Spencer’s Corner: Sharing Ideas For Progress in South Africa

Two Gold and ten medals in total at the Olympics for SA and one new 400m World Record for Wade Van Niekerk. Unfortunately our Walkers were less successful, despite their guts and determination to hang in there and fight to finish their respective races, unlike almost half of the entrances that decided either not even to start, throw in the towel and not finish, or being DQ’d.

Conditions must have been rather bad, going by Marc Mundell’s time, around a quarter of an hour slower than his best and Anel Oosthuizen’s time of 1:45:06. Achieving final positions of, Marc 38th, Lebogang Shange 44th, Wayne Snyman 58th in the men’s 20km, and Anel 63rd in the Ladies race.

It would be great to know how and what the winners coaches coach and share that information with us, in order for us to make much needed progress in  our further development and advancement in the sport we love.

Saturday 3rd September is GP time once more at Youngsfield with the 30km start at 07h00, 20km 08h00, 10km 09h00 followed by 5km and shorter distances for the youngsters. The forecast says it will be 20 degrees and fine with 15km wind blowing from SSW. We have been blessed weather-wise this year in three GP’s, and this fourth one should be on a great day again once more. Let’s hope Octobers SA Champs will be equally fine.

The session for this week.

  1. Warm up. Make it good and don’t rush it.
  2. 100/100m (3 laps) alternate easy bends and gradually faster straights. (Last 100m top speed).
  3. 5x100m sprints, with 30 sec. rest after each.
  4. Pacing 400m’s. Race-pace. Rest 2min. after each. 8 to 15 repeats, pending your race distance.
  5. Warm down 3 laps at 50/60% followed by 10 min. stretching.

Good advice.
A few weeks ago I mentioned the importance of having strong foot muscles and those around the ankles. If they are week and underdeveloped, feet tend to get tired and begin to slap and flatten out very quickly especially towards the end of a race. It also increases the chance of “bent knee” ruling from judges. Strengthening and stretching these minor muscles will help with a stronger heel plant, more controlled roll-off and stronger push-off, and looking “more legal”. One suggestion I made was making use of a tennis ball, rolling your feet while watching TV, or sitting behind your desk writing emails etc.

Here is another great way to help you make your muscles around feet and ankles stronger. This is what to do. While barefoot, sit on a chair and put one leg over the other. Slowly spell each letter of the alphabet with your toes. Repeat with the other leg. You will soon reap the benefits of doing this exercise.

Previous Heel and Toe: Olympic Special 20km W & 50km Races
Next Heel and Toe: 2016 IAAF Race Walking Challenge Series Finalized

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6 Comments on "Spencer’s Corner: Sharing Ideas For Progress in South Africa"

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I agree, the conditions leading up to the race and during the races were on another level. I think it comes down to experience and i have no doubt that all 4 walkers gained valuable experience here. The more our walkers race at top level, the more they will be able to handle extreme pressure and extreme conditions. Having said this, i think the key difference is also how the athletes abroad are supported – it is mind blowing at the opportunities they have compared to our athletes who basically have to look after themselves. 75% of our walkers are… Read more »
Denice Smith
Hello Jürgen Spencer, re sharing ideas to improve future champagnes. It appears that South Africa has some good race walkers, despite a lack of depth, so something is going right. Those athletes made sacrifices and worked incredibly hard to qualify for to the Olympics. They will already have some ideas as to what might have caused them to have had results less than their best. Did the SA Athletics Federation requirements impact on their preparation? Perhaps took them away from their preferred training environment, made them do unnecessary travel, in addition to the high amount of travel they have to… Read more »
Carl Meyer
I have had the privilege to be the SA contact/host of the Olympic 50km champion, Matej Toth, and his coach Matej Spisiak together with all the Slovakian race walkers when they do their high altitude training here in Boksburg every year in February for almost 4 years now. There is no special or secret training sauce that these guys use. Even my athlete Anel will confirm how surprising it is that her program components are almost identical to that of the Slovakian female athletes. What is evident form the exchange of all their information with us is that the correct… Read more »
Carl Meyer
The conditions for the Olympic 50km and female 20km was extremely tough. Some statistics to consider when forming an opinion on the 20km event: 1. The average temperature 5 days prior to these races were a manageable 25 degrees C. 2. On Friday 19th August the temperature peaked during the 20km event at 37 degrees with an ever increasing humidity reading of 84. 3. The average age of the first 10 in the female 20km was 28. The winner’s 29. 4. Our athlete Anel by comparison is extremely young at 21. 5. None of the medal winners were resident in… Read more »

@Carl – The aspect of staying in or out of the athlete’s village is something that has been debated for years. If i have to speak for myself, conforming and forcing me to stay in a village would impact me negatively. I would rather pay my own way and arrange my own place. Interesting about the diet aspect, would be great to hear more on it!

@Denice – Valuable input – why change the athletes routine? This totally gets me every time on why the federation puts this sort of pressure on the athletes.

Carl Meyer

….”Even for today’s “me first” and “selfie” generation who seem so comfortable revealing themselves on all manner of social media, the often new experience of performing before a grandstand full of print, radio and TV commentators can be overwhelming.”….