The last time I was in Ashland, I had a conversation with Jud about being anxious for this season to get underway.
Entries by Kibwé Johnson
I’m sure most of you reading have heard that Lance Armstrong finally decided to publicly tell the truth. I’m not here to write about Armstrong, or doping in cycling, widely considered the dirtiest sport in the world. I want to touch on the lingering sentiment that exists within our great sport. The fact that Armstrong says that “everyone was doing it”. Meaning, this somehow makes it right. Now I don’t know about you guys, but when I was growing up, my parents told me several times, “well, if all your friends are jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you?” And me being the pimply, crackly voiced whippersnapper was forced to mutter, “no”. Because I wouldn’t! In no universe is lowering yourself to the mobs level sound logic. But this old adage is exactly what a moral decision like this comes down to. The “everybody is doing it” excuse just doesn’t fly, sorry.
Some of you know me well enough to know that I am a comic book/super hero nerd. I can thank my uncle Ed for that. Anyway, one of my favorites when I was a kid and has again reemerged, is Green Lantern. If you don’t know the story, a dude is given a ring from a dying alien that allows him to essentially do anything he can fathom. The stronger his will power, the more powerful he was.
The standards are higher! No surprise. It was an Olympic year and there were plenty of big throws around the world. Lot’s of those big throws had zero backups. No surprise there either. At this point, it’s to be expected.
Last week, I began my fourth program of the season. And things just got real. So I figured it’s a good time to discuss what I’m looking for technically in my throw. For those that are regular readers, you may remember that the last two winters, I’ve been given a program that included 9, 10, and 12k. Not touching a 16# for about two months or so. Specific Strength growth for sure each of those years. Competition weight feels like a 5kg after that program. Does wonders for swag. Dr. B has a theory that the 12 may have impaired my technique last season. I still may get it early next year though. My new program is 9,10, and 7.
Yes, it has been an absurd amount of time since my last blog. I apologize. My body’s reaction began going awry the beginning of April. With everything that was at stake, I just didn’t find the desire to write. As my title states, I encountered this ’emotional adversity’ shortly after I competed in the Final in London. I asked myself if this is what other athletes feel when they are contemplating retirement or life/career changes. I then realized that if I never took another throw again, I’d be content. Not because I’m completely happy with what I’ve accomplished thus far (I’m not), but because I am now complete. There was a fog when I thought about hammer. I felt eager to begin life: post hammer career.
There’s a reason they say the United States Olympic team is the hardest team to make. It isn’t just the competition. It’s also the shear amount of physical and mental stress. Both in preparation, and the competition itself. Whether acknowledged or not, it’s there. A percentage of athletes that compete at the Trials have literally waited four years (or more) for their chance at the team.
I learned a lesson these last few days. I began the year with the best training of my life to that point. My heavy hammers were going far and the competition weight was flying at a level of consistency that I had never seen before. Then for some reason, my normally spot on nervous system reactions changed. When I was supposed to be in good shape, I wasn’t. When I was supposed to be down, I was in great shape. Everything was haywire. A changing reaction actually is normal, but it’s a pain in the butt to have to deal with it now. But it is good to deal with it at the beginning of the season rather than the middle of it. All that is required is patience. No training program is ever written without the grander scheme in mind, so there is immense confidence in that fact. But sometimes I forget. I just have to remember that I am still the thrower that threw my 9k 70m in January. That doesn’t just disappear in a few weeks.
There are very few things I find more frustrating than what Dr. B calls ‘state zero”. I lied, nothing irks me more than competing in this state. State zero in this case refers to the state of my nervous system. My good and bad nervous system techniques can be virtually the same in competition, and my hammer will drop upwards of 10 meters in a bad state. It happens. It’s part of the natural flow of my nervous system. And thus obviously something we try to avoid in competition. So it’s unfortunate that this had to happen. But it did. I’m not ashamed of it. A little embarrassed, but not ashamed. But perhaps I should be more selective with my meet planning. *sigh*
Today begins meet week. My first meet week of the Olympic year. I picked up and moved to Canada a month after the 2008 Olympic Trials, knowing that I was not maximizing my potential as a hammer thrower. I knew I could be among the worlds best. I can still remember those first few training weeks in Kamloops like they just happened. Such a long time has passed and I’ve been blessed with the ability and health to continue improving and close in on where I saw myself all those years ago. So yeah, kinda excited to get this ball rolling!