July 18

Pick Your Window


Big Game Specialist: Andrew McLeod, best afield in 1997 and 1998 Grand Finals
Big Game Specialist: Andrew McLeod, best afield in 1997 and 1998 Grand Finals

It’s a long, long year and the eternal quest for great health, total fitness and looking like you could bench press a Buick lures all of us like the siren’s song. Though it’s hard, maybe impossible to be “up and about” all year round. The human body isn’t a 7-11 store, occasionally you have to turn off the fluro lights and take it easy.


The master stroke of any athlete or coach will be, picking the right window to make a solid run for something big. “Big games are when the big men need to step up” (Paul Salmon, 1990).


Not to dis’ consistent training and gradual goals, but peaks and troughs, ‘forecasted’ peaks and troughs should comprise any man, woman or child’s physical training regimen. Whatever the goal – I’m forever training people to look ‘red-hot’ in their wedding dress, some legends like to train for a personal best time in a race, while others are releasing themselves back into the wild and need some extra confidence thought to be attained by dropping a few kg’s. I’ve always said, “Personal trainer’s survive on weddings and break ups.”


Take your source of motivation and put it into a professional context. Training belongs in phases of hard and easy. You can’t do the training equivalent of ‘working like a Trojan’ all year round. Those guys died young, you know.


Take any champion race horse, they don’t race weekly at every rural, backwater course in the country. Trainer’s choose a campaign very carefully, then work the program backwards from the forecasted peak date. Most horses spend the bulk of the year in the paddock eating hay and chasing mares around, or vice versa.


In 1962, ‘Even Steven’ was primed to hit the Werribee Cup in ‘tip top’ condition. It duly won and in doing so qualified for the Melbourne Cup the following week, which he won also. This was a perfectly timed campaign.


What is your Werribee/Melbourne Cup campaign? How do you set yourself to be going like the clappers for the big dance?


Any man who’s been on a bender know the dangers of a false start. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a bucks party and you’re ready for bed. Cough, cough. The same goes in training, don’t wake up on the day and think – “Oh gee, I’m cooked.” You should be cherry ripe, bright as a button, jumping out of your skin, through the roof, etc… The way to peak on the right day is to implement a reasonable training and competition plan that mixes manic competition time and time in the paddock, eating hay.


I can’t work out people that are obsessed with their football team’s ladder position throughout the season, the flag can’t be won until September. Like the legendary Adelaide Crows teams of 1997-98, little secret, they weren’t that great but they were great in September and stole two premierships from favoured opposition. In those years the Crows finished the season in 4th and 5th respectively.


Similarly, when looking at your overall yearly training cycle. Pick the times that you want to be ‘cherry ripe.’ It’ can’t be all year (unless you’re on the Lance Armstrong cocktails). I like to round out a good year of road racing at the Melbourne Marathon in October before taking time off and launching in the festival season. This is when I recover. I see too many people training the same sessions, on the same days, month in-month out, all bloody year. That’s like a discount rug sale “It can’t last.”


You don’t have to be an expert and believe me I’m still learning too but don’t try to kill it all year long. Have the patience and foresight to say, “Nah, I’m going out to the paddock for a while, I’ve gotta freshen up.” Then launch a comeback with bad intentions, Ben Cousins style.


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