Olympic Games, Success, Travel

Competition 1 Debrief: Paavo Nurmi Games, Turku Finland

Fuelled by positive media write-ups

Did you see these two articles written by the Finnish media about me the day preceding the Paavo Nurmi Games, Turku?

It may sound odd, but reading these gave me a confidence-boost despite the interrupted preparation. Because it made me think, well, if they want to share my story with the nation then I want to live up to the standard that’s being set. 

Instead of being afraid to disappoint myself and my team, I also began to include the crowd in my thoughts.

I also tried to re-frame the potentially negative emotion of disappointment to a positive one of excitement. 

Rather than, ‘I don’t want to jump badly and disappoint’, it became, ‘I want to bring my best to add excitement to the competition to give the crowd something to celebrate and clap about!’ 

Related Blog: Positive Affirmations

And I guess my round 4 leap pulling me up to 2nd place (2cm behind the winning jump) kind of did that… 

Mindset Challenges – Disrupted Training vs World-Class Competition 

I’m sure we all realise training has been disrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. I was away from a track (so no sprinting in spikes) for 10 weeks and unable to jump into a sandpit for an additional three weeks beyond that. No jumping from 20th March to 19th June 2020 – that’s THIRTEEN weeks away from my event or three months equating to at least twenty potential sessions missed. 

Clearly, this has been reflected in my performances. 

I didn’t jump for thirteen weeks. I don’t even take that much time away from my event in off-season and winter training combined!

And actually, working that out is refreshing. I’m no longer going to be super hard on myself. I’m rusty. But bigger distances will come. I’m sure of it!

Because I sincerely believe that the work I have been able to put in – as creative and distinct from usual training patterns as it was – will pay off. 

I still believe 6.70+ is on the cards this year. 

And I am excited for my next competitions against world-class fields to pull me up to a higher level time and again. 

That’s why I now compete even when I don’t feel ready. 

That’s why I say ‘yes’ more often than I say ‘no’ when it comes to competitions. 

And that’s why my agent puts me into high-quality competitions with world-class fields – to force me to raise my game to jump further. 

Often, it’s my mind and my emotions that hold me back from performing well, so I have to override their negativity with a health dose of audacity: to say ‘yes’ and rise to the occasion even when doubt creeps in.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But at least I can say I tried! 

Related Post: #UnfinishedBusiness #AbsIsBack

Building from a poor series

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best competition. 

If you were to ask me how it went, I’d respond – not good, not bad. 

I am thankful I managed to scrape over 6.50m (a feat I was lauded for at over seven competitions in 2019 – I was consistent if nothing else!), although I would’ve liked a bigger distance. 

Related Post: 3x Olympian Mikel Thomas’ Words of Wisdom: Consistency Comes Before the Breakthrough

But I’ll comfort myself with the words of many well-meaning friends and my team – you’ve shaken off the cobwebs. Now time to get going. 

So, here’s what I’ve taken from this competition – I had two solid jumps. I’m excited to build from there so that in my next competition, I kick off in round 1 from the distance and feeling I achieved in rounds 4 and 5 of this competition. 

Here’s my Round 4 jump of 6.52m in case you didn’t catch it…

My 6.52m Leap at the Paavo Nurmi Games, Turku (Only available for viewing in some countries)

Technical: Here, since my running has been going pretty well (I’m bouncing with good knee lift and reactivity), I chose to focus on how I drove off the board by forcing a held free-leg position. It’s only held for a fraction of a second longer than usual, but it makes all the difference not just to how I take-off, but also to what my penultimate and final steps look like, so one change had a ripple effect in how I ran into the board, how I drove off the board and thus how far I landed into the pit. 

Obviously, you see this in your own life, right? One small process change – turning your phone off 30 minutes earlier than usual at night – impacts in multiple, significant ways: earlier bedtime, deeper sleep, better mood in the morning, healthier relationships due to better emotional regulation from a good night’s sleep, etc. etc. 

Related Blog: Sleep for Performance Optimisation

Sleep to consolidate good performance and for ‘muscle memory’ ahead of next meet

I want to hold onto the feeling I got from my round 4 and 5 efforts in Turku – 6.52m followed by a foul where my running was better and I was more anchored to the feeling and processes of the previous jump. To do this, so my next jumps practice and competition can build from here, a good night’s sleep is key. 

“If you don’t sleep the very first night after learning, you lose the chance to consolidate those memories, even if you get lots of ‘catch-up’ sleep thereafter. Sleep for memory consolidation is an all-or-nothing event.”

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Buy Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker on Amazon*.

On a bench by the Radisson hotel

So, in my continued vein of ‘sleep more to be more’ lecture (sorry, not sorry), I want to leave you with these 3 top travel tips for enriched sleep and memory consolidation (especially following a competition or meeting where you’ve made a breakthrough) inspired by the research-backed quote above from neuroscientist and sleep researcher, Matthew Walker:

  1. Book a flight home that allows you to get your requisite 8+ hours of sleep post-competition. A late-afternoon flight is often a safe-bet for short-haul flights. One competitor I know had to catch a 6 AM flight the next day after her competition, which meant she had to wake up for about 2 AM to get the coach to the airport! Not ideal.
  2. Avoid over-caffienation caused by drinking too many sports drinks and caffeine supplements (this can’t always be helped, especially if you compete late into the evening and have multiple rounds). One competitor who fell victim to this told me he didn’t sleep until 3 AM the night after his race for this reason and ended up waking up at 730 AM just because his sleep was so light. Very frustrating!
  3. Pack the night before. Even though it meant I couldn’t go to sleep straight away, packing last night – when returning from my competition – rather than on the morning of travel (which I have been prone to do in the past) meant I had a lie-in  and didn’t have to set an alarm to wake up feeling stressed in the morning trying to manically pack. I enjoyed a relaxed breakfast (an omelette and pancake!) and arrived at the coach to the airport 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Whoop!

What’s next?

Next stop: 19th August – Continental Tour Gold, Hungary 

23rd August – Stockholm Diamond League, Sweden 

Pray for me!

*Please note that I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program so will receive a small fee for any purchases made via this link. All fees earned go towards funding my training and competition and I only recommend products I've used and believe in so I hope that reading this book benefits you as much as it did me! 

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