I just returned from Mt. Sac for the season opener. I placed 5th overall, losing to the top Canadian, Hungarian, and two US girls. I threw 65.99m for my first mark of the season and had a pretty consistent series… grr. lol But consistent works. It means nothing was an accident.
I would like to discuss the meet a little but there’s lots of other stuff I would like to talk to about too. I was asked some pretty cool questions I haven’t thought about in a while and some interesting things have been brought up. So I will talk about preparing for a competition, competing, and finally the competition. Enjoy!
Preparing for a Competitions, Being Ready When It Means The Most:
Every competition is a little different in the sense of what it means to you, how you are prepared, the time of season, the type of competition, etc. And so, every competition you go in with a certain amount of expectations of what you want and should do and what that will mean to your season and your throwing (you can insert any event in here.) When I was younger, every meet was about PRing. I wanted to throw further, be better every time. And when you’re young, this is easier. There are larger mistakes, you are not as fit, you are learning more and more every competition. However, as you mature as an athlete, this is harder. The mistakes are still there, but smaller, you don’t have the gains in fitness as you once had, etc. You learn to train and compete smarter.
Even though I realize this. I still HATE to lose. I still HATE not doing better. But I understand the process as I’ve gone through it every year. I must be patient and follow my training and have faith in the outcome. You’d think I would have learned this by now. lol
So pre- meet preparations.
- Understand what part this meet plays in the overall scheme of the season: So for Mt. Sac it was season opener, first meet of the year. It is a meet to shake out the cob webs, get a feel for what sticks from practice and what my body wants to do when it gets excited. This meet and many leading up to nationals are practice and for information. I still compete to the best I am able, but I understand what that means.
- Having an idea of how you expect to compete: Sure it would be nice to PR at every meet, but you can’t look at not PRing as a failure. Sometimes your best is not your best ever. Runners seem to realize this more than us throwers. Going back to knowing the purpose of the meet, you can understand what you want to get out of it. For Mt. Sac, I understand what part of the season I am in my training with the heavy hammers, heavy lifting, and still heavy drill loads. I know in the end of the season (August or September and USA’s in June) this will pay off in spades, but it doesn’t make for far throws now. I know in my head the realistic and idealistic numbers I should put up at the meet. Every meet I have a goal. My goal for this meet was realistic between 67m-68m, but I will go into the meet talk in a bit.
- Physical Prep: Once you understand what you want to do with your season, each meet is along that time-line of progression. So, you must understand how you will prepare your body for the meet. For me, the beginning part of the season is building up my hammer strength, my technique, and confidence in my movements and throwing correct and the later part of the season is adding in my speed, my pizzazz, and aiming to throw far…really, really far. Prepare your body for each meet to go along that time-line. You’d hate to Peak for your first meet and not get any better or burn out by the end! Also, I know you want to be fast first, but take time to really ingrain technique. That’s the hard part, adding speed is easy at the end.
- Mental Prep: This is something I get better and better with as the season progresses. It is good to be in your best mental state for the competition. You should know what you want to do, feel good about competing, removing negative and distracting thoughts from your mind. Some use music. I do a little though it’s more to pass the time. Songs on my playlist include: Forever by Eminem, Remember the Name by Fort Minor, Teeth by Lady Gaga, On to the Next One by Jay Z. I have to admit for my first meet, I was a little distracted with stupid things that I know better than to do and talked down the nervousness a little too much… still working out the formula.
Competing, So That’s How You Do it Again:
Competing is a lot like riding a bicycle, the more you do it, the better you get. If you haven’t done it in a while, you still know how to do it, but I wouldn’t try doing your hardest ride. (Can you tell how much I love English using a simili. lol) So training works as each practice is to help you prepare for a meet and each meet is about helping you prepare for “the” meet or meets.
Each meet you should have some sort of routine. Some things you should know: Where will you sit while you wait? What are you going to do to pass the time? What time do you want to warm up? What kind of warm up will you do? How many warm-up throws do you want? What will you focus on that day? How do you plan out your throws? What is the plan is something were to go wrong? This is questions that we may not think of until the day of the competition, but things we should know right away.
