Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Last athletics meet for the year.

Had my last athletics meet for the year last night.  It was supposed to be on Saturday, but with forecast temperatures of 42C, the Saturday meet was cancelled, and last night was organised as a cut down replacement.

With my leg now healed, I entered the 100 and 400 metres, as well as the long jump.  The 100m was first, and although healed, I needed to take things a bit cautious.  Despite taking the start slower than normal, and taking my time to reach top speed, I ran a PB of 13.68.  I pulled up a bit tight in the left hamstring, but still able to run.  My technique wasn't as good as it has been at training in the last month, so there's plenty of room to bring that time down.

Next was the 400m.  With my hamstring now a bit tight, I took the start very cautiously, before settling into the rest of the race.  Finished well, with a PB of 65.76.

My final event was the long jump.  I still have a lot to learn with any of the field events, but it was fun taking part.  My first jump ended up being my best at 3.51m.

It was good to back running sprints.  I plan to train through the Christmas break to keep my fitness up, and fine tune my technique for the country championships in late January.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Change of pace (literally!)

Back on the athletics track this week.  Unfortunately, I picked up a minor niggle on Thursday, which was sufficient to rule me out of the sprints.  As a consolation, I decided to run the 800m, which would cause less stress on my legs. 

Unlike the other week, I had sufficient leg strength available to perform a near normal start, then I settled into the rest of the race.  First lap was completed within 1:18-1:19, significantly better than any previous attempt at this distance.  During the second lap, I was passed by a couple of other runners.  However, in the last 100m, I was able to surge ahead and overtake one of them, finishing third in my heat, with a PB time of 2:45.25, 6.03 seconds better than any previous race.

While I'm not a middle distance runner, I was happy with my performance today.  Hopefully, I'll be back to sprints next week.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Fire brigade season begins!

Yesterday was the start of the fire brigade competition season for me.  This was the first competition since I started athletics training, so it was always going to be interesting to see how I went.  The weather was hot and overcast, but with only a slight breeze for most of the day.

First event was the ladder race.  Because the sprint part of the race is only short, and I haven't been able to work on my starts, it was difficult to tell if there was any effect on my performance.  However, due to a lack of ladder training (as our training track is under repair), the climb wasn't as smooth as normal.  Following the ladder race was the hose and ladder 5s.  Here was the real test, and the reason I took up athletics.  After collecting my gear off the reel and starting the sprint stage, I took off.  For the first couple of seconds, I had to be a bit careful, due to hose near my feet, then I could open up to top speed for a few seconds, until my assistant needed me to slow down (about 15 metres short of where I normally would).  The final part, was the climb, which had a bit of a slip near the top.  However, the run still finished in around 26 seconds.  I estimate that the short burst at top speed took a good 1/2 second off the time it took me to get to the top.  A combination of sprint and specific skills training could take another second off.

Next event was the 2 man marshall, one of the dry events.  Here, I'm at a disadvantage, because I'm not as quick at the turns, and there's no long sprints.  Unfortunately, a loose coupling put us out of that event.  Following the marshalls was the pumper events.  In the pumper and ladder 5s, I ran my usual ladder position.  By now, I was getting my muscle memory back and the climb was smoother.  However, a technical fault prevented the run from being completed, and we were granted a re run.  In the re run, everything went well, and we got a time of just over 18 seconds, which was enough for a 5th place, and less than a second slower than our 2014 state winning time.  Following the 5s was the pumper 4s.  In this event, something didn't go quite right, resulting in a "miss".

The rest of the day was hose and reel events, starting with the C section 4s.  There were only two C section sides, so we got to race against each other, instead of running singly.  This made the event more exciting.  I was running hydrant - a position I haven't run for some time.  However, with our pole only able to run on the right hand side of the reel due to injury, the hydrant person has to cross over in front of the reel, after picking up the hydrant, and my speed is a huge advantage here, not only allowing me to safely cross over well in front of the reel, but also have plenty of time to be setup.  The run went well, I got to the plug in plenty of time and was setup just as the coupler came to couple the hose on, allowing me to turn the water on immediately.  Not only were we first to hit the disc, but the other side was given a miss, meaning either way, we had won the event.

