Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Vault

Another beautiful day for our annual Halloween Vault.

My leg is still getting better today. I got an email yesterday from my buddy Dan West, suggesting that my transition to this type of lifting, though for the best, may take months rather than weeks to get to a point where I am strong at the new lifts. He's the master of this stuff and I believe he is exactly right. I'm glad he told me though because it will probably save me some frustration and prevent further injuries.

I'll skip the next rotation too and start again Thursday. Apparently this is a "pay me now or pay me later" rest demand. After every big end of the season meet I seem to get some type of little ding right out of the box. So I'm going to give up two weeks anyway - I might as well do it up front. Thanks Dan!! Bubba

Friday, October 30, 2009

All Videos From Sydney

These are now posted on the website at I put them up so Kris could hit "Pause" and then use the cursor to go frame by frame through the jumps. Also the picture is bigger and more clear than on the Sydney blog.

Being hurt, watching these gives me a little more sense of worth when I'm laying around feeling worthless. HaHa!! Bubba

*** All Videos From Sydney - Warmup - 11' 9 3/4" (3.60m) - 12' 1 1/2" (3.70m) - 12' 5 1/2" (3.80m) - 12' 9 1/2" (3.90) - 13' 1 1/2" (4m) ***

Feeling Better

Well the rain is clearing and I woke up with my leg feeling significantly better. I remember back in the early 90s I used to have lower back issues. My friend, Brian DeRoo, told me to attack the problem head on with straight leg deadlifts and hang cleans. Brian was a masters decathlete who had retired as a receiver for the then Baltimore Colts. He was right as I have never had an issue since. So that means I will hit a series of three types of lunge and lunge jump type combinations starting at a very low level. This is a little contrary to my orthopedic surgeon's advice that if your training is hurting you but your event is not, then you need to adjust your training. In this case both groin injuries were caused by vaulting. Time to attack the weakness.

Today is "Family Training" as we prepare to try and bring my 93 year old mother in law home after a stroke. We're not sure we can do it but we will try. I'm a big help with a groin strain - NOT. We should find out a lot about what we can and can't do today.

Tomorrow is our annual Halloween Vault. here are some links to the past ones. Have a fun day! Bubba
2005 -
2006 -
2007 -
2008 -

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Skipping a Rotation

Well, my left leg is even more sore today. In fact, it feels injured but there is no bruising. Because of this I'll skip the rotation of today and tomorrow's lift and let it just rest completely. What's funny is that if it's pretty warmed up it feels quick and strong but if I hit the wrong position I'm stopped in my tracks. I won't fight city hall on this one. I used to be a master at turning something small into something big. I don't do that anymore. All the best! Bubba

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My soreness in my groin is officially a "ding" because there is no way I can sprint or jump. Normally this would bother me but not today. First, I did not have an "event" where I felt an injury. That's big because that usually means 1-3 weeks of a ramp back up to 100%. In fact I didn't notice it until the next day. Had there been an event, it would be 4-8 weeks.

Next, it shows a sign of weakness that I have scheduled to condition anyway so soreness in a weak area is expected. I'll go through my workout and do what I can tomorrow. I know it happened during bench step ups because that is the only motion I mimic that makes it flare.

Earlier this year I felt a little grab in my left adductor when I slammed my foot down to take off on a big pole. WELL, this will be a way of life this next year so I might as well address the area now. Bench step ups puts an Olympic bar and weights on your shoulders and you explosively step up on to a bench and jump up at the top of the step. PERFECT!!

I'll report back after tomorrow's attempt to get a full workout. Have a great day! Bubba

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


We got flooded with rain yesterday so the fields are way to flooded to run on so I'll take the day off and stretch later. My left adductor/inside groin is a little too sore from running and jumping so the day off will be good on top of my normal day off tomorrow. It's not anything to worry about but sometimes I get rained out for a reason - to protect me from myself. Today was an easy run day but the break will be good since I sprint faster and shorter on Thursday. I will dial it back if I have to.

More later. Bubba

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let the Grind Begin

I guess officially it's not a grind until you're into a complete and set program but I make an exception today because it is the type of day you absolutely do not want to work out. My body feels so so, but I feel lethargic and lifeless. That's the body's way of telling me that it doesn't like the changes I'm making. Knowing this, and that I'm not lifting hard enough to get hurt, I slogged through it and "survived it" at best. I was careful to use perfect form and not push the weights. Still - NO FUN!!

I have a feeling it will take me 3-4 weeks before I am settled in enough that I can do all planned activities at a high level. I need and want to vault starting from a longer run one day a week but I can't do that until my legs feel sound. Who knows how long it takes to get used to running real sprints - short and long, and lifting Olympic and Power lifts? I'm guessing it won't be this Thursday.

