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AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!
26 January, 2016

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!
This week, we got into the Aussie spirit by celebrating our Australian representatives. If you follow us on Facebook you will have seen some of our squad members who have had the great honour of representing Australia.

For these athletes, running for their country is a dream come true, and something they have been striving for since their Little Athletics days.

Every young kid who loves sport grows up wanting to represent Australia just like their heroes in rugby league, soccer, netball, swimming or whatever their chosen sport is.  But when you sit and look at numbers it’s only a very small number of people who actually achieve that.

In my coaching career I have shared in the many great achievements of my athletes reaching a Personal Best time (always the highest achievement in my mind), qualifying for a team, or competing well at an international competition.

However, representing Australia as a Coach has truly been one of my proudest moments.

Jarrod Geddes, Ella Nelson and Jake Hammond at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

I had coached several athletes representing Australia at international competitions over the years.  I think the time it really struck me that I was also representing Australia was at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 2014.

I had three athletes competing at the Games – Jarrod Geddes, Jake Hammond and Ella Nelson – who had all trained with me for a long time. It was something very special to be there and see them all together in the green and gold!

The Games had a unique atmosphere.  There were many Australians there… athletes, coaches and families, and the support for the Aussie team was something to be proud of.

Later that year, I traveled to Nanjing, China with two young athletes – Sam Geddes and Jessica Thornton – for the World Youth Championships. We had a tremendous competition, with Sam coming away with a bronze in the 100m and Jess with a gold in the 400m.

This competition built on the feeling from Glasgow.  The Australian team did really well in Nanjing, with two others winning medals on the same night as Sam and Jess.  Many experts consider this to be one of Australia’s greatest nights of track and field.

We were respected as competitors and sports people.  I was so proud of the performances on this night, and I was proud to be Australian.

Enjoying the atmosphere at the 2014 World Youth Championships.

And then came 2015-2016 season. Everyone knows how much I love the Olympic Games.

I was thrilled when Ella ran the Olympic qualifying time for the 200m at Nationals in Canberra. I was so emotional on this day realising that Ella had qualified for the Olympic Games.  She was going to Rio.

For Jess, it was quite different.  She had been improving all season and got excruciatingly close to the individual qualifier on a few occasions.

We had to wait until July, but once again, it was very emotional when she was confirmed in the team.

It was also so exciting to see Annie Rubie in the team, having helped her with sessions throughout the year.

For me, there was a lot of uncertainty about whether I would go to Rio.  Athletics Australia were so helpful with this, organising accommodation and access to the venue.

To be in Florida with the Australian team at the Olympic Camp and be given Australian team gear was a moment I will never forget.

My good friend and fellow coach Matt Beckenham took my photo realising how special this moment was for me. It was so much more than being a kid let loose in the lolly shop…

With Anneliese Rubie, Jessica Thornton and Ella Nelson at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

2016… WHAT A YEAR!
31 December, 2016

Hi there,

It’s been a while between blogs, but what better time to write than the last day of the year!

I hope you all had great Christmas with family and friends.  We had a fairly typical Christmas at my place – all the family came around, we ate far too much and enjoyed some far too competitive board games.

As we come to the end of 2016, I have taken some time to reflect on the year that was. And what a year it was… personal best performances, new squad members, new coaches, and a huge competition schedule that included The Olympic Games. It was difficult to narrow it down, but I have put together a list of ten highlights from 2016.  Enjoy!

  1. Sam Geddes: World Under 20 Championships qualifier, Perth

Sam Geddes winning the 100m at the National Juniors Championships in Perth and qualifying for World Under 20 Championships was a big deal.  Sam’s preparation had not been ideal and it was amazing that she was even able to race in Perth.  Although she left it until literally the last second (I was having palpitations) her selection in the team was well-earned.

