Friday, April 30, 2010

How to Make a Pole Vault Pole

Got this link today from Mark Stewart in Australia. Pretty cool if you've never seen a pole made. When I first moved to California both my brother and I worked making poles at Skypole. Bill actually helped make the pole that won the the 1980 Olympic Games and I drove it to the airport in LA to go to Moscow. Enjoy. Bubba

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Training Details

Here is the actual Excel file that I will fill out over the next 64 weeks, beginning a week from Sunday -

The summary of activities including details of each day are here -

Pretty pleased with it. Feel good enough to start today but of course I will wait until the appointed time. Thanks for caring and your support. Bubba

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Workout Plan Is Done

I'll post the details on the website but Kris and I finished it yesterday and I got my spreadsheet set up for it tonight. I will come back from Hawaii and take a two week ramp up to full activities without much regard to what level I'm at. Just get the work done without flaring anything.

From there I will have two 14 week periods (4 x 7 week phases), back to back, which puts me at a start point for high level jumping on December 4, the date of Kris' first indoor meet and the first week that indoor marks can count for next year. The first 14 week period comes at the end of August which gives me a chance to put up a decent outdoor mark before the season closes on 8/31.

The total time from the start through the World Masters Championships in Sacramento is 64 weeks. Obviously I will put up record numbers of lifts and bar reps since it is a very long year. The hardest part will be the summer grind when every one else is going to the fun meets I would like to jump in. I've got to look long term here or I'll be stuck at 4m next year and that wont cut it. I've always said that impatience means you have no confidence in your plan. Kris and I feel very good about this and are committed to the grind. Have a great evening. Bubba

Slight Rebound

A little more sore today as I drove my normal 300+ mile loop for business. Just a touch of the nerve pain but I'm guessing that part of it is just being active again. Very optimistic.

Waiting to hear from Don. He's been a pilot for 30+ years and has flown about everything including helicopters. Well I saw there was a plane crash across town so I figure mentioning it here would assure it wasn't Don. It's the mother in me I guess. Needless to say I'll let you know. Pretty far fetched idea but anytime I hear of a crash I'll call him. I used to fly around a lot with him and his brother when we were younger. Nancy has informed me that those days are over. I guess pole vaulting is safer. Bubba

Just talked to him. He was flying but didn't crash. He does have a buddy in that area.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Turning the Corner

Though I still had some decent nerve pain and some spasms yesterday, I felt like after my treatment I had a little more flexibility. I knew if that sticks I had a chance of starting to get better. That happened today as I woke up with very minimal pain or spasms. In fact, today I'm where I was that day I went out a week ago Saturday and tried to jump. Took 10 days of pain to get back where I was. All the more reason to be careful over the next two weeks. So now the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train. Bubba

Monday, April 26, 2010

Staying the Course

I just wanted to make it clear that lots will be going on after my rest/vacation. I had someone ask if I will just stop my blog until next year. NO!! Training is a way of life and I'm not about to lose everything I have put into getting fit. I'm simply trying to take it easy through my vacation. AND that is VERY hard for me to do.

Very soon I will start mapping out the details of my return plan. They are in my head pretty clear but I need to get them on to my spreadsheet. What I know for sure is that when I return I will do every component that I can at a very low level until eventually I can do all items on my daily/weekly list. I really think the stretching part will play a big role as well as the exercises Ashley wants me doing.

I'm VERY excited about this training because I know it will put me by far in the best shape of my masters career. It will be a long hot summer but I should be able to be able to return to a high level/PR of jumping by the early December meets. Thanks again for your support and interest! Bubba

FYI - I will vault in summer meets once I'm back up to speed and I expect a 4m jump outdoors this season. I just won't rush to a meet to get a mark.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I leave for Hawaii a week from today and I'm still about the same place with the nerve pain and spasms as I was Friday. It's pretty simple, I'm not starting the new program until everything has settled down. Since I have written off this year I guess that makes me early for next year. Right now I'm committed to rest for the full three weeks until I return. I will be doing extensive work on my program and schedule though. Have a great Sunday! Bubba

Friday, April 23, 2010

Life Lessons From Pole Vaulting

Just got this from my buddy, Peter McGinnis. Most of you know Peter is a super guy but he is also the biomechanist for USA Track & Field pole vault and fellow masters vaulter. Each year he sends me detailed velocity, momentum and angles and other physics data about the latest vaulters from the biggest meets in the world. He is a PhD in Physics and teaches at State University New York, Cortland. This is a speech he gave to the top 5% honors class at their university where he equates pole vaulting to lessons of life. Very cool. He has given me permission to post and distribute it. Enjoy! Bubba
Bubba - I was asked to deliver the Honors Convocation Address at SUNY Cortland's Honor's Convocation last weekend. This event is for the top 5% of students in each class year in the College as well as other academic award winners. Parents, families and friends usually attend. You are the most positive and passionate person I know - at least when it comes to pole vault, so, I thought you might want to read my speech - since it was entitled "Life Lessons Learned from Pole Vaulting". I don't think there were any pole vaulters in the audience (I am embarrassed to say that only one of my vaulters is in the top 5% of her class and she wasn't able to attend) - but I had a number of people comment about the speech. It's the first time I've ever done anything like this - no props, no powerpoint, etc. - but it went well.The speech is attached - I hope you enjoy it. Congrats to Kirk for his performance in Boston! Vault high and land softly-PeterPeter M. McGinnis, Ph.D.Professor - Kinesiology Assistant Director - Graduate Studies Office Assistant Coach - Men's & Women's Track & Field (Pole Vault) SUNY Cortland P.O. Box 2000 Cortland, New York 13045 KIN phone: (607) 753-4909 GSO phone: (607) 753-4800GSO fax: (607) 753-5988
Peter McGinnis
SUNY Cortland Honors Convocation • April 17, 2010

