It was a magical start to 2014 for Jess. On 10 January she and her husband, Andy, announced they were expecting their first baby. In July she gave birth to a little boy and they named him Reggie Ennis-Hill. Toni says she couldn’t be happier. “Jess is feeling great. She is obviously very excited, as I think a lot of people would be. She is now beginning to get back into training we are having a meeting soon to discuss the options.”
Elsewhere in Britain; however, the icy winds and heavy rain has meant it has been a slow start to the year for many other athletes. But, if you want to build up momentum, you can’t let the bad weather disrupt your training sessions.
“When we struggle with the weather we try to transfer everything we do on the track into the gym,”
Explains Toni. “We use the weight equipment and the static bikes and try to keep sessions the same length. We also do circuit training which consists of around 10 to 12 exercises, including body weight exercises, sit-ups and press-ups.” If you are not able to take advantage of proper gym equipment it is vital you find alternative ways of training so your standards don’t begin to slip. “Most of the exercises we do in circuit training are fine to do at home as they don’t require a lot of floor space,” says Toni. “I have even heard of athletes doing their exercises in the kitchen. But this is why I always say it’s important to join a gym so you can take advantage of the weight training facilities as well as the mats.”
It is easy to lose motivation during the long winter months, but setting yourself goals will help you stay focused and driven. “It all comes down to setting targets,” says Toni. “Obviously people tend to push really hard in January to make up for indulging over Christmas, but it’s about keeping it steady and progressive. Also, keep changing the training so it doesn’t become mundane.
Variety is the spice of life.” If you do manage to face the cold weather there are a few thing you need to remember to make sure you stay safe. “Muscles don’t function as well in cold weather. This means you shouldn’t focus too much on times, especially if you’re running into the wind and rain,” advises Toni. “Give more consideration to your warm up and take it easier at the start of the run.
Obviously you also need to wear bright clothing and reflective jackets so cars can see you.” Finally, as tempting as it is, you shouldn’t take a long time off over Christmas as every day counts. “We try to train as normally as possible, unless we don’t have access to the facilities,” says Toni. “Over Christmas we just move the rest days round. Jess is not one for training on Christmas Day… unfortunately.”
Toni’s top tip – The perfect start
A strong start out from the blocks sets the foundation for an impressive sprint time, yet even the best athletes struggle with consistency when faced with the starting gun. “It’s not about running out of the blocks; it’s about driving out of them,” explains Toni. “You need to be pushing off with both legs and using your arms to help you drive out. Keep your head down, look at the track and use your arms to keep balance. “You need to be practicing the blocks regularly and not just in the last couple of weeks before a competition. Regular sessions will help you get use to the blocks and improve your reactions to the starting gun.”
Follow Coach Toni Minichiello on twitter @Coach_Toni