All of this said, I can feel a difference in my mobility and my ability to run is back again. On my 200s yesterday I felt I had some extra gears without risking injury. I haven't felt that in a long time. My best time was just under 40 seconds which is not fast, but I wasn't trying to run fast. My goal will be to get under 30, which too is not fast but the most I will ever run to vault is 88' so I'm not too worried about it.

So no Halloween Vault this Saturday. I'll just stay on schedule and see how I feel as I approach the 11/15 meet in Austin. Worse case I should certainly be a go by the 12/19 meet in Dallas, the first indoor meet of the year. I figure I jumped 12' yesterday from 32' 6" on a tiny pole so it's not like I will lose anything in this transition process. In fact I'm only making such drastic changes in my training because I think I have a higher potential with this approach. PATIENCE! Or so I keep telling myself.

During today's lifting I had a few revelations about the order of both lift days so I think that will be totally dialed in by the end of the week. That excites me because I don't feel like I'm wasting efforts but can get directly to the meat of the essential lifts. You can lose momentum during a workout if this stuff isn't right.

It's so hard to motivate yourself to train like this day in and day out unless you really LIKE your training plan. I'm getting close. I do my first short sprint day Thursday so at that point I will have done all of the components in what I hope is the final format. Final of course is relative as I will always modify the days as needed to avoid injury or an overall body rundown. But once the base program is set I follow it to the letter better than 80-90% of the time. It take a real red flag to make me modify or vary. Fortunately I've learned to spot those red flags a little earlier.

Rainy here today and the phone man is here to finally get that system fixed. Gotta run. have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, October 25, 2009


As I begin to settle into the new routine I get surprises both good and bad. I guess the bad is that this is my first jump session and I didn't feel very good. I'm still not loose in the legs from the new lifting. I've done no real running yet to speak of, which could and should help - rain.

The good news was that I took only three jumps from 32' 6" and they were clearances at 11', 11' 6" and 12' (3.66m). I was on my 13/15.9 for the first two and the 15.5 for the last. These are my two smallest poles. I stopped because I just didn't feel good.

Next up was running so I pulled out my sheet from Kris and got another surprise - 3X200, 2X150 and 1X100 - bad. I thought it was 1X200, 2X150 and 3X100 which would have been much easier. The good news is that I ran them well considering I've not run further than 50m hard in the last three years. I was more shocked than surprised that I wasn't really that out of breath. My bars felt good considering I haven't done them since a week before I left for Australia.

I came home and as I was getting set to do my stretching, I decided I might as well try and lift legs. To my surprise that went well. Now I'm totally trashed but all of the components felt more comfortable and easily within the ranges I set.

So I guess the final good surprise is that there were not more bad ones. LOL!! Have a great day! Bubba

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coming Around

I started to feel a little more like an athlete today. This is Saturday and though I got my work done, I needed three days off in the process to make sure I didn't wreck my body as it gets used to this new workout. I'll try to vault short run on light poles tomorrow and get my speed endurance running in. I think tomorrow it's 1X200, 2X150 and 3X100 but I'll have to check Kris' sheet.

If I feel good tomorrow I'll try and lift legs after I jump. If I don't I have the option to do it the next day. Lifting legs the day I jump means typically that I will feel better the next jump day. If I lift legs the day after I jump I'm not as recovered when I go to jump again. The idea is to trash them all on one day (vault, run, lift) instead of over two days. But if I can't get a quality lift it makes no sense because then you're just going through the motions. My guess is that I won't be lifting legs the day I jump very often until my body adapts to the new program.

What's funny is that you feel SO horrible when you go to lift but 10 minutes into it I feel as good as I do any other day. And when I'm finished I feel pretty good the next day. But when I spread it out I feel flat for a few days. Weird.

My poles arrive at IAH today from Australia so I'm sure I'll get the call to go get them once they clear customs. Even though I'm not near ready to use poles that size it will be nice to have them home. Long process huh? Now you know my hesitation to jump right back in at Kamloops.

Have a great day and I'll report back tomorrow. Bubba

PS - I'm going to post all of my Quicktime movies from Australia on the website later today. The advantage is that they are bigger and you can hit pause and then go frame by frame with the scroll keys.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beat Up

I was so sore and beat up in the legs this morning that I couldn't make myself do today's workout, even though it had nothing to do with legs. This leg day lifting is totally zapping my whole body for strength. I was told that whole body free weights (as opposed to machines) will feel like the difference between biking and running. I'm a believer. I've done TONS of free weights but not in the last few years because of a back irritation. Fortunately I'm not feeling that this time around because I am out of a rack totally free and not held in line by the Smith Machine I was using.

I would like to try and get in my first easy vault session Sunday but we'll see how I recover. I've got nothing real pressing so I'm fine to take the pace my body dictates in order to advance. My poles aren't back from Australia yet anyway.