Thank you President Bitterbaum. Good evening honored students, parents, family and friends, and colleagues. I am honored to speak on this occasion when you - our best students are recognized for your achievements. Congratulations to each and every one of you.

Tonight I want to share with you a dozen life lessons I’ve learned from pole vaulting -as a pole vaulter, a pole vault coach, a fan, and a sports scientist. But first, let me tell you a little about pole vaulting. Pole vaulting is a track and field event in which an athlete uses along pole to jump over a crossbar. The vaulter who clears the highest bar wins the event.In 2003, USA Today declared pole vaulting 15 feet as the 3rd hardest thing to do in sports - behind hitting a 90 mph fastball and driving a race car 200 mph around a track -but ahead of hitting a golf ball straight and long and returning a 130 mph tennis serve. I can’t hit a golf ball straight or return a 130 mph serve. I am pretty sure that I could drive a race car faster than 200 mph - but not around a track - and not with other cars on the track.There’s no way I could come close to hitting a 90 mph fastball. But - I have vaulted 15 feet- so I think USA Today made a mistake.

Now, let me tell you about the lessons I’ve learned:

LESSON 1.The best pole vaulters are passionate about their sport. Their enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. Find a cause or calling to be passionate about … and find people who share your passion. You’ll be one of the luckiest people in the world if you can find a job that involves this passion - you’ll never think of work as work. Even if you can’t be passionate about your job - a cause to care about will give your life more meaning. I am passionate about pole vaulting and teaching biomechanics. I get a paycheck for one of these and receive intrinsic reward from both. I am one of those lucky people!

LESSON 2. In 1982 I was a graduate student when my advisor asked me if I wanted to be the biomechanist for the pole vault event in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s newly established Elite Athlete Project. Without hesitation - I said yes. That opportunity almost 30 years ago allowed me to pursue my passions of pole vaulting and biomechanics in ways that I couldn’t imagine.

LESSON 3: Eight years ago a prospective student, Steve, and his mother stopped by my office.They wanted to know if Steve would have an opportunity to pole vault at Cortland even though the heights he had achieved were modest. My philosophy as a coach was to allow anyone to join the pole vault crew if they were enthusiastic about the event. Steve fit this criteria and I told him I would be happy to have him vault at Cortland. Steve came to Cortland and joined the team. He steadily improved and his enthusiasm for the sport was good for the team. During Steve’s senior year, the College received a $30,000 gift from a charitable foundation run by ... Steve’s family. Much to my surprise, the gift was earmarked specifically for the pole vaulting program at SUNY Cortland. That spring Steve won the conference pole vault championship. Providing Steve with the opportunity to pole vault at Cortland paid back unexpected dividends - to him and to Cortland.

LESSON 4.Goal setting is important and making plans to achieve your goals is just as important. But, sometimes life throws you a curveball. OOPS - that’s a baseball analogy. Let me get back to pole vaulting.

In 1996, Jeff Hartwig’s long term goal was to win a medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in the pole vault. But, he surprised himself when he won a spot on the 1996 Olympic Team and placed 11th at the Atlanta Olympic Games. Four years later - he was the American record holder and his plan to win a medal at the 2000 Olympics was going according to schedule. But, at the 2000 Olympic Trials - - he failed to make the Olympic team. In 2004Jeff tried again, but once again he failed to make the Olympic team. By then he was 36 and well past the prime age for pole vaulting.

LESSON 5. My biomechanical studies of the pole vault reveal that pole vaulters jump higher if theyrun faster. Most athletes are fastest when they are in their early to mid-20’s. On the other hand, perfecting the skill of pole vaulting requires tens of thousands of repetitions – so, many vaulters don’t reach their peak until their late 20’s or early 30’s. Perfecting pole vault technique requires patience and commitment.

Now back to Jeff Hartwig. He had unexpectedly made the Olympic Team before his prime - but did not make the team when he was at his prime. At the end of the 2004season, he was almost 37. He made a decision to keep vaulting but in January 2007 Jeff told me he would retire in September when he turned 40. Something unexpected happened that year - Jeff won the national indoor championships and placed second at the outdoor championships. He had such a great season that he decided to vault for one more year and give the Olympics one more shot. In the summer of 2008, Jeff earned a place on the Olympic Team at the age of 40. He didn’t vault as well in the Olympics as he had in 1996,but his Olympic experience was more meaningful. His patience and commitment paid off with his second trip to the Olympic Games - 12 years after his first.