After the 4s, the A side asked me to fill in as first assist for their hose and reel 8s.  I had a good run here as well, though the guys on the opposite side of the reel to me had some sort of major hiccup.  Despite these problems, we actually won the event in a surprisingly good time (29 seconds)! :)

Due to a lack of training (because of the track maintenance issue), we didn't run in the hose and reel 6s.  This event can be very dangerous if not run properly, and half the team has never even run in a 6 team.  Following the 6s was the champion 4s.  We fielded a different team to the C 4s, and I was back in pole for this event.  I had a good run, though by this stage, I was being a little cautious not to overstress my hamstring (it didn't give any trouble).  Unfortunately, there was a miss somewhere.

The final event was the Y 8.  We didn't have enough people to field a team, and we hadn't been able to train it either.  However, another team was also short and asked if we could provide 2 extras to make up their numbers.  I ran pole and third branch - pull the reel to the far end of the track, hand it over to the catcher, then put the branch onto the hose and clip onto the ladder runner.  I used to run this position a few years ago, so I knew what I was doing, and only had to learn the specific way the team ran their Y8 (there's _many_ ways to run this event!).  Had a good run, with everything going well.  It's certainly not the first time I've filled in for another team, and I always enjoy that experience.  It's good to get a feel for how others run things.

So in summary, it was a very successful day.  Both our A and C teams won their respective sections, with the A side winning the grand aggregate and the C side getting 5th overall.  As for myself, the hard work of the last few months is bearing fruit, with significantly faster track speed when not on the reel, helping in the ladder 5s and when running the hydrant position.  The next competition is not until January 17, so my focus will switch back to athletics for the next several weeks.  I plan to keep training right through the Christmas break, and there are only 2 weeks without athletics meets.  The plan is to run athletics until the bulk of the fire brigade season, then focus there until the state championships in March.  A fortunate coincidence is that my last week of athletics will be the Victorian Country championships in late January.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Athletics week 7 - a rollercoaster ride

Been a bit slack posting this update.  Since my previous post and success, I had put in a good week of training.  Some technique improvements that significantly increased my top speed at training.  Later that week, I was also running 200m even faster than the PB I set 5 days earlier.  So, with my 100m having been around for over 2 months, I was pretty confdent of setting a new time for myself.  However, around 30 metres into the race, my left hamstring gave out, and I was unable to maintain speed.  I did finish the race, in a time of 20.95. That ended my day there and then.

3 days later, I had already entered in a Masters meet.  After the hamstring issue, I changed my entry to include the 800m event.  I don't normally run the 800m, it's a bit long for me to be really competitive, but it is a good one when I don't have power available.  Despite a (deliberately) very slow start and being unable to push into the wind on one part of the track, I finished with a PB of 2:51.28 (previous was around 2:55).  I also competed in the long jump, taking it easy, with a best jump of 3.20m.

The rest of last week was light training sessions and some massage.  The massage revealed a lot of lower back/upper glute tightness, which is likely to have contributed to the hamstring problem.  Last Saturday, there was no local meet, and I took the opportunity to mostly rest, but did some walking, running, strength work and stretching in the hydrotherapy pool at the local gym.  My last day of work for the year on Friday also helped recovery, as I do quite a bit of walking and light to moderate physical work on the job.

Returned to training last night.  This was my first real test since the weekend rest.  At athletics training, we were doing 400m starts.  I did take a couple of precautions to avoid overstressing my hamstring.  Firstly, I did a "rolling start", instead of a normal block start, and I did slightly limit how much power I used in the first 7 seconds, especially in the early acceleration phase.  After several starts, we finished the session with a full 400m run.  I completed that in 67 seconds, which is comparable to my 66.65 PB. 

A 15 minute drive across town and it was fire brigade training time.  Because we were time limited, we trained the dry events, known as marshalls.  On the positive side for me, there are no long stretches where I would be likely to stretch out too far, but these events require you to stay low, which does increase stress on the hamstrings.  However, I had no issues during this session either.  With a bit of care, I'll be 100% for the weekend.

This weekend is the first of the fire brigade competitions, so I'll be putting my sprint training to the test, especially in the wet events, where there are relatively long sprints required.  More news as it comes to hand! :)