretty interesting. I've now tried hatha, ashtanga and hot yoga, and I'm going to progressively increase the amount I do, as I find it really helps with my recovery as well as improving my flexibility and core strength. After returning to London, I picked up where I'd left off and started working hard again immediately. When I joined a new gym close to the office so that I could go before I started work, a free personal training session was thrown in, which I decided to take up first thing back to really get me going again. After the session in Manchester I was already feeling much more confident about my technique for my Olympic lifts, which I'd previously taught myself by watching YouTube videos. What I didn't count on was just how hard I would end up working, and after 1 and a half hours of intensive, explosive weight work I was well and truly shattered! Safe to say, the track session that evening wasn't the best I've ever done. After that initial shock, my body has (thankfully) quickly adapted to the training again, and I'm starting to feel pretty good. After training specifically for the 60m for 3 months, to get outside and start to do some proper speed work has been great, and I'm really looking forward to the coming months and (hopefully) watching my times come down. I've got about 12 competitions over the next 5 months, which is quite a lot, but I've discovered I prefer the rush of competing to simply working for ages and competing less frequently. It's a bigger mental ask this way, but I think in my first season back whilst I'm still learning so much it's probably the best way to get the requisite experience I'm going to need as I start to progress to higher standard competitions. My first race outdoors is on Wednesday at 7pm at Parliament Hill in Highgate and while I'm still short of 100% fit after my break, I'm looking forward to feeling that buzz and adrenaline rush from pitting myself against some seriously fast guys. When chatting to a friend the other day they asked if I get nervous before I race, but I honestly don't: if anything, I feel at my calmest when I'm in the blocks and about to start, as I know if I focus on executing the different parts of my race, that I'll be happy, regardless of what place I come. This season is all about times, not places, and I'm confident that my time is now.