I'm going to start this blog off with an introduction to my track life and career from the very beginning, all the way up until now.
It's hard to say when exactly I could call myself a track and field athlete, but it was at around age 11 or 12 when I definitely became competitive and cared about winning races. Throughout my last few years of elementary school I was much more physically developed than most other kids my age. By the time I reached grade 8 I was already about 6 feet tall and towering over my friends and competitors. I had early success in various sports and one thing was always clear, I could run. During these later years of elementary school I was a self proclaimed sprint specialist. I ran cross country in the fall simply because there was nothing else to do, but when track season came around I was a sprinter or bust. It was easy, didn't get too tired, and the girls seemed to enjoy watching sprint races much more. This was at a time when the extent of my speed and conditioning training was playing tag at recess and heading to little league football practice. This sent me into high school with the idea that I was destined to be a sprinter.
When I went into high school I remained a multi-sport athlete playing football and basketball in addition to track and field. This resulted in my track training starting very late in the year in comparison to when I start now through grades 9 to 11 so I was very much relying on natural ability and still clinging onto the fact that I was more physically developed than most of my competitors. I began grade 9 running 100s and 200s and losing.. Badly. There were no easy victories that I had become so accustomed to in elementary school as my competitors were slowly catching up to me in terms of size. I quickly picked up the 300m hurdles and experienced success there and finally, one week before our first qualifying meet my coach talked me into running my first ever 400m. I ran a modest 54.31 but that was good enough for me to decide that I was going to stick with it. I qualified for OFSAA that year in the 400m and 300m hurdles and finished 7th and 8th respectively. I thought the sky was the limit for me as a track athlete.
The following year in grade 10 I followed the same routine: football season, basketball season, then start training for track and field. This time I thought of myself as a long sprinter and hurdler, no more 100m fame. That season I saw minimal improvements in all of my races while many others had huge breakthroughs, my physical advantage was no more. I still qualified for OFSAA in the 300m hurdles and finished a modest 7th but the season was frustrating to say the least.
Grade 11 was more of the same except this time I was competing against people older than me for the first time in my life. Once again I had minimal improvements in terms of time and I was essentially carried to OFSAA by the rest of my 4x400m team. In grade 12 I knew something had to finally change. I hung up the basketball shoes and started training immediately after football season. I finally experienced some breakthroughs lowering my 400m PB from 53.62 to 52.33 before we were even done with indoor season. I thought I was ready to experience some success at just the right time until a sunny day at the Sydenham High School gravel track. Everyone that wanted to be on the 4x100m team had to do a 100m run off for the 4 spots. About 50-60m into the race my hamstring essentially turned into string cheese and I promptly hobbled over to the grass. I had suffered a grade 2 hamstring tear. A few weeks later I was able to get healthy enough to compete at our first qualifying meet but I hobbled through my individual events and promptly became a relay specialist for the remainder of the season. Our 4x400m team finished 7th at OFSAA and I considered myself very fortunate to even have that much success.
I returned for the coveted 5th year or "victory lap" the following year. By the time football season concluded I had decided that I definitely wanted to continue my track career in university. The goal was stay healthy, run fast. I ran personal best times of 51.37 in the 400m and 56.07 in the 400m hurdles and qualified for OFSAA in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay. 400m hurdles was a disappointment as I went in ranked 6th and finished 12th. However, our 4x400m team with a season's best at the time of 3:23 came in and claimed the silver medal with a time of 3:19 and that stood as my one and only OFSAA medal in my high school career. After this success I decided that I was definitely a 400m runner and would continue as such in university the following year.
University and Present Time
I began my university career at the University of Ottawa. I was quickly thrown into a few 600m races which was scary because I was still partially clinging onto my dreams of being a sprinter. I ended up running times that my coaches were satisfied with, 1:24.91 in the 600m. I won't go into great detail about this, Ottawa has a great organization and many successful athletes, but in the end I decided it wasn't working for me so I transferred to York University.
I reverted back to my sprinter ways in my first year at York and ran the 300m for the most part posting a personal best time of 37.40. I quickly decided I wasn't happy being a sub-par sprinter so I was finally ready to take the plunge into middle distance training the following fall. I began doing dreaded mileage which started with 20 minute runs that weren't very enjoyable for me and began doing workouts that involved less than 5 minutes between reps. I slowly began to adapt until December rolled around and I developed crippling plantar fasciitis. It got out of control very quickly because I didn't know what it was at first. I made several comeback attempts but eventually my coach and I just decided it would be best to shut down my indoor season and get healthy. Eventually I started doing consistent mileage and started getting ready for outdoor season. At the end of May I was finally ready to open my season with my first ever 800m... 2:05, dead last place. My first thought was that I had made a terrible decision becoming a middle distance runner, but I stuck with it and the rest of my races were as follows: 2:04, 2:00, 1:59, 1:59, and finally my PB of 1:58.41 in early July. I thought I had developed enough to fully commit to the middle distance life and I was ready to dive into a full year of this type of training.
I began this indoor season with a complete cycle of actual base training, built up some mileage.. sort of (60-70km per week), and gained some much needed confidence. I ran a PB very early in the season in the 600m with a time of 1:24.71 and even experimented with the 1000m twice posting a best time of 2:34. At season's end I had greatly improved my 600m with a time of 1:23.13, split 1:57.9 in the 4x800m and even competed in my first 4 digit distance. Even though I improved a great deal, I was unable to qualify for the CIS championships so the season left me hungry for more but it did reassure me that I was doing the right training for me.
That brings us all the way up to now. Outdoor training is going well and I'm definitely getting stronger and faster. Still hating mileage and it's still quite low compared to many other 800m runners but at 175 pounds and while doing a lot of speed work and racing, 50-60km per week is really all I can handle without getting hurt/beat up. I opened up my season on Wednesday with my first ever 1500m. Nothing fast, 4:14, but it was a good rust buster and I understand a little better now how I should run races that long. My next race will be an 800m in London and the goal is to PB right away.
I'm pretty much going to use this blog as a training log for whoever is interested, sharing my thoughts and just telling everyone what I've been up to in my track life. That's all for now.
Filthy Fouz, out.