Next week I leave for Russia to compete against some of the best long jumpers out there. Before I go half way around the world to compete though, I thought it would be best to shake the dust off close to home, without the added pressure of top level competition. So, I'm in Albuquerque, competing against a few college kids in what I hope turns out to be a low key, low pressure situation that allows me to slowly piece together all the things I've been working on in practice in a meet situation.
Every so often, there will be other professionals or top level competitors that spoil this plan. I remember a few years ago showing up to a college meet in April, thinking I would shake the cobwebs off and run a 200 just for fun...I ended up chasing a Jamaican who proceeded to run a world leading time and left me eating her dust. It wasn't at all what I had imagined for the day. Whoever shows up today though, my plan is to focus only on my cues that I have been working on and making sure I can execute them in a meet setting. Because I never do all out long jumps in practice, these meets act as indicators for me and let me know that I'm on target with my training (or not).
I don't get paid for doing these meets. The most I get out of it is an extra chocolate chip cookie at check-in (shout out to DoubleTree hotel cookies!) and the ability to practice in a meet situation so that I am more prepared once I get to the paying meets. In the end it is a formula that I feel has worked well for me, but I do try to keep these freebies to a minimum. After all, this is my job and those socks don't buy themselves!