Monday, November 30, 2009

Moving goalposts

Yet again a whole month has managed to pass me by without me posting. Eeek, sorry! My life feels like one constant round of training, working, sleeping and getting between the 3 with as much relaxation and eating as possible - which is never as much as I'd like, on both counts!

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...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Well I've been back to training 5 weeks and so far so good... until yesterday. It's been a tough week - amazed myself that I managed to push myself through it pretty much alone - and yesterday my body finally said enough is enough and something gave. My neck to be precise, and boy does it hurt! I've always been a sceptic when it comes to back pain/ neck pain/ headache. I'm not very easy to convince when the individual's pain isn't tangible! (Read: their leg isn't hanging off - I was never going to make a great nurse). How can one little ache cause so much bother? Well karma has definitely come to haunt me - I'm in agony.

Not quite sure when precisely during yesterday's two sessions I cricked my neck but by the time I'd walked back from the club to the flat I felt nauseous and distinctly out of sorts. Usually the first person to dive head first into housework on a Sat afternoon, especially when the flat looks like ours currently does, I walked straight into the bathroom on getting home to run a bath. In fact, I noticed on walking into the bathroom this morning that my house keys are still by the side of the sink by way of evidence! By the time Dominic got home I was sat on the sofa in my PJs (at 2pm) dosed up on ibuprofen with an ice pack handy. All I mustered up the energy to do yesterday was watch the GP qualifying and have copious amounts of sleep. I clearly needed it, and most people would call that a typical relaxing Saturday afternoon, but there's nothing that makes an athlete more despondent than being rendered totally incapable of doing anything. Especially when their own desire and determination to do otherwise can not overcome the fact that their body is telling them something different.

Had this been a week day I would have been to my chiropractors by now to have my neck fully examined and manhandled back into place. (I take the same approach to my body as the vast majority of the other aspects of my life - if it isn't working, keep pushing it until it does). However, being a Saturday afternoon I have to wait until Monday morning for that pleasure. In the meantime, the washing will have to remain in front of the machine and the hoover silent. Currently sitting in bed listening to the rain and catching up on Eastenders is all I'm capable of. Any other day I'd call that a fantastic recovery day - today it's a pain in the neck.