The thing about track is that it’s objective. Every preseason, we put together a new set of beliefs. My start is finally consistent. My power-to-weight ratio is higher than it’s ever been. I’m doing so much more right than any other year. Just look at these charts! Then, December rolls around, we step into blocks for the first time, and our world views are confirmed or shattered in seven seconds or less.
After a disappointing end to my season, I spent some time reflecting on what went wrong and what I can do better this year. The obvious acute answer is the back injury I suffered in March; the other obvious answer is the lack of racing between May and July to keep me sharp.
Although I didn’t have to miss too much time after my back injury, I wasn’t able to train at full intensity for several weeks, and never really returned to full strength in the weight room. I also had to change my training plan significantly; I missed a couple cycles of max-velocity and speed endurance development.
The back injury wasn’t my first injury this year, either—I dealt with minor gluteal issues in the fall and winter, and fairly severe hamstring tendinopathy throughout the year.
So what can I do differently to avoid injuries next year and achieve my goals? Here’s my plan:
- I’m going to be more careful about my training volume and intensity, especially in the fall and winter.
- I’ll be going to the indoor track much earlier in the season instead of trying to tough it out as temperatures drop in October.
- I’d like to do more max velocity work earlier in the season. I spent a ton of time working on acceleration this year, and I’m happy with where I am there—but I have a lot of work to do on my top speed.
- I’ll be doing more unilateral and accessory work in the gym to address imbalances and weaknesses.
- I’m going to invest in new blocks and a Freelap e-starter to make sure I can get quality starts (and reaction time practice) in training.
- I need to be more proactive about recovery and injury prevention. In particular, I need to bulletproof my core and low back, which have caused the last few issues I’ve had.
- I’m going to work on thoracic and shoulder mobility, especially my right shoulder. Based on some videos I have, this should help reduce the load on my low left back, especially out of blocks.
- I’ll have a standing appointment with my PT to make sure I’m staying on top of any issues that come up.
- In general, I’d like to decrease my stress levels and improve my sleep quality. I’ve had issues waking up well before I should, which must be impacting my recovery.
- I need to have fewer breaks in my season. I’ll have to seek out a couple meets in June and July to make sure I’m staying sharp.
- I’d like to race in a few higher-level meets this year. That’ll probably involve traveling, but I think it’ll be worth it.
Most of the posts on this blog are about success. I write about my PRs, my wins, and my accomplishments. I write about the things that I’m proud of.
When I write about my failures, I write about setbacks. I write about how they are just temporary roadblocks that make my eventual success that much sweeter.
But sometimes failure is just failure.
My last college meet of the season was last weekend in Cleveland, Tennessee at Lee University’s last chance meet. I ran here both in 2021 and 2022, and the overall experience this year was similar: crowded and hot. This year, there were more competitors than in either of the previous two, and it felt even hotter; even though I made a point of drinking a ton of water, I was still pretty dehydrated most of the day.
I competed in the 200m in Nashville at Vanderbilt’s Outdoor Music City Challenge last Friday. It was an evening meet—I raced around 6:30PM, which is not far off from my typical bedtime. Usually, for evening meets, I like to adjust my training schedule to try to get used to the competition time. Unfortunately, the track I’m running at isn’t consistently open during the afternoons, so I couldn’t do that.