Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Challenging DayToday was the second week of track and field. However, today was also the fire...

A Challenging Day

Today was the second week of track and field. However, today was also the fire brigade’s annual preseason training day. This started early in the morning, and consisted of several km of running and walking, along with various physically challenging activities, over a period of 4 ½ hours. I won’t go into details, but to say that I did hold up pretty well, due to my fitness. Despite being the oldest in the team this year, I showed that age is not a limitation.

After the training challenges were over, we had a BBQ lunch, then I had to make a quick trip across town to the athletics track. Yes, despite the tough start to the day, I decided to go through with competing. I arrived just in time to sign into my events, then did a shortened warmup, due to lack of time and energy.

First up was the 200m. It was immediately obvious that the morning’s activities had taken their toll. I finished with a slow 28.33 seconds, but not bad under the conditions!

Next was the triple jump. On the first attempt, one of my feet collapsed, and I wasn’t sure if I would continue. However, my second jump was fine, and I was confident to continue. Finished with a distance of 7.66m.

Then on to the 100m. With my fatigued state, I wasn’t expecting miracles. But I got off to a reasonable start, and managed 13.86 in a field that was slow overall.

My final event was the discus. Had 2 good throws in the 14m range, the best being 14.91m.

I decided not to make myself available for the 4x400m relay, because my speed endurance was severely limited, without having to consider the rigours of the 400m distance.

Anyway, looking forward to being able to go all out next week.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Start Of A New SeasonToday was the start of the 2017-2018 track and field season. There was a...

Start Of A New Season

Today was the start of the 2017-2018 track and field season. There was a preseason meet last Sunday, but due to last minute car issues, I didn’t make it.

Today, I entered the 100 and 400m sprints, as well as the long jump and javelin. I also ran the 4x100m relay.

Up first was the 100 metres. Ran a bit slow at 13.41 seconds. A tight left hamstring didn’t help, and for some reason, I felt “disconnected” from my body, lacking the ability I had built up to monitor and tweak my performance. Hopefully, that’s something that will come with training and competition.

Next was long jump. Again, I had that same lack of connectedness, but I still managed 4.05 metres, which was reasonably good, given my overall performance, and better than this time last year.

This year, the 4x100m relay has been moved to the middle of the program, to encourage participation. I ran the third leg for our open men’s team. Had a rough change at the start of my leg, which slowed me a little, but I rapidly got to top speed, once settled. My second change was near perfect and performed at top speed. This was my best run of the day, and we finished a close second.

After the relay was the 400 metres. Wind conditions were tough in the back straight, and I finished with a time of 1:05.55.

Final event was the javelin. My first throw was the best of the 3 at 14.41 metres. Not bad, given my lack of practice.

Overall, it wasn’t one of my best days. Need to get that hamstring sorted, and have to reconnect to my body, so I can improve my performance. My 100m and long jump felt like they were on auto pilot, rather than me being in the zone.

Anyway, back again next week. Its good to be back on the track.

- Tony via Tumblr

Ready for the new track season.

Ready for the new track season.

- Tony via Tumblr

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Talking sport at APAC

I’m in Sydney for the 2017 Asia Pacific Autism Conference.  This is a majorinternational conference, held every 2 years at different venues.  My main reason for attending was to give two presentations.  One of them was on the benefits of sport for autistic people, based on my experience.

Although I only had 5 minutes to speak, I managed to get everything across that I wanted to say, and make the point that there are a lot of benefits - physical, mental health, and general well being to be gained from regular participation in sport.  However, sporting bodies do need to be more inclusive of autistic people to make this happen.  I hope to see and help this dream become reality.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017 Cross Country Roundup

Just back from my club’s cross country season breakup.  As part of the festivities, there were two events at the athletics track - an 800m, and a 3k run, both handicap events.  More on that later.

