How often do you come back from a run and are happy with your progress? How many times do you think, yes I nailed that session or that was a great run everything is working in the right direction? I have access to 25 athletes inner thoughts and feelings about their running or triathlon training everyday. It has struck me how negative the majority of them are towards their bodies, their sessions, their performances. Unless its a PB they are not happy, if they have a niggle or need an extra rest. life is over and they might as well quit running now. (Thats a slight exaggeration, but you get the gist!) The ability to look at the whole jigsaw rather than a single piece seems a very tough lesson to learn and one even as grown adults we find very hard. If we don’t hit the exact figures in training we have failed, if we don’t win a race or perform exceptionally, we have failed. The endless questions start, what have I done wrong, why does my body not do what I want it to do. Of course, as a coach, it is so much easier to take a step back, find the positives in sessions, races and every day training. To give reasons for tiredness, niggles and prescribe rest. To assure athletes that it is the consistency of training combined with quality sessions and adequate rest that will make them stronger, not constantly racing or bashing their head against the training wall session after session.
We cannot roll out perfect session after perfect session, but that is not the point of training. In my opinion if the session was perfect you weren’t working hard enough or you are 5-7 days out from your A race and in fine tune for a cracking performance! Every session you do should come with both some negative and positive feedback, what went well, what didn’t, how did you feel and what can you do to recover before the next session. If things didn’t go to plan give yourself time to reflect, but not to punish, learn from it, reassess and move on. Make yourself a better athlete very simply by believing you are a better athlete. Expect good performances from yourself, but only what you are currently capable of, don’t limit your dreams, but know that the stepping stones towards them may go up and down.
|Competing in my last ‘race’ at 16 weeks|
Now at 6 months pregnant I have had to take a big step back in my progression towards becoming a really quality ultra runner. I thought this year I would be hopefully racing for GB, having a crack at some international mountain races, qualifying for some exciting races. Building on my strength I gained from the beginning of 2015. However a long term injury and then deciding to have our third child has put a halt on all this. A huge mass of disappointment fell on my shoulders as I spent 4 months suffering from hyperemeis gravidarum. Alongside epic sickness came quite a lot of depression as my body changed from the strong runner it had become to a home for our third. Delighted to be having another baby of course, but I did find the first months tough as I saw my fitness ebb away. I have some perspective now. I cannot wait to be a mum of 3, it will in no way stop me getting back to running, if anything I am more than motivated to get back racing in 2016. I am also aware (and of course slightly bitter!) that most of the women I compete against don’t have kids. They have more time to train, more opportunities to travel and most importantly more rest. But nothing fuels me more than my family. I have one big dream to try and complete in 2016 and the thought of doing it with 3 young kids at the finish line totally inspires me. I want to show other mums (and Dads) that having a family doesn’t and shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love, yes it may take a little longer, you may have to be patient, take a step back, cope with higher hurdles, spend mrs time looking at the bigger picture, but it is possible.
So now when I read my athletes daily reports from their sessions I try and get them to constantly think of the sky rather than focus on the minutiae of each rep or interval. So you fell off the pace on the final rep, or you didn’t hit the target time when you got tired. As long as you did the best you could thats all you or I can ask, reflect, be negative if you need to be and then take a positive, hold onto this into the next session and progress. And that is what I am doing for the next 3 months whilst I jog around the fields with the dog. Getting slower and fatter rather than faster and stronger, but I am looking it all now as a positive. Every step is for my baby and my future, for a healthy delivery, for my dreams that I am chasing and to inspire my fellow mums and my children, that they too will never be scared to challenge themselves beyond their limits, to not be scared to look at the sky and constantly challenge their place in this world.