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Anna Meares recovery and Olympic Games lead-up diary
At just 24 years of age Australia's Anna Meares is one of the world's top track cyclists. In addition to being the reigning World Champion in the 500 metre Time Trial, Meares is also the defending 500 metre Time Trial Olympic Games champion, after taking gold at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.
Meares suffered a setback in her Beijing Olympic Games bid in January after a horrifying accident at the Los Angeles Track World Cup came close to ending more than her Olympic ambitions. Now back in Australia and riding again, Meares has joined Cyclingnews' list of diarist and will share her road to recovery and, if all goes well for the Queenslander, Beijing Olympic bid with our readers.
June 10, 2008
Countdown starts in the pain box
I began training for the Beijing Olympic Games in May of 2007. I was well on my way 'till I experienced a major hurdle, which has since seen me face many ups and downs in every aspect a person could: mentally, emotionally and physically. I have worked so hard in making sure I can be back to my game in time to fill the position I managed to qualify for the Games. Now there is just one more stepping stone to having my name written in ink on that plane ticket and on the start list.
I am now only days away from my fitness trial in Melbourne on June 12, at about 7 PM where it has all come down to 200 metres and a time of 11.77 seconds.
This past month has definitely been a challenge. The training has been hard and draining yet it is making me fit and strong. I have felt tired and flat, yet I have gone to training and worked through it and put in good, hard sessions. I have pushed myself so hard that it has taken up to two weeks for my body to recover to a point I can perform at the same level.
In the lead up to my trial since June 1 I have done the following:
Three track sessions, three gym sessions - which have seem some new personal best lifts including squatting 140kg x four, single leg press at 225kg, dead lift at 100 kg plus the usual abs and arm workouts. Two recovery sessions - which include hot/cold showers, a balmy 38 degree spa and a -8 degree ice bath. Yes you read correctly -8 degrees. We sit in the spa for one minute followed by one minute in the ice bath and we do that five times.
I have also done four road rides, one activation (plyometric stair running) session and one mega ergo session! By mega ergo session I mean everyone knew it was going to be a painful one. Six x 30 second efforts with seven minutes rest between. We have only done up to four efforts with 10 minutes rest so today was going to hurt and yes it meant people were going to spew. I haven't yet spewed, so I was planning on keeping my track record... Marv on the other hand was very eager to see me spew.
I had a tough time trying to get the load on my ergo right. Effort one was too hard and effort two was too small. From effort three I got it pretty right and boy did the pain begin after effort three. Effort four was tough, effort five saw me feeling very close to spewing and my legs were burning so horrendously from lactic acid.
To add to my woos I am a sympathetic spewer and the boys who have tendencies to spew - Frenchy, Scott and Nibbo - all put their ergos next to me. So they were spewing from effort two and I had to block my ears and think happy thoughts... a difficult task to do when you are gasping for air, fatigued to the max and legs burning from lactic acid and effort.
After the last effort I was so close to spewing it wasn't funny. I had to get off the bike quick because I knew if the boys were about to spew - which they were - I was going to follow suit and I didn't want to. So I was off to the other end of the gym.
Because I didn't roll out my legs they burnt even more to the point I found it hard to walk properly and it took longer for me to feel better because I wasn't doing anything to help remove the lactate. I firstly laid on the floor then tried to walk to the closest bin...just incase. About 15 minutes later I finally felt okay enough to walk back to my bike.
I was in the [pain - Ed.] box. I was in so much pain. I could barely stand or keep my eyes open. I had given it everything I had in me and as bad as I was feeling, I felt happy because I knew I'd worked hard.
I rode home with Kaarle at about 10 km/h. I showered and then assumed the position on the couch where I stayed for the rest of the night.
I now have light road rides and days off up until my trial, so as to freshen up a little bit - but not too much, because there is the bigger picture to worry about. Two more months of absolutely busting my butt to make sure I can go into Beijing in the best possible condition.
So with that I will leave you and I hope that in a week when I write again, it will be an entry of success, happiness, and eagerness to move forward.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Anna Meares