Today was tough. Physically and mentally. For everyone involved. It was the first time we completed two sessions, the first of which was in the morning around 10am by the time we got the session going. We haven’t slid for two days now, and Wednesdays session was cut short so in truth we have not completed multiple runs for three days. In a sport that requires a repeated number of attempts to build your knowledge, experience and understanding it was really hard to reflect back on what we have done in a clear way. Even harder now we had been given some extra steers and focus points.
I got to the track this morning and felt like I did before session one – nervous and apprehensive – except instead of being given simple instructions we now had what seemed a catalog of information to implement. I was just overwhelmed. I tried my best to visualise everything I had to do and got through my preparations well. I knew what to do once I was lying on my sled waiting for the go-ahead from the track tannoy, however things did not quite go as smoothly as earlier on in the week. This was particularly frustrating as I felt really good on Wednesday, and as I said in the blog that day I was gutted I could not consolidate that with more runs and I feel that this actually had an affect on my performances today. My whole morning session just wasn’t clicking and I was taking small hits in places that never bothered me previously. Why was I not on the right wavelength all of a sudden? I am lost even now.
There were some positives from the session though. What I lost in smooth lines I gained in trying to use my kinaesthetic feedback. We are constantly being reminded to feel our way along the course and yes, of course it is useful to actually look where you are going, but sometimes the pressures on your neck don’t allow you to look up. And if you do you’ll get a nice snap G force on it as you enter a bend – no thank you. So from this I used my mistakes as opportunities to draw my attention to what I was feeling. Fellow skele contender Kim wrote some great blog posts whilst she was away that emphasised the process of feeling not thinking, and I actually took some inspiration from those three words throughout the session in attempt to work things out. My latter runs were useful in this sense, I still did not produce what I had hoped for or visualised but I felt the pressures more clearly and my understanding grew from this. My memory recall and feedback from the coaches after each run tended to match up, which is really helpful because if your perception and actual actions match then you can make a cogent plan moving forwards about how to make something better or smoother.
I left the session feeling a little deflated. I don’t mind making mistakes and I do not expect to pick this up quickly or easily, it is just annoying when you do not know why something is not going well. If I could simply walk back up to some of the corners and do a repeat on them (and them only) it would be great, but I have to go back to the top and endure the whole run. Ultimately this changes how you enter and exit corners every single time you slide, therefore to right your wrongs is a challenge in itself. I think the word here is consistency. I went a little quiet on the back of this as I wanted to try and really hone in on what I was doing and this in itself was interesting as a couple of the guys asked if I was okay (which is really nice and supportive), but I also found myself in a position where things started to annoy me too. I am a very relaxed person and it takes a lot to truly grate on me, but in this very specific situation I became irritated by minor things happening around me – whether that be noises or music or talking or whatever. Nothing in particular, and certainly by no person in particular, I just could not get my headspace right. Big lesson for me as I have to watch how I deal with this. How I can learn and get the best out of an ‘annoying’ situation and cope with that, but also how I can deal with it so my thoughts or focus do not affect those around me.
The two afternoon runs were better. Still not great, but a marginal improvement on what was a ‘meh’ kind of day. When asked how my last run went I simply replied with a sigh and a huff (for comical value, but also truth). This kind of thing brings a bit of laughter and lightens the mood. It also highlighted to me that we all individually have our own struggles on the course and most of us are finding the same areas tricky. Additionally, where I am good someone else is not, where I am not so good someone else is better. A huge learning process and I have quickly forgotten that 6 days ago I had never slid on ice before, and now I am getting annoyed about missing entries into corners and taking knocks. Progression over the last few days is vast. Bigger picture Zak, bigger picture.
Very very early session tomorrow, up around 530am for a 7am session. Cannot wait for that.
It is 845pm on a Friday night and I am off to bed, I hope your evenings are a little more exciting!
A lot of text, so here is the log fire in the hotel for a visual!