Why I Hate Heptathlon…. at least sometimes
Reflections on 2011 World Championships:
During these past World Championships, on several occasions I found myself asking … “
Why the hell do I do this? Why did I have to choose a sport
that makes me feel absolutely exhausted all the time, and that is so emotionally draining?“
This questioning could have been part of the reason I performed so poorly at the Worlds (I am my own worst critic); but, I’d be lying to myself if I said that these thoughts didn’t come up at some point during EVERY heptathlon I compete in – including those where I’ve achieved personal best results. When you think of it, no matter how well a competition is going, every heptathlete is going to have to eventually face the 800m … the last event, a brutal event because our bodies are not well trained for this event (since it is so different from the other power/speed based events). By the time we get to this last event, we’re at a point where I often wonder if it’s best to avoid a warm-up altogether so I don’t have to feel how sluggish my legs are before the gun even goes off!
Every great heptathlete will ask at some point during a competition, “Why do I do this?”
I can also say that every great heptathlete finishes a heptathlon – whether the result was good or bad - with a sense of relief that they did it, and that it’s over!
This might not sound very inspiring, but this is what keeps us looking forward to the next chance to put it all together. The desire to achieve a perfect score is what has kept me hooked. The thing is, there’s no such thing as a perfect score or a perfect heptathlon. Really, if I got personal bests in every event over the two days I know I would already be looking towards the next competition to see if I could improve on this performance. That’s the nature of the event. There is always so much to improve on, since we have to spread ourselves over 7 events instead of specializing in just one event.
I often refer to having a love/hate relationship with the heptathlon. This is why I can’t get myself to pick one favourite event. In some competitions certain events are very reliable, while others fail me miserably; and in the next heptathlon things flip… events I could rely on disappoint me when I needed them the most, while the ones that failed me in the past step up to the occasion.
I was bad-mouthing the heptathlon more than I’d like to admit during the 2011 World Championships last week. I finished the 800m first in my heat, but my time was another disappointing result; and looked up at the score board to face the summary of the damage I had done over the two days of competition. At that point, I was just relieved it was finally over. I walked off the track, and during the time it took for me to get to the change room to see my coach, Les, who was waiting for me, I went up to him and said, “wine and cheese”, making reference to my next heptathlon competition in France in a few weeks. Les repeated back, “wine and cheese”. And the pursuit for perfection continues…