I’m getting around town in a boot. As winter approaches, boots are in the magazines, on the catwalk and on the feet of anyone with style. This boot I’m wearing however, is never fashionable. It’s my moon boot, more commonly referred to as an AirCast. The boot and I have been through some dark days together. We share an unhealthy relationship and I think it’s about time the boot was dumped! So, where should I begin this tale. The beginning seems like a logical place, well the beginning of 2010 anyway.
After Christmas, and the usual ritual of eating your bodyweight in turkey, ham, prawns and pudding, I headed off to our national camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. This was a four week camp with some of the hardest training I have done. Whilst I managed to get through the workload at the time, I didn’t listen to the very subtle signs from my body or pay attention to my past experiences. I was doing far too much running. I forgot about the cumulative effect of running, and the need to rest the body. Back in Brisbane, I soon came unstuck. I developed chronic periostitis (shin splints) which has been hard to settle and ultimately forced me to stop running and rekindle my relationship with the AirCast boot to allow the condition to resolve. I went from feeling upbeat and looking forward to starting the race season at the Mooloolaba World Cup to the disappointment of resigning myself to the fact that I was going to be missing the first few races of the year and would be playing catch up in the World Championship series.
After pulling through the disappointment, I am now looking to the positives. I am determined to use this time to make my swim and bike better than it has ever been before. I know from past experiences that a few disappointments and setbacks can make me even more determined and tough for the next race. I once had a wise swimming coach, so wise that he has coached some of Australia’s best swimmers to Olympic medals, who told me to maximise my strengths and minimise my weaknesses. This, he said, was the key to putting yourself in the position to win. My swim/bike combination is one of the best in the world. Nevertheless, it is easy to become complacent with your strengths and in turn I have focused too much on my weakness. Even though I came into triathlon as a runner with national junior cross country titles under my belt, running has become my weak point after a string of nasty injuries and lost run miles in the legs. I have learnt the hard way that for some reason my body cannot tolerate nearly as much run training as most of my competitors.
As I look towards 2012, it’s time to get smart. It is now time to focus not on what I can’t do or what I’d like to do, which is more running, but on maximising my strengths and minimising my weakness. For me, this is consistent injury free running. I have run well in the past off minimal, yet race specific run training. Fortunately, I do not need a huge volume of running to be competitive. For me the key to success is consistency and patience. With running this means following the minilimist approach and reminding myself that it doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen if you’re willing to tough out the early days and have faith in your own ability.
In this unpredictable game of elite sport and fragile bodies, one thing I know I can always count on is the support of my close friends, family and loyal sponsors. Thank you!