18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Early Test

When the season starts to creep up on you, thoughts of doubt that were minor in earlier weeks, can start to grow rapidly. Did I run enough, jump enough, drill enough, lift enough, spend enough time in the gymnastics gym? The list can go on and on. I'm normally not one who dwells on that kind of useless drama. However, some indoor seasons I like to sneak in an early competition, and this season I chose to do so. With that early competition around the corner, some of those doubtful questions are starting to peak there heads over my wall of psyche. I'm dealing with them fine enough, but the breakdown in confidence frankly pisses me off a bit. Over the course of the day, I will put them to rest through routine, training, and meditation. I'm better than this.
The competition itself is really thrown into my mix of training as a Pop Quiz. Just checking to see where I'm really at, and putting no emotional investment in the result. I generally jump 17'-17'6" in these December meets historically. However, I plan to pop something over 18' at this one, not having jumped from a competition run since the first weekend in September. In prior years this may have been a tall order for me, but I'm different now, I expect more from myself, and I will get more. 
Most Universities have an early competition for there athletes before Christmas break. It is normally off the books and used as a test day. Boise State realized that if it was going to test its athletes than why shouldn't they sanction the meet and invite outside athletes in case something great happens. You never know, why take the risk without the reward? I feel the same way. So I've attended off and on for a few years now and always had a great time. The facility at Boise State University is phenomenal and jumping there is a treat. This year will be even more special for me because my brother is now the Pole Vault Coach at BSU. His presence there has motivated me to attend every BSU competition I'm allowed in. The combination of a great runway, and him in my corner will yield great results. 
So Dec 2nd, I test the waters before this 2012 season officially starts, and jump from a big boy approach for the first time in 3 months. Sounds like a party. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things with Meaning

              What to say about living in Northern California again? Honestly I haven’t written lately because I haven’t had much to say. I think that part of it is the extreme comfort or contentment I’m feeling being back in the Mountains. A large part of my goal in coming out here may sound funny to some, but it is to find a sort of Spiritual, Psychological, and Emotional center and its proving as effective as I could have hoped. These elements of being an athlete are too often overlooked and the sometimes looming pressures and damages of physical training will tear down these most important facets of being a next level performer. When you are young you constantly beat yourself down with training to become the best, but as you get older in body I think you get stronger in mind. All the old Clich├ęs start to add up and make sense, but dwelling on there meaning is a waste of energy, and forward thinking must be essential. I apologize for the tangent but the issue, in my opinion, is horribly overlooked.
Back to me….
My daily routine.
In the morning I wake up and build a fire. Its still in the 60’s during the day, but at night it gets chilly and colder weather is coming so evening and morning fires will become a must. The wood stove is right next to my recently built workout area. I do 3 sets of push ups, Ab curl ups (back injury friendly), Planks, Opposite arm opposite leg, Cat Camel (back therapy, flossing of the discs), then a reverse row (which is also therapy). I do this in a circuit everyday in honor of the importance of routine taught to me by Daniel Ryland. After that I eat a light breakfast and prepare for either a lower body session or an upper body session. Then I drink some protein, eat some lunch and head out to work on one of my many projects. The projects are a form of meditation for me, but I always make time during some part of the day to sit down and meditate on life and pole vault if even just for a few brief minutes. 
My upper body training has remained almost the same. It is all exercises on the rings only, with the aid of weight vests and weight belts to increase difficulty.  My lower body training has changed. I was spending a lot of time on the bike and the pool. But numbers showed that over the past year, I have gotten slower. I came up with some ways to have a more extensive focus on fast twitch and muscle recruitment in the water and out, but I don’t have access to a warm pool anymore. I also lost access to a stationary bike for now, but I will eventually get a bike trainer when I can figure out a way to make some money. Meanwhile, I do the same bike intervals at the same speed or higher on an actual bike going uphill, and it is a hell of a lot more fun. I do squats hanging weight between my legs from a belt, so it does not put any strain on my back. I also enjoy squats on the bongo board wearing a weight belt. The importance of stabilizer strength is also something constantly overlooked and is the key ingredient to all of my training.
 In place of the pool training I am doing speed work uphill. This is a bit more risky as far as injury management goes. But before I left Idaho to move to Minnesota I had slowly eased myself into stair and ramp/hill speed training with the idea that is was lower impact and a more logical stepping stone to get back to flat land running workouts. When I went to Minnesota I sort of lost site of that part of training and have decided to give it another shot. So far I have been able to handle it, and am very excited about that fact.
After a long talk with my good friend and fellow vaulter Robbert Jan Jansen of the Netherlands a few days ago, he helped me realize something. I’ve been running wrong. Alex Tapplin was the first to point out to me the vital importance of tilting my hips forward with a tight “ab brace” not only for better and more efficient running mechanics, but for the protection of my injury, giving me the ability to have a higher volume of running workouts and jumps. I know Alex and I were on task with that, but once the season started and the jumping took over, I lost focus of it. Since then, I have been dwelling on minimizing and removing all lower body impact from my training. When really I could have probably been spending all this time running, even if it was just in very short distances (like 10-20m) until I break form, then stop. The problem for me is taking things to far, which is a personality trait that has gotten me in trouble and also given me great victory. But that topic is for another day. The point is that I will run till way form breaks, then far beyond that point, putting heavy stress on my back as my hips turn out. This also happens at the end of vault sessions when fatigue and stubborn habits set in, creating a situation where severe damage can take place. Anyway, I am hoping to do this hill training for a few more weeks with 100% focus in sessions in my form and not in the volume or intensity of the workout, just the form. Beating this new physical stature into my subconscious so it becomes the only way I can run. Then I will take that new repair to the track and ultimately, to the runway, where I can only imagine how immense the benefits can be.
So that is what I am up too. I should have never said I didn’t have a lot to say. I guess I was wrong.

