Five weeks deep into training since the naming of the 2015 NZ World University team means that, at the moment, we are feeling a little sorry for ourselves/ Whilst also also excited and nervous by the prospect that there is only six more weeks left before we get our wings.
To give some behind the scenes insight into the training that I do, I went back through my training diary and put the numbers together. Over the last five weeks, I have completed 61 training sessions. These consisted of:
- 27 on water sessions (averaging 19km per session),
- 13 Concept 2 rowing machine sessions (averaging 50 minutes a session),
- 11 Weights sessions (averaging 37,500kg of weight lifted per session), and
- 10 sessions on my Avanti Corsa road bike (averaging 43km per session)
In addition to these trainings I have been riding to the majority of the on water session at 11km each way (Not all of them because I am too soft to ride in the rain. I’ll use health as my excuse).
This training works in a series of 4-week blocks, that gets progressively intense before a light week in the fourth week. This extra load is rarely created by extra sessions, as there are only so many sessions an athlete can handle before the coach starts wondering whether we are slouching from fatigue or because we have fallen asleep. Instead increasing the distances and intensity creates this load. We are just about to start the biggest week, which is the cause for the occasional feeling of self-pity, especially at the end of the week.
With a team of four, one of which has been based in Christchurch, this has been the smallest New Zealand Team I have ever been a part of. This has actually been a positive experience in that each of us has grown quite close and provided that critical support on and off the water. I was reminded of that importance of a training partner last week after feeling like I was in the twelfth round with Manny Pacquiao, seconds away from adopting the fetal position and singing the Philippine National Anthem when Adelle (the team’s female heavyweight single sculler) yelled a few words of encouragement, and I was somehow able to hold my speed to the finish. There is something about knowing you are not going through the pain alone that enables you to reach another place that you would not have been able to otherwise, even though they may not be able to physically help you. Fair to say I am stoked the team is a bunch of good buggers because if they weren't this would be exponentially more difficult. Patience will be tested when they have to put up with me 24/7 overseas.
Psychology has been the key focus for me as identified in my last blog. This is my tenth rowing season and I’m sure you can have some appreciation for the difficulty in making a small technical change to a rowing stroke that has been cemented over that span of time. Well imagine changing your mental processes. The very way you think. I am literally trying to rewire my brain. Think of your headphones after pulling them out of your bag all tangled after you carefully wrapped them up before you put them in the bag, then multiply that by a hundred and you’ll have a good idea of what my brain must look like. Although a little challenging, I am proud to say I have made progress. It is only small gains such as recognizing the thought I am having is a negative one that is not benefiting my rowing before letting it consume me, and even then it is only on occasion, but the change is happening.
As in the case of any athlete not being paid to represent their country, I have been on the hunt for those generous groups out there willing to support me in reaching my dreams. I am extremely fortunate to have teamed with some of these very people. Gallagher, my principal sponsor from 2014, will again be the powerhouse to my crew for 2015. I cannot claim that I have spent a huge amount of time using their world-leading animal management systems other than putting the odd bit of grass to the electric fence, but already I feel like a member of their family and am looking forward to joining them at field days again this year. I will also have to fend off all the ladies while I am there thanks to the continued support of Adidas Eyewear. That is until the Eyewear comes off of course. They will then have to be satisfied with these pearly whites thanks to Aquapick. Oral irrigation system is Aquaicks game. Think flossing but with a mini water blaster and infer-red sterilizing between cleans. Welcome to the 21st century of oral health. As for financial support, the thanks must go to the Adastra Foundation and High Performance New Zealand for their athlete scholarships. Lastly, I am proud to say I will again be an ambassador for Dot Kiwi over 2015/16, leading the movement that couldn't better say “Yes I am kiwi, and I am proud of it”.