I’ve been competing for a while so simple things as when will I warm up and what kind of warm up will I do is relatively set for me. As for the focus that day, it gets more and more focused as the season moves on. I’m a bit of a thinking and feel everything in my throw. I also have an idea of how I want to throw and the progression of my series, but really the first meet will help me feel and know how close that is and so what I should do differently or similar for next time.
Competing isn’t just about going out there and seeing what happens. There is a strategy… even when the strategy is not followed like you want on that day or your body doesn’t listen to you.
Okay, Okay. My Thoughts On My Competition at Mt. Sac:
Overall I have mixed feelings with Mt. Sac itself as a competition in the grand scheme of my season and have mixed feelings with how I competed. The meet is very competitive and for some of us our first meet of the year and for others, they have been already throwing for a while. There are collegians and professional and a circus of stuff going on around you. I’ll talk about this, but separate it into categories to simplify my thoughts.
What I didn’t like about the meet and my competing:
Mt. Sac is the first meet for me every year and it is also one of the more competitive when you consider we bring in the best of the US and Canada. I’m not afraid to compete against anyone, that is not the problem. I just understand my training process and how I open and progress in the season. I know I am a slow starter. In the last five years, I’ve opened as low as 60m to my best being a high 66m. The year I opened at 60m was the year I made the Olympic team. lol
It’s just I hate losing, I hate going into a meet and getting beat. Mt. Sac has a history of people throwing there, peaking for the competition and not throwing any further the rest of the year and some dramatically going down. And I know going into that meet I am not set to peak. I know going into that meet, where I am at in my training. I know this, but losing makes me feel anxious, makes me want to change up my strategy so I can throw a PR now. But I remind myself to be patient.
I came into the meet with a realistic goal of 67-68m. Do I plan on throwing 67m at USA’s? Hell no, I plan on getting the AR, but a 67-68m throw is reasonable for my timeline in training. Did I throw that at the meet? No, and that’s where my frustration lies. I could and should have thrown that mark. However, my excitement got the best of me and I couldn’t seem to calm down my new heel turn start enough to build into a proper throw. In fact, there were several times I almost stopped just to restart. Because my first turn was so off-balance, my second turn was used to correct my balance instead of building. And so, I threw 65.99m almost 66 off basically my last two turns.
Sure it’s easy to sit in the stands and make comments or notice how bad my start is. Believe me. I know. I feel it. I was attempting to fix it, but it didn’t seem to want to work for me that day. I’ve learned that the start is my first thing to go in the competition and so now this week, you can guarantee that is what we will be looking at and working on. My coach and I are working on my technique, what you see are the outcomes not necessarily the desired outcome.
Things I liked About the Meet:
Sure I wasn’t super pleased, but you don’t have to talk me off a cliff. I have a terrible first two turns and still threw less than a meter off my all-time season opener… That gives me a good feeling knowing that it is going to go well when I am able to line up all 4 turns and add my speed and power to the ball! I was speaking with Dave and John after and we discussed what this meet meant and what we saw for the next one, etc. I even was able to speak with Koji and he pointed out that I have some great things, but just need them all to come at once. I need 4 good turns, not one or two or three. lol
I like the meet because it’s a good competing to add some fire to your training, to see what the others around you are doing. There are some rivalries in our group and seeing that person does something to you next time. I’m also happy to have learned about my competing from the meet and looking forward to addressing those next time.
The weather was pleasant and sunny, I was able to see some faces I haven’t in a while. So overall, I think my training and season in right on track with what I want to get out of my sesaon. I know my body, I know my throw, and I know my heart. Sure I would like it to be easy and throw far every day and never worry. But hell, I didn’t start throwing this stupid thing because it was easy.
And maybe some good will come out of my more modest season opener. Everyone loves an underdog, right? Good luck and fun this week.