I was planning to vault at our Halloween Vault next Saturday but I think I will train through it. Here is a page from the 2006 event so you get the idea -
Funny that in that year I came as Australia's Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin as he had just died. Now I'm just back from Australia.

I have a meet next month in Austin so I will plan for that, but I'm not that committed if I don't feel ready. Interestingly, Marion Jones will be doing a thing for kids about staying clear of drugs at that event. There are those for it and against it but she did her time, lost her medals and has been disgraced, so if after all of that she wants to help kids, good for her. I'm all for it.

December 19, is an indoor vault meet outside of Dallas I will hit. There's another one that's bigger, also outside of Dallas in early January. My first big goal will be at the USA Track & Field Pole Vault Summit in Reno at the end of January - 2,000+ vaulters compete every year on 14 pits. At this point I'm 50/50 for World Indoors in Kamloops, BC, Canada because I just did this big international trip and all of the hassles and expense that come with the pole situation. It's also three stops and 11 hours on planes. That in itself isn't such a big deal except that two weeks later is our Indoor Nationals in Boston. That will be my next to last national meet for 2.5 years without Gary Hunter, the ageless wonder who will enter my division the next January. So Reno and Boston for sure and Kamloops is a maybe.

Right now sitting on the toilet without leg and butt pain would be a dream. I remember in college when our National Champion shot putter, Syd Gilzow, got me in the weight room and taught me squats. I did 3X10 with 135 and could barely walk for nearly a week. But I remember clearly that when I could run I felt faster and more powerful than I ever have. I'm hoping to revisit that rebirth of speed and power once this soreness clears. I'll keep you posted. All the best! Bubba

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rain & Sore

It is still raining so I skipped this jump rotation and lifted legs instead. I think I'm a little better at the techniques because the weights are going up a little. I have to watch that though because it's not smart to move up the weight just for the sake of lifting more. I need to feel I have total control over the weight I'm using before moving on. That sucks because it makes my lifted totals so low. Oil well.

I still can't decide if I need to drop some things or is my body just getting used to doing them. I certainly feel the rebellion. My gut says there will be some type of a hybrid between what I was doing and what I actually end up doing for my program. Common sense says I don't need to change a lot except to run more so I can go from my longer run, but the problem is really deeper than that. I have gotten to the point that I can't open up and run fast without risking injury because my lifting was mostly machines due to a back irritation. Long story short, my body doesn't move naturally so I can't pour on the speed. I'm trying to counter that with more running and different style of lifting that makes me more dynamic. The lifting feels easy and the weights are light but it's kicking my butt. I'm thinking that's a good thing since I'm not on the verge of getting hurt.

This weeding out process will probably take more than a couple of weeks but I've got nothing really pressing to get ready for. Again, if you are impatient you have no confidence in your plan so take the time and plan well. The other obvious thing is that to get to the next level I must do some things differently. It's the journey not the destination.

There are other annoyances too like the order of exercises is all wrong because I'm constantly loading and unloading weight plates instead of progressing exercises in a way that the bar fills up as I go instead of all of this up and down. This alone adds frustration and time to my sessions. BTW, this is only on leg day as my upper day is very smooth.

We'll keep and eye on it and I'll report back as I go. Have a great day! Bubba

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reworking Stuff

Talking to Kris today we decided to move my leg lifting day to the day after I run and jump in order to get more out of it. During big meet season I need to feel more fresh on vault days in practice. I don't have that same urgency right now plus we think the change of exercises to all free weights won't drain my legs as much anyway.

We're also dropping the sled running for awhile as I've been doing it a few months and have a slight right Achilles flare. It goes away in a day or so but I want to keep it that way. So on my fresh day I'll run Jim Hiserman's speed development program and on the long rest day I'll run speed endurance like 200s, 150, 100s, etc. I'll still use the sled for 50m hill runs on the last running session before meets.

Today is my off day as I travel the area on business. It rained today and is supposed to tomorrow also which means I'll miss that vault run rotation. I will lift the garage though. No big deal as I'm still recovering from the trip. It amazes me the physical and emotional toll such an ordeal causes. I just now feel like I'm catching up on good sleep and feeling alert all day.

Hope you all had a great day!! Bubba

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting Settled in a Program

The first couple of weeks of the new training program can be a struggle if you let it. I just accept that all things won't work as planned and adjustments will be needed. The hardest thing to accept at first is that you won't be able to do the entire scheduled workout. I've only completed one workout as I have had to delete parts of the others. I'm just not fit enough to do all of the components yet.

I say all of this because most people will bail out on a training plan if it doesn't feel right. My message is to take a few weeks and modify it so it does feel right. Remember that impatience is a sign that you have no confidence in your plan. I MUST look forward to my daily training in order for it to be effective. When you have done a complete component overhaul like I have, I'm not comfortable with much of it but I'm already starting to like it. I figure by the end of this week I'll be settled in and within 2-3 three weeks I'll even start adding things here and there.