  1. Jessica Thornton: 4th, World Under 20 Championships – Bydgoszcz, Poland

I was fortunate to travel to Europe with the Australian Under 20 team in July.  We had two athletes competing – Sam Geddes (100m) and Jessica Thornton (400m). Both women fought hard in their respective events and represented Australia well.  In the 400m final, her 3rd 400m in as many days, Jess ran a PB.  It was a brilliant race and she was unlucky to be edged out for a medal in what was an incredibly tight photo finish. Check it out below…

  1. Learning from world-class coaches

The opportunity to spend time with some of the best coaches from Australia and around the world has been really valuable this year. I have learned a lot and have been able to take this new knowledge home with me to implement in our training sessions.  Having other coaches to share the journey of each competition with also makes it more enjoyable as we build life-long memories.

  1. Ella Nelson: 200m semi-final , Rio Olympics

Ella’s semi-final run in Rio was phenomenal.  She was coming in off the back of a much talked about hamstring injury that had a huge impact on her training.  Despite that, we were feeling positive.

Ella had a great heat run and warmed up well for the semi-final, remaining very calm.  She had taken great confidence from the heat, her first race in over 4 months.  She came out of the blocks well and ran a good bend, finishing strongly.  She was unfortunate to miss out on the final by a margin of just 1 one-hundredth of a second.

  1. Jessica Thornton: 4x400m split, Rio Olympics

Jess was the youngest member of the Australian athletics team, competing at her first Olympic Games.  She was a member of the 4x400m relay team, having run the qualifying time for the individual event just a couple of days outside the qualifying period.

In the relay heat, Jess was the first runner.  She ran spectacularly in an unofficial split of 51.70 – what would be an enormous personal best time.  She put Australia in an exceptional position and helped the team progress to the Olympic final.

  1. The Olympic Games

Of course the biggest milestone of 2016 for me was the Rio Olympic Games. It’s hard to put this experience into words.  Since I was a young boy, the Olympics have always been something special.  Receiving a coaches pass from Athletics Australia so that I could be a part of the Olympic Games was an absolute highlight for me.  All the better that I was able to share the experience with one of my mentors and good friend, Matt Beckenham.

  1. Coaching by correspondence

This year we’ve taken on the new challenge of coaching athletes, like Emma Klasen (below) by correspondence. We currently coach several young athletes who live in country NSW. It has been a learning exercise for all of us.  I have enjoyed being challenged to think about how we coach when we are not able to be there for face-to-face training sessions.  We have become more creative as we adapt to the needs and opportunities of each athlete.  I believe this has added to our coaching skills and that is a benefit to all of our athletes.

  1. NSW All Schools Championships and Athletics NSW State Relays Championships

We wrapped up 2016 with the majority of our squad competing at these NSW Championships.  We saw great performances at All Schools and also the State relays – a great weekend full of team events, a lot of fun in an individual sport like athletics.

Over both of these weekends, our athletes achieved a number of personal best performances with others not far off.  This is a sign of good things to come at competitions in the new year.

  1. Zone Little Athletics

This year at Personal Best Athletics Coaching we have made some big changes.  We’ve taken on three new coaches – Cassandra (juniors, hurdles), Zach (sprints), and Lee (strength and conditioning) – to join myself and Jaryd.  We also established new junior and hurdles squads that have continued to grow.

I have been so proud to watch Cassandra and Zach grow as coaches – gaining experience and confidence along the way.  They have supported and nurtured their athletes, and this was evident in their performances at Zone Championships.  We had many personal best performances, as well as several medals and a number of athletes progressing on to Region Championships.

 

  1. The Personal Best Squad

For all of us at Personal Best Athletics Coaching, the greatest motivator is helping to better our athletes – in their performance and in their everyday lives.  For many of us our training is the best part of the day, something we look forward too.  I am so grateful to be part of a really happy and supportive environment that the entire squad contributes to.

I hope you enjoyed that and I would love to hear your thoughts on 2016.  Stay safe in your new year’s celebrations and I look forward to catching up with you all again in 2017!

See you track-side,

Michael.

 

BALANCING ATHLETICS AND LIFE
11 November, 2016

Hi there,

Recently I was speaking to a parent at the athletics track.  She was watching her teenager train and we started speaking about training and coaching and all things athletics.  She mentioned that she had heard about our training group, but thought that it was too elite for most athletes.

