The pace of life only ever seems to get quicker, and this last week has been no exception. It started off with the first educational module of the Front Line to Start Line transition programme with the Help for Heroes Sports Academy. Although partly focussed on introducing the athletes to the programme, what it offers and where it can support our development, the second stage of the module moved on to a discussion about the differences and similarities between top level athletes and military personnel and how these can be translated across into the right mental approach to high level competition. I found the discussions incredibly thought provoking and they really made me realise where, in particular, I need to make changes in my overall approach to athletics in order that I may best achieve.
Along the same lines, I’ve also been reading the book called “Winners: And How They Succeed” by Alastair Campbell – Tony Blair’s former chief spokesman and strategist during his time in office. Whilst it’s impossible to agree with every statement in the book, it has been an incredibly valuable tool for questioning my decision making process, and the examples he uses provide valuable insight into ways in which I can improve my own attitude towards success.
Translating this into real terms for me, I’m trying to become a lot more disciplined in both my morning and evening routines in terms of hydration (which I’m pretty terrible at at night), eating (which I’m pretty terrible at before training) and preparation before and focus during training sessions. I’ve definitely been guilty, especially over the last few weeks with Emily being around, of allowing my tiredness to cause me to go through the motions and drop focus on some of the training sessions rather than giving it everything, every rep. Using some of the techniques we’ve talked about on the education module, and from pointers picked up from professionals in the book, I’ve been using this recovery week as an opportunity to add in a pre-training routine to help with fuelling – getting up earlier just to fit in a slightly bigger breakfast before I hit the track – and focus – treating every single training repetition as if it was for real. Added to that, I’ve been forcing myself to critique each repetition – what can I do better and why? What felt good and why? This is not to say that everything up until now has been wrong, it’s more about identifying the areas for clear improvement. All of these tools are definitely in the development zone, and I’m hoping over the next few weeks they become much more second nature. The final training session in the Parallel Success series is this weekend, and the following week H4H have kindly offered to send their track athletes away for a few days of warm weather, concentrated training in Gran Canaria. This opportunity gives me uninterrupted access to my coach and the time to focus and finesse all that I’ve learnt over the winter before the outdoor season starts in May.
Outside of the track, life also continues with pace. My PhD starts mid April, which will see me back to London one or two days a week to continue my education in prosthetic technology and design principles. Last week I was honoured to be awarded the John and Frances Jones Prize from the City and Guilds College Association. This award took place at the annual CGCA dinner in the City of London and was such a fascinating evening, talking and discussing various topics with Imperial engineers of all disciplines and ages! I also got to spend a morning with some second year Bioengineers who had taken part in the Sports Innovation Challenge, and the creativity and engineering abilities of these young engineers was astonishing. My (biased) favourite project was the design of “CRUS NOVUS” – a user controlled microprocessor knee joint with a budget of £500. See it on their twitter page here.
As always, Emily continues to enrich both of our lives, as well as continuing in her quest to consume all of our time. It’s hard to think that she only arrived a few weeks ago when it feels so natural to have her around! Obligatory baby photo below!
Until next time, be prepared, keep focussed, train like it’s race day!