Bianca's training camp in South Africa

Fit & Training door thijs

As an athlete I do not have an off season like in many other sports. We train all year round, no summer stop and no winter break. Athletes train no matter the season. Unfortunately, we are not that blessed with sunny weather all  year round in our tiny country, so we try to visit the sun as often as possible. Usually, around December/ January we flee our cold winter and around March to prepare for racing season in the best possible circumstances. And the best possible circumstances this year? No less than a full month in beautiful South Africa.  

At home I train with a middle distance team called Team Thuijs. As the only 400 meter Hurdler in the group I miss having a co-hurdler at times and that was the most important reason for me to choose to go to South Africa. In Pretoria, there is a big training group of really good 400 meter hurdlers training under coach Irma Reyneke. And by really good, I mean really good - been to the Olympics kind of good.  The best co-hurdlers you can find. This was my second year in South Africa training with this group. Unfortunately last year I was mostly injured, but this year I was fitter than ever and ready to train. I was even fortunate enough that my coach Frans Thuijs could join me in my first week in Pretoria. I mean a coach flying all the way over to South Africa for just one week, all for me? If that does not makes you feel very lucky and special, nothing will! He exchanged thoughts on the training program with coach Irma and checked out all the possibilities for gym sessions and recovery training so that I would not jump into training sessions that would be over my head.



As I said, I felt fitter than ever and was very keen on training full-time with the group. In South Africa, it's fall in March and therefore the racing season starts earlier then racing season in Europe.  For me, just coming out of winter training there were a lot of hurdle training sessions all of a sudden. Ohh how I love hurdles! My first week went great, hurdles, hurdles and more hurdles. Coach Irma was very impressed about my hurdle technique with my ‘bad’ leg. (as a 400m hurdler you need to be able to take the hurdle with both your right and your left leg first, but one is usually better skilled.) And with a few adjustments I could do the whole program. But in the second week, my hamstring started to object a little. Last year I suffered from a hamstring injury, a nerve problem that we thought we had under control. But due to the higher intensity of training in South Africa, despite being very careful and not doing anything at 100 percent yet, my hamstring started to hurt a little. At first it was just a little annoying during the warm-up, but after almost a week it started to really hurt.  Because of this I had to take a full week of recovery. A full week filled with boring recovery training; physio appointments, icebaths (3 degrees is cold I can tell you!), going to the masseuse to get rid of the tension and a lot of annoying exercises. Luckily, my hamstring picked up a little and in my last two weeks I could do the full program again, with just a couple of off days when the hamstring resisted to co-operate.

Although my hamstring failed on me a couple of times this training camp, it was also a training camp full of exciting good things. In my first week I ran 27 seconds on the first 200m with hurdles. This means 56 seconds on the 400m hurdles according to Coach Irma. That would mean a big personal best in my training!  Where do I sign? In my last week, even after all of the hamstring issues, I managed to run a 42,35 on the first 300m with hurdles, also around my PB again in training. With my goal for this season in mind: qualifying for the World Championships 2015 in Beijing, I’ll have to run a 55,70. I left feeling really satisfied about my times in training, but I still realize there is  a lot of work ahead. It was a great month preparing for race season!