As for my cross country season, the best word to describe it would be “consistent”.  I improved my 1k PB by 2 seconds to 3:30, several weeks ago.  However, I also ran 3:34 on at least 4 occasions, and a most of my other 1k runs were faster than 3:45.  Although I’m not the fastest in the club - we have some capable of 3:10 over 1k, my consistent performance over the season put me well ahead in points.  Although my fastest time was only 2 seconds faster than last year, I was a lot more consistent, with more runs close to my best time.

My consistency was a slight disadvantage on handicap points, where I scored 5th place for the season.

Back to today - with a season of good 1k performances under my belt, as well as plenty of training for the shorter middle distances, I am now in the best 800m form I’ve ever been in.  I set myself a goal of 2:30 for the race, some 9 seconds better than my previous PB, at a pace of under 3:10/km.  My race went mostly to plan, and I finished strongly in a time of 2:33.  Not quite the target, but still a significant 6 seconds off my old PB.

Now, we have a few weeks break, before track season resumes in October.

- Tony via Tumblr

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Leap Into the Unknown...

Last night, I trained at the track as usual.  However, the last few Thursdays have been a bit different.  After the normal track work, I’ve been working on my long jump technique with a couple of the younger guys, who have been focusing on the long jump.

My technique until recently could be described as “running into the pit”, but one of these guys was able to give me some pointers.  That’s where the real challenge started.  The rapid movements required to execute a proper take off overloaded both my ability to execute them, and even more interesting, my ability to sense what they guys were helping me with.  Once I realised this, working through the issues became a bit of a collaboration between is, to find the most effective way to assist my learning.  With some persistence, my technique is improving steadily.  I’m only just beginning to be able to sense and execute the movements required, but the signs are promising.

Anyway, I’m firmly in unknown territory here.  Executing rapid one-off movements accurately has always been a challenge for me.  Now, I am exploring my capabilities, and seeing how I can use my strengths to learn, despite the obvious challenges.  In time, I hope to work on my throws as well, which will have similar challenges.  Who knows what else I’ll discover along the way. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Getting high on speed!

No, this post is not about drugs.  I am talking about the reasons I do what I do.  For me, sport represents a number of things.  Physical exercise is an important part of my mental health maintenance, and sport gives me more reasons to be active.

I also enjoy the challenge of improving on my past performances, as well as friendly competitions against others. 

As for my choice of sport, that’s a combination of ability and interest.  The fire brigade competitions are something that caught my imagination as a kid.  Ever since first seeing the urban fire brigades state championships in the 1970s (at the age of 6!), I knew I wanted to take part.  At that time, I had no idea how I’d fit in, given my general lack of sporting ability at the time.  However, I did join as a junior and have run when I’ve had a chance, now a total of almost 20 years.

As for track sprints, this is another sport I’ve long had an interest in, but in this case, living in a small town in my teens, there were no opportunities for anyone over the age of 15 to compete within an hour’s drive.  In this instance, I was drawn to the thrill of travelling at high speed.

As I got older, I learned of the so-called “runner’s high”, normally experienced in distance events, and which I, myself, have experienced after my hlf marathon in 2006, marathon in 2008 and a number of rogaines over the years.  But for me, the sensations encountered in a sprint, from the power and acceleration of a start to top speed, where inertia and wind resistance dominate, followed by the long deceleration under inertia from top speed.

The fire brigade competitions also involve similar sensations, as well as putting together some precision movements, which are satisfying to pull off.

Another aspect of my sporting performance is there’s little documentation for training someone on the spectrum with significant coordination issues to high performance levels.  While I work with mainstream clubs and coaches, I try and get better explanations for some skills and the occasional modification to some instruction techniques to better suit my needs.  While in some ways I’m flying a little blind, it is also exciting exploring this unknown territory, to see how far I can push the boundaries.  Already, I am now faster than I recall recording in my mid-late teens, with the prospect of even better performance in the years to come.

Maybe one day, my experience will help others at least enjoy a sport, if not achieve their own successes.

- Tony via Tumblr

Winter underway

With the end of the track season at the start of April, attention turned to cross country.  The week before cross country season started was the O’Keefe Ekiden Relay.  This year, I again competed as part of a team from our athletics club, this time running a 3km leg, which I finished in 13:52.  Our team won again, improving on last year’s time by 15 seconds, We now hold both the record and second fastest times for this event.

