Use of Supplements - UKA Clean Athletics Guidance
Posted: 10th Nov 2017 by Lewis Smith
We would encourage all athletes and coaches to look at the UKA statement regarding the use of supplements. This statement sets out UKA’s supplements position and provides clear advice to athletes, and those who support them, on how to reduce the real risk of inadvertent doping posed by supplement use.
To view the full position statement please go to www.uka.org.uk/cleanathletics/supplements-and-nutrition/ and encourage other coaches and athletes you know to read this information.
Other information regarding anti-doping can also be found on the UKA website in the section at www.uka.org.uk/cleanathletics. Please also be aware of the information at www.informed-sport.com including the information regarding the misuse of the Informed Sport logo which can be viewed at www.informed-sport.com/logo-misuse.
100%me Clean Sport App:
Another very useful way to ensure you are fully aware of the latest anti-doping information is to use the 100%me Clean Sport App. This App is available to download via iTunes, Googleplay or the Windows Store and provides athletes, coaches and athlete support personnel with essential information on-the-go to help them participate in doping-free sport.
The App, which can be customised for your sport, provides clear and concise anti-doping advice, guidance and updates to ensure you can be clean and stay clean wherever you are training or competing.
If you need to check your medication, learn more about the risks with supplements, or simply understand more about the testing procedures and your rights as an athlete, the App is the place to start.
UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) ensures the App is always up-to-date and will send out alerts to inform you if anything important has changed. That means if a new substance is added to the WADA Prohibited List or a deadline is approaching for Whereabouts submissions, you will be the first to know.
Other features include the ability to record and store information about your medications for doping control, plus directly access the Report Doping in Sport online form.
More information on this handy App can be found here www.uka.org.uk/cleanathletics/clean-sport-app
Rachel's Skeleton Blog
Posted: 8th Nov 2017 by Lewis Smith
Here is Rachel Hanagan's second blog on her new life as a skeleton athlete. To read Rachel's first blog, please visit the link below:
Blog 2- Start of the Sliding Season
By Rachel Hanagan
So at the time of my last blog I was training hard getting my body robust and ready for the winter season ahead. Unfortunately this was interrupted a few weeks before the end of summer, as I suffered with neural issues. Considering the nature of the sport, the coaches and support team had to be absolutely certain I was 100% fit to slide, so training was reduced (at one point completely stopped) whilst I underwent numerous tests and examinations. I was so lucky that we have access to such a great medical team who were able to get me back into training in no time. It turned out I had a mild disc bulge in my back which irritated my sciatic nerve. Nothing unexpected by the Dr considering my athletics background and assured me it is common among sports people, so were happy for me to get back in to full training. With just over a week before winter I was concerned that not having sprinted or pushed in 3 weeks and limited gym sessions I would have lost what I had gained over the summer. However I couldn’t have asked for a better last session of the summer- pushing my fastest time yet and technically looking the best I have done so far. Now the sliding season is well under way for me, as I have just recently come back from my first camp in Lillehammer, Norway- what an experience that was!
Saturday 14th October: day of flight, which began with an interesting and rather amusing journey to the airport. Myself and Amelia (flatmate and fellow athlete) “reluctantly” took up the offer of a lift from another fellow athlete- I say reluctantly because his car isn’t that big and with 2 suitcases each, an extra bag for runners, hand luggage, plus 3 athletes- I weren’t convinced we’d get in. However were persuaded that it would be fine, so when he turned up at the early hours of the morning it was a game of tetris. It was a tight squeeze (a VERY tight squeeze actually), but we managed it, but for the whole 2 hour journey Amelia was in the back with a 20kg suitcase on her lap, whilst I was at the front balancing a 20k suitcase on my arm in order to keep it from falling onto the gearstick. Not the most comfortable journey, but it was funny, and we got to the airport safely and on time.
The week before, I was nominated by the skeleton staff to be group leader and be responsible for getting us through the airport and to Oslo. Apart from one athlete, who just like when we went to Austria for the confirmation phase forgot his passport yet again, and then got stopped at security for having a full can of deodorant in his hand luggage- everything else went smoothly.
Upon arrival at Oslo airport we were met by one of our coaches and support staff who drove us 2 hrs to Lillehammer. By the time we got there it was about 9.30pm, so it was a case of drop our bags in the cabin, make the bed and then get to sleep as we had a very busy 2 weeks ahead of us.
