So my Diamond League baptism came and went and it certainly wasn’t what I was looking for. Needless to say, I still genuinely enjoyed the experience, the competition and the fact that my parents, coach and friends were finally able to make it to a meet. The competition on the other hand was pretty disappointing. The track fan in me was also excited to watch the numerous world leading or near-world leading performances in other events. That said, once again I got to watch other jumpers, who I know aren’t necessarily faster or stronger than me, jump distances that I know I should be jumping. Still, as with every meet in the past (whether it goes well or not) I have to simply go back to the lab and work on what I need to work on.
In the end I finished 6th with a jump of 16.60m. The 6th place finish isn’t necessarily the worst thing that could have happened considering the fact that the 7th and 8th place jumpers only got 3 jumps as opposed to 6. Also 6th in a Diamond League competition is somewhat respectable…I just wish I had jumped farther. Oddly enough, you don’t even have to ask what it was that held me back because the easy answer is: my approach! What else is new?
Honestly, I do feel as if this weekend’s meet was a turning point for me, although it seems that I say I’m going to nail things down after every meet. This time I realize that I am holding myself back mentally. My mental shortcomings aren’t in the confidence department like many athletes however; and although the field on Saturday included 3 current and former World Champions and just as many Olympic medalists, it also has nothing to do with nerves. Believe it or not my stuttering problem also isn’t driven by a desire to avoid fouling! It seems that for me, my issue is that when it comes time to jump for real and I’m making my way down the runway, I get anxious at the sight of the board and concern myself with “jumping far,” “being comfortable at the board” and “making sure I can handle the first two phases.” Of course, if you’ve read any of my previous posts you would know that the only thing I want to be concerned with halfway through my approach is continuing to run.
While I think that my “problem” is one that can be worked on in practice by getting down an approach rhythm that I am comfortable with and that becomes 2nd nature; what I really need to do is simply compete. By getting on the runway more often in competition settings I’ll be able to get used to the feeling of turning off my instinct to worry about the board or my first phase during the approach and in turn I’ll get used to running allllll the way down the runway. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been concerned with actually jumping in the triple jump. Who would have thought that thinking about jumping and actually trying to jump was, for the most part, the wrong way to go about things?! Wherever I end up competing next, I am excited to try just running the whole way down the runway and not even thinking about my jump until I’m halfway through my hop phase (or even until I hit the sand, that would be ideal since most of the jump is instinct anyways). I’ve felt it before and it did feel pretty odd, not to mention I fouled all of those jumps…but fouling is the least of my concerns. At this point I think I’d rather see a bunch of Fs or Xs (for fouls) next to my name on a results sheet as opposed to sub-16.90m jumps.
As always though; on to the next one…