I managed to sneak home this weekend to see the majority of my family and celebrate my 29th birthday with a change of scene and less training than normal. Yes, that's right, I see 'less training than normal' a suitable treat for a birthday. Paid the price this morning - amazing how quickly you can get used to not doing a session first thing in the morning!
So, I guess I should update you on how it's going. Well, it's been a satisfying season so far. I've only had one real test to date - a 2k at Bisham - as World Champs athletes are exempt from the first round of trials at Boston. I'm relieved to say it went well - and certainly much better than expected - and gave me a bit of a boost that all the hard training I'm doing is definitely paying off. It feels a little strange to be this fit and strong so early in the season, but it's nice to not be struggling my way through 18k ergos and 20km outings!
Having said all that, the pressure and my mind set is no different - the goalposts have just moved. The fitter and stronger you are, the harder you have to try and the faster the targets get. It's been quite a daunting (and marginally disappointing!) situation to find myself in - that reaching the original goal doesn't bring with it the ability to relax a little bit and the satisfaction expected. What you want and expect just changes. The people I compare myself to, the numbers I want to see on the erg and water, the amount of weight I want to be able to lift.
And with that comes another element to consider - improvement, or rather expectation of improvement. Previously I've always seen improvement through a season, usually significant baring illness and injury. This year my coach has warned me that there will undoubtedly be a lower increase in my performance over the season than previously seen. There is also the chance that I may not improve - my performance might plateau - and I need to be mentally prepared for that. I mustn't lose sight of the fact that the absence of improvement or as much improvement doesn't mean I'm not fast. It's just more difficult to improve on something that's already pretty good. Of course, that also doesn't mean that I'm not going to try.... there's still a lot of breathing space between me and the established girls in the squad and I need to try and close that gap.
So it all boils down to moving my goalposts - on what I want, what I expect, what I aim for and, most importantly, how I review my performance. This year is going to be tough - tougher than last year for sure - and I'm going to need to make sure I keep my eyes on the prize and keep moving in the right direction. Which is a different direction to before...