Wow, what an Olympics! I don't think I've ever enjoyed the Olympics as much as this year. It doesn't seem any time since that amazing opening ceremony and now it's all but over. The last pair of trainers will soon be hung up, kit stashed into the washing machine, bike spokes straightened out and things will get back to normal.
It's been as inspiring and exciting and wonderful as anyone could have hoped. Our athletes have given their all. Some have come out shining and victorious; others faced bitter disappointment and injury. But they have all made us feel very proud to be a human being, and in particular to be a human that runs a bit.
What courtesy, sports-personship, courage and commitment. These guys aren't just great at sport, they are great at being human beings. We've got closer to the athletes than ever before and had an insight into just how hard they work to make it happen. As Mo Farah said after his double gold victory 'It's all hard work. It's been a long journey, grafting and grafting'. There's an interesting article on this in Danny Drey's Chi Running blog on race specific training as done by Mo. This is the first time I've thought of our Olympians as human beings like us. Usain Bolt's quote this morning about needing to find his motivation for what happens next shows that even legends need to fire themselves up sometimes.
I've also really enjoyed the little snippets of running science from Colin Jackson. Hopefully we're enthusing and inspiring a whole new generation of scientists and great coaches as well as athletes. We're now much more aware of the contribution that sports science, psychology and coaching make to being a success. If you want to hear some great science on this, have a listen to The Naked Scientists podcast. My favourite bit is Sir Steven Redgrave saying that it was his mental attitude that got him his success. And of course we saw the teams of people that support them every step of the way. I never realised just how many folk are involved in creating champions; even the long distance runner isn't as lonely as she used to be. But that's great - how many things in life do we go through alone anyway?
This is also the first time I've watched the Olympics since I started running properly (well, maybe improperly!). I now have concepts like 'running form' and 'interval training' in my shiny new vocabulary. As I progress on my running journey, I've been watching the best runners in the world, looking at what great running looks like; trying to absorb learning through the TV screen.
I never used to think about how I ran until I got injured and got into Chi Running. In Chi Running there's a lot of emphasis on maintaining your running form and alignment as you push your speed or distance boundaries. When I got my training from Nick, Soul in Motion, he placed a lot of focus on the need for me to work to gradually extend how far and fast I can run without losing my form.
There were races when you could see an athlete's form disintegrate as they reached their limits and their performance visibly dropped. All of these top level athletes run at a fast cadence, they lift their heels high and their posture is usually great. Most of them use their arms to power them though I saw some messy arm movements. One look at those abs and arm muscles and you can see that they run with their whole body.
The very very best runners are wonderful to watch. They have a compact energy and fluidity of movement that is absolute poetry in motion and totally gripping. Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, the US women's 4x4 100m relay, David Rudisha and Tirunesh Dibada have been particular favourites of mine. They run with a wonderful combination of power and beauty that is mesmerising; they make running look effortless. I hold those pictures in my mind hopping some of it will stick and transfer by osmosis to me too - well a girl can dream!
It's certainly been inspiring a lot of folk to get out and about. I've never seen so many runners, cyclists, walkers, surfers and dog walkers out and about. People are turning up at work on bicycles from a bygone age. This is definitely the time to buy shares in bicycle shops - or maybe tyre repair kits.
What an amazing few weeks, what inspiration, what wonder. And next the Paralympics with more tales of courage, bravery and outstanding athletes. Then the Commonwealth games. Bring it on! I really really wish there was an Olympics for people of a certain age; a senior Olympics, especially for those of us who have blossomed in our later years. We need to inspire everyone to a healthy and active second half of live, not just the first thirty or so years.
I've had a great running week - 4 runs coming to 17.5 miles in total. A mix of one long run, a speed interval session and two runs just because I can. My mid week very early beach run was blissful, pure North Berwick gold; a run that will stay with me forever. The yoga and pilates have been a bit hard whilst my poorly paw heals, but I've been stretching hard to keep things working as they should do.
Have a great week, keep safe, keep well.