Well I can only apologise, it’s been nearly three months since my last post!  I just can’t believe how quickly 2016 is flying by.  Although I’ve been rather slack with my blog, I’ve not been sitting idle.  Training has been progressing at pace, as has the PhD, and momentum has been steadily building in preparation for the 2016 Invictus Games.

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Getting the mechanics right (image: Roger Keller)

First, the PhD.  I really struggled with gaining momentum over the last season, especially in the build up to competition as I found it really difficult to concentrate on anything other than the upcoming race.  However, since the end of the season I’ve been able to use the absence of competition to my advantage and make some real progress.  We’re just a couple of admin points away from getting some people into the lab and getting some really good data on how an amputee’s body works underneath the skin.  This data gathering is going to take a long time, and the processing is going to take even longer, but at least it finally feels like we’re moving forward.  Once all the data has been gathered and processed we’ll be able to start identifying what we can do to maximise the functional performance of the amputee both in everyday life and in sport, and then design the technology to make those maximisations.  Exciting times, but lots and lots of hard work.

And now to training.  As I write it’s just a couple of weeks until the start of my competition season and things are really starting to come together.  I’ve spent more or less the entire season concentrating on the first 60m of my race – trying to regain the most amount of time from my start and acceleration phase to put me in the best position possible for when I come off the bend.  This has meant hundreds and hundreds of hours in the gym and on the track, always pushing, pushing, pushing to get the most from what’s left of my body.  This started with just concentrating on the mechanics, making sure the movement of my arms and legs was as efficient as possible, making the most of my stride length and then building from there – adding in extra core work to make sure I can keep myself stable on acceleration and at full-speed on the bend and adding in higher, functional loading in the gym to maximise the amount of force I can produce per stride.

Building all round strength

Building all round strength (Image: Roger Keller)

Then, it was about producing this force as quickly as possible and this is still being perfected – again – on the track and in the gym.  On the track, I’ve focussed so much more this year on my drills whereas last year I was definitely guilty of paying lip service to them.  These drills have been so key in being able to develop that sense of proprioception – knowing where my blades are – without having to look down all the time.  This knowledge has allowed me to concentrate and focus more on the physical side of each run without worrying about tripping or falling.  The other huge improvements have been in my cadence – steps per second.  I’ve just been using adaptations of standard sprinters’ drills to help this and it really feels like its helping.  By focussing on the mechanics first to make sure my body is working properly, then developing this so the right mechanics are being used as quickly as possible has made huge improvements to both the acceleration phase and my top speed.  Now, as we enter the competition season, it feels like everything is starting to come together as one complete package which should put me in the best position possible for Rio selection.  Time will tell!

The 2016 Invictus Games is just under six weeks away and momentum has been steadily building in preparation for this huge event in the military calender.  Having seen the effect on competitors, staff and spectators at the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014, I’m so excited to see the effect that this year’s competition is going to have.  The event is being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and the competition dates are 8-12 May.  I genuinely feel so privileged to have been a part of this project from the start, and I can’t wait to see and hear the awesome stories from this year.

Invictus Games Orlando (copyright Invictus Games)

Invictus Games Orlando (copyright Invictus Games)

Finally, there’s always got to be an update on my wonderful daughter.  She’s now one, crawling, standing, attempting to walk and throwing tantrums when we refuse Peppa Pig, and is growing more and more gorgeous every day.  She babbles away incessantly, is developing her own perfect personality and is just a pure joy to be around.

My gorgeous girl

My gorgeous girl

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