Whats your New Years Resolution?

No excuse for being late on this weeks blog, I was so prepared, I had this written on Wednesday, but then we slipped into the black hole in the space time continuum which is the week between Xmas and New Years. I just didn’t realise what day of the week it was.

I’m currently packing my bag for a warm weather training camp. My training group and I are heading to South Africa for 3 weeks of training in the sun. Now if you think organising a training camp is difficult, try doing it with pole vaulters. The trouble of trying to get poles on an aeroplane is never ending. Because we’re out in SA for a while and because of this hassle, we’ve actually shipped our poles ahead of time. I have my fingers crossed they get there safe, but expect the next couple of blogs to be SA inspired or moaning and crying about how my poles got lost. But basically because of these travel plans I get to spend new years in Cape Town.

Making a Change

I’ve never really been a big believer in New Years Resolutions. I really do believe that people can change, but I don’t think that a new year is enough to ensure follow through. In order to make a meaningful life change there needs to be a driving force of self-realisation within someone. No amount of other people telling you you’re overweight is going to cause you to lose the weight until you make the realisation yourself that you want to make a change. Similarly at an elite level, you won’t find many athletes who need to be motivated by their coach or others. Theres only so much some one else can do, elites have that ability to find the reason to carry on and don’t need to be externally motivated, in fact you’ll find the higher the level of the athlete, the more time the coach has to spend holding them back from doing too much.

My New Years Resolution

I’ve made this resolution before, but this year, I’m giving up getting injured. Rather than focussing on getting better by training harder or longer, my aim is to get to the start line in one piece. I haven’t jumped a personal best since 2010, but I also haven’t trained and competed in a state that I could describe as “injury free” since then either. Think back to the best form in your athletic career, did it come after a period of being injury free? a solid block of several months training behind you? On the startline without pain?

I don’t know if its actually a quote, but I’ve been told if you can turn up to the race 100% fit you’re already beating 90% of the people there.

Now lets consider how this impacts training. I’m going to make a very conservative estimate here, so take a theoretical sprinter who sprints only twice a week. He has 2 weeks off after indoors and 4 after outdoors. So a possible 92 sprint sessions in a year. He’s at a decent level so cutting 0.1 off his pb in a year would be a big achievement. Thus interpolating, he needs to improve by 0.001s over 100m in each session to achieve his aim. You start to see how insignificant missing one session because of a niggle becomes, let alone chopping a few runs from a session. The power is in consistency of training over time, not running until broken and then missing a few weeks. If you’re healthy theres always another session coming in which to build improvement. Healthy training in slowly and steadily stacking blocks on top of each other to build the highest tower you possibly can, injury is your bullying older brother kicking it all over and only leaving you with a few left standing. Do you try and build your tower quicker to get it higher before the next time he appears? Or cut it off at the source by telling on him?

Coming Full Circle

If you’ve swallowed what I’ve said so far the question becomes can an “elite” athlete (or sub-elite) make the decision to not get injured any more on their own? The same inbuilt motivation which has driven them to their current level is always going to work against them in the decision of whether to drop some training or even take it slightly easier when required in order to preserve their body.

It would be easy to put the burden entirely on the coach, but as an athlete you only have the possibility of one athletic career, make sure you take responsibility for getting the best out of it. A coach can coach hundreds of athletes so why would they be fussed about just one getting injured? (Obviously this isn’t the mindset of most coaches).

How about a collaboration, an agreement towards a common goal of health, fitness and improved performance. A programme thats not going to push you beyond your limits every week and an athlete who’s not going to moan and whinge every time they’re not allowed to complete every repetition that was written on paper several months earlier

Just one of the many reasons it is super important to be working with a good coach who you trust and can openly communicate with.

Perhaps my new years resolution should be to stop writing about injury and try and be more positive. Whats yours?

All comments, feedback and shares greatly appreciated. Happy 2014.

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