The TL;DR of my winter training period and 60m indoor season: The puzzle is finally complete! 🧩

The TL;DR of my winter training period and 60m indoor season: The puzzle is finally complete! 🧩

It’s about time for an update! How am I doing, and what crazy adventures have I been on lately? Well, I’m still deep in my winter training period – when people ask, “What do you mean by winter training?”

Laying an Ice-Cold Foundation 🥶

Winter training is the phase between October and the start of the competition season (indoor or outdoor). This is when you put in the hard yards, building the foundation for your upcoming races. It’s a tough time – you’re often exhausted and don’t have much energy to spare. This winter, my trainers and I decided to focus less on the indoor season and more on the bigger picture. But that didn’t mean stepping away from competition entirely! I still wanted that competitive spark – it keeps me from getting too comfortable in my “training shed” and reminds me why I love this sport so much. So, we planned on taking part in three 60m indoor meets – slightly fewer than previous years.

Coaches Must Be Joking, Right?🤣

My first meet was in Sittard on January 21st, where I kicked off the season by matching my personal best (PB) of 8.46. Honestly, I was thrilled, considering I’d trained like a beast all week. Matching my PB even when tired put a huge grin on my face. During the warm-up, the head coaches, Joep and Fynn, kept saying, “Put your foot under your hips!” My cheeky reply? “No way! You guys made me too tired for that!”

Missing a Plane? Or a Missing Plane?! 😲

After that first meet, I was pumped to compete in a 60m indoor competition in Clermont, France. They had this amazing initiative to organize a Para-series alongside a World Athletics meet – how awesome is it to share the stage with Olympic athletes outside the Netherlands?! Joël de Jong and I headed out a day early… and immediately almost missed our flight because we were too busy chatting!

Thankfully, the rest of the trip went smoothly. We landed in Lyon, where Julien from the X-Athletics Meeting whisked us off. Julien is a sweetheart, but his English is a bit rusty. Made me wish we Europeans had a common language! Luckily, though, he had an interpreter with him.

Just as Joël and I were settling into our training, we got crazy news: the flight for the rest of our team had been canceled, their flight literally gone! It left us wondering if Fynn, Zara, Cheyenne, Stijn, and Luigi would even make the meet. Luckily, Fynn thought quickly and figured out the European train system (who knew?!). The whole crew arrived just the night before – talk about cutting it close!

A special race near a special place

This competition was extra special for me. One of the doctors who saved my life in 1998 came to watch. Benoit doesn’t let me call him “the doctor” anymore, and he’s right. After all, the doctor in the trauma helicopter who made the quick decision to take me to the nearest hospital was a lifesaver, too. I wouldn’t be here if he’d stuck to the original plan of flying me to Lyon.

Back when I was an 8-year-old on a stretcher, Benoit knew it was close… but he also saw a spark of strength in me, a sense that I wasn’t done living. Twenty-six years later, he saw that spark again on the track in Clermont. With his kids in the stands, he watched me crush my 60m time, hitting 8.31 seconds.

On to the Indoor Season Finale!

Last Sunday, I got to run the 60m at the Dutch National Indoor Championships in a packed Omnisport stadium – what a rush! Right before my race, I helped a new para-athlete cope with those first-time jitters. It brought back memories of how lost I felt at my first big meet.

An hour later, it was showtime:
Focus zone.
Up the stairs into the arena’s heart.
There I was, center stage, steps from the starting blocks.
Get ready,

The start felt good, but the middle was oddly relaxed. Crossing the finish line, I thought, “Nope, that wasn’t a PB.” You can imagine my surprise when the time flashed on the board: 8.25 seconds – a new personal best! It’s also the fastest 60m ever run by a woman in my classification (even though it’s not an official Paralympic event… bummer!).

Let me tell you, this PB felt extra special because it happened on my late mother’s birthday. She’s not here anymore, but it didn’t feel that way. She was right there, giving me that extra push to make it happen. The 60m has never been my strong suit, but here I was, ending my indoor season with a massive PB. Needless to say, I’m over the moon!

After my race, I kicked back and watched some incredible performances. Femke Bol set a world record, and Cathelijn Peeters took third – the crowd went wild! I train with Cathelijn back in Vught and let’s just say we’re both known for our hearty laughs. It’s a relief to learn I’m not alone in the high-pitched giggle department!

The Puzzle is Complete! 🧩

We’ve made a major change to my starting technique, ditching the traditional 4-point start that wasn’t getting me anywhere. Now I’m using a 3-point start, and it feels so much better – freeing, even. That sense of freedom is crucial for me to run fast. This switch is a huge relief! Before, I started to feel trapped; now, I can focus on exploding out of the blocks. This change has already shaved two-tenths off my 60-meter time – I can’t wait to see what it means for my 100-meter and 200-meter!

I’ve never felt this good or this confident. Everything’s fallen into place, and I love every minute. I’m training hard at Papendal and my club in Vught, and the two coaches I work with are fantastic. They’re supportive, passionate, and always open to my input. It’s truly a team effort.

Things have changed quite a bit at Papendal in the last two years. It used to be separate worlds for national and talent coaches, but now it’s much more collaborative. This new setup is a big improvement!

Now it’s time to return to my “training shed” – a training camp in Tenerife awaits on March 16th! My outdoor season opener is May 9th, a 100m race at my club in Vught during the Harry Schulting Games. The countdown is on!

Oh, and amidst all this, I’m also planning a wedding! Exciting times all around. 2024 is shaping up to be an incredible year – I can feel it!