Many of today's world-class track and field athletes have their sights on the IAAF World Championships in Doha beginning in later this month. Their goal at the onset of training last fall was to be at their best for Doha. Essentially, the World Championships this year is a dry run for the all-important Tokyo Olympic Games next summer. Mistakes made in final preparation now can be rectified and improved upon for Tokyo.
First and foremost, the hardest training in any four-year cycle leading up to an Olympic Games should be in year number three, which is this year. If you’re headed toward Doha, what you’ve done this year in training should pay big dividends come the Olympic Trials and the Games in 2020. Given that you began training last November, your workload, up to approximately May 15, should have included quite a bit of quantity work. At that juncture, all volume of work should have ceased, and your attention should have turned to far less volume and more quality of work as you sharpened all the work and strength you put in the fall, winter and early spring. Track and field became fun then: There were no more short recovery intervals, and full recovery, fewer reps and higher quality training began.
Ten to 15 days out from the competition date in Doha should be your final tune-up meet. You and your coach should agree on a specific strategy and performance to achieve in this competition. Execution of that strategy trumps the performance mark.
Energy levels will be so high in the final 10 days leading up to your peak performance in Doha that you'll have to keep in check the desire to do more. It's an old saying, but “the hay is in the barn” at this point. More work will only detract from your final performance at the World Championships.
Conducting activities such as “shadows” in a relaxed state (evenings just before retiring to bed) where you mentally walk through the technical skills of an event, such as the shot put, and visualize the perfect performance actually stimulate the central nervous system and work to “time up” the final rhythm of the event. Visualization holds true for all events in track and field. I could cite many examples of this throughout my 45 years plus of coaching.
“Cues” that you and your coach have established now need to be narrowed in scope, with no more than three cues per any event. More is only confusing. Write these cues down, stick them in your shoes, and as you pull your spikes on for the final warm up preparation, pull this paper out. As you read your cues, you are actually programing your central nervous system, therefore, getting a warmup even before you physically begin to prepare.
Finally, all of what I stated above works, however—and this is key—it is extremely important that you trust. If you don't trust the process you conducted this past year in training, and if your communication with your coach is not spot-on, then failure is definitely on the horizon.
Best wishes for success in Doha in a few weeks. Remember, as big a meet as the World Championships is, it is just another step along the road to the big goal of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Enjoy your journey.