18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sun in December

           It’s been awhile since I took the time to post something on this site. I do feel a little guilty about it. Honestly, I have been writing, and most of the articles or blogs, or whatever the proper terminology is to describe such, were started with the intention of being posted to this site. But as the words crept down the page they continued to be borderline insulting to others, and sometimes too negative or personal. After rereading, editing and revising I decided not to post any of them. I tried changing them for the better, but I couldn’t force myself to remove large pieces of material, and I enjoyed the writing too much to destroy it. So I think this is something like attempt number four in the past month. There have been a lot of great things worth talking about.  
            Living in California is pretty awesome when it comes to weather. I’ve pole vaulted outdoors twice this month, in the warm sun, with a tailwind, both times being in my backyard. Earlier in the month 2-time USA Champion Mark Hollis came out, and we had a few short days to train together and put on a pole vault clinic. It is always inspiring to hang around Mark. He is such a powerful athlete, and a positive person. A few years back, him, Daniel Ryland and I had one of my favorite training camps of my career down in Jonesboro Arkansas spending priceless time at legendary Bell Athletics. Pole vaulting with a National Champion on my homemade runway was a blast, and being able to do it outdoors under the sun in December was like icing on the cake.
            NCAA All-American Derick Hinch grew up in this area and sometimes when he comes home for a holiday we get the chance to jump together. He was able to come over after Christmas and get a vault session in. We were graced with another sunny day and tail wind in December. It was still a little brisk for Derick having the luxury of 80+ degree weather where he lives in Arizona, but we still managed to have a lot of fun and even make some “Christmas bars”.
            Training has been different than in the past year. I must admit that I’ve been taking more risk, as I feel that I don’t have a whole lot to lose anymore. Also I changed therapy for my back, and it feels stronger and healthier than it has in two years. It has allowed me to readopt a handful of my old favorite training methods, and the change in routine has been well appreciated. I feel extremely strong, but not as fast as I’d like. It is still very early in the year, and the old legs are always fatigued, so I’m trying not too dwell on it.  My work has been inconsistent and it’s frustrating because I need the money, but it also allows me a great deal of free time to train.
            The indoor season is about to start and the only competition I really cared about was Reno (I just reread this, and I take that back. I am very much looking forward to the Simplot Games). Unfortunately this year I didn’t get the invite to Reno. They make a set of criteria to justify having to choose and fund a small group of vaulters out of such a large group of great vaulters in the US. A difficult task, that many would not be able to handle. I didn’t make the cut this year. So I’m still trying to decide if I will attend. It’s a shame because I have only missed one since 1998 and its probably going to be a very memorable Summit, but I’ve got a lot going on, and I can’t justify paying $120 registration fee to pole vault, not to mention travel costs. I’ve been offered some help by some nice people. But there is some underlying principle that still itches in the back of my throat, tied for 11th in the US in 2012, and having to pay people to compete. It just doesn’t sit right. It’s not just the Summit, but all over the US, always a registration fee, always out of your own pocket. Our sport is really a mess. I wonder how much the USA’s 11th ranked NFL, Tennis, Golf, NBA, Soccer, MLB, Hockey, Snowboarder, Skier, NASCAR Driver, or even Bowler pay to compete? Probably zero, and if so some sponsor likely handles it. Even more likely, they are the ones being paid, seems logical in a business sense.
            Anyway, that’s not productive talk, those discussions drag on and on, and tend to go nowhere.
            Like I said I have a lot going on outside of pole vault and my priorities have definitely shifted. Engaged, with a son on the way, the issues surrounding pole vault suddenly seem less and less critical. I can see how so many people move on, and leave our great sport behind. I’m not going to move on, or give up on myself and our upcoming stars. I intend to continue to put forth an effort, in any way I am capable, to helping make there careers a success and keeping this remarkable sport alive. To be continued…..

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fine Line of Destruction and Glory

           My body is aching all over. I've definitely had a sudden shift in gears from my lighter training regiment to getting after it lately. I’m excited about all the great things coming up, and its easy to get a little crazy during intervals or lifts. I actually was chatting with a coach the other day about how I took a different look and approach to a fall conditioning period this post Olympic season.
            Every one of us had a specific training and competition plan designed for the Olympic season, and I guarantee at least 80% dropped right off that plan in May and June. The sense of urgency to achieve the Olympic A-Standard becomes all that matters leading us to the US Trials. The only way to achieve it, is too compete, and compete, and compete. Without any notice you make a compromise in your plan, than another, and another, and suddenly your plan, that was prepared a year or more in advanced, goes right out the window and you are flying by the seat of your pants. You start doing what Track and Field athletes call “Mark Chasing”. You are chasing after a performance mark instead of sticking to your plan, your tapering, and taking proper care of your body. Then what happens, suddenly you are two or three weeks away from a major championship you should be rested and peaked for, and you are doing as many as four or five competitions a week, chasing that god damn continually elusive mark. What does that leave you with, injuries, lots of them. They may not any alone be too detrimental, but as a group, they must be. You continue to ignore them, starting with IB profen, then the icy hot, then atomic balm, the wrap, the neoprene sleeves, the heat to get started, the ice to finish, and this list can go on and on. ‘You put a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches’ and you carry on towards the task while it tears, you continue on for the mark.
            With that being said, you have left yourself a mess through the summer, your plan is long gone, and now you need proper time to heal (sometimes mentally more than physically). Is that amount of rest time and reintroduction to conditioning the same for a 22 year old man, as it is for a 32 year old man? Probably not. It makes sense to me not too continue to follow a seasonal training pattern that I have followed for the past 14 years, especially this post Olympic season where I laid mind and body on the line bordering destruction and glory. So I took time to rethink, and retune my training. Older and wiser you could say, or maybe just older and tired. The best way to describe it; is skipping the annual horror of fall conditioning after a late summer rest period and going straight to early to mid season type regiments with a much slower transition into such, and the rest of the season to follow a fairly similar timeline to those in the past, minus the mistake of “Mark Chasing”.
            That was a lot more explanation of sore muscles than I had planned. As you have read, I’m normally used to doing a heavier load of training at this time of year, and the excitement of the “Ultimate Vaulter” clinic and comp this weekend, getting to hang out, train and trade secrets with Mark Hollis, and the indoor season right around the corner, I did a little too much this past two weeks.
            There is also one other underlying reason for the additional workload, the weather. It’s been gloomy lately, and when it’s gloomy, I get gloomy as most of us do. I do value my time outdoors. In my opinion the best anti-depressant in the world is exercise, and sometimes you need a little extra to get you through those gloomy days. So if you’re feeling these seasonal blues like I do, get out and break a sweat, its not that hard, find something. It’s not just the nice endorphin's you get during the training; it’s the brief emptiness of mind, and the lasting feeling of confidence that comes with the knowledge of achievement on the day.