Thrown in the Deep End

I have had a few months now of solid training and a few hit outs on the track. I must say a lot has happened since I last blogged but the best part is I am finally feeling more like myself. Training has been consistent, challenging but satisfying and everyday I wake up in the morning feeling better than yesterday.

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(Briggs Classic 1500m – First race back in 7 months)

Last time I blogged I was going into my first race of the season in Hobart for the Briggs Classic 1500m. It was an interesting experience to say the least. Obviously I didn’t expect anything wild but that race felt like I was running through sinking sand with a large parachute strapped around me on a very windy day…. It was tough. I walked away from the track disappointed and angry at myself but after I did a 40 minute jog, listened to some good advice and regathered my thoughts, I was back on track mentally.

I guess an athlete struggles to put performances in perspective after injury. That’s why some can never make a comeback from huge upsets. With such a competitive sport like track, it isn’t as easy as having time off then jumping right back into the swing of things. I have had to thoroughly ingrain this into my mental training. I don’t think I have dealt with my injury the best I could have and there is a lot I would do differently if I were to suffer another season ending injury but that is a lesson I hope I don’t have to reuse. Fingers crossed.

See the body takes months and years to build up to its optimal strength and fitness however when brought to a complete stop, it is only a matter of a few weeks before you lose it all, especially when you can’t cross-train. The most important thing I have had to do is focus short term and what I can do in the immediate future to better myself. I have actually been really lucky with the people in my support team because I tend to get so hung up on performances and times so it is lucky for me that I am surrounded by good athletes and coach that have strong heads on their shoulders to often point me in the right direction when I am doubting my ability and the road looks hazy.

I have learnt that being injured or coming back from injury actually requires more time and effort then when you are on top of your game. When you are fit, healthy and racing your best, it seems to continually get better without any thought process. You just wake up, rock up to training, complete an awesome session where you find yourself ticking off reps on autopilot. Then it is just refuel, recover. Injuries are time consuming, painfully frustrating, and make a simple run so difficult. They take up your whole day, ironically making you have LESS time to recover and relax then if you were healthy.

A few weeks after the 1500m in Hobart I did a grass track 3km in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was a lot of fun. A fantastic meet (The International Track Meet Christchurch) put on by some great people in a beautiful town. I got to travel over with my Irish teammate Laura Crowe and race alongside another MTC athlete Eloise Wellings. Although it was a slow overall time, it was a good way to practice kicking home in the last 1km and an good trip all round.

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(International  Track Meet Christchurch)

The next week I felt stronger again. Racing is like jump-starting a car, it forces fitness along and the week after racing I always feel like a fitter and stronger athlete. So for the Sydney Track Classic two weeks ago, I squeezed in another race-like effort and got to pace the 5km for the Sydney Track Classic. If felt good to be out there on the track with Australia’s top distance woman but I only paced 2km of it. Shortly after watching and commentating the end of the race with Clyde and the Tartan Couch guys, I shot off to the warm up track and did a session to make the day in all worth my while.

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(left: Sydney Track Classic pacing job with my girl Eloise Wellings. Right: Commentating the race with the Tartan Couch crew) 

That brought me to last weekend, Melbourne World Challenge where for weeks I had been entered to do the 1500m. I was fluffing around on my laptop and looking at start lists for each event and saw there was a steeplechase. I honestly had no idea there was one being run so I was initially shocked. Moments later I realized that I needed to just go for it and run one before nationals. I have been saying all year I would open up at nationals but deep down I felt I needed a rust buster for my event before then. I spoke with my coach, decided a plan for the race and went ahead with it. It was one of those situations where you just have to throw yourself at something that you maybe are hesitant to do but if you allow yourself to think about it too much you could possibly change your mind. Kind of like when the ocean is freezing but you want to go in. So rather then just carefully touching the water with your toes and suffering little by little, you just sprint in and don’t think or feel. Well that was me and the water jump. I haven’t faced that nasty water barrier since I broke my ankle last season. So yeah, first lap rolling around the bend I was pretty nervous but once I tackled the first water jump, the other 6 didn’t seem too scary. I walked away from the race in one piece, feeling fresh and content that next time I run it (Nationals) I will be ready to go for it. Just have to tidy up my technique.

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(Melbourne World Challenge Steeplechase – the first one back)

SO… now here I am, 1 week out from the Australian Nationals and Commonwealth Game Trials. I have more work to do but everything has been falling into place at a steady pace. I have raced plenty of times in the past two months purely to race fitness back in my legs and get my aggression back for competing. You can’t reteach a mind to be competitive through training, you just have to throw yourself in the deep end and rely on instincts to get it back. That is why I am racing as much as possible. It will only make me stronger each week. In saying all this, I’m currently in Brisbane to squeeze in one last hit-out before Nationals. I am running the 800m for the first time in a while, against a super HOT line up. It should be an interesting night with some fast times run. It is just another chance for me to get a little bit better, faster, and stronger. It is also a nice little weekend at home before I shoot off overseas for 6 months.

The season has only just began and I have a long year ahead of me to get to where I am ultimately aiming, however running this weekend is where my focus is for now and I will tackle what is beyond that when I get there. Just taking the road to Glasgow one step at a time. Excited to say the bare minimum.

Thanks for reading!

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