Friday 7th January 2011
Having finally packed my bags and my medical kit for two weeks in South Africa with 800metre runner Jenny Meadows and her coach Trevor Painter.
I was dropped off at the airport and said goodbye to Suzy and baby Maya in Manchester before catching the shuttle down to Heathrow for a smooth transition on to my BA flight bound for Johannesburg. Unfortunately we were stuck on the tarmac for 1½ hours while they corrected a crack on one of the doors of the plane but fortunately that was corrected, all the paperwork done and we could finally head on our way to Johannesburg.
An overnight flight that saw us arriving in South Africa at around 9.40am Saturday morning. After a slight delay waiting for a pick up I was on the same minibus as the French kayaking team who were also heading with me to Potchefstroom, about 1½ hours south west of Johannesburg, the base for Jenny and Trevor for January, as they prepare for the indoor track season.
I am spending two weeks with them here and they will return in April to get ready for the outdoor track season. This month, it’s all about speed and technique.
Jenny and Trevor both arrived on New Years Eve and spent their first week acclimatising to the altitude and heat. Potch, as it is affectionately known by both Jenny and Trevor and many athletes around the world has become a regular training base over the last couple of years as they escape the harsh winter conditions in the UK allowing Jenny to train fully and get quality sessions in.
Typically, I finally arrived in Potch around 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon having driven through some unseasonal torrential rain!!! Not quite the weather I was expecting!! Jenny had already done a track session that morning and during the week had had some massage from one of the local therapists but was looking forward to my arrival to give her an MOT.
A quick lunch was followed by an assessment of Jen, she is in very good shape, just a small amount of work to be done hands-on wise to free up her thoracic and lumbar spine and some soft tissue work to be done through her calves from the training load this week. Otherwise looking quite good.
There was then an opportunity to head out with Jen on her 35minute low intensity run at the end of the day, a good chance for me to blow away some of the cobwebs, get my legs moving and also feel the affect of altitude on my running.
Jen looks like she has acclimatised well to the conditions and her body seems to be in great shape.
The run also gave me an opportunity to see the facilities around Potch,. We are staying at the University in some fantastic accommodation where the Spanish football team were based for the recent World Cup. There is also a grass running track, excellent gym facility with hot and cold pools and all the weights that are required of some of the worlds best athletes, and numerous running trails. Nearby there is a cinder running track and another option is to run on the local outdoor trails.
After the 35 minute run we headed to the gym to give Jen’s core stability work a once over. An opportunity to correct some of these exercises just to keep on top of the issues she has been having over the last year or so and ensure that her posture is as good as it can be for her running sessions and strength and conditioning sessions.
Following this, Jen and Trev took me out for a great meal at Beef Boys, where they do a pretty mean steak! Then back to the room for a well earned rest where my head barely touched the pillow before falling asleep.
Sunday 9th January 2011
This morning it was going to be a hill session for Jen.
Breakfast was followed by a treatment session with maintenance work through her thoracic and lumbar spine, gluts and calves.
Jen then met up with one of the Slovenian 1500 metre runners for a 15 minute warm up in the direction of the hill session while Trevor, Sonja’s coach and I took the easy route in the car.
We picked the girls up, drove them to the base of the hill and then Jen proceeded to attack it with 3 sets of 5, 200metre runs.
After I watched the first set from a distance I decided to to join her in the second and third sets, to see how much effort had to go in – and I could certainly feel my lungs burning in the altitude and my legs burning just with the hills themselves.
It was great to see just how much effort Jen puts into her sessions to make her of the best athletes in the world.
A 15 minute recovery run after this and then back to the gym at the university, we allowed Jen a 10 minute ice bath session before lunch and a short rest.
Sonja, the Slovenian 1500 metre runner who had run with Jen on the hills has been having numerous issues with her hamstrings and lower back over the last twelve months and asked if I could have a look at these, so I did that before doing some further hands-on work on Jen.
We then headed out for a 35 minute recovery run followed by some of Jen’s rehab glut work in the gym. It was also an opportunity to start some specific rehab on Jen’s shoulder and upper back an area that we believe could have great performance benefits for her.
Shower, dinner, Skype call to Suzy and baby Maya and then off to sleep.