Friday, January 30, 2009

Training Glimpse


Ok. Now here is the glimpse of my training. We are all learning together, and I have learned the process of converting file extensions so these videos are readable on blogger - just for you!

High Jump Training:

Shot Put Training:

Running Technique:

Your Athlete,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Angel in the Outfield

Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” The thing is, sometimes we need people in our lives to help guide us when we feel lost or lacking the courage. We need someone who can tell us to take a step back and gain perspective from an overwhelming situation, someone to teach us that in the face of hardship we can still persevere.

I have dreamt of being an Olympian since before I can even remember. However, there was a moment when I quit. I quit running. I will share with you a personal story about the moment my dad would not let me give up on my dreams.

As I have said in a previous post, my athletic career during my four years at Princeton was always a struggle at best. I loved Princeton, the people I was fortunate to meet and my classes and the person it prepared me to be, but athletically, it was a completely different story. Despite passion and hard work, I watched as my results decreased and I failed to perform. I did not communicate well with my coach, we were both stubborn and simply made the same mistakes repeatedly until one day I was so frustrated I forgot what it was I loved about my sport. So I quit.

My dad, who was a man of few words, knew I was making a huge mistake that I would regret later in life. I remember him talking to me and asking me what was happening, why was I quitting something he has watched me pursue so passionately until that moment. I tried to explain it to him, but all I knew was that I was not happy and did not know how to change the situation to bring about a new result.

The personal character trait I admired most in my dad was his strong work ethic and with that he taught me to persevere. He explained to me that throughout our lives, we would all come up against inconsiderate people that would be more focused on their own agenda and it would feel like they are working against us. Now he used a much more colourful expression to describe this type of person, but the message is the same!

He helped me to see that I was giving up my dream because of this coach, and not because I was finished with running. He would always joke that I had learn to run before I learned to walk. Running was always a large part who I was and he did not want to see me lose that for the wrong reasons. If I had made the decision for myself, fair enough. However, this was not the case and he knew it.

The result was that I did not quit - I ended up taking ten months away from running. I took a break and returned when I felt ready, when I felt inspired with a renewed sense of passion.

Fast forward seven years and I am sitting here, telling you this story from Holland as I am training full time, in pursuit of excellence, and feeling the happiest about training and life more than I have in a long time. I have my dad to thank for this feeling, for not letting me quit when I felt it was too hard to continue. I wish I could sit and talk to my dad about this feeling, but sadly, my family lost our dad five years ago to heart disease. When he passed away, our minister told us that wherever we would be from that moment, that our dad would be there with all of us. I think of him as my angel in the outfield, and I continue to reach for my goals knowing I am not alone.

The message is that you have to keep being yourself and you should never give up on something you cannot go a day without thinking about. My dad taught me that, not so long ago!

Your Athlete,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Power to Heal

I got to thinking today about the body’s power to heal. I thought about the laundry list of injuries I have sustained in my career as an athlete and I think, wow! As athletes we ask so much of our bodies and it is amazing to think of our perseverance.

I have just spent the greater part of my day either on a train and waiting on a train. And why was that? That was because I had to travel to Leiden, in the south of Holland for a physiotherapy appointment. Now yes they do have quality physiotherapist here in Papendal, but I want the best and that is Erik van Putten for me.

We all know that a part of sport is injury. Due to all the eccentric work I have been focused on the past couple months, my left quad muscle has sent me a message – it needs a little rest! During a power lifting session I recently strained this muscle. However, no worries, we will adjust the training a little this week to allow for some rest and by next week this will be behind us.

Otherwise, I am happy to say that training is going well. My coach even commented the other day that he was pleased that we are off to such a great start!

For amusement, I will share a list of the major injuries from the past three years:
-strained quad
-compressed bones in right wrist
-strained left hamstring
-tear in left hamstring
-membrane detachment of right tibia
-sprained left ankle
-jammed/tilted pelvis
-tear in left patella tendon
In the photo slide show, you will notice the array of taping … this is why!

We all invest time, emotion and energy into creating a perfect plan, and when something interferes with our hard work it is easy to get discouraged. Just remember that worthwhile goals seldom come easy. When disruption happens, it helps to think of the Japanese proverb, “Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”

Your Athlete,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting from A to B

I think the question I have most often answered in the last three years has been, Susan how did you end up in Holland to train?

I understand the question now, which when I made the decision just seemed so obvious to me. Nevertheless, picture this, the summer of 2005, there I was newly graduated, degree in hand from a very prestigious university, and what did I do – graduate school, cooperate job, family/kids, nope, sorry mom!

I did not mirror those around, my decision was contrary to what people around me believed in, but I saw an opportunity and I just had to take it and see what would happen. One of my greatest friends and supporters, Dean Fred (retired Dean of Admissions from Princeton) taught me never to underestimate the power of serendipity. With that, this decision became the turning point in my athletic career!

Three months prior to moving to Holland, to be honest the idea never even crossed my mind. However, the story starts a few years before that moment. In the summer of 1998, I had made my second national team as a heptathlete and travelled with Athletics Canada to Holland to compete in the Dutch Heptathlon/Decathlon Championships. The trip lasted a week and what made it special was that instead of staying in a hotel for that amount of time, we were placed with host families. I repeated this trip in the summer of 1999, 2000 and 2002.

In 1999, I was competing in the city of Assen, in the north of Holland. I stayed in the village of Zeijen with the Strijker family and after just a week I had fallen in love with each one of them. We stayed in touch, and I made every effort to return to visit each year and spend time with them after that.