It is true we have some very talented athletes in our training group.  However many of the athletes that we coach train and compete simply for the love of the sport.  Our goal with every athlete, as our name implies, is to help that athlete achieve a Personal Best.

As a coach, the recognition we get typically comes from our elite athletes.  However sometimes the greatest – and most rewarding – opportunities to improve performance come from working with non-elite athletes.

I have put together a case study of one of our non-elite athletes who has achieved major improvements.  We’ll call him Simon.

CASE STUDY: SIMON RUNNER

Simon trained with us over a two year period as a teenager.  He was able to train a couple of times a week, around school and other commitments and always worked hard.

When Simon first came to us, he had a surf life saving background and had barely run on the track.  He’d only had a small amount of coaching before and a friend of his thought we could help improve his beach running.  He told me he wanted to be a 2,000m runner and initially joined our distance training group.

After a few months observing his training, we spoke to Simon about moving into our 400m training group.  With his tall physique, strong knee lift and combination of natural endurance and speed, the 400m seemed to be the perfect fit.

We made a few technical changes to Simon’s running motion.  Due to his height and long limbs, we worked hard to make his technique more efficient.  One area he has improved a lot is landing much closer to his centre of mass.  This means he spends less time on the ground.  There was an adjustment period when he began to use spikes, suitable for the shorter distances.

With our training, we have taught Simon to run faster, so some sessions are speed-oriented.  In other sessions, we focus more on stamina.

A typical speed session:

40 minute long track warm up

3 x (1 wicket + 40m run), 2 minute rest between reps, 4 minute rest between sets

120m at 90% in flats

Slow cool down and stretch

A typical endurance session:

25 minute short track warm up

350m at 90%, 12 minute rest

300m at 90%, 12 minute rest

250m at 90%, 12 minute rest

200m at 90%, 12 minute rest

Slow cool down and stretch

With improved programming and refinements to his running technique, Simon made substantial improvements. In under 18 months, he took more than 2 seconds off his personal best for the 400m.  He is now comfortably breaking 49 seconds which is no small feat.

It has been fantastic to see Simon improve his 400m time so substantially.  However, it has also been great to see the improved confidence Simon has.  This shows in his training and how he carries himself at competitions.  He doesn’t see himself as a participant at meets like the State Championships, rather he is a medal contender.

Simon loves athletics, however it is just one component of his life.  He has made huge achievements with us, while at the same time balancing other aspects of his life like his academic pursuits.  We must appreciate and respect that many of our athletes have competing priorities.  We certainly hope Simon will continue to improve his times and enjoy the sport for a long time yet.

See you track-side,

Michael.