As we weren’t sliding until the Tuesday, the next couple of days were spent preparing our sleds for the ice, so doing a full sled check making sure all bolts are tightened correctly, that all plates were level. We also had to fit our saddles to the sled, so had to make sure it fit perfectly to my body. This time round I had an underhand saddle as opposed to a side saddle in Austria, so had to practice getting into the correct position in the sled. Then the top cover (which is cut to fit your own personal set up, is put on and neatly (or as best you can) taped to the belly pan- ensuring not gaps or bumps are visible to keep the sled dry and as aerodynamic as possible. Once that was complete it was time to put our runners in (the blades that we slide on) and measure our footprint, get our balance point and measure the rock.
In skeleton the footprint is the amount of runner that is on the ice and is determined by experience level, weight and track conditions. Once this is measured, the sled is placed on 2 glue sticks and I lay in position on the sled making minor shifts in bodyweight to get the optimal balance point. That means I must get to a point where when I breathe out the front of my sled goes down and when I breathe in the back of the sled goes down (like a seesaw). It is important this is achieved because it means you will slide better on the ice without too much skidding. Once you have the balance point you must keep practicing getting into that position, because on the track, you need to be able to find that point very quickly. Finally the rock is put in, which is the amount of bend that is put in the runner-this helps the sled to get up onto corners. Ideally this should be the same each side (or within 2mm), but can differ due to muscle imbalances, alignment etc. Finally there is the boring job of sanding and polishing the runners to ensure there are no deep scratches as this can affect the smooth sliding of the sled on the ice.
Now enough of the not so exciting part of skeleton (well for me anyway)! On Sunday we got to head to the track and watch the senior sliders compete in the 2nd day of the team selection races. So the likes of Lizzie Yarnold, Laura Deas, and all the other athletes compete to earn their places on the various circuits this season. We got the opportunity to watch the athletes warm up and do their routines before they do a run. Also seeing them push and watching them at particular key corners of the track really helped us to see what lines we want to be taking and timing of steers etc.
Tuesday 17th October: First day of sliding! I’m not going to lie, that morning I was feeling pretty nervous. We were only going from between corner 4/5, but it was a new track and despite seeing lots of video and learning about the corners etc, I still didn’t know what to expect. And I certainly didn’t expect/ and wasn’t ready for what happened on my first run... As always on the 1st run we are just to let the sled run and only had to steer corner 13 as that was a high pressure corner if it goes wrong it can go horribly wrong. Well I didn’t quite make it that far. I went flying through the labyrinth, out of 10 and next thing I know I was off my sled. The safety instructions of what to do in that situation i.e. curl up into a ball went straight out the window. I sat up and was sliding on my bum from the entrance of corner 12 to the entrance of 13. Remarkably that didn’t hurt and all I could do was laugh. I was frustrated that happened- not many flip off in 11, but all fear after that was gone. I picked myself up, checked my sled and got ready to do my next runs. Thankfully they didn’t involve any stray sleds.
I managed to stay on my sled for the rest of the camp, however had to miss the 3rd day of sliding due to a massive bruise on my quad due to the new saddle. The coach said to me before my 2nd run the day before “I’ll let you decide, I won’t judge you”. I said I would do the 2nd and see how it felt. The run was fine but the pain afterwards where it kept digging into the same spot was excruciating, so had to miss my 3rd. When we got back to the cabins I showed the support staff my bruise which the head coach only just saw and told me I am not sliding tomorrow and that he was going to sort me out a new saddle. I was bit disappointed at first as I didn’t want to miss out on sliding as we were moving further up the track. However the team our so good, the coach reassured me that I won’t miss much. He was going to sort me out with a different saddle that is more comfortable. ‘You cannot slide in pain because you are not able to connect with the sled, and won’t be concentrating on the steers. Trust me with this new saddle you will be flying’.
And flying I was, despite being a day behind everyone else who had already moved further up the track, it was like I had never been away. Spending my day off watching the others at certain parts of the track was helpful, and upon my return I was sliding better than before. And as for the new saddle, no more pain, well not until we moved up to the top of the track anyway...
