Being a full time athlete can sometimes appear to be all fun and games. After all I get to ride bikes, run and splash around in pools around the world, all day every day. Pro athlete twitter and Instagram accounts are stacked full of pics from training and racing in what look like glamorous locations with all the latest cool kit. There’s no secret that filters work wonders for ones complexion, and they can do the same for the pro athlete lifestyle too! Without wanting sympathy by any means -I do feel fortunate to be in the position I’m in. However, there are also some elements of being an athlete that are tricky.
When the fun of racing has died down and the dark winter days are drawing in, the glamour is out the window for a few months and it’s all about the damp, cold and muddy grind. Personally, I’ve had a tricky few weeks recently. I’m coming off the best season of my life, seven months of continuously racing, to then nothing to aim for until March. I know March will come around soon enough – but I was struggling to adjust. I felt like I needed something to aim for and a reason for the early mornings and late evenings. I momentarily lost my usual enthusiasm and it scared me.
At the end of each season I have a couple of weeks off – standard. Then as I start training again I’ll have a meet with my coaches and discuss both the season just past and look ahead to next year. My 2016 season exceeded our expectations in terms of winning a World Cup and the European Championships in the first half, however I came away feeling disappointed that I wasn’t able to carry that form on through to the end of the summer.
I achieved two world class performances in the space of a few weeks, for some it was a surprise, which then meant I wanted to prove it wasn’t merely a couple of flukes. However, I wasn’t patient enough and instead of listening to Nick and Richard and having an easy couple of weeks mid season I wanted to push on. I was riding a wave of excitement – I was the fittest I’ve ever been and thought I would be able to hold it for a couple more months. I was wrong. Damn, I hate being wrong!
I’m writing this blog in a coffee shop looking out at grey skies and rain, knowing that I’ve got to get out on my bike and ride a long threshold session. I’ve just finished a squad swim and I’m looking forward to a hard run session this evening. This is Tuesday. My Tuesday follows the same routine pretty much every week of the year – excluding rest weeks. There’s not much of the perceived glamour of being a full time athlete when you’re getting down to the nitty gritty of a big training block. Don’t get me wrong – I love it. There isn’t a better feeling than when you get to the end of the day knowing you have finished working for the day.
For me, I really thrive on routine and a structured training week. From now until the start of the season in March I have a solid 5 months of knowing what my goals are and what I need to do in order to achieve them. For now I need to focus on getting up each day, keeping my head down and getting on with the work. These are the months where I can make a difference to how I perform next season. Each year I review my training and work out whats been going well and what could be improved. A massive area for improvement for me was my strength and conditioning – this winter I’ve introduced a new more focused program to address this, it’s quite refreshing to have something ‘new’ to focus on throughout the week.
Thank you to SauconyUK for making my training easier by providing me with the best training and racing gear.
Thanks for reading,