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OUT OF THE STARTING BLOCKS
14 October, 2016
Hi there,
Since I’ve been back from the World Under 20 Championships in Poland and the Rio Olympics, I have been preparing for another season. At Personal Best Athletics Coaching, we have more athletes than ever before training with us and we now have four coaches (https://personalbestathleticscoaching.com/coaching-staff/) . We are working together to share our love of athletics and always strive to be the best coaches we can be. We often meet as a group and review athlete progress and training sessions.By working together, we are able to provide cohesive training sessions for all of our athletes.This is particularly important as we often have travel commitments for national and international competitions. We can also learn from each other by sharing our knowledge and experiences.
A few months ago, Personal Best Coaches Cassandra and Zach completed their Level 1 Community Athletics Coach Course (http://athletics.com.au/1cac) run by Athletics Australia. The course has both theory and practical components. As a coach, it is important to master both of these. It is a great course for learning the fundamentals of coaching athletics. Coaching courses are a great opportunity to network with other coaches. They also help us as coaches to refine skills such as planning training sessions and incorporating new ideas into our sessions. Personal Best Coaches Cassandra and Zach – always eager to learn and to pass on their coaching knowledge.
As both Cassandra and Zach have begun their athletics coaching careers, I have enjoyed watching them develop their skills and grow in confidence. It can be an exciting and also nervous time for any new coach, who is embarking on their coaching journey. I will talk about a few of the more challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a coach. Building a training squad Starting a training squad from scratch can be tough. You might wonder, why would anyone train with me… how do I even get started? The truth is, finding your first athlete is the hardest. Once you have one athlete, your squad will grow far more easily.
So how do you recruit your first athlete to coach?
You could find out if a local Little Athletics club or school has a volunteer coaching role that you could fill. Give them a call and offer your coaching services. If this is not possible, you might be able to work with an already established coach. Contact an experienced athletics coach in your local area and ask if they need assistance. Athletics Australia (http://athletics.com.au/Coaches/Find-A-Coach) have coaching profiles on their website and can help you to find a coach in your area. Finding a coach with many years of experience who is willing to let you shadow them and assist with their sessions is a great opportunity for you to develop your skills, and build your coaching reputation, all at the same time. As your experience and reputation grow, athletes, both new and experienced in the sport, will eventually seek you out and your squad will naturally increase.
Money
When you’re an emerging coach, you may feel you need to purchase a whole lot of expensive training equipment like starting blocks, hurdles, wickets, medicine balls, weights, the list goes on… The costs can really add up, and you might not be bringing in much money, if any at all, from your coaching at this point. When you are starting out as a coach, try to keep it simple and plan sessions with basic equipment that can be used for a variety of exercises such as cones, stopwatches and diaries. How much to charge? This is a really personal decision.
In my early days as a coach, many fellow athletics coaches didn’t charge coaching fees at all. Some coaches still hold this philosophy. Early on, I didn’t charge fees either. However, there are also coaches who are adamant that fees should be charged. They feel strongly that by not charging fees, coaches are undervaluing their knowledge, skills and time. There are often comparisons to coaches in other sports such as rugby league, tennis or swimming, who are often well paid for their coaching services. Over time, I have established coaching fees.
It can be hard to determine how much to charge. Athletes in Australia typically don’t earn a wage from the sport and are limited in what they can contribute. However, experienced coaches have invested countless hours of time into developing their knowledge, as well as covering the costs of courses, training, professional development and travel to support their athletes at competitions. It is difficult to quantify.
Confidence to run training sessions
It is only natural to be nervous for your first few coaching sessions. You might doubt yourself, feeling you lack coaching experience or credibility. Remember, even the most experienced and successful coaches in the world started out exactly as you are. Put a lot of time into planning, as a beginner coach. Whether you’re starting out, or an experienced coach, planning is crucial. You will need to consider some back up activities, because things don’t always go to plan. I remember often in my early years I thought I’d try something new and after 5 minutes work out I quickly needed a Plan B for my session. You will need to be prepared to modify sessions, depending on who or how many athletes turn up to training, weather conditions and other unexpected scenarios that can affect your planned session. Be flexible.
Another important part of coaching is reviewing your sessions. This will enable you to identify what went well and what didn’t. You might not want to think about the things that didn’t go well, but this is necessary so you can make adjustments and avoid the same thing happening again.
To all of the new coaches out there just getting started – good luck!
See you track-side,
Michael.

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RUN. JUMP. THROW. WALK.
17 September, 2016

Hi there,

It is the time of year that Little Athletics clubs all around Australia start another season.  Track and Field is a fantastic and positive sport where kids of all levels and abilities can participate.  I remember when my kids were younger and it was such an exciting time of year.  We would catch up with all our friends from last athletics season and get ready for another summer at the track.

Little Athletics is a great starting place for aspiring young competitors.  Many youngsters out there will have been inspired by watching their idols, like our squad members Ella Nelson, Jessica Thornton and Anneliese Rubie, compete at the Rio Olympics.

Little Athletics with its variety of events is great for developing lots of skills and qualities that can be applied in all arenas of life.  Skills that can help kids to excel in other sports like rugby league, netball, soccer.  Over the years I have seen many “little athletes” like Kim Green (Australian netball player) and Ashleigh Ankudinoff (Australian Olympic cycling team) go on to have successful careers in other sports.

