Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Early Sled Feels Good

This is then 18 year old Amanda Bartrim who just represented Australia in the World Junior Championships in Canada. I think you can click to enlarge. I always tell our vaulters that your body needs to swing in one long lever until the hips hit the hands. Extend your left leg up the pole and pull without turning as the pole extends with your back to the bar and let the turn come as a natural result. She does it here beautifully. NOW, her PR is only 4m (13' 1 1/2"), so how much stronger and faster does a person have to be to jump this high the wrong way if she is this perfect? BTW - this is the pit in Sydney where I won the World Masters Games.

Ready to Jump Thursday
I was planning to try some very low level vaulting on Thursday and Sunday and apparently that will be the plan. Unless I feel something odd warming up Thursday I should be OK. I felt like I could have jumped Sunday and today my running felt even better. Of course I will be very cautious but it's nice that my body is getting back to accepting all training components again.
The Outdoor Season Officially Ends Today
August 31 is the official end of the outdoor season as no marks are accepted. I intentionally did not compete this year because I did not want to rush through a ding and turn it into something big. Also I didn't want to put up a substandard mark. I remember I went through a time where I got so sick of jumping 11' 6" (3.51m) and barely missing 12' (3.66m) that I made the decision that I would just start at 12'. It really made me step up my game and gave me some consistency at a higher level. My thoughts were that I can't get stuck with 11' 6" if I never jump at it. But would I rather no height (nh - fail to make a bar in 3 attempts) than to make 11' 6"? YES!! The result changed my thinking and expectations. I need to make 13' (3.97m) my start height if I want to reach my goals this year and right now that feels far away. But who knows; just follow the progression. Impatience means you have no confidence in your plan.
New Favorite T-Shirt
I'm wearing my Kamloops World Championships T-Shirt a lot and will continue to this whole year as a reminder NOT TO BE HURT AT BIG MEETS!!!! After National Indoors on March 5-6 I'm shutting down and taking my vaulting and training down and ramping back up slowly until the big meets. NO unnecessary risks. My old coach, DJ used to say that you can count on vaulters getting hurt with 1-3 weeks out from a big meet. I need to do the opposite like I did for Sydney.
Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Monday, August 30, 2010


Of course, all of life is about transitions, but training requires constant monitoring. I felt like I could have jumped at a low level yesterday but I chose not to. Very good overall workouts yesterday and today. Today's transition feels familiar but strange in that I still feel like crap from the ramp up to lifting but the strength is coming back. Feel like crap but strong means that soon it will be "feel good AND stronger". It will be nice to complete this ramp up cycle. If you remember I dropped my lifting for the most part after the cruise so I could get back into jumping. I'll have one full week and then I'll miss a rotation while I'm in San Francisco on business. Get back and two weeks later have a little meet to jump in. Transitions.

Got a lot of response to the snowflake to avalanche yesterday. Seems people could relate on a lot of levels. One mentioned that my best guy avalanche jumped 18' 10 1/2" (5.75m) and he was only 5' 8". An argument for Jillian at 5' 3". I only mention this because it keeps me going that you guys are here and supporting my efforts.

This will be the hardest year I have ever trained and I have the least chance of placing high at Worlds next year. I'll be near the oldest and several athletes have jumped higher already than me. Believe it or not, it's a challenge to make something happen when the deck is stacked against me. Because that will make it a bit easier when in 2013 I will repeat the same hardcore ramp up for Worlds and the World Masters Games that summer when I will have just turned 60 to be the youngest in my group. Try as might, if I get in the top five next year I'll be thrilled, but watch out in 2013. If I can force myself through the challenge of this year when I'm really an also ran, then I will be pumped for Brazil and Italy in 2013. Consider this base training for then.

Hard to stick to the plan sometimes but this is about transitions. When I start jumping the first thing I want to do is get my run back and start moving through poles. It's not even September so there are over 10 months left to the big meets - CHILL and stick to the plan. The run will move back soon enough. Every year except the last two I have always run from 14 and sometimes 16, so it's not like it's new to me. But it is URGENT that I carry my current technical efficiency with me or I'm not ready. I have cleared 12' (3.65m) from 4 steps and 12' 6" (3.81m) from 6 steps and so far 12' 9" (3.90m) from 8 steps. What sense does it make for me to move back to 12 steps and start at anything lower than 13' (3.97m)? But I'm not ready to start there and either is my body. But it will within the next few months. Until then, stick to the plan.

That''s my rambling for today. Hope you have a great one and thanks for hanging around with me! Bubba

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's Talk Snow

Seems a strange topic in this Texas summer weather, but I like to say that every avalanche began as a snowflake. The great Australian coach and author, Alan Launder, says "that which is technically desirable must be physically possible". The former head of USA Track & Field Pole Vault Development, Bob Fraley says, "once you know how to vault, 70% of your improvement is how fast and strong you can get". I believe that you constantly work your technique while you are working your speed and strength. That way they both come together and you can become an avalanche.

