The final blog from this years team has been written by Hayley Telling. Hayley gives a good insight to the type of preparation required to be selected for this years teams. BTW – Hayley is also the self-proclaimed and official ‘Selfie Queen’ of the team.
2019 will be my third year running as part of a team GB at the European Open and FCI world championships, and my second year as the Captain for the medium team at both events. I have learned so much already in my relatively short agility journey that I feel ready to put all the plans in place to allow me, Teal and the medium team the best opportunity to succeed at these major events.
Success doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly doesn’t happen by accident. It is the result of planning, short term goals, long term goals, making small changes, making bigger changes, committing time every single day and a whole lot of dedication. When you only get one opportunity per year to compete at that level and on those kinds of courses, the preparation around the events becomes even more important.
Over the last year I have worked hard on mine and Teals fitness levels, so that we are able to deliver the MPS over the courses at the events. This means my routine includes 4am starts so that we can both complete our workout sessions before I start my full time job! I also include footwork drills, sprint drills and yoga sessions, both for me and Teal on a weekly basis.
Since starting to compete abroad and seeing the type of courses first hand, we now regularly train a lot of challenging scenarios and I make sure that I am confident Teal understands the skills independently to me and at high speeds. We also train on full courses of this style to allow us time to practice the timing and sprint skills needed, whilst still trying to deliver that essential clear round!
We aim to meet up with the team a few times before each event to train together, this means that we can train on specific courses set by the judges we will be seeing at the event and also spend some time getting to know each other and our dogs. When you course walk at the events you find yourselves bouncing ideas off one another and therefore having had that time training together can really make all the difference. Judges will often have a favourite trait or skill that they like to test, so practicing those specific things prior to the event can give you confidence when walking courses.
It is well known by those around me that I get over excited at agility events, so working on my mental preparation has become one of the biggest parts of my pre competition planning. With the help of Mark Laker I have focused on visualisation for specific events that means when I get there I am able to control my heart rate before I run. If I enter the ring with my heart rate too high plus the adrenaline and excitement this can tip me (and Teal who is also over excitable!) over the edge and generally results in a mistake, especially if at a major event when the excitement is naturally higher anyway.
There is nothing quite like having experienced the events first hand, however putting in regular time to visualise the event prior to the big day genuinely makes you feel like you have been there already. For me personally this has been a complete game changer.
Alongside visualisation I regularly meditate and read specific books that help me with other parts of my mental preparations. First and foremost I always try to be as positive as possible, the saying ‘what you think, you become’ is so very true and this can impact on your performance in more ways than you realise.
There is nothing quite like running at these events, it makes the hard work and dedication completely worth it. Being a part of Team GB and being asked to be captain has been a huge honour and I am certainly enjoying the journey and everything it teaches me along the way! As always, a huge thank you to the entire coaching team and our sponsors for their support and making it possible for us to compete at these incredible events.