LESSON 6. In 1960, Don Bragg set a world record and won the gold medal in the pole vault at the Olympic Games. His teammate, Ron Morris, won the silver medal. They both vaulted on steel poles. Don Bragg's world record was broken less than a year later by a vaulter using anew technology - a fiberglass pole. Don Bragg did not adapt to this new pole technology.He unsuccessfully lobbied the rules makers to ban the pole. Ron Morris on the other hand,accepted the new technology and learned how to use it. In 1962 he won the U.S.Championship on a fiberglass pole and was ranked the number one pole vaulter in the world. Ron Morris embraced the change - Don Bragg did not.

As SUNY Cortland Philosophy Professor Larry Ashley says, “shift happens.” Be willing to adapt to changes and accept new technologies.

LESSON 7: Pole vaulters deal with disappointment and failure every time they compete. Almost every competition ends with a failure - a miss. Sometimes these misses and failures are due to things not controlled by the vaulter.

In 1972, Bob Seagren was the world record holder and the heavy favorite to win the pole vault gold medal at the Olympic Games. American vaulters had also won every Olympic gold medal in the pole vault since the modern Olympic Games began in 1896.Two days before the pole vault competition, Olympic officials confiscated all of the Americans’ poles, claiming they were an unfair advantage when in reality they were just a different color. Bob and his teammates had to use borrowed poles at the Games. Bob did not win a gold medal, but he didn’t give up either. He was able to vault high enough to win a silver medal.

LESSON 8. When my nephew was five he surprised his parents by cutting his own hair. When my brother commented about his unusual haircut my nephew said– “But Dad, I like to be unusual.” Although I don’t recommend that you cut your own hair - don’t be afraid to be the different.

In 2005, Megan, one of my best Cortland vaulters, began struggling with her technique.In practice one day, Megan, with my encouragement, decided to try a radically different technique. This new technique produced positive results in practice– so we decided to try it in competition. Megan steadily progressed and she became the first Cortland woman to jump higher than 11 feet. Megan graduated the next year, but her legacy lived on with the incoming vaulters. Several of them adopted her technique. Two of them, eventually recorded the highest vaults by any women in Cortland history and in the SUNY AC Conference as well.

LESSON 9: Great pole vaulters are not complacent. They know that records are made to be broken. They continually seek out ways to improve their performances by learning more about the event. Your formal education may end when you graduate from Cortland, but you will continue to learn new things throughout your life.

Since 1983, I have been the biomechanist for the pole vault event for USA Track and Field. In this role, I get to travel to every US outdoor championship and film the pole vault competitions. I then measure and analyze biomechanical data from these films and give the athletes and coaches feedback. I am considered the expert on the mechanics of thepole vault. It’s scary to be considered an expert, because the more you learn aboutsomething – the more you realize you don’t know and the more questions you have. But,as an expert – everyone thinks you have all the answers. The funny thing is, in 1983, Ithought I knew everything about the pole vault– fortunately, I soon realized how wrong Iwas and that realization has kept me humble. Megan’s story about her new techniqueillustrates this lesson. I continue to learn new things about pole vaulting and biomechanicsevery day.

LESSON 10. Pole vaulters want everyone to do well and vault high - they know that the competition is not against each other but against themselves and the bar. They celebrate each other’s successes and share each other’s disappointments.

In 1976, Earl Bell was a 20 year old college student competing in the U. S. Olympic Trials. Three competitors were left in the competition when the bar was raised to a new world record height. The first vaulter to jump was Dave Roberts. Dave’s pole broke on his first attempt. Yikes! In desperation, Dave then asked Earl if he could use his pole. Without hesitation, Earl said, “Certainly, but let me take my jumps first.” Earl missed three times and was out - he then gave his pole to Dave, who not only won the competition but also set anew world record - with Earl’s pole. What is more remarkable is that the previous world record holder was Earl Bell!

LESSON 11: Although pole vaulting is an individual event, the support from parents, fans, teammates, and coaches contributes immeasurably to the success of each pole vaulter.This is true in life as well. You are being honored today for your individual achievements,but those achievements may not have been possible without the support and encouragement of your family, friends, and teachers – many of whom are here tonight.The same is true for me. In fact, I’d like to thank my father, Phil McGinnis, two of my sisters, Donna Higgins and Bryn Burke, and my wife, Boodie – for being here tonight to support me. Thanks.


LESSON 12.To paraphrase Pierre DeCoubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, “The most important thing … is not to win but to take part … not the triumph but the struggle.”

Thank you for not snoring – and congratulations to all of you

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Four Week & Future Plan Ends December 12

I've kind of broken down a plan for my mind to cope with. Week one, this week, is about getting rid of pain (so far so good); week 2 will be to lift some fun easy stuff that doesn't involve my legs or back; week three will be Hawaii/rest/work; and week four will be my ramp up with Ashley's stability exercises. From that point forward I will probably go the next two weeks of easing everything back in but bars/jumping. By this point I will have been away from regular training for six weeks and should be completely healed and rested. So that means that Sunday, May 30, will be the first day of real training for next year.

