The European 200m silver medallist shares insight into his winter training which features CrossFit inspired cardio and weekends off
Too often athletes avoid the rival head-to-heads that supporters crave outside of major championships, but not Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake. He doesn’t just race against them. He trains with them.
“I feel like I’m in a professional environment now,” says the Florida-based Brit whose training group, which is guided by coach Lance Brauman, includes world 200m champion Noah Lyles among a host of other global talents.
“When you’re training with the best people in the world I feel like naturally your levels just rise. You know you have to go out and give it your best effort every time, because everyone’s here to compete. If you’re going to race them eventually, why not see what they’re doing in training?”
AW: What are the essential components of training at this time of year?
“The most important thing about this training block is staying healthy and looking after your body so you can stack each block on top of each other,” says Mitchell-Blake.
“Never take health for granted. It’s about doing the little things right, whether it’s nutrition, sleep, whatever works for you.”
AW: Favourite session at this time of year?
“Naturally the faster ones – every sprinter loves to sprint. We dread the days where we have to put in a bit more mileage.”
AW: And the least favourite?
“The 300s, the 200s … but I try to approach every workout with as positive an attitude as possible. Sometimes you know it’s going to hurt but you just have to suffer in silence and handle the business. It’s your job.”
Always room for improvement
No matter how things are going in training, there’s always room for improvement, says Mitchell-Blake.
“Nobody is the complete athlete, so you have to work on the little things. I’m not a natural starter – I believe I have a greater top end – but you have to work on your weaknesses and allow them to become your strengths,” adds the European 200m silver medallist and 2017 world 4x100m champion.
“I set myself a target each week, each block. Nothing will ever be perfect, but I have to find how I can maximise certain things to ensure they work to my advantage. It can be exhausting, but it’s Olympic year, so if you need any motivation, you’ve just got to think of that.”
A TYPICAL JANUARY TRAINING WEEK
This phase, which includes the transition between base training and speed, is hugely important for Mitchell-Blake.
“It’s the first speed block of the year so we’re going to be a bit sore from doing a lot of fast pattern movements,” he says.
MONDAY: Speedwork. “800m warm-up, drills, bounding, then sled pulls, blocks, wickets. We’re starting to get into blocks now which is the fun part for me. After that we might do a couple of 150ms, then we hit the gym (lower body workout). We’re lifting pretty heavy right now.”
TUESDAY: “We do something like 2 x 350m (off 3 or 4 minutes), 2 x 200m (off 2 minutes), 150m-100m- 100m (off 4 minutes) – so a bit more mileage. We’re hitting 12/13s per 100m, so it definitely gets the heart going and it’s a fast-enough pace to hurt. Then we hit the gym (upper body).”
WEDNESDAY: “This is a day to work on what you want to do. I do a lot of abdominal work and stretching on a Wednesday.”
THURSDAY: As Tuesday
FRIDAY: “Hills, e.g. 200m, 100m, 150m, 150m, then we’ll finish off with 4 x 100m sprints. The hills are timed so it’s pretty intense. Friday in the gym is a bit of Olympic lifting, hex bar, power clean, snatch.”
In addition to athletics-specific training, Mitchell-Blake does a lot of CrossFit inspired cardio which is added on to the end of each session.