Our little girl, Kara, who just started 9th grade this past week and jumped 10' this summer, has not even become a snowball yet, as far as her athletic development for the pole vault. She lifted weights for the first time last week and feels beat up as should be expected. She sometimes tells me that she doesn't feel like she has the strength to hit a bigger pole. That is part true but the more important part is that if she hit it before it hit her she would immediately be "much stronger". Let's say she is the ear of a snowman, maybe even a big ear. Not a snowflake but a small snowball gaining momentum.

Momentum? Business, training and life is about gaining momentum. I believe that the more momentum you gain, the harder you should work to keep it going. I described my idea of momentum to Nancy the other day as a child on a swing and his/her feet can't touch the ground. Try as they might, very little progress is made to get that swing moving. Once it starts it is a little easier to keep it going and even to gain more momentum, but if they stop to rest they are back where the started and the struggle begins anew. That's why masters athletes can't take time off. It's said that a person at 60 will lose over 40% of their strength with a six week break. Get back on the swing buddy, you blew it. It's easier to do SOMETHING just to maintain rather than start over every year.

Max will be a sophomore and has been with us since the 5th grade. He was stuck for the longest time because his body had not grown yet. Now he's over 6' tall and the proper technique he learned early on is starting to magnify as his tools increase. He will become the body of a snowman this year and then progress well from there. Like Kara, he comes from a great and supportive family and is very focused and determined.

Jillian is a senior and made it to our regional meet last year. She is a little snowwoman. She has a winner's attitude and excels at everything she tries. Being about 5' 3" could limit her but I won't tell her that because she will do her best to prove me wrong.

When they leave us, it becomes someone elses job to take them from snowman to avalanche. I love building snowmen and snowwomen! These kids are a joy to be around and I love watching them discover the finer points of the event. When I used to build avalanches I never thought I would enjoy this part so much. The more I think about it, the more I wish the kids would have come to me with the skills they are leaving us with. Would have been much easier.

Me? I'm the snowman you built on a snowy day when everyone was having fun playing. A few days later I'm falling a part, melting in places and don't look at all like myself. I'm starting to get that dirty gray and brown look as my athletic life cycle nears the end. THEN, a new snow storm comes in and covers up some of my flaws. I'll never be an avalanche again but neither will the guys I compete with. In my mind, I can train hard and smart enough for long enough to remain respectable. At our age, that is as close to an avalanche as you get. Have great day! Bubba

PS - Went over 16 million pounds lifted since my return on 1/1/2005;
16,006,658 & 10,724 bar drills.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nancy's Birthday

We have an All Comers meet at the high school this morning but Don and Gary are covering for me so I can spend the day celebrating Nancy's birthday. Though she is only two months younger than me she likes to pretend it's many years. It's a running joke where she wishes me a happy 60th when it was really 57. Hey, if I were 60 I would be the youngest guy in my group. It will happen soon enough, good Lord willing.

Have a great day! Bubba

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall is in the Air

I got up to let the dogs out this morning and get the paper about 5:45 and I felt a chill in the air. I went in and told Nancy that I thought it must be in the 60s and will be pleasant weather to walk the dogs - dry and cool. The news showed a chilly 76 degrees. I guess compared to mid 80s for our wake up, this IS Fall. I saw in the paper this was the hottest August in our city history. We broke records for a high temperature for the lows a few times but never a high temp for a high. The record for August is 106 and we only got to 100. Thanks for small blessings.

Good lift this morning. My body is over the mini shock of getting back to lifting after the break before going to Kris' and the few days I took off afterwards. Did not feel the hamstring on hang cleans which was a little surprising. Good news. Makes no sense that you can not lift for a week and still be sire when you restart but that's aging. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Protecting Me From Me Again

This seems to come up a lot. I get an injury/ding, it rains, my schedule changes, or SOMETHING that keeps me from going out and doing something that I know is a risk.

Today I ran 10 X hill/sleds at 20% and felt really good and felt strong in the gym and on my bars. This is by far the lightest hamstring strain I have ever had yet I think it happened so that I would let that little outside knee/calf tendon heal. It's barely there now but it sure has gotten better FAST since I backed off.

My right hamstring is more sore than my left so THAT was a problem averted by the small ding to the left. And if that's not enough, I almost picked up a pole to play around with Don this morning, one week out, and the man with the pesticide spraying machine comes out and makes us leave. Somebody is watching out for me because it's common knowledge that I can't be trusted to make the right decisions to protect myself from me. I'll take that blessing for what is is and be very happy.

Have a great day and many thanks for being here! Bubba

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Off Day

A little sore from my first rotation back to training. Today is my normal travel day but it got moved to Friday due to a change with a lunch with a physician partner. Tomorrow I'll be back on to my regular schedule so that is great. Though it always seems to get changed I function better on a schedule. I still get everything done but a schedule is nice.

Yesterday we had a major, but pretty short storm come through right about the time I was going out to the track to meet the kids to vault. The temperature dropped from 99 to 79 in 20 minutes and then wind picked up the pole vault pit and blew it up against the fence. I haven't seen it yet but one of the coaches called me and a kid posted it on Facebook. I'm guessing it's back together by now, but that was some excitement for us.