-Keep it Classy

Friday, November 4, 2011

Epic Drive, and New Training

So long drives are generally not a big deal for me, especially when you have two people. But if you have two people, two cars, that are both in need of major repairs, loaded to the ceiling, roofs rack pushed to the max, bike rack packing 4 bikes, and all four shocks completely bottomed out with a 1,900 mile drive ahead of you, racing the beginning of winter storms, this changes things a bit. It was rough to say the least, but we made it. The cars and weather thankfully held out for us and now the future is a brighter looking future into the unknown.
Settling in to our new place will take time. We are converting an old office into an apartment and it is going to take a lot of work but will benefit us and our family greatly when completed. The piece of property we are staying on is located in the Sierra Foothills, right in the middle of the trees. The weather is mild year round, and in the mornings I wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and the beautiful sight of massive Oak trees and hundred foot tall Pines. A welcome change. I can't think of better place to clear my mind completely and focus my full attention on this 2012 season.
In the upcoming month I plan to change gears in my training. The bike and pool training has been wonderful and gotten me this far. But a modification is needed as I have been labelled one of the slowest elite vaulters in the US. I've done my best to stay fast but I guess it hasn't been enough. I think that most of my lower body training thus far has been more of a maintenance phase. Rather than gaining any ground physically, I have just managed to hang onto most of what I had while it had slowly slipped away. Not that I could show you, but if you saw my bare glutes and upper ham and quad area, you would see the stretch marks that have replaced the areas of my legs that used to be several inches larger which falls right in line with notches in my belts that I have lost. I have come up with some ways to beef up my legs again. To squat again (hanging weight from a belt and standing on boxes), and to run again (uphill running and sled pulls do not hurt my back near as much). I'm hoping that these new methods will help me gain enough lower body and extra spine stabilizer strength used for the proper motion, to allow me to start doing real running workouts again. Only time will tell, but I am extremely optimistic about it.
I have not pole vaulted in over a month now. I finally feel physically able to do so, but I am choosing not too. The more time I have taken off, the more I realized that I don't need to be jumping. Technical focus and change is probably not what is going to grant me my dream come true. Staying healthy and injury free long enough to make significant strength and speed gains will. I know how to pole vault, it may look a bit ugly at times, and even scary to some hard core technicians. But pretty looking jumps are not historically what got people over 19 feet. It was raw power. A lot of the 19 foot makes over time, are some of the ugliest technical jumps ever, and even some of the athletes that accomplished them will admit it with laughter. I intend to join this group. When I clear 19 feet in competition, we'll all get a good laugh at how funny looking it is. But the bar will stay up, and that's all that matters.