Athletics is also a great sport that the whole family can be involved in and spend more time together.  It is a supportive environment where athletes can learn new skills, build confidence and develop a love of track and field.  Watching my kids enjoy little athletics inspired my passion for coaching.  My kids started at Port Hacking Little Athletics, back in the 90s.  As many of you know, this is where I had my first coaching gig as a volunteer sprint coach.

Through our involvement in Little Athletics, my family have made lifelong friends.  We shared experiences at major competitions, traveling to athletics carnivals and watching our kids compete at all levels.  We still love to catch up and reminisce about our good old Little Athletics days.

For parents out there whose children have signed up for Little A’s – I would encourage you all to get involved. There are lots of different ways you can be involved – coaching, volunteering, officiating.  If you’re interested in trying out coaching, great!.  Ask if your club coach needs a hand with training sessions.  Find out when the level 0 community principles coaching course is on in your area – and sign up for it!

Before I go, I would also like to wish a Happy Birthday in a few days to my wife Cheryl who has been my greatest supporter and has made such a huge contribution to my success as a coach.

See you track-side,

Michael.

 

 

 

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Traveling Coach
7 September, 2016

Hi there,

Traveling the world doing what you love for a job sounds great doesn’t it? I am fortunate to have had so many amazing opportunities to travel as an athletics coach. Years ago a coach told me it was important for coaches to go overseas if their athletes qualified for international meets. He likened it to a music maestro leading all the rehearsals and not turning up for the opening night.

For the most part, my experiences have been (relatively) stress-free and fun. I have met some great people along the way too. However, I have had a few interesting – and challenging – experiences. Today I will share a few of these experiences with you. I will also give you my tips for other coaches traveling internationally.

Tip #1 Pack essential items in your carry-on baggage

A few years ago , I traveled to the USA for a coaching course. Unfortunately my luggage actually traveled to Mexico. I am type 1 diabetic, needing insulin daily. Of course this was packed in my luggage. In Mexico. So, I had to visit a local hospital several times a day for medication until my bags were returned to me. This was inconvenient and affected my plans. After 3 days my luggage and I were reunited, thankfully.

Tip #2 Coaching support team

Whilst traveling overseas with a handful of athletes, the bulk of the squad will be at home training. They will have needs and expectations that need to be met whilst you are traveling. It is important to put in place good people to help with the group while you are away. You also have to be very organised and make sure you keep in contact with your support team.

Tip #3 Pack for ALL weather conditions

In 2014 when I was returning to Australia after spending some time in tropical Jamaica. I was flying via Atlanta where there happened to be a snap snow storm. I was told this happens once every few years. Many airline staff were unable to reach the airport due to the weather and flights were backed up for hours. It was not possible to leave the airport (especially in my tropical clothing…) and hotels at the airport were fully booked. I ended up sleeping on the airport floor, with dozens of others in the same situation. Naturally, I missed all of my connecting flights. Thankfully after almost 2 days travel I managed to get home.

Tip #4 Network with other Coaches

When you are away, you get the opportunity to talk to other coaches. Its one of the most effective ways for us to learn and develop our skills. When you have the opportunity to travel with other expert coaches, you should absolutely make the most of it. Share accommodation, grab meals together. It makes the experience and the time away from home much easier. This year I had an awesome time in Poland and was able to learn from some great coaches.

Tip #5 Always have copies of your important documents

Often when you visit another country, you need to know exactly where you are staying. This is a simple thing, but it can be overlooked in the excitement of an upcoming competition. I remember being overseas in 2007 when I received a 2am phone call. Would you believe it was customs? They phoned me because a fellow coach had forgotten the details of our accommodation. Without that information, they were not going to let him into the country.

Tip #6 Be Flexible

When you’re traveling in a foreign country, language difficulties can make life interesting. On my first day in Poland I twice caught the wrong train. I have to thank the people who helped me find my way. I managed to get to where I wanted and I was only 4 hours behind by expected arrival time. Although things don’t always go to plan, I try to stay relaxed and focus on why I am there.