Speaking of adding and subtracting, I try each year to do only what is essential to my success. I have worked with a lot of elite athletes who have all types of nonsensical routines that have very little impact on their performance. Why? They have the time and feel like they should be doing SOMETHING. In reality I feel that takes away from the focus of the goal – to perform your event better. Once that feels comfortable as a routine I'll little by little start adding things in that I consider an extra edge.

So the purpose of this post is that right now I'm going through organized confusion. It's like cleaning out your garage or closet. You're going to keep things, throw things out, rearrange things etc. But in the end you will have a program that you look forward to doing that is specific yet fun. To me that is the key to constant improvement. As my "blur" comes into "focus" I will start to progress to the next level. I'll keep you posted with the exact program as it evolves. All the best! Bubba

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Blog?

It makes perfect sense when you're leading up to an event but keeping a training diary is nothing new to athletes. I like to go back and see what my training looked like during a good phase, or how I got out of a bad phase. Most of the time I look back it is to see what pole/run combination I was using for a particular meet or even how long did it take from an injury to being able to vault again. Even though I have always done it, the concept all came together for me in 1994 when I met Sergey Bubka's coach, Vitaly Petrov and he told me that he and Sergey could tell you what he did for training on this day, what he ate, what the weather was etc., all the way back to when he was 11 years old. If it's worth doing it's worth recording. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to in order to make reason out of scrambled thoughts - even if you're just talking to yourself.

Today was a perfect reminder of why we cycle training. You get out of shape training for a big meet. Consider that your hardest day is about nine days out and then you take a week or so off afterward, you basically haven't trained for nearly three weeks. Today wasn't as bad as day one last year but I do feel somewhat missing on the conditioning side. But that's fine as I enjoy the process of recycling my programs.

Why? Last year after Nationals in Spokane I came back and vaulted the next Saturday with no other training during the week. I cleared 13' 6" twice (the American Record is 13' 6 1/2") and then promptly strained my hamstring attempting 14'. All of that momentum was now lost as I was back to square one with rehab. It's taken me all year to get back up to a high level because I kept rushing to get back and getting little injuries. My lead up to Sydney was fun and productive with little chance of injury and that's why I recycled and started my ramp up again at a low level yesterday rather than pushing when I have no reason to be doing so. After all, I did not jump in a meet between outdoor nationals in Spokane and Sydney - over two months and had no problems. So what's the rush? Do it right and don't get hurt.

I'm learning new lifts and I suck at many of them. Try the overhead squat where you go all of the way down but your arms are fully extended overhead from the start. I'm switching to all free weights this year so there will be some adjustments and that's OK too. One lift yesterday I started to go down and lost my balance and threw the weight bar (45 lbs) forward and it landed back square on the pegs of the rack. That will never happen again. I'm sure the neighbors think I'm nuts but at least I'm not building a spaceship - we have NASA in town for that.

So let's have some fun. Speaking of fun. I run with a sled all of the time but yesterday was my first time to do repeat 100ms with one. NOT so fun but I can tell it will be effective. Why a sled? Stride frequency is somewhat set in your genes but your ability to cover ground can only be done by increased strength and flexibility. The challenge is that you can't reach forward to cover more ground so the sled teaches me to run rhythmically and more powerfully.

That's it for today. Hope you have a great day. Bubba

Sunday, October 18, 2009


After my fortunate win at the World Masters Games in Sydney, Australia, my life as a masters pole vaulter doesn't end. This is a way of life and I have and will continue to have other goals. This will be my daily diary of training and thoughts.

SO, how long did I take off after returning from Sydney? I got home Thursday night and I have already vaulted, run and lifted legs on Sunday morning. Like golfing, those few good strokes or jumps keep us coming back for more. My clearance at 4m (13' 1 1/2") told me that I'm on track for much bigger jumps but I have to move my run back. I'm changing my lifting to become more dynamic and I'm doing all my running with the sled now from 100m to 50m. I'll vault from a longer run one day a week and really work technique on the other. This should result in raising the level I can vault.

The hardest thing to overcome but the easiest thing to do is to take a break after a big meet. Can't do it!! That's too much ground to lose and then gain back. So I'm comfortable that Kris and I have a good productive way to move forward.

Tentatively we're looking at the following meet schedule;
10/31 - Halloween Vault - The Woodlands High School
11/15 - 20th Waterloo Invitational - Austin
12/19 - Seasons Greeter Indoor - near Dallas
1/9 - 7th Texas Pole Vault Round Up & Corral Indoor - near Dallas
1/30 - USA Track & Field Pole Vault Summit - 2,000+ vaulters in Reno
3/5 - World masters Indoors - Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
3/27 - USA Track & Field Indoor Nationals - Boston

Welcome aboard. Bubba