I will not attend the San Marcos River Vault and will probably not go to the Quintana Beach Vault, my two very favorite meets. Rushing to get ready for them is too much and does not match my stated goals. Counting in my two 14 week training cycles, I should be ready for next year by December 12. Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to go forwards so I will. Thanks everyone! Bubba

LATE ADD - Forgot to mention that my back is maybe only 10-15% of what it was two days ago. GREAT news!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another Day of Uncertainty

I'm used to it now. Until about 5 AM this morning I was down to about 20% of the pain and mobility I felt yesterday. If I said that right; it means I'm 80% better. Then I went back to sleep for an hour laying on the left side and woke up with a pretty big nerve flare from the stretched right glute. As the early morning went on, I raged all the way back up to only about a 20% improvement over yesterday. At 12:30 I've settled into about 50% improvement and will certainly take that.

I cancelled my travel day because sitting in the car for several hours probably would not help a situation that's trying to improve. My partners were understanding which is nice.

I'm going to start refining "next year's" training here pretty soon. Ashley wants me to start with her stuff first which is fine. I'm in no hurry. My buddy Dan West (World Champs Bronze Medal) sent me some of his lifting stuff which I'm dying to incorporate. He and I train similar components but he is a master at lifting so I'm hoping to glean some more of his success secrets.

I ordered some thin practice bars from Earl Bell today. I learned to go up the pole by doing this drill - and by jumping a lot beginning on small poles. I don't care if I make the bar or not, but if I get hip height twice I move the bar up. Get hip height there and move on again. Slowly you move through poles and heights until you learn what REALLY going and staying vertical is. When I did this in college we had those metal bars so you would try to extend your left leg just far enough to get to your hips so you weren't adding to the bruising and bleeding around then shins and knee. Looking forward to it.

I talked to Paul Babbits a few years ago in Reno at breakfast and he was telling me how he started at four lefts (8 steps) in flats and just jumped for fun. By the time his run had gotten back to 12-14 steps he had blown through all of his poles. I did this the year I had my breakthrough in 2008 and it really works. Now I will just do it by always trying bars that are just out of reach.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saw the Physician

When my DC, Dr. Clouthier suggested I may want an MRI, I went to my physician. Apparently, as Dr. Clouthier suggested, I have glute strain from squats in the Smith Machine; not a back related issue. So today I got two injections and some other pills and have been ordered to leave it alone for a few days. It may or may not need another injection Friday or Monday but I have been assured the pain will leave. No training for three days? Yeah right; I can barely walk so they are really restricting me with those orders. LOL!!

I'm very optimistic about a reasonable recovery but will not rush to jump high. I'll work with Ashley & Company to get some muscles firing correctly and then slowly introduce my other training components. GREAT day!! Bubba

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Plan

Though after to 3-4 weeks I'll resume training I'm mentally calling it a season. Since I'm not going to Sacramento, my two target meets are June 5, and June 12, so there is no way I can safely be at the level I want to be by those dates.

The plan is to start at a very low level with my jumps and spend a week or two on each pole, starting with one I can jump on from two steps. If I can get over 13' on my 13' poles then I should be much more technically efficient when I get to the big ones. I have a 14 week running program that I will do one rotation when I start back, and then repeat it again with the sled. Because the poles are small for the first 2-3 months I can jump 2-3 days per week. I've really lost touch with some technical issues so I'm very excited to do this.

I figure I will be ready to go at a pretty high level by late July or early August, but since I'm skipping Sacramento I'll wait until the Texas Senior Games at the end of October. I have the state record for M55 at 3.97m (13' 1/4") so I would like to try and bump that up, especially since the National Senior Games will be here next year.

A year ago today my mom died. I miss her of course but not at the expense of her suffering from illness. I'm glad she's at peace and I feel she is still here with me. Every now and then I pick up the phone to call her and tell her something. Great lady!

Have a wonderful day! Bubba

PS - still in great pain but I know it will get better and that I won't be so dumb this time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back to Square One

Yesterday I went out and took seven very low level vaults on a tiny pole from only a 22' run. I stopped because I felt some weird little strain coming in my left forearm. I could feel my back a little but only when I landed and then it wasn't bad. Last night it didn't bother me but today I'm right back where I was before I went to see Ashley Friday - DYING with nerve pain.

Needless to say I'm out for three weeks at this point for sure. I'm fine with that but I needed to know where I was. Was this an impinged nerve and would the head of my femur coming out of a jammed position resolve the issue? The answer is no. But I needed to know so I felt a low level session would be safe. Next Sunday I have a meet and I wanted to know if I could vault. No! If this worked and I felt OK then I could go to Hawaii in two weeks and come back still in shape. Instead I've got three weeks of nothing and then a slow ramp up back. SUCKS!! The ONLY reason I risked it is because I see Dr. Clouthier, Ashely and Sakina on Monday morning. Right now it feels like it will be a long time away. Bubba

Saturday, April 17, 2010


As destroyed as the girls made me feel yesterday, something odd happened in the mid afternoon - no pain, no catches, I could walk normally and do everything as if nothing ever happened to my back. This morning I would say I have maybe 5-10% of yesterday's symptoms. I even thought about vaulting a little so see if I could jerk my hip out a little further with centrifugal force. I'll pass but the fact that I could even consider it is a miracle.

