Living in the Athletes’ Village: September 17–October 4
When I look back at my training log and see that I only lived in the Seoul Athletes’ Village for two and a half weeks, I’m surprised. So much happened in that short time that in my memory, it seems at least a month that we were there.
When you go somewhere foreign to compete, you try to make a home of the new place while you are there; you try to create a new “normal” routine so that your mental, emotional, and physical equilibrium aren’t disturbed too much. It’s important to most athletes to keep a routine in high-pressure situations. Generally, most athletes are comfortable with keeping to a similar training, eating, and sleeping schedule that they would follow at home. That’s the safest way to prepare for a competitive situation. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone—some athletes are undoubtedly much more adaptable and relaxed than I am, and might be able to handle a more adventurous or wild approach.
However, for the most part, athletes who make it onto an Olympic team don’t party before their competitions. At least track and field athletes don’t. When you’ve worked so hard to get to the Olympic level, you know this is the time to prove to yourself and to the world what the pinnacle of your athletic achievement can be. No one wants to squander that opportunity.
It was very clear in my mind what my priorities would be once I got to Seoul. I knew the Olympics would be starting almost immediately after we arrived. I knew, too, that Seoul was a huge city of over ten million people, offering countless entertainment and sightseeing activities in addition to the Olympics. But in terms of how I would spend the two weeks leading up to my running the 10,000m final on September 30 (hopefully!), this was the order of priority of my daily activities:
1) Follow my normal routine in terms of my training, eating and sleeping times.
2) Complete the workouts I had planned with George, working with the Canadian team’s distance coaches (Ron Bowker and Doug Clement) if I needed assistance with timing, but otherwise not being distracted by other runners’ workouts.
3) Watch as much track and field as possible, both because I wanted to and because it was good for team morale to have as many Canadians as possible at the track cheering. We had a block of seats right at ground level near the finish line of the track. It was fantastic! Being able to watch all these great athletes as much as I wanted, close-up, was in fact the single best thing about being part of the Olympic team. The only days I wasn’t a spectator at the track were the days of my own races.
4) Sightseeing in Seoul would be limited to what I could fit in based on my higher priorities above.
So few souvenirs!
When I was looking for photos to include in this post, I was surprised and a little sad about how few souvenirs I could find from the Olympics. I didn’t even bring a camera with me, so I have no photos of my own! Even more astonishing to me was how little I wrote in my personal diary while I was in Seoul.
I used to think that photos weren’t that important because I could always remember everything in my mind’s eye. As for writing, I believed in writing when the spirit moved me, not in a deliberate way to record details about a special event. Now I’m more aware that memories can, indeed, become lost, faded, or distorted. Almost everything I’m writing in my posts this month comes from 24-year-old memories, and I’m sure they’re incomplete.
I did write in my diary the day after we arrived in Seoul. That day’s entry reminded me of one of the few bad features of living in the Village: the early-morning public broadcast announcements.
The morning started off badly because I didn’t sleep well and these Commie-type announcements were loudly broadcasted through the whole Village in three languages starting at 6:30, urging everyone to start getting ready for the opening ceremonies. I didn’t go because my uniform was unwearably big. Apparently I missed a fantastic show, but why should I worry about it…I had a wonderful day anyhow. I explored the whole Village…I walked through the Olympic Park which is just adjacent to the Village…I wandered on paths for a few miles…I was really enjoying the hot sunny day along with many Koreans and their children. I saw people singing and playing guitars, lot of couples strolling, and the kids were having such a good time.
In my next post I’ll write more about my daily life and training in the Athletes’ Village.
Olympic Training Log
September 17, 1988
AM: Did swim workout in Village 25m pool. 1 km warmup—about 21:30. 10 x 100m, about 2:00—pool very rough, hard to swim in.
PM: Did weights in Village gym—combined workout, all new machines. 65 min—felt good.
September 18, 1988
PM: Did track workout in Village. Easy 11-min warmup plus strides on grass. 3 x 1,000m with 1 min rest. Times 3:01, 3:04, 3:05 (flats). Felt good on first one, next 2 were hard. 4 x 200m in spikes with 200m walk recovery. Times 30.5, 31.2, 30.9, 31.1. Felt OK—Achilles still hurting but warmed up quickly, no pain in workout, got physio after. Jogged back to Village. About 4 miles.
September 19, 1988
AM: Swim workout. 1K warmup, 21:30. 4 sets 150m, 100m, 50m. 150s about 3:01, 100s about 2:00, 50s about 57–58. Felt good, enjoyed workout, pool quite empty. Legs tired from last night.
PM: Jogged to gym, did 66 min mixed weights—good workout, followed by a few minutes fooling around on stationary bike.
September 20, 1988
AM: Did track workout. Easy 11-min warmup plus strides. 3 x 300m with 2 min rest. Times 46.9, 47.5, 47.9 (spikes). Next (after 3 min rest) 3 x 400m with 1 min rest. Times 66.6, 68.9, 69.7 (flats)—I was surprised I could go that fast after O2 debt of 300s. Next: ran easy for about 33 min in Olympic Park. Legs very tired by end. Injuries OK during workout, but Achilles very bad after, heel a bit sore too. About 8 miles.
September 21, 1988
AM: Did 1,800m continuous swim—39:00. Pool very crowded 2nd 20 min. Felt very tired today—sluggish.
PM: Weights—67 min in gym—mixed—felt pretty good.
September 22, 1988
AM: Did track workout. Easy 15-min warmup, 4 strides. Felt a bit sluggish. Did 5 x 600m with 200m jog rest—just over 1 min. Running relaxed and easy, times 1:54, 1:54, 1:53, 1:52, 1:49. Put on spikes (about 2 min rest), did last one in 1:45, still quite relaxed. Felt OK during workout. Jogged to gym, did about 30 min on bike, couldn’t push very hard because of heartrate monitor. 5 miles running.
September 23, 1988
AM: Did workout in pool. 1K warmup, about 22:00. 3 sets of 200m, 100m, 100m—2oos about 4:06–4:08, 100s about 2:00. Felt kind of sluggish.
This week: 17 miles running, 30 min stationary bike, 4 swim workouts, 3 weight workouts.