Another 4 weeks banked and only another 8 months to go until I spend all I have… at the Olympic Trials! Without wanting to tempt fate, the last four weeks has probably been the best block of training I’ve ever had (although to keep this in perspective, through circumstance, I was rarely able to string together a full fortnight of training whilst at University without missing/compromising sessions or breaking down). It’s satisfying to know that we’ve made steady progress across the board so far and whilst there’s still a very long way to go it’s pleasing to see positive indications: technical improvements in the way I’m going into and coming off the hurdles, I’m lifting heavier and more efficiently than ever, my sprint times are down and my overall fitness has noticeably benefited from the increased volume of training.
More recently I’ve started the pre-competition preparation phase of training, which has seen a shift of emphasis to speed and more race related practice. It’s a timely reminder that the Indoor Season is fast approaching and that all the cumulative hours of graft are essentially for those 13 seconds of ‘fight or flight’, or in the case of Indoors, 7 and a half seconds. I have quite a limited volume of training prior to this year to call upon, so I’m finding that the thin line between pushing your limits and getting injured is even thinner for me and a few different niggles and warning signs have caused me to back-off at points this month or modify my training – the strained hamstrings and torn quadriceps of recent seasons have taught me it’s much better to live and fight another day!
More so, the hurdles themselves can be a cause for concern, at 3 foot 6 inches tall if you lose concentration or don’t get it quite right, they BITE, simple as. My trail leg knee which has currently swollen to the size of a grapefruit can testify to that and I was fortunate to walk away from a bad fall recently without breaking my wrist; just as three of the UK’s top 10 sprint hurdlers (Will Sharman, Gianni Frankis & Edirin Okoro) have in recent years. Luckily my ‘knight in shining armour’, none other than the mercurial 400m prodigy Chris Clarke, was on hand to run over and peel me off the track – what a guy – I’ve always said you don’t know who your real friends are until you’ve fallen flat on your face over a hurdle!
So as we enter December I’ve got one eye on the heats and final of the UK Indoor Championships on the 12th February, where I’ll be looking to improve upon my 4th place finish in 7.86s from earlier on in the year. I can honestly say that since starting athletics aged 17, admittedly because of the personal choice I made to prioritise academia, I’ve never gone into a Championship of any description feeling ready. It’s always been a case of performing the best I can in the circumstances (and praying that my hamstrings don’t disintegrate from the shock!), whilst sometimes this is just part and parcel of sport, with me it’s often been to the extent that if the other 7 guys on the start line knew how little I’d given to preparation I’m pretty sure they’d have offered me a head-start! As any international athlete will tell you, as a junior natural talent will often see you through such situations, but at senior level talent without a hell of a lot of hard work and application is about as useful as a solar powered torch. My experience of this has been one of much frustration, not necessarily because I’ve just had my ass kicked and have hurdled like a drunken crab, but more because you know that your performance isn’t a true representation of your ability. This is something, all things being equal, that I’ll finally be able to put an end to this year. My time, my efforts and energies are now channelled into athletics as my primary focus and as my coaches will attest; when the championships come round next year I’ll be ready.
~ Julz ~