Steve Solomon's #OlympicTakeover: home-isolation style

Submitted by admin on Tue, 04/14/2020 - 21:08
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Steve Solomon #OlympicTakeover
Article Introduction

London 2012 400m runner Steve Solomon was 110% committed to qualifying for his second Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, when the news that the Games would be postponed rocked his world.

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Now, he’s altering his training schedule and rearranging his goals to turn his focus to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

He took over the @AUSOlympicTeam Instagram story to show us a day in his life in home isolation as he narrows in his training and focus for the next year’s Games.

Plus, Steve took the time to answer all your burning questions – check out all his answers at the bottom of this page.

See previous #OlympicTakeovers HERE.

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Q&A with @SteveSolomon10
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How do you manage losses/disappointment? - Mollie, Shaz

Great question Mollie. Losing is hard. We train so hard to do everything possible to give ourselves the best chance of success. But losing is a part of sport, and while not a pleasant part, one that we learn a lot from.

For example, when we lose, we often get a moment to pause and analyse why we lost. What were we doing that meant we were not good enough that day? How could we have performed better?

When we win, we often miss the chance to look back on why we won. But losing throws that in your face, and the best athletes listen to it, and learn from it. Pain is an excellent motivation to change, and the pain of defeat has forced me to evaluate what I could do to improve so that I do not feel the pain again.

What do you do with all your old team gear and event merchandise? - Dante

Thank you for the question Dante. We get a lot of gear when we make teams … how much gear? At the London Olympic Games, we received two entire suitcases filled with clothes!

After the competition, I usually donate a few items to officials that volunteer at the meet. Other items, I trade with competitors from other countries. My friends and family always get dibs at items too.

What is your favorite track session leading up to a big race? - Jordan

I love this question Jordan, thank you for asking! Before a big race, I love doing some fast 120’s followed by an all out 300. This gives me confidence into what my raw speed is at the time of racing (120s), as well as how strong my speed endurance is (300). After doing this, I know, depending on how quickly I recover after the workout, what shape I’m in.

How many KMs a week would you run in training? - Kirsty, Alex, Jack

The number of KMs I run a week depends very much on the time of the season. During the offseason, it can be as high as 35km a week. But during the racing season, it’s close to 10km a week. Generally, the more KMs I run, the slower the training phase I am in.

In addition to running, I also do workouts in the gym, pool, bike, and on the rowing machine. Oh, and currently, I’m also doing a breath session once a week to train my breathing patterns.

What’s one thing you always do on event day? Any superstitions? - Leo

Good question Leo. The night before I race, I always lay out my race uniform on the ground before I go to sleep. I also only listen to the song Remember The Name on race day … kinda like a cue for me to say: “Hey Steve, it’s time to race!”.

How do you adapt to different foods in different countries? - Lana

Really interesting question Lana. When I travel, I try and stick with foods that I know sit well in my gut. When I find myself in countries where I am not familiar with the cuisine, I do my best to eat as basic as possible. Simple salads, pasta, breads … Especially if I am competing, I cannot afford to get a bout of food poisoning because my gut is not used to the new flavours!

How do you stay so motivated when things change on a daily basis and so quickly? Is it easy? - Mackenzie

Pff, what a great question. Motivation levels certainly change … they are not always operating at 100%. When I do find myself behind on motivation, I usually call a friend and talk about what I am feeling. Deep down, I am so passionate about succeeding that I never question my desire to succeed … but usually on that phone call, we identify what it is that is making that quest towards succeeding difficult.

Sometimes, it’s that I’m stressed. Other times, it’s because I’m not seeing the rate of progress that I wish … usually, once I have figured out what is making me anxious, what is the source of my unmotivated energy, I can identify it and deal with it.

Also, I think it’s important to say that motivation levels change all the time, and so do the reasons why you pursue your goals. I have been running professionally for Australia since I was in high-school. The reasons why I run now are certainly different than they were 10 yrs ago when I started. Along the journey, I have found new ways to motivate myself towards my goals.

What is it like being an Olympian? - Kara

Kara, I wish I could explain the feeling in words. It’s really a wonderful feeling. The opportunity to represent our country at the biggest sporting event in the world is a tressure that I will hold for my entire life. The journey to the games has changed my life; it has introduced me to amazing people, taught me incredibly tough lessons about what it takes to succeed, tested my patience with returning from injury and failure, and given my friends, family, and country, a reason to support my journey.

During lockdown, is your workout and training still the same as beforehand? - Sami

Hi Sami, I’m glad you asked this. I have been staying at home for the last 4 weeks, and it has certainly changed how I am working out. Instead of doing my normal track sessions, I have to replace a lot of my workouts with bike, pool, and rowing sessions.

At this point in my season, fitness is more important than specific running training. Thankfully, I am able to train in my home to improve my fitness even while we are all off the track.

Who is someone that’s impacted you positively on your road to becoming an Olympic athlete? - Maya

I would say my first training squad, Team Fira. My first formal coach in athletics was a guy named James Roff. James coached me at high-school, and invited me to train with him outside of school when it became obvious that I was in love with the sport of athletics. It was James that introduced me to my first professional coach, Fira Dvoskina.

Fira was 76yrs old when I started training with her. She spoke a hybrid of Russian-English, meaning for the first 6 months of training with her, I understood almost nothing she said.

But over time, not only did I learn to understand Fira, but she also became my greatest mentor. She taught me the value of smart training, versus hard training. She taught me the importance of having fun when you train, and making sure that the people in your training evnrinoment are the right people - those that are motivated, those that celebrate your successes with you, and help you up when you’re down.