The following Tuesday we all did one run from the lower start, and if we were comfortable and the coaches thought we were ready, we could move up to the top for our next run. They were particularly focusing on our exit of 12 and entrance to 13 and how we controlled it, because from the top it will come at us quicker at much higher speed, and if we don’t get the entrance steer on at the right time at the right intensity in 13 it can go wrong (dangerously wrong). It just so happened I did my best 12-13 so far, so the coach was happy and confident that I could go from the top.
I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about going from the top for the first time- mostly because the top section of this track is the steepest and so the potential extra speed that can be generated meant I had to be really on the ball. However we were informed not to steer the top section, instead just feel and see what happens naturally to the sled that way we can understand better when and what type of steer to do. As a result most of the speed was killed as we weren’t getting the best lines, so it wasn’t too bad. And just like in Igls, once you got the first run from the top out the way you just wanted to go faster (but we weren’t allowed to run until the end of the week).
Second day from top we were able to put our speed suits on in order to help get a little bit extra speed. As you can imagine speed suits are PRETTY TIGHT, so trying to get padding in was a mission- especially my calves which have grown over the summer. I made the decision to sacrifice the calf padding in order for me to wear the speed suit, anyway I wasn’t hitting it so could get away without it. I think I must have jinxed it, because on that day and the next couple of days I was hitting my left calf on every run on that bloody left hand wall on the exit of corner 13!
It didn’t stop me from sliding though- in fact it made me more determined to get it right and not hit that wall again. Unfortunately, as I got better at the top section, I was carrying more speed at the bottom and so when I hit the wall, it was harder! However I nailed it on my last sliding day.
Saturday 28th October: Consolidation Day. So the final sliding day was an opportunity for us to put together a good run and demonstrate what we had learned (we also had free reign to push start as hard /fast as we wanted. As we were only jogging to the brow the previous day, our push coach said he wanted us to run further- so it was agreed the 1st push would be technical and the 2nd all out.
I was all set, helmet on and sled ready to put on the ice when an announcement was made “Skeleton in the track, not on sled!” My flatmate and training partner had fallen off her sled and it was then announced that the sled was coming back. We were always told if you come off your sled to get out the track ASAP, because if it comes back or is behind you, you can get seriously hurt. Nobody knew whether or not she was out so there was slight panic amongst me, the push coach and other athletes. Fortunately she was safe just had to wait for the sled to be caught and pulled out of the track so I can get the all clear to slide (not the best thing to experience when you’re standing at the start).
Because of that I held back a bit on my push, I just wanted to get down safely. The top section was the worst it was all camp so I lost quite a lot of speed down the bottom of the track. Time wasn’t too bad, but was disappointed I couldn’t put a better run together. I knew what I had to do though and had one more run to do it. Since that run didn’t go to plan I opted to keep the start at a similar speed- if it had gone better I would have had the confidence to go all out. The second run was much smoother and through the labyrinth (7-9) where our coach was filming, I got it the best I’ve done so far and carried so much extra speed. I also didn’t hit the wall out of 13 so finished 0.5-1sec quicker than my P.B. If only I had pushed faster who knows what I could have done, but was happy to finish the camp on that run.
I was so thankful that we weren’t travelling back the next day because when I woke up Sunday morning I was so sore. In fact I didn’t really sleep because I had so many bruises I couldn’t really get comfortable. However sleds had to be stripped, checked, prepped and packed to be taken to Altenberg, Germany ready for our next camp. We also had an individual camp review to discuss how the 2 weeks went. I felt like I was on the Apprentice or Dragons Den, sitting around a table in the coaches cabin presenting my goals and views on my performance whilst the head ice coach, ice coach, push/S&C coach, and assistant support manager took notes and bombarded me with questions and shared their opinions. But it was a positive meeting which I can take a lot of confidence from that I am making progress and heading in the right direction.
Now there’s just 2 weeks to train hard in the gym and on the push track before I head out to camp number 2. The Altenberg track was built taking the hardest/biggest corners from various tracks around the world so is known as one of the hardest skeleton tracks. So much so we will not be getting to the top during that camp. Athletes don’t usually get exposed to this track until they’ve at least slid for 3 years (some of the senior athletes in the programme still haven’t been), and I’m going there in my first year?! Let’s just say I think my bruise count will be higher than 44 after this one...