Status-Not Good

As mentioned in my previous post, I took a few days entirely off and then came back with a different workout routine.  Basically it was heavier weights, fewer reps, with two different workouts for chest, back, and legs.  This gave me six routines, so nothing was getting repeated more than once a week.  It sounded good on paper.

It actually did go pretty well for the first couple of weeks.  But there were a few things that I was doing that irritated my elbow which I persisted in doing.  I think that knowing I would have plenty of time off before I had to do those exercises again made me think I could get away with it.  I was wrong.

A couple of weeks ago the elbow pain flared up and has yet to go away.  I have been unable to workout, and the pain is the worst it’s ever been.  Everything hurts it…using a stapler, carrying a bag, lifting anything that weighs more than a few pounds…it’s depressing.  In the past the soreness would always subside with rest.  Now the pain is more accute and refuses to go away.

I’m still doing some running and that’s been going OK, but it’s been hard to stay as consistent as I would like.  I don’t have an impending competition to focus on and my schedule’s been busy, and the elbow situation has got me feeling pretty down.  Unless there’s a radical change, my multi-event career may be over.

Reflections and a Battered Body

Four weeks have gone by since my heptathlon.  I’ve been meaning to write down my thoughts and observations from the meet, but just haven’t been motivated enough to do so.  It’s a rainy Saturday morning so I finally am forcing myself to write this down before I forget it all.

In some of my training reports before the meet I talked about losing the spring in my legs.  This didn’t seem to affect my speed, but it showed itself in the jumping events where my performance was sub-par.   It hasn’t gotten any better since then; I still don’t have the lift that I had a year ago.  Sometimes my strength training routine bothers my knees; they’ve been a little achy-nothing serious-but maybe just enough to be causing the problem.

Shot put went much better in the competition than it did during training…all of my throws were out around 39′, versus mid-30s in practice.  I didn’t do a “safe” standing throw this time, I used the glide on all three.  But once again I fouled a throw by walking out of the side of the ring.  This hasn’t hurt me yet, but I need to break this habit before it does.

My starts out of the blocks were great, especially since I never practice them.  I was a poor starter in high school, so this is a big and unexpected turnaround.  I think that maybe all of explosive leg stuff I do in the weight  room has transferred over to that initial push.

The hurdles were interesting to say the least.  I had felt pretty confident in my practices, but the race was something entirely different.  I had a very good start, but going over the hurdles I was a mess.  I ran almost a half-second slower than last year.  I don’t think I got in enough work over multiple hurdles at full speed.  It also may have been a product of the schedule.  We completed the first day’s events late Saturday night, then came back early the next morning for day two.  I probably should have spent more time cooling down and stretching Saturday night.

Pole vault was definitely a highlight.  I started out rough…every attempt felt different, and I had two misses at 9′ 8″.  But on my third attempt I raised my grip and all of a sudden everything fell into place.  I didn’t miss again until 11′ 6″.  By then I started to tire and things came unraveled again, but in looking at the video of my better jumps it would appear that 13′ (my high school PR) is still within reach.

The 1000 meter run was also interesting.  Last year when I ran it I felt fresh and fast and the laps seemed to fly by rather quickly.  I had a great finishing kick and ran it in 3:25…then sprawled on the track for a good five minutes trying to recover.  This year the laps did not fly by; the entire race was a struggle and I ran 10 seconds slower.  But I needed a strong kick at the end to win the race and the last 80 yards was a full-out sprint.  I sat down against a wall for a few moments, but to my surprise I recovered relatively quickly.

I felt pretty well beat up by the next day.  I had done something to my heel during the 60 meter dash (I didn’t feel it until I walked over to begin warming up for long jump).  I can only guess that maybe it happened while decelerating into the wall at the end of the race.  It didn’t bother me during the rest of the competition, but by Monday I was hobbling because it hurt to put pressure on it.  That lasted a few days.

My elbow was also very tender, the worst it has been since I got the cortisone shot last fall.  Both shoulders were sore as well.  Throwing the shot put doesn’t affect my right side, so I’ll have to put a lot of the blame for this on the pole vault.  As expected the hamstring was tight and sore, and the knees were achy as well.  My calves were sore (they were both cramping during the high jump) but not nearly as bad as after the Club West meet in October.

So what did I learn? 

 1.)  I can put together a decent performance with only a couple of weeks practice

2.)  Don’t expect miracles after only two weeks of practice

3.)  A hep held over two days is more physically demanding then a one day pentathlon

4)  Being ready for a decathlon (400 meter dash & 1500 meter run) will be a huge challenge

5)  I’m not sure my body can continue to take this kind of punishment 

I went back to training (lightly) a few days after getting back.  I’ve had a couple of good sprint workouts on the track since then, but my energy and resolve to run any hard intervals has been lacking.  I’ve changed up my workouts in the gym hoping that it would give me some additional rest and cut down on the soreness, but it hasn’t worked.  I like the routine and I’m feeling stronger, but I can’t seem to shake the nagging aches and pains.  Knees, shoulders, elbow, hamstring, nothing feels very good right now.