I hope you all got a good laugh out of this one!

See you track-side,

Michael

 

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Olympic Dreams
23 August, 2016

Hi there,

The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of our sport.  Nothing else comes close.  From a young age, I knew that the Olympics were something special.   I remember taking holidays every time the Games came around. When they were in different time zones I would change my body clock and would be cheering at all hours. I remember being up at 4am when Australia won an equestrian medal in Barcelona and I was pumped for hours.   I idolised Olympic athletes. Even as my kids grew up my bedtime stories to them were of Australian Olympians like Herb Elliott and Raelene Boyle. When Sydney 2000 came around my family bought tickets to every athletics session.  Even as a spectator, I just wanted to be a part of it.

However, more than the competition, there is something to be said for the spirit of the Olympic Games.  Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games believed the Games would bring together people from all parts of the world.

When I began coaching 17 years ago I never imagined the journey would take me to the Olympic Games. It has taken many sacrifices, not only on my part but also by my family. They have endured a lot and I wouldn’t be here without their support, guidance and constant encouragement. I also could not have achieved this without the countless coaches and athletes I have worked with and learned from throughout that time. So to all of you – thank you, and I hope you enjoyed the part you played in this journey with me.

Ella Nelson

I have coached Ella since she was 9 years old.  The night she was selected in the Olympic team was incredible.  I was overjoyed, although, it was a few more weeks before I found out if I would receive coaching accreditation to also attend.  It was a long wait…
Over the last 9 months Ella and I worked with Stu McMillan, a coach at ALTIS high-performance centre in Phoenix, Arizona. Stu has done an amazing job improving Ella’s biomechanics from back-side to front-side mechanics.  She is running faster and is full of confidence and self-belief. For me personally, it has been a wonderful opportunity to learn from Stu.
Ella tore her hamstring twice this year. Training was modified to ensure her speed and endurance for the 200m were maintained. Her dedication to her rehabilitation was outstanding. In the lead up to Rio it was obvious Ella was in awesome shape although she had not raced. Ella clocked 22.50 in the 200m semi-final and is now the 6th fastest Australian woman of all time over the 200m. This time was just 1/100th of a second off securing a place in the final. And while excruciatingly close, Ella’s conduct as an athlete was positive and inspiring.  I am immensely proud and so looking forward to the future.

Jessica Thornton

Jessica Thornton was the youngest member of the Australian Athletics team in Rio.  She was selected to run in the 4x400m relay.  Heartbreakingly, Jess ran the qualifying time for the individual 400m days after the selection period had ended.  Jess finished 4th in the 400m at the World Under 20 Championships in Poland in July.  This performance gave Jess great confidence for the Olympics.  In the relay heat, clocking an unofficial 51.70 – what would have been a huge PB. At 18, she made her first Olympic final.  What an incredible achievement! The next day, not allowing the enormity of the Olympic Games to overawe her, Jess ran consistently in the final again putting Australia in a strong position.  She is an absolute professional and  I am so excited for what the future will bring for Jess.

Anneliese Rubie

We have been so lucky to have Anneliese as an honorary member of our training group.  Annie is coached by Peter Fortune – one of Australia’s greatest coaches of all time and former coach of the great Cathy Freeman.  Fort, as he is known, lives in Melbourne and has been a great mentor to me and has encouraged Annie to do sessions with us.  It has been great for our entire squad to have Annie train with us for the last few years. She is such a competitor and all my athletes love working with her as she pushes them all to new limits.  Her Olympic performances have been outstanding.  She made the semi-finals of the 400m running strong times.  She also ran awesome legs in the heat and final of the 4 x 400m relay and was a real leader for the younger women in the team.  I have no doubt she will be faster and stronger in the years to come.

I am on route to Sydney as I send this and utterly exhausted.  It has been an exhilarating couple of months and I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again.

See you track-side,

Michael

 

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Preparing for Success
14 August, 2016

Hello from Rio de Janeiro!

