The athlete within
Fingers crossed that you followed the Olympic site link to see this above clip… I have watched it so many times and yet each time it gives me chills.
The 800m race in athletics is considered a tactical race and the shortest of the middle-distance races. Over the past year, it has also become a distance that I can physically relate to. The event combines aerobic endurance with anaerobic conditioning and sprint speed. As both the aerobic and anaerobic systems are being taxed to a high extent, the 800m athlete is required to combine training between both of these systems. In my opinion this is the most impressive athletic event; in body and mind. The clip above shows David Rudisha winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics in a World Record time of 1:40.91 – seriously impressive.
My dear friend and trainer put me on to this Olympic Final following yet another discussion on running form and technique; which often pops up in our sprint training work.
He has known me since my less than healthy days and he has been an enormous influence in how my life currently is. Thank you buddy – just in case I haven’t told you that enough already 🙂
We train outdoors once a week – a combination of brutal sprint training (sometimes technique/drill work), skipping, boxing and general interval work. It has been years of hard fought work to the point that I am at today with my fitness and strength and to be honest it never fails to blow me away. Sometime ago I heard something that really stuck with me…
There are many unquantified and uncertain aspects of life for us all. You may work hard your whole life though this does not necessarily equate to anything beyond the fact that you have worked hard your whole life. Fitness however is simple. You work for it, you receive it.
Each day, each session, it does happen.
I most certainly take a great deal of comfort in this fact that while other aspects of wellness and body shaping are long journeys; that last a lifetime; fitness provides instant gratification. I like to think this is our bodies’ way of thanking us for providing it the experience it was designed for. That is; you push it and it will reward you instantly and constantly. Endorphins, glowing skin, tight abs and the like etc etc…
Last year around this time a challenge was set to me by my trainer in a training session. To be able to run around the approximately 385m oval that we train on in less than 1:10. Prior to this I had not gone under 1:30 – so quite the challenge indeed. The oval signified a whole lot of things for me and I despised it. It toyed with me. Every time I commenced a run I felt it beat me. Every single time. The heaviness that I felt was unbearable and more often than not, I would give up. Not complete the lap. Not like me at all. We used the oval for all-out effort sprint training work and for both of us, it was a test of my true athleticism. At that stage, despite what I could do or would tell myself, my athleticism needed a shake-up. With a junior background in high-level competitive sport and as an adult, someone who competed in long-distance running and cross-discipline endurance events; this was a harsh reality. Even tougher as some years ago my knee had failed me and it was diagnosed as a genetic issue, meaning no more racing for me. Short sprints; ideally on grass; was all my knee could handle and despite the orthopaedic surgeon advising against it I decided as such an effective form of exercise; that it was worthwhile in measured doses.
It was though, going to take some time to knock my time down.We agreed to 8 weeks.
It took a month to break through. That particular session was a rough one; coping with the efforts and I was simply drained. I felt so useless and totally unsure of what more I could do. With tears welling in my eyes, we sat down and he spoke some truths to me.
“It is just running around an oval.”
Weeks 4 through 8 saw a distinct change in me. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t shave 20 seconds off my time in 1 session though I did decide I could do it. That despite the years of running associated with pain, memories of ovals and athletics that I never enjoyed, I could 100% kill this. So I decided that was more important to focus on than all those other things. Run, don’t think, run. Repeat. So that I did. I completed extra sessions on my own, focusing on just this, and all of a sudden it was week number 8.
Nervous beyond reason.
It was asked afterwards whether I wanted to run again as it looked so strong.
Elation is the only word here. So proud.
Fast forward to now. Another year has gone by and in that time my athleticism has become real. It is present everyday and makes everything in my life so much better.
I earned it. No secrets, no unknown factors. It is mine.
It may not be to everyone’s tastes though there is something undeniably powerful about running at your absolute maximum/all-out/top-speed. To give all that you have physically and hold that speed for a distance uses every part of your body. While I certainly will not be breaking any records, except my own, this type of training has been a brilliant game-changer for me.