I never imagined that I would ever compete in a masters competition. I thought the struggle of older bones and accepting what you’ve done in the past may not be possible given new responsbilities would cloud the whole experience. How wrong I was. Having just recently competed in the World Masters Games held in New Zealand it was such an inspiring week to be part of.
The opportunity to have a run with friends and have a goal to train for was too good of an opportunity to not grasp. Held every four years the World Masters Multi Sport competition was the biggest sporting event to hit New Zealand with 28,000 competitors. It was way more fun that I anticipated and I really enjoyed the whole lead up and the event itself.
I chose to compete in the triple jump which I have never done before but was an opportunity to try something new and also an event where I didn’t have ridiculously expectations due to previous results. I knew if I’d entered high jump I would get antsy if I didn’t jump near my best and I really don’t have the time now to train for heptathlon. Secretly though I’ve always wanted to give triple a go, so it was a dream result really. I also ran with some pretty epic athletes in a 4x100m relay which was a blast.
After committing to train for the event in about August 2016 I slowly started to build my body back after having Max. I really loved being back on the track and having something to focus on (other than nappies and diggers!). Here’s my big insights into what I learnt along the way…..
1.Perfect is what is perfect for you right now…so go with the flow
Being a Mum I don’t have the luxury of training for hours on end in the pursuit of performance. Back when I was a high performance athlete I used to train at times for up to 5 hours a day which is very indulgent for those into exercise. I lived and breathed training to be able to perform at competition. Accepting that I wasn’t going to follow my normal training schedule was important from the start.
When I was training for World Masters I was on a clock whether Max tagged along to eat sand or not. If I could 40minutes in that was ideal (in my new ideal world!) but somedays it was 20minutes before I was needed somewhere else. I didn’t do all the necessary strength work required to withstand the triple jump forces that can go through your body (some research indicated 22x body weight so that’s a lot!), I didn’t want to follow a super strict eating plan and I certainly didn’t spend as much time as I would have previously done on my recovery procedures. And I was ok with all of those things being imperfect in comparison to my life as a full time athlete because they were perfect for me as a juggling Mum.
In saying this I still went pretty hard out because that is hard wired. When I was at training, I was fully present at training. I tried my best not to pick up my phone to check emails on my rest breaks. I allowed my self the indulgence of having time to train. I ate well. I looked after my body because I had to. So much of how we live is hard wired you don’t give up habits that you’ve developed over long periods of time but I have certainly learnt to go with the flow. It certainly makes me reflect on whether the same sort of philosophy would have put me in better stead when I was in full time athlete mode.
2. Involve your family
One of the coolest moments of the week was when we finished our relay and all the girls kids came and gave their Mums a hug. How incredibly special and empowering for our children to see their Mums back out on the track running fast. After we won the gold in the 4x100m relay one of my teammates with school aged children was tasked with challenge to win a second medal the following day to avoid a battle over whether Ben or Zoe would take the medal to school for show and tell. Thankfully Mum delivered (once again) and both kids were beaming at the prospect of taking in the treasure to school on return. How cool is that?! Max is only 17 months old so whilst he won’t remember this whole experience some of my team mates kids certainly will.
Max stayed home for the actual competition but he came to a lot of training sessions with my husband and I. My gold in the triple jump was a family effort. I can’t inspire health and wellbeing if I’m not an example to Max. It’s simple to me and so it makes sense to get the kids involved. It may just mean there’s more stuff to take to training (not more spikes but a pram laden with toys and snacks). Often Max would just love throwing the small hurdles around or doing front sand angels in the long jump pit but kids love being round their parents. As kids I remember Mum and Dad playing social basketball at the Sportsdrome in Rotorua on Tuesday nights. We would be bundled up into the car, each with our individual fish and chip parcels and then run havoc around the stands while Mum and Dad did there thing. On reflection now I’m lucky to have had this example shown to me at such a young age and it’s super important to me that I continue it now as a parent.
3. Time out for everyone is essential
Everyone needs time to themselves regardless if you’re a parent or not. Time for you to do what you love. For me that’s training. I love it. I find it energising even when I’ve completely put myself in the hurt locker. This was certainly one of the reasons why I loved the training and competition so much, I was time for me. Any young parent knows that when you bring a little one into the world your own world shifts. It’s about your children and providing a strong foundation for them to blossom. In order to be your best you still need to have some time for you to allow yourself to be your best self. I’m very aware of this and so is my husband which is great. You have to look after yourself so you can look after others (here’s a link to some of the training I did when I was pregnant and wasn’t running round on digger missions with Max.
I’m really proud that I was able to jump the furtherest jump in New Zealand for 2017, 12.61m +0.0. Given I haven’t triple jumped before and that 4 weeks before I sprained my ankle badly in a training accident, I was very happy just to be able to jump. The weekend before the competition I actually couldn’t run let along jump because of my ankle (I’ll write more about this at a later date on how I helped myself heal). Small things are big things and it was a total joy letting my body and mind be back at the track doing what I love.
Thank you World Masters Games for allowing me the time to train for a goal and great vibes that come with a purpose.