The athletics is now underway and we are focused and ready to race.  The Olympics is a special kind of competition. However, there are key things that coaches and athletes should do when preparing for any major competition. We were fortunate to spend some time recently at a pre-Olympics camp in Florida.  Here we were able to undergo final preparations before we landed in Rio.

Preparation is crucial for success.  Although, it can be tricky when you are traveling.  Here are some tips on how we prepare for the biggest contest on earth.

  1. Consistency is key

Training consistently is really important. This can be hard when traveling. You don’t always have access to good facilities, and the weather conditions are not always favorable for training outdoors.  We were lucky that Athletics Australia organised a pre-Olympics camp for the Australian team in Bradenton, Florida. At the camp, we had access to great facilities.  The complex has an eight lane track, access to running trails for the distance athletes, and a state of the art gym and recovery facilities.  What do you do when you can’t get access to facilities or exactly do the session you had planned?  You have to work out a Plan B option so you can continue to have your consistency in training.

Our training in Florida went very well. It was a little humid and we did have some rain in the afternoon however we were able to manage these conditions.  The facility staff have been awesome and even turned on the lights at the track.  This has enabled athletes who may be competing late in the night in Rio to practice under the same environment.

  1. Food is fuelGood nutrition is essential for performance.  Athletes competing at the elite level must have a great awareness of their nutritional requirements.  This is crucial both before and during competition periods.  However, it can be a challenge to eat healthy, good quality food to sustain performance when you are outside of your normal environment.  When traveling overseas, athletes are limited to the fresh food that is available in that particular country.

You also have to be very mindful of your food choices when you go into camps or places like the Olympic Villages.  There is a large variety of foods provided and this can be available 24 hours a day. It is essential that athletes ensure they eat as regularly and in the same portions as they would in their home environment. Over eating or poor food choices at this time can undo years of good training.

       3. Focus among the fanfare

There is a huge amount of excitement that comes with major competition.  It can be easy to get distracted by the atmosphere, public attention, and social media.  This can cause increased pressure and expectations.  Some athletes may also feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the Olympic Games.  It is very important to keep yourself occupied at these times. Your training takes up a small part of your day and leaves you with many hours free in each day. So you need to find other things to do to keep yourself occupied and relaxed.

  1. Body conditioning

Keeping your body in peak condition and preventing injury is critical.  Even the slightest injury can have a hugely detrimental impact on training. Ensuring quality warm ups can help with this.  Recovery is also tremendously important.

At the camp in Florida, we have had access to an outstanding medical team.  The doctors, physiotherapists and massage therapist have been invaluable.  They work so hard to ensure the athletes are in good order, and often don’t get a lot of kudos for that.

  1. Getting enough sleep

Ensuring you get enough sleep is critical. This can be difficult when changing time zones or traveling at unusual times of day. Nerves can also disrupt sleeping patterns.  It can also be a challenge when you have little control over your sleeping environment.  You must adapt well to give your body the optimum chance to rest and recover from training and racing.

Sleep is also important for coaches at these times especially when you have morning and evening sessions. On that note, we have a big day ahead, so I’d better go and get some sleep!

See you track-side,

Michael

 

 

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PBAC does Poland
28 July, 2016

Hello from Cologne, Germany!

Just over 3 weeks ago I departed Sydney, headed for Bydgoszcz, Poland.  Since then, I have been fortunate enough to travel parts of Europe with the Australian Under 20 athletics team. The Australian athletes left Australia on 23 June and over the past month have competed in Mannheim in Germany, Suwalki in north west Poland and also at Bydgoszcz – the host city for the World Under 20 Championships.

It was an incredible experience to be a part of these championships.  The city of Bydgoszcz put on a fantastic competition, especially after they were given less than 6 months to organise the competition after the IAAF transferred the competition from Kazan in Russia. This kind of competition always brings out the full range of emotions – excitement, elation, frustration, disappointment, pride and many more.

