Are you going to Rio? Why not? What happened? What place did you come in? How far off were you? I still get asked these questions several times a week! I’ve gotten pretty good at giving a standard answer: “ I placed 5th at Trials which was not enough to secure a spot on the team…but I’m looking ahead. Everything happens for a reason”!
I’ve had a month to reflect on my journey to the Olympic Trials and to the road that lies ahead. I thought this would be a good time to answer everyone’s questions in more detail and recap my 2016 season.
The start of the season was a bit rough. I fell during my first race and had a couple of terrible races after that. However, after some tough love from my coach, I got back on track and quickly equaled my personal best of 13.33s. A couple of weeks later, I managed to shave off 100th of a second off my wind-aided PB for a new Pb of 13.23w. I also ran a PB in the 200m on the same day. I achieved these times earlier in the season than the previous year and felt that I was finally finding my rhythm. I thought: “Ok, I’m right where I need to be.” The Olympic Standard was 13.00s and I was confident that this number was going to appear on the scoreboard in the next few races with plenty of time to prepare for the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, this is also the time when my back decided that it had had enough!
As many of you know, I suffered a back injury that took me off the track from 2008-2012. The rehabilitation process has been long but I’ve managed to do a little more every year and work back up to an elite training program. I thought I was finally in the clear but I had a flare up in the fall that kept me off the track for about a month. I had a second flare up during the outdoor season and unfortunately my back was at its worst after running my PBs. I had to back-off hurdling for a week and stay out of the weight room for the remainder of the season. I could feel my body changing and the loss of strength was starting to show in the latter part of my races which is usually where I gain some ground. I asked my coach to throw me back into the weight room or to introduce new elements into my training program to help me gain my strength back, but as always he was the voice of reason. He argued that I couldn’t jeopardize the progress I had made and risk putting my back out for another 3 years. So I managed my symptoms, minimized the load and trusted that the foundation I had laid earlier in the year would see me through the season.
Though I am still disappointed about how my quest to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympics ended, I’m starting to see the silver lining. Shutting down my season early means I can take the time to address all the little issues I am having with my body. I can afford to be patient with my recovery, although this is easier said than done! Being home for a few months is also allowing me to work with an amazing team of people including:
John Zahab, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Continuum Fitness
Sarah Zahab, Kinesiologist & Exercise Physiologist at Continuum Fitness
Jay Ankersmit, Athletic Therapist at Continuum Fitness
Duane Smith, Chiropractor at Westboro Chiropractic Clinic
Ryan Grant, Pedorthist at SoleFit
I’ve always believed that athletes benefit most from taking a holistic approach to their training and I have finally managed to find a team of experts who hold the same view. Between Duane and Jay’s magic hands, Sarah’s corrective exercises, John’s strength and conditioning program and Ryan’s recommendation for footwear, I am absolutely sure that I am on the right path! I’ve pressed the “reset” button and am now working on laying the foundation for the next four years.
So I hope this answers a lot of your questions. I will keep you posted on my progress but I would like to formally welcome Duane, Jay, John, Sarah and Ryan to my team. The road to Tokyo begins!