(Left to Right: Eline, Jeroen, Jan, Alida, Annemiek Strijker, and Me)

My athletic career during my four years at Princeton was always a struggle at best. When I graduated in 2004, I started to think about what it was going to take to get my goals back on track (pun intended!). I worked with a former coach to redevelop some lost technique, and found myself back in Holland in 2005 for a small heptathlon competition to see if I still had potential. With the support of the Strijkers, I competed in the Open North Dutch Championships and it was here I met Bart Bennema, my current coach!

Bart is a talkative fellow and always looking to learn new things. We had a mini conversation at the completion of the heptathlon and he was asking about coaching techniques and theories I had experienced. In a follow up conversation, I was mentioning to Bart that I was looking to start fresh, to train fulltime and see what I could accomplish as an athlete. As a joke, Bart said I should move to Holland and he would train me. Well the joke was on him, because I gave that serious thought, looked into what was required to get a Visa to live in Holland and three short months later, I showed up in Holland eager to start working.

At that moment, I had taken the first step in the right direction. Now here we are working at our fourth year together, and still going strong!

Your athlete,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Patience, Young Jedi

Looking over my training schedule you will notice the repeat of knee work and you might ask, Susan what does that entail? The short answer I would give you would be knee work represents my test of patience.

The long answer is as follows. In the summer of 2007 I sustained an injury to my left knee during a high jump training session; it was not until March 2008 that I was aware of the damage from that one session. I was struggling with what I thought was jumper’s knee that would not subside after months of physiotherapy and finally went to a sports doctor for an ultrasound of the tendon.

I met with Dr. Zwerver, in the Netherlands, who, after hearing my story of how much I was training and what I felt in terms of pain, thought we were looking for something small. Then the ultrasound revealed an 11.3mm tear – half my tendon. What a shock for my coach, the doctor and me. In addition, obviously, we were further aware of my high level of pain tolerance!

With the help of Marilou Lamay, Athletics Canada medical coordinator, this past October 2008 I was then in the hands of Dr. Galea in Canada to seek treatment. I endured a very very very painful platelet rich plasma and fat injection treatment – a series of three weekly injections that left me unable to walk, run, bike or any form of movement life sustaining to an athlete!

Thankfully that pain was short lived! By November 2008 I was working with Kevin Hickey in Peterborough to learn a series of eccentric exercises to strengthen the tendon and build strength in my core to have a solid base for training. (read: knee work)

Just as with any goal you have, there will be setbacks. I have had many setbacks, many challenges to overcome, lots of injuries, and maybe some people not believing in me as much as I believe in myself.

It is important to keep my goals set, to always believe in myself, and to look at the reasons why I go through these struggles, to look at the results that will come. I think that is the only way through it, to go gradually and continually believing in yourself the whole way. In addition, it is helpful to surround yourself with positive people who listen and lend advice when needed.

So for me, it is all about a little knee TLC for now and maintaining focus on my goals. That is the key to everything when you are down.

Your Athlete,

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Office

No, I'm not referring to the TV show, the cubicle on the 22nd floor, or the desk at the front of the classroom. For me, it's here: Indoor Training Facility at the Papendal Olympic Training Centre

At the moment, an average training week is as follows:
AM Long Tempo Running
PM Weight Training and Knee Work
AM Hurdles
PM Weight Training and Knee Work
AM Middle Tempo Running
PM Rest
AM Sprint Training and Shot Put
PM Weight Training and Knee Work
AM Javelin/Medicine Ball Work
PM Weight Training and Knee Work
AM Hurdles and High Jump
PM Shot Put and Weight Training

This will be my schedule for the next 2-3 weeks as we build up my fitness and strength and prepare for more technical work at the end of the month.

Your Athlete,

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome and Hello!

Determining what kind of person you want to become and what you hope to achieve along the way begins with setting goals and then learning the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. Because some goals will be more difficult to achieve than others it is important not to make excuses or to stop trying. To maintain focus it is important to know there is someone that asks, what do you dream about, what do you aspire to, and to whom do you aspire to be like?

I believe that athletes can serve as role models in our community to promote not only a healthy lifestyle, but also to teach the importance of dedication and follow through. We must not forget the hard work, the time and passion that translate into the dedication that precedes the moment an athlete’s abilities look easy and natural to an outsider.

My name is Susan Kelly Coltman. I am a heptathlete and a member of the Canadian National Athletics Team. The heptathlon is a two-day track and field event, made up of seven events: 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin, 800m.

I have been training and competing in track and field from the age of nine. I began through involvement with my elementary school, progressed to training with a local club, attended Princeton University in the United States, and currently train full time with a personal trainer in the Netherlands.

I am the daughter of Claire and Floyd Coltman and I am Aboriginal, a proud member of the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola, BC. I grew up in Peterborough, Ontario. I attended Queen Mary from JK through grade 8 (my name stands on the Honor Roll for the class of 1995). This is something we have in common a similar starting place.

As we progress in our unique friendship, I hope to fill in the gap from my days at Queen Mary to life as a full-time top-level athlete. I will share with you the choices I have made, and both the struggles and the victories I experience as I progress this year in pursuit of qualifying for the World Championships in Athletics to be held this August in Berlin, Germany.

I will introduce you to some of the many people in my life who have helped me achieve my goals; the people who have helped shape my life.

To start, an important person is my coach, Bart Bennema. We met and formed a great working relationship as coach and athlete about 3 ½ years ago. He really respects athletes. He knows what it takes because he was an athlete himself. He is simply one of those people who somehow knows how to talk to athletes, has tremendous patience, and has been there as I have grown into the athlete I am today.

I welcome questions and comments. To paraphrase the words from a classic film, let this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Your Athlete and new Friend,