Yesterday Sakina worked on me for about an hour and then Ashley came over, tested me and said, "his femur head is locked in the hip socket and if we don't get it out we're screwed". She set out on this furious mission of procedures and positions which included Ashley, Sakina and another girl to help stabilize me. Stretches, rotations of limbs and other very uncomfortable maneuvering and I felt horribly crippled trying to leave the building. Then it happened - I was well, or as close to it as I have felt since last Sunday.

I'm very grateful to Dr. Cloutier as well but the girls made believers of me yesterday. I haven't had sciatica for 15 years and it lasted six months. I'm shocked that as hurt as I was I just missed five days of training. AMAZING!! Bubba

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Long & Winding Road

Iced a lot yesterday and things started feeling a little better. Last night I started thinking about what and when I could add to ease back to training without running or vaulting. This morning I was able to stand a full one minute before the nerve pain started radiating so bad I had to lay down or sit down; same as yesterday.

Saw Dr. Cloutier this morning and did not get the same immediate relief I got yesterday from the acupuncture. Went to my massage and got trashed so of course everything hurts much more now than when I got there. As I told Ashley, "it hurts to stand, sit, lay on my back or lay on my front. Not much fun at all.

With all of this said, I feel like I am leaning toward improvement because I do now go through periods of more mobility and my hips feel more loose. Ashely says I have the femur head jammed into the hip socket and I won't get relief until it drops out and that won't happen until the muscle spasms let go; hence all of my treatment efforts.

How fast things change. Lat night I'm thinking about my ramp up to vaulting and today I'm just wanting the nerve pain to stop. I don't have an injury, just a nerve impingement caused by a very minor strain that I never felt happen. It reminds me of this friend of mine who was a big strong body builder type and he threw his back out switching clothes from the washer to the dryer. I haven't had this in 15 years and it wouldn't bother me to go another 30 without it again.

Have a great day and thanks for the support. Bubba

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Radiating Nerve Pain

Every now and then it feels pretty good the I get slammed by the flaring of radiating nerve pain. Seeing both Dr. Clouthier and Ashley to morrow at 8 and 10 respectively. Hope that means the weekend will be better. Bubba

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm Out For Awhile

I saw Ashley yesterday and Dr. Clouthier today and both say that I have a deep glute strain that is putting off a significant amount of heat and flaring a nerve root under the muscle. Basically I should take two weeks off but since I'm going to Hawaii in two weeks, I guess that means three weeks. Normally this would be of great distress to me but I'll take it as a phase break. I'll skip the Brazos Valley Senior Games and still be back for my other meets. Training has been going great and I'm in very good shape so I'll heal and rest and bury myself in work.

The pain I feel is not technically sciatic but is very painful so I'm more motivated to rid myself of the pain then I am to get training again. Today he hit me with e-stim, laser, acupuncture and myofascial release and I felt much better when I left.

It's hard to explain but if I called it a season right now without jumping in any outdoor meets I would be fine with it. I had a VERY long year last year by training through for World Masters Games in October, and then came out with three indoor PRs and got 2nd at National Indoors. I'm not physically or mentally burned out but I am ready to change the direction of my training for next year. The biggest thing I don't like is my rush back to big poles just because I have a meet coming up. What I really want to do is go back down and spend a couple of months on tiny poles trying to maximize my efficiency. We'll see how this all plays out but I am eerily OK with where I am and today's plan. It wouldn't be my choice but I can't allow myself to self sabotage the big picture because I am impatient with the hand I have been dealt.

Probably doesn't make much sense but thanks for hanging in there with me. I'll keep reporting because there are things I can do; just not run or vault. Have a great day! Bubba

PS - I am definitely not going to Sacramento for Nationals.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taking the Day Off

I'm supposed to run 6 X 50m hill/sled but decided not to until I get this sciatica looked at. It warms up and feels fine and I can do all of my training, but late in the day and in the early morning it really hurts and I can hardly get comfortable. I haven't had this in 15 years when I got it a few times in a row, it was from doing heavy squats and cleans. Coincidentally on Friday I was lifting squats, and though I didn't get injured, I strained harder than usual. That night I was having some serious spasms in my right piriformis.

I will see Ashley for a tortuous massage today and Dr. Clouthier tomorrow. Between the two of them I will be in great hands. You know how it is, I want to go run right now but I'll go on the side of caution.

Have a great day and thanks for the support. Bubba

Monday, April 12, 2010

Travel = EARLY Lifting

Wednesday is my normal travel day and it is also my day off of training. This week it is switched to Monday which is a garage lift day. Because of this I was out there at 6:30 to get my lifting in.

Sciatica felt worse this morning so I'm going to book time with Dr. Clouthier today and I have an appointment with Ashley tomorrow. It warms up and is not that limiting but I dropped out squats and cleans today and doubled up on some stretching.

Gotta hit the road. Have a great day!! Bubba

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Call Me Rusty

I've have had a pretty bad spasm in my right piriformis since Friday night that has caused me a little sciatic pain. Not an injury, just a response to heavier squats I think. Anyway, it didn't stop me from my full workout today.

