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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.
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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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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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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.
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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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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.
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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

Stephan Widmer interview

Stephan Widmer is the Head Coach Queensland State Swimming Centre. I first met Stephan in 1999 at training camp in Australia. I was able to visit with him again this past spring and catch up. The opportunity to watch him coach a session last May was one of the highlights of the last year for me. He was trained in Switzerland in a classical physical/coaching curriculum with a great blend of practical exposure to teaching methodology and sport science. You certainly see this reflected in his coaching. Read more

One Step Back … Two Steps Forward

I don’t think anyone will ever understand all the intricacies of Dr. Bondarchuk’s training methodology. That being said, the underlying theory is easy to grasp: one step back and then two steps forward. To help explain, imagine that you want to be the world champion in pull-ups. You head to the local gym one day and do as many pull-ups as you can. You manage to do ten. Determined as you are to improve, you dedicate yourself to doing pull-ups every day. Most people will initially get very sore and tired because their muscles are not used to working in that manner. After a week, they may only be able to manage six or seven pull-ups. However, over time, the muscles will recover and strengthen and what once seemed hard will become easy. After time, twelve or fifteen pull-ups will be no problem.
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