Following the Rio Olympics in 2016, our Physio Caitlin Sargent is out to win Gold!

Caitlin has just returned from running at the IAAF World Championships in the Bahamas, after coming 5th in the 4x400m relays. It’s no surprise that there is a lot of training required to compete at the level Caitlin does, especially with the 2018 Commonwealth games around the corner.

1. How do you prepare for a run when you will be racing overseas?
Preparation is much the same as in Australia – ensuring I am eating well, getting enough rest/recovery, appropriate treatment to keep my body happy and training. All of this requires a bit more planning when travelling away though. Often we have to change the training schedule to account for long travel days, I have to be more conscious of my eating choices as I don’t get to be as in control of my food as when I prepare my own meals at home and I also don’t have my usual support team around me for treatment so I often have to give myself more time between treatment and competition as I don’t know how my body will respond to the slightly different treatment style.

The other main issue is forcing myself into good sleeping routine off the place to try and avoid jet-lag so I can get the most rest possible. That all sounds like a lot of things to think of, but after years of practice this all comes pretty naturally to me now!

2. How do you hit the ground running ( literally) after almost 24 hours of travel?
Its all about what you do during the travel – I ensure I stay hydrated on the plane by aiming for 300ml of water per hour I am awake plus I take electrolyte tablets with me which I have at the start and end of the flight – this helps me maintain my electrolyte balance and retain the fluid I am consuming.

I try to chose the lighter/fresher options for in-flight meals so I don’t feel heavy or get any digestion issues which may interrupt sleep. For a 12-14 hour long haul I get up at least 4 times to go through some gentle stretches, muscle releases (I pack my lacrosse ball in my carry on luggage) and muscle activation to keep all the right muscles awake and blood flowing – yes I do squats down the back of the plane! I also wear compression tights and socks whenever I fly – this reduces the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) but also helps my muscles feel less sluggish when I land. Other than that I try to get some rest – even though I’m no good at sleeping on planes I still sit with my eyes closed in a deep relaxation.

We often land in the morning so I try to stay awake all day to help me sync into the timezone and not get jetlag. If I have access to some space, then I like to do a short warm up of jogging, dynamic stretches, drills and a few gentle sprints (80% effort). This gets my body moving without doing anything too intense and helps it get prepared for what is coming!

3. What was the best thing about racing in Bahamas?
The Bahamian crowd are amazing! They love track and field and they love relays even more so the atmosphere is incredible, especially for a stadium that isn’t particularly big. Around the bend of the first 100m they had a big brass band and drums playing music and everyone cheers so loudly it is just really exciting and fun. The people in general are also very friendly and helpful so its just a very enjoyable location to spend time and compete.

4. How is training going for the Commonwealth games?
Training is going really well! I didn’t run as fast as I would have liked during the domestic season, but we have made a few changes to my training and I already noticed improvements when racing in the Bahamas so we are on the right track. It means I am doing sessions that are hard and I’m not very good at right now, but I know this is what I need to do to get my body into personal best shape. I am also making some changes to my gym program which is fun and exciting. I love gym training and doing new and different things just helps to keep more interesting.

How do you stay motivated?

Due to the success of our 4x400m relay team, the 400m event has become very competitive in Australia! This means I am really going to have to fight for my spot on the team for Commonwealth Games next year. This makes it very easy to stay motivated!! Any athlete you talk to who has ever competed at a ‘home’ game, tells you how amazing it is. So for me it is a major goal to make sure I am racing at Gold Coast which I know means I have to be running at my lifetime fastest.

To follow more of Caitlin’s journey and to see more photos have a look at our Facebook page here. Want to hear more about what our Barefooters get up to? Click here.