I always anticipated that this journey would be full of ups and downs, but the last few weeks have surpassed any expectations I could’ve had!
2 weeks ago we had our final performance testing before the Games, and although I’d made some improvements, I didn’t show the big gains I was hoping for. However, I’ve been working hard on increasing my intensity and aggression, and when it came to the time trials on the water last Saturday I was confident I would deliver what was needed.
It was a windy day, but for once we were paddling with a tail wind, and I paddled what I felt was the best 200m I had ever done. I was buzzing! Finally I’d delivered the performance that I knew I was capable of…..and then I got my time. 56 seconds. Still slow, still a long way off the time I need to hit!
I was distraught. What else could I do! I’d given it my all, I wasn’t sure if I had anything else left to give. A fair bit of sole searching went on that weekend…..but I didn’t really come up with any answers. I couldn’t even work out what the questions were!
I then had a meeting with my coach. “You’ve just got to work harder” he said. Harder!!!! How can I work any harder! I really felt I had not an ounce more that I could give!
Ok, I’ll admit, I got a bit emotional….some might even say irrational (just for a change!). But I’ve always been a fighter, so I was sure as hell not going to give up! So after putting things into perspective and some fantastic support from the incredible people around me, I started to come up with a plan. I’m very much an actions kind of person, and once I’d started to put this plan together, I began to see a way forward.
And then Thursday happened…..
I’ve mentioned HBP Training before. They’re a performance coaching company who are giving me sponsorship in the form of mental coaching and support. They had a few ideas that they thought might help. So on Thursday I met with Phil Quirk from HBP. He talked me through a few ideas, and recognised that potentially one of the reasons I’m not seeing the gains from the intensive training I’ve been doing, is that I’ve been trying too hard, getting stressed and getting tense….this then has a detrimental effect on my paddling, which makes me more stressed, more tense…and makes me try even harder….and so the cycle continues!
We worked on getting me to relax….the complete opposite of what I thought I needed! I believed I needed to get more aggressive, more intense, paddle harder, paddle faster…..what Phil got me to see, was that actually what I needed to do was relax! If I relaxed then I could allow my body to use the power that’s just sitting waiting to be released!!
It was an amazing session, and I came away confident about the way forwards. One of the best things that Phil said to me was “We’ve got this.”To feel that I wasn’t on my own, that they were there beside me, supporting me to be the best I can be, really did give me a huge amount of confidence…..and I thank them both for giving me that.
The next morning I was sat on the start line, about to do another 200m time trial, and I just said to myself “Relax, we’ve got this”.
Now I can’t say I went out and smashed the World record, but I did paddle considerably better, knocked approximately 2 seconds off my time…..and enjoyed it a whole heap more!
I’m not saying this is going to provide all the answers, but that realization that sometimes when we try too hard, we can actually prevent ourselves from achieving what we’re capable of really will, I hope, give me a different approach to my paddling. The real learning for me is to relax, stay focused, control the controllable and don’t waste valuable energy stressing about things that I can’t control…..then I’ll put myself in the position that the gains can start to happen!
As they say….”Every day’s a school day”, and whether it’s an up or a down, there’s always something to be learnt. Gradually, I’m piecing all those leanings together, and when all those jigsaw pieces finally fit together…..I’m gonna be so fast you won’t even see me coming!!!!:-)