Posts

The Best Track and Field Blogs

It’s been two and a half years since I started writing about my training on this thing called the interweb. Since then, many other track and field athletes have also started their own websites. Now, there are so many blogs that it can be hard to decide which ones are worth the read. Some are updated often and some rarely. Some provide a superficial look at the athlete, while others are more personal or contain detailed accounts of training. Below is a collection of my favorite sites across all the events.  If I leave out any great blogs, feel free to add them in the comments below.
Read more

The Mental Game

I’ve always thought that the best tool for sports psychology is a good training program. A good training program won’t solve all of an athlete’s problems, but when training is going well, it is hard to convince an athlete that they will not succeed. Throwers even have a unique advantage in this department. We get to practice every day like it’s a competition and are truly able know what shape we are in; all we have to do is pull out the tape measure and measure our results. Distance runners, on the other hand, do not have this advantage. An article in last month’s Runner’s World talked about how Kara Goucher has worked with a sports psychologist to overcome her mental hurdles. Unlike throwers, it is harder for runners to know exactly what shape they are in. They obviously run in practice, but they don’t replicate an entire race at competitive speeds. Even if they do, they cannot replicate race tactics in training. When the distance runner toes the line, they often aren’t quite sure what to expect and that is where doubt can enter the mind.
Read more

True Training Volume

I used to think that high volume was German Volume Training, or other programs similar to that… Little did I know … Everyone told us that we were going to have to be patient with the transition moving here. We were told countless times that we might as well just treat it as a “throw-away” year. As Kibwe and I heeded these warnings we were still thinking to ourselves (quietly) that we would just have an average year. We never thought we would be down as much as we actually were.
Read more

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:
Read more

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.
Read more

Movie Review: The Throwing Pope

Hammer throw coach Pál Németh, the subject of the documentary A Dobópápa.

Hammer throw coach Pál Németh, the subject of the documentary “A dobópápa.”


The last time I reviewed a movie I gave two thumbs up to Gladiator for my high school newspaper.  Since it is not every day that I watch a movie about hammer throwing, I figured it was necessary that I review A dobópápa (The Throwing Pope), a 2007 documentary by director Ágnes Sós. To my knowledge, this is the first movie about hammer throwing.  The hammer throw has made cameo appearances for comedic effect in some films.  Most notably, Agatha Trunchbull, the evil school headmistress and former Olympic thrower in Roald Dahl’s Matilda, was shown loading a hammer into her car’s trunk in that film (see 5:00 mark here).  More recently, Will Ferrell’s character in Kicking & Screaming was shown attempting and failing at the hammer throw in college.  The hammer throw has also been a star on the small screen, playing a feature role in the iconic 1984 Apple commercial.
Read more

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.
Read more

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.
Read more

One Road Leads to Rome

1956 Gold Medalist Hal Connolly

1956 Gold Medalist Hal Connolly

I am lucky enough to have been coached by two Olympic medalists throughout my career: Harold “Hal” Connolly (’56) and Anatoli Bondarchuk (’72).  It is interesting to see how many similarities they have in their approach to the sport despite their differences in upbringing (Boston vs. the Soviet Union).  First, they are both very resourceful.  I have seen Hal at work in his shop developing various makeshift implements to throw onto astroturf fields.  Dr. B is well known within our training group for jerry-rigging hammers.  If we only have a 6-kilogram hammer and he needs a 6.5-kiogram hammer, he’ll just strap on enough bolts and washers for it to be the desired weight.  If we run out of handles, he’ll find some scrap metal and weld his own.  His solution isn’t always the safest (I’ve often been thrown to the ground as my hammer breaks), but it allows us to continue with training.
Read more

Field vs. Track

Congratulations to the University of Washington women’s cross country team for their recent national title. While it was an exciting season to follow, its end means that the track and field season is near. TrackShark.com, the internet’s leading track and field news site, just published a good article on their front page that discusses how the field events often take a back seat to the running events in our sport. I probably think it is good merely because it quotes me, but click here to read the article here and judge for yourself. The article does make me sound like I am complaining. To the contrary, I really don’t mind being in a sport that is out of the spotlight, but it is important to note the barriers to success that it creates. Read more