I’ve decided to take a little break and do nothing for four days.  Then I’m going to shake up my workouts again and see if I can eliminate some of the things that seem to generate problems for me.  I’m getting pretty frustrated at not being able to do a lot of things that I would like, but I’ve got to figure out a better way.   Being sore all of the time isn’t the answer.

Highlight Video

Here’s a quick recap of my weekend in Wisconsin at the 2010 USA Track & Field Masters Indoor Heptathlon Championships:

15 Minutes

The local newspaper did a feature story about me in Saturday’s sports section, complete with a color photograph.  So I’ve been basking in my 15 minutes of fame and getting lots of kudos from my friends and aquaintances. 

Other than a bike ride and some stretching midweek, yesterday was my first workout since the competition.  Everything is still a little sore…both shoulders, my elbow and my calves.  But I managed to get in a decent chest workout and I ran for 30 minutes.    I’ll probably do a back workout and some more cardio today.

I’m not quite sure why my upper body got so sore, but since it’s both shoulders, it must be pole-vault related.  My lower body didn’t take near the overall beating I gave it in Santa Barbara, but once again the calves took the most abuse.  They were both cramping during the high jump, and are still sore a week later.  It seems apparent that even an ample amount of training at 90% effort isn’t enough to get prepared for the demands of going full-out in competition.

I’ll be posting my video of the hep championship soon.  There’s not anything too spectacular in it, but the pole vault footage was fun to see.  Practice for the high school team starts next week, so that will be where most of my time will be focused.  I think I may be done competing until at least this summer, but we’ll have to wait and see.  I haven’t decided what my next goal will be.

National Champion!

I won the Masters Track & Field  Heptathlon National Championship for my age group with a score of 5061 points.

In my previous post I remarked that I would be “very surprised” if any of my performances fell outside the parameters of this chart.  As it turns out I was wrong the majority (4 of 7) of the time, and out of those four, three were on the “under-performed” side of the chart.

On the bright side I achieved my first All-American standard in a sprint event for my 60 meter time, and I pole vaulted really well, better than anyone else in the entire competition.   I led wire-to-wire and won four of the seven events in my age group.

I’ll get into the details a little later this week when I have a little more time.  It was a great competition and I think I learned quite a bit.

Final Predictions

 Yesterday I made this scoring table with predictions of how I expect to do in the seven events of the heptathlon. I actually came up with three numbers for each component–one that I would be disappointed with, another I would be satisfied with, and a third that I’d be thrilled with.  Even though I haven’t vaulted or run a 60 in competition, I think the ranges should be pretty accurate.  I’d be very surprised if any of my performances went “off the chart”. 

With the low numbers I would total 4,924 points, which is actually above last year’s winning score (4755). But from what I’ve heard there is going to be a lot more competition there this year. I guess if I won with less than 5,000 points the victory would temper some of the disappointment, but I wouldn’t be very happy.

My middle scores total 5,225 points, which is just under 750 per event. This would translate into a decathlon score of 7,500…which is pretty darn respectable. I think that as long as I came away with a couple of PRs or All-American marks I’d be satisfied with that number, win or lose.

If I were to have an epic day and perform at my best in all seven events my score would be just over 5600 points. This would be a new record for my age group. When I first decided to train for the heptathlon, the American record (5,482)was the number I was aiming for. I think if the event was scheduled for March like it usually is I would have had a chance at it.  But I was planning on three months of serious event training, not two weeks. I may get lucky and come close to some of those numbers, but hitting seven PRs without any training isn’t very likely.

The decision to make this trip was a difficult one because I knew I wasn’t as ready as I would like.  Hopefully I made the right choice.   Right now I just hope that I’m physically strong enough to put forth a maximum effort.  Otherwise it will be a long way to go for nothing.

That’s a Wrap

I practiced a little bit of shot put yesterday, and hit the track today just to keep loose.  Tomorrow I may do a little bit of light stretching, but that’s going to be it.  I leave Friday morning and travel all day, then compete Saturday and Sunday in Wisconsin.

Shot put yesterday was dismal…I threw the 18# ball a few times and was a couple of feet shy of my best mark (but right where I was at this time last year).  I then worked on my glide a little bit and called it a day.  Unless I tape myself  it’s just too hard to figure out what I’m doing wrong.  I think it’s probably time to get some coaching.

Running today was nice, simply because the sun was out finally.  I warmed up and did a few sprint drills, but my legs still had some soreness in spots, so I kept it light.  I brought out the hurdles and did some trail leg drills; I felt like that went pretty well.  I didn’t do any lead leg stuff because the hamstring injurywas a little tender. 

The soreness in the hamstring doesn’t overly concern me–I’ve run with it in the past and done fine.  It’s the pain and weakness around my knees that has me a little worried—I don’t recall feeling that before.  Hopefully with a couple more days rest it will go away and not slow me down.