Funny day as my legs felt decent warming up but I didn't have much acceleration from my 33' (10m) run where I started on my 4m/14.7/13-1/180.4. Because of this I struggled to get pole speed for my first five jumps making 11' (3.35m) on my 3rd jump and then 12' (3.66m) on also on my 3rd jump. So my 6th jump I moved back a stride and up to me 14.3 and made it easy. I felt rusty on my technique so I didn't move the bar up. When things clicked I blew the pole away which I should do from that run. I made 12' three more times with the last two being on my biggest 4m pole, the 13.5/182.6. The last jump of the day I hit it right and it was also tiny all of the sudden. Out of 11 jumps today I would say that four were good, two were decent and five were crap. Just call me Rusty.

Still, it's my second day to jump this week with all of my full training components in place. Yahoooo!! The good news was that I was going to start on a real small 4m pole but I could tell I felt too good for it so I actually started four poles bigger than the plan. The pole I ended on is about the same stiffness as my first 4.30m (14' 1") pole but because the sailpiece is shorter it rolls faster. I was really tempted to go grab the first 14' 1" pole but resisted the urge.

I'm seeing Ashley Tuesday and then will start back Mondays with her the following week. As mentioned before she works with many of our pro athletes and golfers in town so she can dial in real quick to my issues and get me loose. The last session I felt like the grab in my right hamstring was coming back but today it was pretty much not there.

I'm trying to decide if Thursday will be my last jump day or will I also go on next Sunday since the Brazos Valley Senior Games are two weeks from today. I'm training hard so I feel the need to back off a little before the meet, but since I jump on Sunday and not Saturday, I have the luxury of an extra day of rest.

I don't have an outdoor mark yet this year so I would love to put up something 13' (3.97m) or higher but you never know. I feel pretty good about being ready to jump high but we've never jumped at this place and when I drove by it last the winds looked pretty crappy. It is what it is so we'll see what happens.

It's too early to decide for sure but unless Don goes to Sacramento I'm leaning toward not going to outdoor nationals. You can jump high there but conditions are hot, dusty and very swirly winds. Sure it will be that way for everyone and it will be that way for Worlds, but again, I've been there a bunch of times. We'll see.

We found out yesterday that the way the dates fall for Worlds that Don will still be in the M50 when all of the studs have moved up to the M55. His birthday is July 26, and the meet is over July 19 so it really works in his favor. He avoids me, Gary Hunter, Kirk Bentz, Bill Halverson, Mike Hogan, Charlie Brown, Jeff Kingstad, Murray Mead, Bill Murray, just to name a few who are all over 13' or better. And those are just the Americans. Europe will probably send over another 5-7 at the same level. The M55 at Sacramento will be the deepest masters vault competition in history. Which is exactly why I might sit out nationals this year to get a jump on next year's training.

Have a great Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Down Time

Nothing really to report today except that I have a cramping/spasm in my right piriformis from training. No injury nor chance of, just need major stretching.

Don took a bunch of low level jumps yesterday so he will go to the Brazos Valley Senior Games with me. The 2007 National Senior Games Champion has been in and out for nearly two years with a lower ab problem that now appears to be finally clearing up.

Tomorrow is my long day with 10 sled/hills, vault, bars and lift. I'm staying on small poles and will report afterwards. Have a great Saturday! Bubba

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not So Fast

It's easy at this point to start planning when I will hit my bigger poles but the reality is that I'm technically too rusty to do this. I physically feel safe to progress but I want to get the most out of each pole technically until it proves too small. That said, yesterday was frustrating as I was finessing poles an not getting in as far as I wanted but then moved up a pole and blew through. My long time friend Dean Starkey (19' 5"/5.92m) used to tell me that when he got stood up or rejected by a pole he would skip a pole and move up two poles in order to assure he would be more aggressive. I think that year he had 11 meets over 19' (5.80m). Simon Arkell (Australia 19' 1") used to tell me to go ahead and blow through the pole first and then move up. His point was that too often we were wasting jumps trying to make a small pole work or by skipping to a bigger pole too soon. I think I need a little of both of these insights.

In any case Sunday is my short rest rotation so I'm guessing that day will be on 4m/13' 1" poles and Thursday, on full rest, will be on 4.30m/14' 1" poles. The trick is to get two jump days a week without risking injury while completing all other training components. I'm feeling like this will be a reality as of Sunday. One more full week of training next week and then I will back off for the Brazos Valley Senior Games. I'll take my 4.45m/14' 7" poles but my guess is I will stay on big 14' 1" poles and try to get to the longer ones at the San Marcos River Vault on 6/5 or maybe even Waterloo on 5/22. We'll see.

The goal is to hit a big jump at the River Vault or Quintana Beach Vault. At that point I will decide about outdoor nationals in Sacramento in July. Having lived in Southern California for 24 years and traveling the state to meets I've been to that facility a million times including the 200o Olympic Trials and the 2005 National Junior Olympics. Nancy and I are going on an Alaskan cruise the day after the meet but that doesn't really affect my plans. I know this sounds dumb but if I skip nationals it will be so I can get a jump on next year's grinding training. MANY good vaulters move into my age group and worlds are at Sacramento so I need to get ready. A physical and technical overhaul will take me about eight months so I'd rather start early. Still, I'll play it by ear. If Don is healthy and wants to go I'm sure I will go too.

