Rumour has it, amongst those outside of the athletics circle, that our sport is one of the easy options; clearly we just turn up to compete during the (supposed) sun-drenched summer season and hibernate during winter. Coming from an upbringing in figure skating, when I first turned to athletics I must admit a part of me did expect a better break when it came to climate change. How wrong I was!
Now that time of year is upon us again. Whilst most ‘ordinary’ people are cranking up the fire in front of the TV, we’re pulling on our hats and gloves as we prepare to brave the wilderness. While they’re enjoying a relaxing bath our post-session shower serves the primary purpose of regaining the feeling in our toes. Speaking of which, those people will perhaps never be able to understand the peculiar sensation of sprinting when you have lost all feeling below the kneecap!
Winter training is also the idea time for coaches to demonstrate their ingenuity and ability to think on the spot. At least once a month coaches are forced to reshuffle their plans as the track freezes over and becomes more appropriate for speed skating. Whether it’s a hill session, lamppost runs or indoor circuits, they always have a trick up their sleeves, and will do their very best to ensure that we don’t get off lightly!
The depressing daylight hours and miserable conditions are a serious test of any athlete’s character, but on the brighter side, those who remain committed will benefit from reward. The impact of a solid block of winter training has an unbelievable effect on performance come the racing season, even when every fibre in your body is telling you otherwise during December. One of the strongest messages an athlete can take is as follows: survive winter training and the rest is a breeze.
Let’s face it, I bet everyone has complained about their gruelling schedule more than once. We know what we’re doing is hard / borderline ridiculous, but when we whine about DOMS or moan about how dizzy you felt during last night’s session, really it’s just a way of letting people know that we’re proud of what we’re able to accomplish. The cliché ‘pain is temporary glory lasts forever ‘ would not exist if there wasn’t a good level of truth behind it. And on the plus side, a little extra sympathy never hurt anyone.
So as the dark nights approach and Jack Frost makes his presence known you can make one of two decisions; walk away now or suck it up and get stuck in. It may, no, it WILL be hard at first, but there is no better sense of accomplishment than looking back at just what you have achieved and the progress you’ve made. Plus, the PBs will speak volumes in summer! 2013, unlucky for some, but not for those who grit their teeth and demonstrate a fighting spirit. Bring it on, and see you on the other side!