As many of you will know, for the last 9 months or so I have been getting back to an old passion – athletics. Sprints and Jumps specifically.
And it is now officially the end of the athletics season and my 90+ year old coach (yes, really) has given us 3 weeks off.
So it’s a good time to reflect. So it will be a self-indulgent post but many of you have told me that you enjoy hearing about this aspect of my fitness (OK maybe it was just one person!)
Just as a quick background, I used to train athletics in my teens and twenties. And I was pretty good at it – national champion, national records and so on. A back injury forced me to stop and then, while I was thinking what to do about it, life happened. And so I never went back. This was one of my big regrets!
Many of you will know I’m a firm believer of keeping training records. So of course I have some pretty good data on which to assess my performance this year. A few things stand out:
- I underestimated how battered my body would be after each training session. Although I’m pretty ‘fit’, I hadn’t really trained explosive, all-out running for yonks. And as my lovely clients will attest, I spent most of the winter in agony!
- Having said that, I escaped any major problem and was able to more or less consistently over the year.
- I overestimated what I thought my performances would be. In the end I got a 4.27 in the long jump and 14.1 in the 100m. And whilst I’m satisfied with these, it’s a far cry from what I wanted or hoped to achieve (5.00 in the long jump and 13.2ish in the 100m. And milllllllleeeees away from what I achieved at my best: 6.00 ish metres in the long and 12.5ish in the 100m. I think it’s fair to say those days are gone!!
But there are some good lessons to be had from this experience.
- Your body takes time to recover. If you’re working out at a high level of intensity, as in sprinting at 90% effort, you don’t need any more than 3 hard sessions per week. Anything else (assuming my readers are predominantly busy women, aged 30 something and above) could lead to injury and / or overtraining. So if you feel you need to do more, make sure it’s not too intense. Swimming, easy runs or some cross training like tennis are great options.
- Set realistic goals. All too often we set unrealistic targets – in my case they were targets based on wishful thinking. But I hear many of you who say “Right, that’s it I’m gonna workout 5 times a week” and then feel deflated when it doesn’t last…
- Mix it up… After a few years of middle distance running and gym / kettlebell work, it was a huge shock to the system to go to sprints and Olympic lifting. And apart from this being great for your body, it’s also great for your psyche. As every week or month saw new bests, improvements and achievements…
- Keep records. These are invaluable in tracking your progress. My first training session I ran 100m in 17.5 seconds. By tracking and monitoring I was able to see exactly when I was making progress. This is so key to your motivations when it’s cold and miserable outside and your head is telling you to stay inside in the warmth!
- Find what works. This is the other reason for keeping records. With the benefit of a years training I now know that:??
- Running the bend aggravates my shin splints.
- Training twice a week is not enough (funny that!)
- A hill sprint session leads to faster times on the track, almost immediately!
- New shoes doesn’t lead to faster times on the track (No, what?!? More tests required on that one!)
- Find someone to hold you accountable. The biggest change for me, after years of training on my own, was joining a group of like-minded persons. It makes it fun and enjoyable. It makes it harder to bail because of weather or because you don’t feel like it. It means you fix a slot in your diary that says Training @9:30. Rather than a vague promise to yourself that you’ll workout. At some point. During the week… Maybe…
And in this respect I’m pleased to announce an new thing we’re gonna kick off next week, over on the Facebook Group. Very simple: every Sunday night I will write a post asking you all what you’re going to commit to for the week. It needs to be one thing. And it needs to be based on Behaviours not Outcomes. So I will eat a portion of greens every day is a behaviour we can control. I will lose weight is an outcome (which is in some way dependent on our behaviours but not necessarily in a strict or singular relationship).
Next Sunday I’ll post back asking you how you all did! So , I’m hoping to see lots of action there.