Have a wonderful day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting Back to Near Normal

This is one of the actual Olympic Bobsleds that was in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel at Whistler. Just got the photo off the camera as I had forgotten it.

Good Day Vaulting
My 4m/1380/14.7 felt pretty small from my 33' (10m) run but I easily made 12' (3.66m) on it twice. I moved up to the 14.3 and it was too small. I find that when I finesse a small pole I don't get in far quite far enough but when I slam a bigger pole it suddenly becomes too small. I need to just blow the first one away and then worry about the next one.

The very same thing happened when I moved back to my 44' (13m) run and went to my smallest 4.30m pole, the 1469/17.5. Made 12' by a mile and then 12' 6" (3.81m) twice. Moved up to the 17.2 and it was too small. Same dang thing I did on the 4m pole. I need to just hit my arms from the start. I didn't bring any bigger poles out and already had nine jumps so I figured that was a good place to stop. Actually I had to go in and get the 4.30m poles after only four jumps on the 4m ones. Pretty big positive surprise as I hoped to get this far next Thursday. I guess I don't have a groin strain.

I did 5 X hill/sled as my warm up and three more after I jumped. Did all bars and then hit the gym for heavier lifting. I'll try and jump again at a lower level on the smaller 4m poles on Sunday and cycle back to the bigger ones next Thursday with the goal to get good jumps at 13' (3.97m) or higher. I don't use my meet poles in practice so things have to go pretty good to make that happen but who knows. I'm guessing that sometime before the Quintana Beach Vault on June 19, that I will be on some pretty big poles in practice because my running and lifting has made my run more powerful without much effort. You know how it is; stay after it and keep grinding.

Thanks for your support and have a great day. Bubba

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Travel Day

I find out at 3:30 if I just need a crown replacement or a root canal also. Obviously I will vault tomorrow before I take action - I hope. We will see what he says. Bubba

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall

Easy 6 X 50m hill/sled this morning, followed by a nice long stretch. Travel day tomorrow and then stretch, and jump day Thursday. I'm probably going to move on back to my 33' (10m) run rather than stay at 23' (8m). I'm guessing poles will move pretty fast from there too. If that works out I'll have an easy jump day Sunday and then be back on my small 14' (4.30m) poles next Thursday. Starting to feel like my strength and power is returning. Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Monday, April 5, 2010

Continuing the Pace

It's nice to be back in a training groove. As you age you have "reversibility" which means you lose progress you made if you take time off. You seem to lose either strength, endurance or both if you even miss a week and then have to somewhat progress back through the soreness.

Even though I have stayed in touch with most things and really powered away at others, I can feel areas where I have lost conditioning. I'm hoping to be back in really good shape over the next four weeks. Until then, it's just show up and do the work and be thankful not to be hurt.

Just got the All Comers schedule for The Woodlands High School. These are great meets with a lot of vaulters. They are all on Tuesdays; 5/25, 6/1, 6/8, 6/15 & 6/29. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, April 4, 2010

San Marcos River Vault is Back

Me Attempting 12' 7" at the 2008 River Vault

My coach, Kris Allison skipped last year but returns this year with the San Marcos River Vault. This truly awesome event is in Sewell Park on the shores of the spring fed and crystal clear San Marcos River, as it flows through the campus of Texas State University, my alma mater. The June 5 date is perfect as I will be in Cleveland burying Nancy's moms ashes on June 12, and at the Quintana Beach Vault on June 19. Thanks so much guys for juggling around my trip to Cleveland. BTW - I asked them a month ago of there was any way they could miss that weekend and they did. Awesome! Bubba

Info here -

Me jumping at the 2008 River Vault

Feeling Good

It was a little drizzly this morning when I went to run my 10 X 50 hill/sleds so I decided to stick to the plan and not jump. The groin issue I had was pretty much gone today so I will hit my jump day next Thursday. Normally I feel the groin when running the hill/sled series because it forces you to drive your knees but I felt nothing on any of them. Needless to say I'm very pleased with that.

The other lifting stuff is going great. I figure by the time I go to Hawaii in early May I will finally be back in good overall shape to jump high before the big meets roll around. If the leg continues to progress I will go ahead and jump on 4/25 at the Brazos Valley Senior Games.

Business has me hopping so I won't see Ashley for my massage/torture until Friday or maybe even Monday. Her work has really loosened up my legs a lot. I almost have to learn to run again because this new mobility can cause you injury of you're not careful.

A lot of power to control the vault comes from strong lower abs. You can do 5,000 sit ups a day and you still won't be able to bring yourself to vertical on a high bar. The two are just unrelated, hence I never do sit ups. That said, today I went over 10,000 weighted high bar exercises since I started back on January 1, 2005. I remember that it took me nearly two weeks to do one "rollback" on my parallel high bar and now I do sets of 10 with ankle weights and weighted pants. Just goes to show that if you stay after it the numbers add up. Within a month I should also go over 15 million pounds lifted during the same 5+ years. Gotta keep showing up every day.

