This past week, we had our first National Team Training Camp of 2008 with our National Coach, Edouard Iarov. It was kind of an impromptu camp (my favourite...yeah right!) and it was held at my home club, the University of Calgary (except on Wednesday when we trained at Calgary Gymnastics Centre).
I didn't really know what to expect of the week. I wanted to keep on my own pace and not push myself too far beyond my limits of comfort, but I also knew that you have to expect the unexpected when it comes to camp! No matter how hard you try not to, you always end up pushing yourself more when the National coach is watching you train!
The first day of the camp was not as positive for me as I would have liked it to have been. I got a little cranky and down because I felt really behind everyone else.
Don't get me wrong, my team looks awesome. Everyone has some new skills, everyone is pushing themselves hard and everyone is starting to get into routine shape. Everyone except for me! I try my best not to compare myself to others and to just focus on doing my plan, but it's impossible not to compare one's self to your teammates when you are fighting against them for a spot on the Olympic team. You want to make each turn the best it can be and also make it look like it was really easy. Not the easiest of things to do when everything you are doing is hard for you to do! haha.
After leaving the first day of camp feeling like I had shied away and backed down, not wanting to really try too hard because then I would be revealing how far behind I really was, I got pissed. I was so mad at myself that I wasted a day. I don't have many left, and to waste one on being self-conscious made me feel super guilty.
I have come a long way and have made tremendous progress, but I kind of forget this when I compare myself to where everyone else is and to where a "gymnast" should generally be 6 months before the Olympics. I am trying not to let that stress me too much, but it's hard not to think about it sometimes. I am trying to trust that I am doing everything possible and that I am exactly where I need to be, but it's just hard being in a training camp and feeling really far behind.
I think one of the things that got me a bit down was that I haven't had any direct external expectation during this whole recovery process, and now all of a sudden I had it, in full force. I have made it very known to everyone around me that I am doing all that I can and I can't handle anyone judging my effort right now. All I need is encouragement and a positive atmosphere. I don't think that Edouard intentionally puts expectations on me, but I think it's just generally his job to want to see me perform at my best. I was feeling a little timid to even try a skill because I felt like I was going to get an instant correction...something that I absolutely hate when I getting back into shape and re-learning everything. I am the type of gymnast who basically knows what went wrong when it goes wrong and if I don't then I will ask what went wrong. It might not be the most envious of attitudes, but I have always worked this way. Just let me get into the groove and ask for help when I am ready for it!
Anyway, on the second day, after some reflection and a decision to tell that negative voice to shut the hell up, my attitude improved ten fold. I was a man on a mission. I became focused on MY tasks and open to corrections (even if I let a few flow in one ear and out the other...). I had a way better day and it set a great tone for the rest of the camp.
I gained a lot more trust in myself and my body this week. I tumbled like a mad man and started to feel like I coming close to being a real gymnast again. I was swinging with ease, taking tons of productive turns, making sure that everything on my "to do" list was completed. I also tried to really encourage my teammates (they really did look great!) and joke with Edouard. He started to understand that I needed positive encouragement and he even gave it to me! It was an awesome moment for me when he told me that I was further along then he thought and that he has no doubt in my ability to be my best in Beijing. That's always a nice thing to hear from the National Coach!
I like creating environments where there is momentum, spark and enthusiasm. What I'm realizing more and more is that in order to constantly be in these environments, I am going to have to be the one who brings these qualities. I am a way better athlete when I am enjoying myself.
Check out the videos:
(This is my Yurchenko vault drill that I created on Wednesday's training at Calgary Gymnastics Centre. I still can't run though...which makes me a little frustrated...it will come!)
(3 Front Layouts in a row! This actually felt rather normal, but I stopped after 2 on one turn and it hurt the ol' knee a bit...as long as I keep the momentum moving forward then it's all good)
(Whip Back Series...notice Edouard by the vault watching closely!)
(Backspring Series to..............................a full twisting double back! This felt phenomenal. I love flying through the air!)
(This was actually from Sunday's training...pardon my french as I ping off the bar...a little S bomb. oops. It doesn't feel amazing when you land on your knees, especially after having them cut open a few months ago. It's almost like someone is scraping them with a cheese grater. This was the first Def that I have attempted to catch, but after missing this one, I got up again and caught it! Sweet! Also notice the lack of curly mess on my head...I got a buzz yesterday)
I am glad the past week turned out to be so productive because now I won't feel too guilty when I am chillin' on the beach in Maui during this upcoming week! I am going on Monday to host all of the live auction winners from the Gold Medal Plates events in the fall. It is going to be a fantastic week and I only have 3 goals: 1. Keep in shape as best I can, 2. Make sure everyone has an incredible time, 3. Relax and conserve some energy to give the next 179 days absolutely everything I have!