Recovery: The Other Side of Training

Training at an elite level isn’t just about how hard you train; it’s also about how well you recover.  My training group trains ten times each week.  In order to be fresh and get the most out of each training session, it is important that we not only train properly, but also do the right things outside of training in order to take care of our bodies.  I find this just as true for me, even though I’ve never had a major injury or even an injury that has required me to miss a practice (although, in hindsight, I should have taken it easier after my bruised rib in 2008).

Proper recovery requires two things: time and resources.  As an undergrad, I was fortunate enough to have both the time and resources to do everything I wanted.  I was never rushed for time and the school had a full staff of trainers, a sauna, free massage, sports medicine specialists, and state of the art equipment.  All those resources remained when I began law school, but my free time dried up, forcing me to cut back on my hour-long post-workout routine.  Since moving to Kamloops, things have changed yet again; I now have ample time, but limited resources.

To give you an idea of all the things an athlete can do, I’ve outline some of the recovery methods I’ve used throughout the years.  Some work, some don’t, but since what works is quite individual it is helpful to list them all:
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Light and Heavy Hammers (Continued)

I received a lot of feedback on my last post about using heavy and light hammers in training.  Getting feedback is one of the reasons I love writing about the hammer on here and it’s also why I don’t write as much about my endeavors as an attorney.  I like learning more about the sport by sharing information and creating a discussion.  Hopefully you can take something away from it too.  Please feel free to comment on my posts or e-mail me if you ever want to discuss anything.
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Light and Heavy Hammers

As I mentioned recently, much of the time hammer throwers spend training is spent throwing a variety of hammers. While this may seem less than revolutionary, it surprises many people when I tell them that. They often think that the key to success is in the weight room, but it isn’t. Results are first obtained with technique and, consequently, throwing consumes a vast majority of my training group’s time at practice.

We do mix things up though. We don’t just throw the competition 7.26-kilogram (16-pound) hammer. Instead, we throw an assortment of hammers ranging from 5-kilograms up to 10-kilograms. Coach Bondarchuk even gave my training partner Kibwe Johnson a full length 12-kilogram hammer to throw once. We vary things up like this for a variety of reasons. First, by occasionally changing the weight of the hammer we throw, the body is forced to continually adapt and grow. Second, the variation in weight allows us to focus on different aspects of our training. Lighter hammers help us improve our speed and technique. Heavier hammers help us improve our special strength. Each hammer has its role in training. Finally, we spend time throwing light and heavy hammers because our results with those weights correlates better to success than any weight room exercise does.
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More on The Throwing Pope

coaches

Legendary coaches Pál Németh (L) and Anatoli Bondarchuk (R).

In a follow up to this week’s review of the documentary A dobópápa (The Throwing Pope), I wanted to mention that director Ágnes Sós has been kind enough to put the English version of the movie on her site now.  I also wanted to add a note about Coach Németh’s approach to coaching.  Throughout the entire movie, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities Németh has to my coach, Anatoli Bondarhcuk.  As perhaps the two most successful and legendary coaches in hammer throwing history, I guess it is not all that surprising that they have so much in common.  Nevertheless, it is intriguing.
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Training Tools Vol. 1: Essential Hammer Throw Special Strength Exercises

With the help of Mike Mai and Zack Midles, the Evergreen Athletic Fund‘s first clinic was a success on Sunday. We had ten athletes ranging in age from 8th grade to college, as well as local high school and college coaches. We are thankful to everyone who helped put on the event, and for the donations we received from it.

While most of the time at the clinic was focused on hammer throw technique, I also spent a little bit of time talking about one of my favorite subjects: special strength. I have previously discussed how I feel this an area most Americans neglect in their training. Since that post, I have received numerous e-mails asking about what other special strength exercises are helpful to the hammer throw. I thought it would be helpful to demonstrate some of what I was talking about, so I’ve posted a video below that demonstrates some essential hammer throw exercises.

Most of the exercises I cover in the video fall into the following categories, in no particular order:

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And Now for Something Completely Different

Coach Bondarchuk is a scientist, graduating with a degree in Pedagogical Science from the University of Kiev over 40 years ago. Like all scientists, he likes to experiment. He’s been experimenting for decades, searching for the best training methods. I am now one of his research subjects.
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Beauty and the Hammer Throw

The basic mousetrap may be simple, but it is an engineering feat (bear with me, this post is actually about hammer throwing). With just three parts, it is able to accomplish its task for hundreds as years while more complex versions have tried and failed to be more efficient. But if one part is removed, and it no longer works. There is the beauty, not just in its simplicity, but in the relationship between its parts.
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Reviving American Hammer Throwing

The hammer throw competition at the IAAF World Championships finished today. Today’s women’s final was highlighted by a world record performance by Anita Wlodarczyk and national record by home crowd favorite Betty Heidler. My training partner and roommate Sultana Frizell also made her first final and place tenth. While the American women had a strong showing, the Americans were once again absent from the podium. In fact, Lance Deal‘s silver medal at the 1996 Olympics was the only medal an American has won in the event at an Olympic or World Championships since 1956. I may throw for Switzerland, but I still am heavily involved in the hammer throw in America and hope the country can find success again, as has recently begun at the junior level. I hope I can help highlight some of the hurdles that need to be overcome in order for that to happen.
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An Introduction to Special Strength

One of the big things that sets Coach Bondarchuk apart from the typical American coach is how he approaches weight training for the hammer throw. Most coaches simply think stronger is better. To a certain extent, this is true; strength is a necessary component to success since you need to be strong to throw the hammer far. However, strength is not sufficient to throw far, and after a certain baseline level of strength is attained, you reach a point of diminishing return where strength’s correlation to success falters. Coach Bondarchuk takes a slow and steady approach to weight training. This is an approach that will get his athletes to the level of strength they need over the long term. His athletes do not aim to be the strongest and will take plenty of time to develop strength. In the short term, this also means they will have more energy that can be used to take the volume of throws needed to improve their technique, another essential element to success.
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More About Coach Bondarchuk

Coach Anatoly Bondarchuk

Coach Anatoly Bondarchuk

I’ve already discussed a little background about my coach, Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk. As I have repeatedly said, he is widely regarded as the best hammer throw coach in the world.  However, when I speak to most people about my coach, their first question is normally: ‘why is he now living in small town Canada?’  The short answer is that his current job with the Kamloops Track and Field Club allows him to be closer to his daughter, an emigrant to Canada.  A recent article in the Kamloops Daily News discusses this and more about Coach Bondarchuk, telling everything from his history as an athlete and coach to his pleas for more support for his athletes.  As for how much he enjoys his new life in Canada, the ever optimistic coach said: “Everything is good.  Good city, good people, good life, good job. Everything is fantastic.”  This was the most informative and in depth article I have read on Coach B and well worth the read.
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