Hope you have a great Easter Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mass Improvement

I was going to go ahead and do tomorrow's running today while I'm out watching the kids but I think I will wait and stay on the proper work/rest schedule. When I woke up this morning nothing was sore, including my groin on the right side. I'm guessing it is maybe 10% of what it felt like yesterday. I'll still skip the jump day tomorrow as a precaution but keep everything else on schedule.

My training partner, Don Curry, may be just around the corner from being able to be a vaulter again. He has been bothered by lower abdominal flaring for the past two years. We think it is a deep hernia but the docs keep injecting it like it is osteitis pubis, an irritation of the abdominal attachments to the pubic bone. I've had both and still think it its a hernia but Don's not quite so sure. Apparently the doc hit the right spots when Don was under on Wednesday and when he woke up he had no pain in the area for the first time in months. So he will begin a slow ramp up and hopefully start jumping in some meets soon. He has been able to vault at a very low level for a while now so he has been picking up on my hand pressure technique. The 2007 National Senior Games Champion, I'm hoping it gets back rolling at a high level soon.

Texas Relays is going on in Austin. Back in the old days the elite jumpers were there but now it's mainly college and high school. In 1972 Kjell Issakson of Sweden became the first vaulter to clear 5.50m (18' 1/2") on North American soil when he cleared a then World Record of 18' 1". I just saw his teammate Hans Lagerqvist in Kamloops. While the crowd and press were mobbing Kjell my brother and Frank McMurray pulled the tip off of his pole and Frank had it encased in a plastic box. The next year Frank (15' 6" in high school) would drop dead on the track after his relay leg at a high school meet. Twenty years later Sergey Bubka gave me the plug off of his pole after getting the first 6m (19' 8 1/4") in Los Angeles at the Sunkist Invitational. So we have the first 5.50m and 6m plugs in the family. Odd but fun trivia.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend and thanks for your support! Bubba

Friday, April 2, 2010


More questions. My right groin is still a little sore from yesterday but not injured. When I hurt it at Oshkosh last year at Outdoor Nationals I thought it was a little two week ding and then promptly turned it into something bigger and keeping me out of the National Senior Games. Then I could take my right toe and push against a wall and feel some pain all the way up into my groin. That's not the case today as I feel no pain at all when I do that. Its probably the result of quick leg movement from short run jumping yesterday. If you remember, I was worried that might happen in Boston last week and it didn't.

The good news is that the arm is very close to 100%. I'll skip Sunday's jump rotation and bump up the sled running. I was leaning toward that as my plan anyway because I am sore from yesterday.

I'm trying to condition my body for 14' (4.27m)+ vaults which will require a 13' 5 - 9 (4.10-20m) grip on my new 14' 7" (4.45m) poles. I know I can do this and I'm much closer than it seems as evidenced by blowing through bigger poles with a high grip yesterday from only 23' (8 M). I'm pretty sure my legs can handle that jump right now and I'm 85% the upper body can. Just have to stay after the lifting and running no matter what is going on with the rest of me.

At this point I will probably blow off the Brazos Valley Senior Games on 4/25. I'll say I'm 50/50. I really dislike Sunday meets because of how it screws with my training schedule plus I don't know if their conditions are any good. Also we're going to Hawaii the following week so I think I'd rather drive up to Kris and get a big pole practice session in with him.

This leaves me three big meets and some All Comer meets to put up a decent outdoor mark which should be plenty with the way my body has been coming around. I know it doesn't sound like it today but this little groin thing is much more a precaution than an actual concern. How else do you explain big poles at Nationals a week ago with no issues compared to a little ding yesterday on small poles? All I can do is stick with it, and grind it out until we go top Hawaii. We're only there for four days (1/2 business) so it will serve as a nice little phase break from training.

Thanks for the support guys and gals. This event can sure be frustrating but as long as I can avoid big injuries I can keep progressing physically even if I can't jump. That always pays off in the long run. There is nothing harder nor more necessary than bumping up your level of conditioning when you can't jump. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Vault Day

I make these specific plans and have a very methodical rationale and then POOF - it's gone. The tiny poles I wanted to jump on today were gone to a meet with our high school kids so I started on my 4m pole series. You know, the one I wasn't supposed to get to until a week from Monday.

Much to my surprise my 16.3 (167/75.9 kg) and 15.9 (171/77.7 kg) were both too small from 23' or four steps. Normally I need to be at 33' or six steps for these though I have occasionally been able to use them from four. However I have never blown through them from four. I guess it's the lifting/running grind I stayed on when I couldn't vault. I was gripping nearly 12' (3.65m) from 23' (8m) run and I needed the next pole. Not a bad start.

Nothing special as technically I was pretty rusty. I cleared 11' (3.35m) and got in nine total jumps but stopped when I felt my groin area fatiguing at take off. I'll try to repeat this again on Sunday and if not then I'll just do my running and lifting. The good news is that I think the arm is well now. That said I will stay off the bars for another week.

Very happy with the session but of course I will wait a day or so and see if I have any surprises though I doubt it. The gym felt very strong as well. Very cool to be back to a regular full practice session. Have a great day! Bubba