I am now about to cross to the USA with Personal Best athlete, Jess Thornton.  We will then travel to Rio where we will join fellow Personal Best Athlete Ella Nelson, before we all embark on our first Olympic Games.  I will do my best to keep you all updated as we go.  For now, here is a snapshot of my trip in photographs…

I arrived in Spala, Poland, on 5 July after 36 hours of travel. It was here that I joined the Australian team.

Spala is a small town of only 400 people in Central Poland in Tomaszów Mazowiecki County.  We spent several days here and I enjoyed meeting lots of friendly people from Spala.

I managed to get lost twice during my time in Spala (I need to brush up on my Polish).  Fortunately, thanks to help from a young Polish couple, I only spent 2 hours at this train station waiting for my last train trip.  Without their help, it could have been a lot longer…

The athletics facilities in Spala are awesome. There is a wonderful outdoor training facility and the people there were enthusiastic to help us. Occasionally it rained and we had the opportunity to train at their fantastic indoor facility.  The people of Spala were extremely helpful and made our time there very easy. I’m sure Athletics Australia would definitely consider spending time there with future international teams.

After Spala the athletes and coaches headed to Bydgoszcz.  I was lucky that I had some time to go sightseeing, which is not always possible when I travel for competitions.  The city was amazing with buildings and very spectacular architecture and magnificent churches everywhere. Like many cities in Europe it also had an interesting and sometimes sad history.

As the competition neared the warm up track became busier.  Great caution was required when people were training because of the number of people using the track at any given time. Like most tracks in Europe, the warm up track w as 4 lanes circular, 6 lanes straight.  This is different to our Australian traditional 8 lanes circular, 10 lanes straight track.  This meant space to do warm ups and fast reps was limited.

The competition here was very strong with many outstanding performances and considerable depth in events. The Australians did very well with 4 medalists and a further seven top 8 finishes. For Personal Best, the two personal bests run by Jess Thornton in the 400 metres were outstanding.

If you would like to check out the full results from the competition, they are available here.

You never know who you might run into at international competitions.  I was incredibly honoured to meet the great Sebastian Coe, a former Olympic gold medalist and world record holder.
Another celebrity I ran into in Bydgoszcz – Kevin Sullivan.  I watched Kevin run at the Sydney Olympics back in 2000 where he finished 5th in the 1500m.

There were many personal coaches who also undertook the trip to Poland.  Each of us spent varied amounts of time in Europe watching and preparing our athletes. Along the way I also met lots of other coaches which is always great. The Australian coaches as always hung together and become an important part of this learning experience.

Pictured earlier is the photo finish which has caused much discussion amongst athletes, coaches, administrators and spectators from all over the world. The final margin between the Australia’s Jess Thornton and Jamaica’s Junelle Bromfield for a bronze medal was 2/1000ths of a second.  I have been reliably informed that this is the width of an Australian 5 cent coin.

I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Athletics Australia staff on hand in Bydgoszcz.  Their assistance in viewing the photo finish and the considerable efforts they made to have the result declared a dead heat were very much appreciated. Unfortunately we were not able to achieve this result, however the entire team at Personal Best Athletics Coaching could not be prouder of Jess in achieving multiple PB’s as well as in the way she has carried herself off the track.

Lastly, I would like to thank every one of you who has sent a message of good luck or congratulations to us while we have been away.  It is incredibly uplifting and we appreciate the time you have taken to do this.

See you track-side,

Michael.

 

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Achieve your Personal Best
01 July, 2016

Hi there,

I’m Michael Dooley, the Head Coach and Founder of Personal Best Athletics Coaching.  I have been coaching athletics for almost 20 years now.  During that time I have worked with some exceptional people and have gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience.  As this is my first ever blog, I’d firstly like to welcome you to our page and also thank you for supporting us!

[expand title=”Read More…”]Our team at Personal Best Athletics Coaching are coming off a tremendously successful summer season in Australia – and I have no doubt the next 12 months will offer just as much, if not more excitement.[/expand]

We have the World Under 20 championships in Poland this July followed by the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August, as well as the many other competitions our athletes will be competing in during the upcoming season.

 

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