Meet Recap: 2013 Zurich Winterwurf

Yesterday’s competition, LC Zürich’s second annual winter throwing competition, was a tale of two people: Martin the coach and Martin the athlete.

Martin the coach couldn’t have had a better day. Six of my youth throwers were entered in the competition and all six set personal bests. All six also met their qualification standards for their respective Swiss age-group championships. The group has been throwing the hammer once or twice a week for the past four and a half months. While most competed in other events indoors, this was their first chance to measure their progress in the hammer throw. Each one has reached new bests in training, so I just hoped the competition results would reflect that and motivate them even more as the real season approaches. The next meets for them are not until May and their championships are not until September, so there is plenty of time for improvement. After setting a personal best of nearly 10 meters, I reminded one athlete that this does not happen every day. I have to remind myself that too. Not every day can I see so many of my throwers celebrating a personal best at once.
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Time to Put the Uniform Back On

After training with Peter on Sunday he asked me what my training plan was leading up to my first competitions over the next two weeks. On Saturday my club will be hosting a small throwing meet in Zurich and next week I will be traveling to Spain for the European Cup Winter Throwing event. I told him that I had no special plan; training will continue as normal. “Why compete then?” he asked.

Coming soon to Sihlhölzli: the season.

Coming soon to Sihlhölzli: the season.

He posed a good question. But I have a better question: “Why not?” I can list a dozen reason why I likely won’t have a good result. Most importantly I plan to do normal training up until and including the day before the competition, I will be throwing alongside six of my youth throwers making it almost impossible to focus on my own throw, I have worked with a coach just a handful of days in the past months, I have not touched a competition weight hammer for more than four weeks, and since we are in the middle of the tax season I’ve been working overtime the past few weeks. But there is still no reason not to compete. My fear of having a bad result next to my name vanished after a few bad seasons throughout my career. Why not compete?
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February Training Update

One word to summarize my last month of training would be slow. Progress in distance has been slow. Progress in technique has been slow. And even practice itself is slow as the I’ve had to sludge through a lot of snow. Through the start of the month I was in great shape, but poor weather conditions made it hard to convert that into a good result. Thankfully I finally received a pair of over-shoe snow traction devices now that the snow has finally melted. I also have moved on to a new program and lost my chance to see how far I was really ready to throw. This new program is a transition program aimed at transferring those good results into the slightly heavy 8-kilogram hammer.
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Bobsled Time

As the saying goes: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. After complaining about training in winter conditions a few days ago, I decided to just give in and embrace the winter. I took an extra day off of training to spend a long weekend of enjoying winter sports activities and relaxing with Kate in picturesque St. Mortiz.

imageNaturally the first thing to try out was the bobsled, which was born in St. Moritz more than a century ago. The historic Olympia Bobrun from St. Moritz to Celerina has hosted two Olympic Games and is the only all natural ice track in the world. The track records are reset yearly as the track is rebuilt from scratch and carved from snow with slight variances each time. The Swiss are also one of the best nations in the history of the sport. Just think of the focus and precision of the Swiss team in the movie Cool Runnings and you know what level of respect they get in the sport. Switzerland has more medals than any other country in the bobsled and the 2010 Vancouver Games actually marked the first time since 1964 that the Swiss team did not win a medal. Throwers also have a close connection to bobsled. In Switzerland the brakewoman for Swiss 1 is also our national champion in the discus. The driver for the men’s Swiss 2 sled last season was a former top junior thrower for my club. Outside of Switzerland numerous throwers have tried the event, perhaps the most succesful of which was Olympic gold medalist Marco Jakob of Germany who had thrown 64.96 meters in the discus at age 22 before focusing more on the bobsled.
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Let the New Year Begin Already

new-years-resolution-calvin-and-hobbes

This is the time of the year when many athletes are posting their New Year’s resolutions. You won’t find that here. I’m not a big person for New Year’s resolutions. For me, the new year starts in October when I begin training. January 1st is in the middle of the year, with months of training behind me and many more months ahead.

I’m also not a big goal person in general. I tend to think that specific goals are mostly needed when you do not know what direction to go. Sure, I want to throw over 70 meters, but writing that down on a piece of paper is not going to help the matter at all. My biggest goal is vague: I want to throw as far as I can. As long as I work my ass off towards that goal, everything else will fall into place. I know what direction I am heading, the question is only how far along that path I will proceed this year. And in many ways that is out of my hands.
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Holiday Season Training Update

As of December 7th, I have been on vacation until the end of the year. It was a welcome break and after a more strenuous year at work, it will give me four weeks to focus on my training, my family, and a few of my side projects. I will write later this week about one of the projects, but for now I would like to provide an update on training.

I detailed how much I have been focusing on my winds during my last training update in November. I had made substantial progress over the last year and it was beginning to set up the throw nicely and consistently. For the first two months of training I focused on, among other things, a slower start, flatter orbit, better posture, and better rhythm in the winds. All this put me in a better position to push the hammer. Now that this is more stable I have progressed to thinking more about the turns.
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Fall Training Update

6-.Since my season ended in September, my own training has barely warranted a mention on this site. Part of the reason is because I took a few weeks off. But the main reason is that I was trying out some new things and didn’t want to post until I had some concrete feedback about whether or not it was successful. On Monday I began my second training block of the season, so now is a good time to talk about how my training has started out for the 2013 season.

As Kibwe noted on his blog this week, Fall training is a perfect time to work on technique. If is dangerous to try to exaggerate changes, take a lot of low intensity throws, or do other drastic adjustments during the competitive season because it can throw off your rhythm enough to ruin a few competitions. But in the Fall you have plenty of time to play around and find out what works and what doesn’t. Like Kibwe, I am focusing on improving my winds and entry. The start of the throw is the most important since if there are problems there, they will be amplified as the throw progresses. But unlike Kibwe, I don’t have the most decorated coach in history watching my every move. This makes the process more difficult since even though I know what I want to fix, I have to rely on feeling and that can be deceptive at times (what feels good might just be what is comfortable, not what is better). In addition, an external pair of eyes can give you a different perspective.
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My First Offseason

The concept of an offseason is very foreign to me. I know all about the regular season, the preseason, as well as winter and fall training. But the offseason is truly uncharted territories. That is why I initially panicked when I sent Dr. B my training results after my last meet and received this short message in response: “Martin. Stop training. 3 Weeks passive rest. AB”

Three weeks might not sound like much, but let’s put that in perspective for me. Last year I took just ten days off after my season ended … and that was for my honeymoon. Read more

A Few Swiss Championships to End the Season

Coaching last weekend at the Swiss Junior Championships.

With the international season wrapping up last weekend, it is also time for the domestic season to come to an end in Switzerland. Rather than just slowly coming to a close, it is custom in Switzerland to end the season with various Swiss Championships. Throughout September we have the Swiss Relay Championships, Swiss Multi-Event Championships, Swiss Team Championships, and the championships for various youth age-groups.
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Meet Recap: Templemore International

The Irish Whales pioneered hammer throwing at the start of the modern Olympic era.

Lots of countries can claim to have the strongest tradition in hammer throwing. The United States has the most all-time Olympic medals, but has only won two medals in the past 60 years. The Soviet Union has the second most medals all-time, yet many of those were likely aided by pharmaceuticals. Hungary has a strong nine medals, which is outstanding considering its size.
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