My cross country season has been very consistent, with the majority of runs falling within a narrow range of 3:34 - 3:38 for the 1km event, pretty much on my handicap time of 3:35.  The exceptions were:

First week - 3:47, where my race tactics weren’t optimal.

Distance handicap - 3:52/km.  Slower, because I ran an extra 180m for my handicap.

Last week at the Bendigo Uni invitational - 3:43.  In this event, my time was affected by a large starting field, including many kids who got in the way for the first 200m.

So far, 3:30 seems to be a real challenge to break.

Also last week, there was an out of season track meet.  In cold conditions, I got the following times:

100m - 13.24

200m - 27.21

800m - 2:44

In addition, I competed in discus and javelin, throwing around my usual range.  My starts in the sprints were a little sluggish, most likely a combination of lack of practice, along with the cold weather.

On a training note, last week, I did some starting practice and made some major improvements to my starts, improving even beyond my performances back in March-April.  Next season will be interesting.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, April 01, 2017

2017 Police and Emergency Services Games - Finishing with a bang!

Today (April 2) is Autism Acceptance day, a time to embrace the Autism in your life, whether in yourself, or someone close to you.  For me, as well as the launch of a new messaging platform for Autistic adults, that has been waiting in the wings for a few months, it is also the day after my successful summer track season came to a close.

Yesterday the track and field events of the 2017 Police and Emergency Services Games were held.  I entered the 100, 200 and 400 metre sprints, as well as the long jump.  With good form over the past few weeks, I was cautiously optimistic about how I would perform, but also had concerns as to whether the long (~ 6 ½ months) season would finally catch up with me.  As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.

First up was the 100 metres.  Conditions were cool, so I allowed plenty of time for a full warmup, with a few extra run-throughs.  On the start, I lined up beside last year’s fastest runner, a good spot for a challenge.  Got off to an excellent start and immediately left him behind, however.  Had my smoothest acceleration and transition for the whole season, and finished first in my heat, leaving at least two much younger sprinters behind.  The time recorded was 12.44 seconds.  Being hand timed, that equated to around 12.7 seconds, which was still significantly faster than my 12.99 PB.

Next was the long jump.  Here, I wasn’t able to get my run up quite right and finished with silver with a jump of 3.99 metres.

Last event before lunch was the 200m.  Like the 100, I had a great start, acceleration and transition, and was also able to hold speed in the home straight a bit better than last week.  Time recorded was 26.18 (hand timing), which equated to 26.4 seconds, another PB, beating my previous mark of 26.71, and scoring another gold in my age group.

After lunch was the 400m.  By now, conditions has changed from ideal (little wind) to a stiff headwind in the back straight, which made the race tough.  Finished in a time of 1:05, slightly faster than last year in similar conditions and slightly slower than most of my 400m runs for the season.  However, it was good enough to get the gold.

The day finished with a 4x100m relay with teams put together on the day.  As I was easily the fastest in our team, I ran the 4th leg to finish the race.  As it turns out, the first 3 runners had already put us clearly in second place, so all I could do was increase our hold on that position.

So, the day finished with 3 gold (100, 200, 400m), 2 silver (long jump and relay) medals, and 2 PBs.  Additionally I got to not only run against those clearly faster than me, but also those around my speed, where I could rise to the challenge.

I also reflected on a variation of my visualisation techniques that I call “virtual training” that allows me to visualise and practice movements like starting, acceleration and transition, without moving a muscle or having to deal with consciously handling my motor issues.  This technique seems to help the unconscious mind and muscle memory look after these things, leaving me free to focus on strategy in the race.  This definitely has helped my starts in recent weeks, and possibly my transition out of acceleration in the 100 and 200m events.

Now, it’s time to take a break from sprints and work on my base fitness, especially strength and stamina (for the 400m!).  Cross country starts in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to getting in to the gym and working on other forms of training to start the preparation for next summer.

- Tony via Tumblr