In 2015, the Australian women’s 4x400m relay squad made the final of IAAF World Relay Championships to secure their start at Rio 2016. Going into the Olympics ranked outside the top 10 in the world, the team set themselves the formidable task of making the final on the biggest stage in Athletics. The team of Jessica Thornton (NSW), Morgan Mitchell (Vic), Anneliese Rubie (NSW) and Caitlin Jones (Qld) inevitably achieved their goal and finished 8th overall in the final.
Now with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games just around the corner the Aussie women’s 4x400m team will be looking to make their mark on the world stage once again, but this time cheered on by an exuberant home crowd. RT caught up with an integral part of the GC Commonwealth Games women’s 4x400m team and one of Australia’s fast women, Caitlin Jones for this Q&A post nationals.
You recently made the final and finished 4th in the 400m at the Australian Nationals with 52.79. How happy were you with your performance and making the 4×400 team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games!!?
Nationals was definitely a mixed bag for me in terms of my emotions. I’ve been working with Jonah Oliver at the QAS on my mental preparation and race execution and I was 95% satisfied with my execution of that race. 52.79 is also the fastest I’ve run since last Commonwealth Games trials, so I was definitely happy to be getting back down near my PB (52.16). On the flipside though, it was disappointing to miss out on third and a B qualifier by 0.1 and not put my name in the mix for the individual 400. Overall though I am stoked to be on the team with Anneliese, Morgan and Lauren – we’ve run a lot of relays together over the years and I’m excited to see what we can do with the addition of our young gun Bendere.
Where are you currently at with your training and what are the next few races on the cards before Comm Games?
The 8 week gap between Nationals and Comms was a tricky one to manage. We essentially had an easy week to physically and mentally recover from Trials. Then we decided to go for 2 weeks of really hard work to top up my base (think off-season work). We are just coming off that now and heading into 4 weeks of quality work and taper. We were happy with how I tapered for Nationals so we are looking to just about re-do those 4 weeks. In terms of racing I am planning on having a run at the Queensland Track Classic and looking forward to putting a fast race together.
What’s your peak training schedule look like?
My coach Eric Brown has done a lot this year to change up my program and try new things to help get me back running fast after a few years in the wilderness. He’s been really great at working with me and taking on feedback to get the best out of me.
- Monday – lactic track session (eg 4-5x 350m) + ice or Epsom salt bath
- Tuesday – skip + gym and plyos + physio treatment
- Wednesday – speed track session (eg 3×3 60m) + 45 minutes boxing + massage
- Thursday – aerobic conditioning run + gym and plyos
- Friday – rest day (30-60 minutes of self-care: mobility, rolling/releases etc)
- Saturday – track session – either special endurance (eg 3-4x 500m) or strength endurance (eg 300m hills)
- Sunday – Technical work + circuit (combining strength exercises and short sprints) + 30 minutes self-care
How has your work as a Physiotherapist at Barefoot Physiotherapy worked in with your athletics regards to both taking care of your own body and balancing work & elite training/competing?
I definitely consider Barefoot to be a key component to my achievements. My boss Sal Oliver Lange really does everything she can to make sure everyone at the clinic is getting the most out their life. She sat me and the rest of my support team down in November and basically said “What do we all need to do, to make sure Caitlin gets to run at a home Games?”. She really ignited that conversation and my husband and parents made some changes to really help me out and support me. At Barefoot, we reduced my work hours (currently working 30 hours a week), re-organised my diary so I had less clinical load on my bigger training days and reduced my early starts to ensure I was getting quality recovery sleep. Sal also told me back in November to block my diary for holidays for those 2 weeks in April so I mentally committed myself to being at the Games. It seems a bit silly, but I think it helped. Sal is also my main physio and together we keep my body moving and feeling good. I occasionally have niggles, but realistically I don’t miss days of training because of injury which is pretty incredible. I have a tune-up every 2-3 weeks and have a list of self-care I keep on top of on a weekly basis. As a physio I really understand the importance of this regular maintenance work and I’m very aware of when my muscles or joints have a different feel and need to get sorted out ASAP to prevent injuries starting. It also gives me confidence to know how to look after my body when I’m travelling away for weeks at a time for competitions and how best to utilise the support staff that travel with the team.
What is your career highlight so far?
Definitely making the Olympic 4x400m final in Rio. We went into the Games ranked 14th or 15th but knew we had the capacity to make the final so that was our goal from the get-go. We had a fantastic team culture and energy and came together perfectly to achieve that team goal. After the long wait for confirmation, the moment we found out we had made it was pure joy.
Did you have any athletics idols growing up that further inspired you to pursue the sport?
Nobody in particular stands out – I always just looked to whoever was working hard, achieving great things and staying humble. I got into athletics because I was good at it, and stayed in it for the love of it.
If you could go pro at any other sport than athletics, what would it be and why?
My hand eye co-ordination leaves a lot to be desired so any kind of ball sport is right out! I really enjoyed Olympic lifting when that was part of my gym work – there was something really satisfying about seeing your numbers go up and up. I like that same objectivity that running has too, so I think it would have to be weightlifting.
Current favourite TV series?
I am a very keen baker so I love watching Great Australian Bake-Off – as an athlete, it’s a wonderful way to vicariously enjoy serious desserts. I generally watch TV to unwind and switch off, so I also enjoy Have You Been Paying Attention, Gogglebox and re-runs from Friends and Will & Grace. When I’m feeling a little more intellectual I enjoy watching Bones.