Friday, June 16, 2017

A Leap Into the Unknown...

Last night, I trained at the track as usual.  However, the last few Thursdays have been a bit different.  After the normal track work, I’ve been working on my long jump technique with a couple of the younger guys, who have been focusing on the long jump.

My technique until recently could be described as “running into the pit”, but one of these guys was able to give me some pointers.  That’s where the real challenge started.  The rapid movements required to execute a proper take off overloaded both my ability to execute them, and even more interesting, my ability to sense what they guys were helping me with.  Once I realised this, working through the issues became a bit of a collaboration between is, to find the most effective way to assist my learning.  With some persistence, my technique is improving steadily.  I’m only just beginning to be able to sense and execute the movements required, but the signs are promising.

Anyway, I’m firmly in unknown territory here.  Executing rapid one-off movements accurately has always been a challenge for me.  Now, I am exploring my capabilities, and seeing how I can use my strengths to learn, despite the obvious challenges.  In time, I hope to work on my throws as well, which will have similar challenges.  Who knows what else I’ll discover along the way. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Getting high on speed!

No, this post is not about drugs.  I am talking about the reasons I do what I do.  For me, sport represents a number of things.  Physical exercise is an important part of my mental health maintenance, and sport gives me more reasons to be active.

I also enjoy the challenge of improving on my past performances, as well as friendly competitions against others. 

As for my choice of sport, that’s a combination of ability and interest.  The fire brigade competitions are something that caught my imagination as a kid.  Ever since first seeing the urban fire brigades state championships in the 1970s (at the age of 6!), I knew I wanted to take part.  At that time, I had no idea how I’d fit in, given my general lack of sporting ability at the time.  However, I did join as a junior and have run when I’ve had a chance, now a total of almost 20 years.

As for track sprints, this is another sport I’ve long had an interest in, but in this case, living in a small town in my teens, there were no opportunities for anyone over the age of 15 to compete within an hour’s drive.  In this instance, I was drawn to the thrill of travelling at high speed.

As I got older, I learned of the so-called “runner’s high”, normally experienced in distance events, and which I, myself, have experienced after my hlf marathon in 2006, marathon in 2008 and a number of rogaines over the years.  But for me, the sensations encountered in a sprint, from the power and acceleration of a start to top speed, where inertia and wind resistance dominate, followed by the long deceleration under inertia from top speed.

The fire brigade competitions also involve similar sensations, as well as putting together some precision movements, which are satisfying to pull off.

Another aspect of my sporting performance is there’s little documentation for training someone on the spectrum with significant coordination issues to high performance levels.  While I work with mainstream clubs and coaches, I try and get better explanations for some skills and the occasional modification to some instruction techniques to better suit my needs.  While in some ways I’m flying a little blind, it is also exciting exploring this unknown territory, to see how far I can push the boundaries.  Already, I am now faster than I recall recording in my mid-late teens, with the prospect of even better performance in the years to come.

Maybe one day, my experience will help others at least enjoy a sport, if not achieve their own successes.

- Tony via Tumblr

Winter underway

With the end of the track season at the start of April, attention turned to cross country.  The week before cross country season started was the O’Keefe Ekiden Relay.  This year, I again competed as part of a team from our athletics club, this time running a 3km leg, which I finished in 13:52.  Our team won again, improving on last year’s time by 15 seconds, We now hold both the record and second fastest times for this event.

My cross country season has been very consistent, with the majority of runs falling within a narrow range of 3:34 - 3:38 for the 1km event, pretty much on my handicap time of 3:35.  The exceptions were:

First week - 3:47, where my race tactics weren’t optimal.

Distance handicap - 3:52/km.  Slower, because I ran an extra 180m for my handicap.

Last week at the Bendigo Uni invitational - 3:43.  In this event, my time was affected by a large starting field, including many kids who got in the way for the first 200m.

So far, 3:30 seems to be a real challenge to break.

Also last week, there was an out of season track meet.  In cold conditions, I got the following times:

100m - 13.24

200m - 27.21

800m - 2:44

In addition, I competed in discus and javelin, throwing around my usual range.  My starts in the sprints were a little sluggish, most likely a combination of lack of practice, along with the cold weather.

On a training note, last week, I did some starting practice and made some major improvements to my starts, improving even beyond my performances back in March-April.  Next season will be interesting.

- Tony via Tumblr