So, the big day had come. We’d worked on running and getting my knee to stay in the right place when I run, we’d worked on drills and increasing spring and flexibility, now it was time to face the sandpit. My little heart nearly burst when Coach Man pulled pack the cover of the pit and announced we’d be starting some long jump so I trundled up the run up track and placed myself about 11 strides from the take off board. This was it – the running and the jumping and the throwing ones self into the air and landing in the sand. However before I could even put my marker down Coach Man called me back and pointed to the last triple jump board, the one that sits about three strides from the sand pit that was to be our run up point for the session. To be fair I was slightly relieved as I’m not sure with my current fitness levels I would have managed to get to the board from a long run up, let alone actually be able to jump once I got there.
When I was younger my long jump training consisted of running flat out down the track and making sure you didn’t go over that board. It didn’t matter what you did once you’d taken off, so long as you had hit the board properly and then DIDN’T STEP BACKWARDS once you’d landed (carnal sin in the long jump world, the step backwards, as all jumps are measured from the point closest to the take off board). The rest was basically luck as to how far you managed to jump and I was always quite lucky it would seem. However now, as with everything in the athletics world, Coach Man introduced us to FURTHER DRILLS. Flexibility drills, strengthening drills and technique drills, all designed to make your jump far more efficient. Oh and then there’s the timing and consistency of the run up itself. Apparently you can’t just run hell for leather down the track and hope for the best, you instead need a consistent run that allows for control and timing of the whole jump. I do sometimes feel athletics training is turning into one big lesson in physics.
Something else my housemates learnt the evening of my first long jump training is the joy of living with someone who jumps into sand as I accidently trailed the grainy beachy stuff all through the flat. Not realising what had happened I was later confronted by some very baffled flatmates trying to figure out how, with no coastline in sight, sand had ended up all over a flat in central london. I left them to their quandary….