I’ve got that feeling again when the date suddenly sinks in and you have a sneaky suspicion that someone has pressed the fast-forward button – how is it March already? Christmas was ten weeks ago, Remembrance was four months and the Invictus games happened half a year ago. How are we at March that quickly? The most nerve racking part for me is that it’s now just two months until I start my race season and in my head there still are so many areas to work on – my start is still a little alien, my cadence needs improving, my bend/straight transition needs tidying and everyone can do with running a little faster! That being said, the difference from now to the end of last season feels remarkable. In February it felt like progress was going backwards as we concentrated efforts on improving form. This led to an inevitable dip in overall speed but towards the end of the month it started to feel like the lessons were starting to sink in and we were making some real progress. I think now as we enter into the final 8 weeks of pre-season training and continue to work on the new skill set we should see some real improvements over the best of last season’s races. I fully expect to make mistakes over the first few races in May and record times below where I feel they should be, but that’s all part of the race season – make the mistakes early and learn from the experience then take those lessons through to the bigger races.
The knowledge that the overall package is improving doesn’t really help with the nerves I am already starting to feel whenever I think about heading to the start line. Just the thought of it sends my pulse racing and brings on bouts of nausea. The 200m has even taken over my sleep now and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve woken up having fallen over in my dreams! Hopefully the race experience of last season will hold true and I can head out to races with a clear head, no matter how much I worry about them before hand! Like a lot of athletes, headphones on and motivational music will help me get in the zone – Fool’s Rhythm by Two Fingers seems to strike a particular chord with me and gives the right mix of rage and focus!
Off the track, I’m trying to continue something I started early in the training season last year – ‘Reps for Roger’ – bonus exercises after my S and C sessions to make sure I’ve truly worked hard enough every session. Last week was five rounds with the punch bag and this week sees me back up the rope.
When I first had the gym put in in the garden, one of the first accessories I put in was the rope. A whole 7m of it chucked up one of our oak trees makes for an interesting addition to any training session! I’ve largely avoided it over the past 9 months as I got a bit scared with my shoulder injury, but now we’re back in the game. As well as serving as a nice reminder of my time in the Army, it is an excellent exercise for core and upper body strength. Typically, rope climbing is an exercise for the core and lower body and you mostly use your arms for support as you get your legs into the next propulsion position. I don’t have the option of using my legs (except in a minor manner as part of a pendulum effect) so it’s hand-over-hand all the way up, and it’s hard. That makes it a perfect exercise to add in at the end of an already hard training session. Once up is enough, at the minute, to truly finish off a session but I want three reps, all the way to the top, every session, before race season comes around. Might not sound like much but it’s a big shout when the training sessions are, by design, getting harder week-on-week.
Outside of training, baby Emily continues to light up our lives, although we both still can’t quite believe she’s here! We are starting to adjust to working our routines around her – absolutely everything takes longer and everything stops if she needs something. I guess that’s part of the ultimate responsibility you have over this tiny person! We are beginning to adjust to the disruptions in sleep that she has inevitably brought with her, and my wife has been absolutely brilliant at dealing with her the second she starts to cry. I think the most important change that we have made for our personal health and well being is to try and rest with her where possible during the day because you, quite simply, aren’t getting the rest you need at night, especially on a full time training schedule. Adapt, improvise and overcome, that’s what they say!
More updates to come on all fronts, but, seeing as there’s only 8 weeks to go, I had better get back to the real work!
Stay low, move fast.