I opened up my season properly on Tuesday at Paavo Nurmi Games World Challenge in Turku, Finland. I ran 13.31 (+0.2) which is just 0.06 seconds from European Championships standard. I won the B-final, but ended up being 5th overall in a high level competition with A-final included.
It was 11 degrees, the wind was freezing and I had a crazy headache and nose bleed that made me dizzy every time I did starts on warmup. I didn’t have a great feeling in warmup and really had no expectations for the race. In the blocks I was shaking like crazy, but despite a bad reaction time (0.213), the start was decent and rest of the race clean and even.
Watching back the race now, for me it wasn’t technically good as my arms are all over on hurdles and I’m not leaning or aggressive on the hurdles. The last 5 hurdles are clearly better than the first five. I also start looking at the clock way before the finish line. But in the freezing conditions I couldn’t have asked for a better first race!
Quad ruptures defined the training season
My whole race shape was a little surprise as I’ve only managed to run with spikes for two weeks now after tearing my quad twice this spring. And until a week ago, every day was a surprise on how much my quad will hurt, and I skipped the last rep on every training because the quad started always hurting.
The last week of training was great, and I knew I can run a good time, but first race can always be anything. I told people I just want to run under 13.5, and ended up doing it. My coach said I’ll run 13.2-13.4, guess he knows what he talks about! 😀 My previous best season opener was 13.80, so this was almost half a second faster. Now let’s hope I end the season half a second faster than ever before too!
Move from Barcelona to Valencia
There has been a lot of changes since indoors, the biggest being that I quit my full-time job and moved from Barcelona to Valencia. I have a new coach and a new training group, who are all great. There are four girls in the group full-time and more younger athletes in the evening sessions.
I do some part time work also in Valencia from home, but I wanted to really give this running a chance this summer. I chose to go to Valencia for the great weather, cheap rents, and my new coach. He had to think a little before accepting me into the group for many reasons, but I am glad he ended up taking me.
I am also very happy I didn’t give up faith in him and he didn’t give up faith in me in these past couple months. After indoors I took a little break since I had to let my broken foot heal completely. I had only trained for 1.5 weeks in Valencia when I first tore my quad. My quads were absolutely dead from previous days’ training but as I am stubborn I decided to still attempt to run 4×11 hurdles. On the first rep I felt pain in the quad but attempted to run another one anyways. Of course I tore the quad then.
The healing only took about 1.5 weeks that time, but I was able to lift weights and do jumps so I only missed running and hurdling. Well obviously those are very important parts, but at least I was able to do something. I was able to have couple good trainings and then attempted this 4×11 hurdles training again, and on the second rep again, I feel pain going through my whole leg. I knew it was bad. After two weeks of no running nor hurdling again, I was sure the leg was fine and went to a competition for FC Barcelona. There in the warm up I felt it again and I had to jog the race completely. Next day I had an ultrasound scan that showed the rupture was still 1.5cm long and 4mm wide. The physio said if we tape it well, it will only take 6 days to get better.
The next week I started running a little and the leg felt ok, but I only did very short trainings. I went to Ibiza for a competition and I don’t know if it turned to be good or bad for me, but there was storm winds and in our hurdles I fell and in -6.4m/s it was impossible to run. I ran a 300m race later there even with my bleeding knee I couldn’t run that properly either. I was happy that even I couldn’t really start the season there, I was healthy.
Well this was not quite the case. Two days after my quad was hurting so much when I attempted to run that I started crying to coach that I’m sure I tore it again and we went to have another ultrasound scan to see what’s happening. The scan showed only inflammation but not a tear, which was positive. The next 1.5 weeks I started running a little, but still not 100% and no hurdles as I had a lot of pain.
The time was really difficult mentally, as I had made a big sacrifice to leave Barcelona and my job and then I have these continuous injuries. The start of the year had already been tough for me with robbery and months long sick leave. After all, quad ruptures are very minor injuries in my scale, so no matter how frustrating and stressful it was, I was sure I’ll still be fine for the summer.
For the past week before the competition, I was finally able to run fast with spikes. I ran the best hurdles sessions I’ve ever ran, and everything felt really easy. This showed me we have done the right things and worked on improving everything else. And everything else has improved. The reason for the quad tears probably was that we completely changed the way I lift weights. I used to do heavy weights slow and now I do lighter weights a lot faster. And a lot of squats, very fast. I haven’t done squats in 10 years. But with these changes, I improved my PBs in all strength and explosivity tests.
To have ran so little and missed so much hurdles and running training before the first race was difficult mostly mentally of course, but to have started so well, I have a lot of trust and belief in my coach and myself, and I expect to keep progressing in training and in races a lot now that I’m finally able to run with spikes too. We haven’t even started speed work, so even I’ve clearly improved in that by just doing the right weights and jumps, there is so much more to improve!
European Champs and sub-13 are the 2018 goals
Next goal of course is to run the European Championships standard and then progress to the real hurdlers’ times, so under 13! Paavo Nurmi Games was an amazing competition to start the season with and all the support I’ve received in the past couple days has been unbelievable! Thank you all for the hundreds of messages and sorry if I haven’t managed to respond to everyone!