This week saw outside temperatures head the wrong side of zero for several consecutive mornings, and getting out of the nice warm truck took a few minutes longer than it normally does. It was freezing. Tuesday morning was a blanket of snow, Wednesday it looked like I should have brought my ice skates and Thursday saw sideways snow coming off the South Downs. Still, by taking extra time and care warming up you can still put in consistently good sessions – for me, acceleration, speed and cadence are all improving – every session counts.
Thankfully, the gym has heating. Tweaking my strength program, Tom has combined my core exercise sessions with my high intensity sessions into one longer combined session, resulting in the same amount of gym time per week but longer recovery periods between them – allowing the muscles of my lower back, hips and stumps greater rest and will hopefully reduce the chance of injury. It was quite obvious from a performance point of view that this was the first week in the four week training cycle. Aside from the positive track sessions, Tom’s coaching and changes to the strength program saw a new PB on my deadlift – 176kg from the floor (no deficit). However, although I lifted the weight off the ground four times, the form was poor and I wasn’t achieving the maximum glute extension on each raise. I won’t go beyond this maximum weight until my form is correct throughout all of the lifts over repeated sets, gaining the maximum benefit from each weight increment rather than just going for big numbers.
The weekend brought about the second session of the season’s Parallel Success (@ba_parallel) Academy days. This one was based at the phenomenal Loughborough University High Performace Athletics Centre (HiPAC) with ambulant sprint coaching provided by Joe McDonnell (@100mcoach) and ably assisted by the lovely, world record holding, Sophie Hahn (@SophieHahnT38). Roger and I took the opportunity to gain some much needed insight into starting technique – an area that has been really letting me down from the beginning (pun entirely intended). In all of the races I’ve entered I’ve always been nervous about falling or false starting. This ends up with all of my concentration at those crucial seconds going into not wobbling rather than focusing on the gun and those vital first few strides. You can see these mind games in action on this Invictus Games clip – that is a slow and careful start because of the worries about messing it up. Joe gave me guidance and advice and we worked out a very comfortable, very stable position to start from. By establishing a comfortable position, Roger, Tom and I can now really focus some of the sessions around those first few strides and developing maximum power to launch into the bend and get rid of those particular pre-race nerves.
Outside of training, this week saw us into week 36 of Hayley’s pregnancy. She was thrown a most generous baby shower at the weekend resulting in well stocked drawers and wardrobe, and little baby Henson is even developing quite an extensive library thanks to our wonderful friends and family. My favourite gift though, were these amazing customised mini pumps courtesy of Will (@willhenson) and Lucy (@LucyJayneSmith) for when she gets a little bit older.
Fixing an irritating little underfloor leak (Dave’s Dodgy Plumbing – works 60% of the time, every time) in the newly furnished nursery, getting a nappy bin and some tiny clothes hangers were (hopefully) the finishing touches to getting everything ready for her imminent arrival. Now we just need a name…
Finally, for this week, my family and I paid a visit to see my grandfather, the legendary Harry Henson, at the Blind Veterans UK retreat outside of Brighton. Harry is an RAF WWII veteran and started losing his sight as a result of his work with radar stations during the war. Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) are instrumental in providing practical welfare and living support for servicemen and women suffering from loss of vision. Harry comes to their South Coast retreat a few times a year and we get down to see him more or less every time that he’s there. The staff and facilities there are simply fantastic and provide such an important lifeline for him and fellow veterans in similar situations. The centre hosted my noisy family and I for lunch and gave us space to catch up afterwards, and we are so so grateful! If you’re looking for a cause to support, this one is exceptional.
For now, it’s onto the next week – eat, sleep, train, repeat and carry on hoping for an early labour!