Have you ever had a mental block with someone that you are friends with? - Chloe

Great question Chloe. I certainly have had mental blocks with friends. It’s not all rosy all the time… most of the time, but not all of the time.

In these situations, I usually give it a few days, before calling the friend and talking it through. Good friendship is hard to find, and you only need a few really good friends to be happy. If there is something that comes up to shake one of my good friendships, you bet I’ll be doing all I can to mend it.

How are you mentally preparing to go back into proper training for the Olympics? - Charlotte

Good question Charlotte. The mental side of sport is equal to the physical. As I start to go back to training, I will remember what it is that I am training to achieve. I am training to make another Olympic Games, and in doing so, be one of the best athletes in the world at what I do.

Did colleges come to you or did you go to them? - Michael

Colleges came to me, but I strongly encourage you to reach out to them if they have not been calling. There is enormous opportunity in America, and if the luck isn’t coming to you, then you should make your way towards it.

Does kicking the footy count as exercise? Asking for a friend…

As exercise, yes. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s a workout ;)

What’s your favourite meal? - Ali

I LOVE spaghetti bolognese! Mmmm :)

What did you study at university? - Keeley

I studied Pre-Med, Human Biology, during my undergraduate studies at Stanford, and followed this up with a Masters of Management from the University of Duke.

For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a doctor … but it was at university that I decided to change course and devote myself to business.

If you could do a tic-tock dance, what would it be? - Britt

Any of the ones that Jessica Alba seems to be able to do at the moment. She’s fantastic at them!

What are some other sports you like?

I love soccer, AFL, tennis, and cricket. To be honest, I love all sports, but these are my favourites.

What makes you determined and encouraged to always push a bit harder? - Kate

Great question Kate! Pushing harder comes with practice. You’ll be amazed at what your body is capable of when you learn how to push it.

I say learn how to push it because it really is, like anything, a skill. Pushing your body develops over time … you start small. It starts with sticking to a training routine. It grows by running workouts with training partners, and develops more by timing those workouts. As you start to measure yourself, you get a sense of progress. How fast did you run today versus yesterday?

Progress is one of the greatest motivators we have. Seeing yourself get better is empowering. Once you start developing a love for progress, then you naturally start to adapt to the new situations. As you get better, progress becomes harder and harder to gain ... so you have to push harder and harder for it.

At what point did you realise you could be an Olympian? - Georgia

It really was not until I was in my final year of high school that I believed I could be an Olympian. This is the point where I made the transition from junior level athletes to senior level; went from competing against people only my age to competitors of all ages. This is the first time that I was able to test myself against the best in the country, and sparked in me a belief and determination to keep improving to be the best … knowing that if I could do that, the Olympics would be a possibility for me.

How do you not get too caught up in the numbers or the grind? - James

This is an excellent question James. There are a lot of numbers in athletics, which tell you a lot of great things … but equally, relying on them too heavily can drive you mad.

On paper, athletics is much easier than in reality. I can tell myself exactly what splits I want to achieve for each 100m of the 400m race … but actually hitting those numbers is a lot more difficult than merely typing them out.

I have substantially dropped the number of metrics I use in my running these days. Instead, I run for feel. For example, I don’t personally time any of my reps at training. I ask my coach, Penny Gillies, what time she wants me to hit, and I do my best to feel that pace. If I’m too fast, I’ll ask Penny to let me know, and that also goes for if I’m too slow.

The only time I really use numbers are in races and on very important reps at training. An example of such rep would be when we do race simulation work, and I have a target time that I want to achieve for different splits.

I remember asking Ben St Lawerance years back if there was only one piece of advice he could give to athletes aspiring to become Olympians, what would it be? And his answer: don’t wear a GPS watch. Run for time. If you feel good, run fast. If you feel bad, run to how you feel. Do not carry the mental weight of knowing how bad your bad days are by seeing the number. And the good days … you know them without having to see them on the watch too.

What has been your favourite race over the years? - Tom

There have been many … London Olympic Final was incredible. My first national title in 2011 was also very memorable … as was my Australian Record Indoor race in 2018.

But if I had to pick one favourite, it would be London.

What advice do you have for kids who want to make the Olympics? - Bella

Love this question Bella. I could spend a lot more time with my answer, but in short, it would be for kids to play a bunch of sports growing up, build lots of skills, and then at the age of 15 or 16, start focusing on one or two that they are passionate about and are showing strong potential in.

And once here, I would prioritise finding a training group where the coach and teammates believes in their potential and focuses on developing each athlete for their individual goals.

What is keeping you motivated to keep training through COVID-19? - Em, Syd, Kelly

A lot of different things are motivating me right now … one interesting force is one where I see myself as a leader in my community, so for me to be the best leader that I can, I want to show everyone that it is still possible to keep training, and train at a great intensity and level, despite the obvious challenges that the COVID-19 situation is creating.

How old do you think you should be before you start training? - Chloe

I don’t think kids should be training at professional intensities before the age of 16. Doing so, in my opinion, reduces the chance of success for two reasons:

  1. Professional training is really bloody hard. It’s intense. And the only way to get through it is to love what you do. I think it takes time to build that love, that enjoyment, and you need the years before the age of 16 to develop the love before you start professional training. Else, you’ll find it too hard and likely give up.
  2. Avoid burnout. Professional training is hard on the body and the mind. I would not rush into it too early at the risk of stopping before your potential is reached.
What is your favourite Aussie Olympic Gold medal win in Athletics?  - Clare

Sally Pearson’s win in London… I am shaking typing this thinking back to how amazing that was.

What advice would you give to our young athletes? - Brad

Find a training squad that you enjoy being a part of and a coach that believes in you. These are my two greatest pieces of advice for success (and not just in athletics).

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