In 1973 I was at outdoor nationals my freshman year of college, and we had a storm delay/tornado warning during qualifying. We were under the stands and I saw pieces of the pole vault pit flying by and rolling end over end and two of the sections jumped a fence. Thirty minutes later it was clear and the pits were put back in place and we continued qualifying.

Speaking of that day, a turning point in my vault career, I learned that even though I had won my first six college meets, that out of 40 guys, I wasn't good enough to even make the final. I was very disappointed and disillusioned. The next day I looked up all of the vaulters I had watched and hung out with them, talked to them about their training, technique, etc. In 1975 and 1976 I won that national meet back to back. So this "shocking crisis" was either going to be the end of my career or the beginning. I chose the latter.

Have a wonderful day and thanks for being here for me! Bubba

PS - the guy who won the meet in 1973 was kind enough to spend a lot of time telling me his insights. He was quiet and kind of shy but was very nice and answered everything graciously. That guy was Steve Hardison, who I still jump with in masters meets today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1/2 a Day is Better Than None

SWAMPED with business stuff today so I got a late start lifting. Got 1/2 done and today, that's the real world. Have a great day! Bubba

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Contradiction of Instinct

As Dean pointed out yesterday, I am intensely focused on the trees and need to make sure I don't lose sight of the forest. Of course I totally agree and that's what we do - whole, part, whole - look at the event and training as a whole, break it down, and put it back together to be better. If pieces don't produce a better end result, you drop them.

So much of what we do is instinct based on listening to the body. Hence, I ran 10 sled/hills (@ 10%) and lifted legs this morning as well as did my complete stretching. I could not run fast, nor did I think I would be able to, but I felt if I sat I might have a little grab or catch in the spot where I got the little strain. It did feel much looser when I got done and stretching did not hurt at all. Actually I felt it more getting up and down off the floor.

The other reason I went today was to avoid becoming deconditioned right when I was starting to get in good shape. All of that said, the TRUE reason that tipped the scale to going out is that I found out over the weekend that I have to go to San Francisco on 9/9-11 and will miss that training rotation. Missing this week and that rotation is just too much with a meet on 9/25.

Today was against my instincts of yesterday but today it felt like the right thing to do. This is totally a "feeling" and nothing to do with a plan. A little voice just says, "you know what, you really should get that thing moving a little bit". So I go. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beat Up

If you do nothing your body hurts more and is slower to recover than of you do light training. Still, no training is required during certain phase breaks and this is one of those. Right now my left hamstring feels more sore than injured. In fact my right hamstring doesn't feel much different from the left. That said I feel like I could probably easy do a low level vaulting session next week, but will wait until a week later as planned. I have no grabs or catches nor sharp pains, aching, bruising, etc. Feels very good considering. Have a great Sunday!! Bubba

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Upon Further Review

My hamstring strain is more than a dehydration cramp but certainly of no more severity than I originally thought it to be. In fact, this may be the mildest strain I have ever had. Because of this, and the lessons I have learned in the past by rushing my recovery, I decided to stick to the original plan and leave it alone. Very comfortable with that decision as it ASSURES no setbacks. Treat it like it's more major than it is and be safe. Have a beautiful Saturday and thank you for supporting me. Bubba

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Day After

WELL, it's the day after and I still call the hamstring a 2.5 to 3. No big deal but I'll stick to the plan to give it the week off. It's been three weeks since I started vaulting after my cruise and I've gone from a 10' (3.05m) 2 step off season best to 12' 9" (3.90m) by a foot (30 cm) from 8 steps, so I'll take that.

To be able to jump at a high level every day, instead of occasionally, requires me to be in "vault shape", so I will do that over the next four weeks. I typically go very hard for three weeks and back off for a week anyway so this fits in to my plan. It's also why I scheduled going to Kris on the last day of the three week cycle.

A word about expectations. Yesterday two of our best young vaulters went with me to Kris' place. He had three kids there working out, all who had made it to the Texas State Meet the year before. They were not vaulting, but working out. They vault MWF and train TTH/Sat. In Texas, only the top 8 vaulters per class (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A) make it to state yet there we three of his there. As a group we were impressed. But at lunch when I pointed this out, Kris told me how disappointed they were to have gotten 2nd place. Who do you want to be or train with? The person thrilled to be one of 8 in a huge state, or the person who is on a mission for next year because they got 2nd? I'm latching on to the latter and hoping they help drag me up a notch.

Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

PS - Just got back from the track dropping off poles and I can jog pretty fast and feel nothing in my hamstring. This leads me to believe it was more of a dehydration cramp and not a strain. Therefore I will start sled tomorrow and do my regular lifting but no jumping for two weeks as a precaution.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Good, the Bad & the Stupid

Let's start with the fact that today I boomed over my start height of 12' 3" (3.75m), and then 12' 9" (3.90m) from only 8 steps/43' on a 14/170/17.0 gripping 12' 8" (3.86m). Easy jumps with BIG height. A little surprising. On my first attempt at 13' 3" (4.04m), again I had good height but caught it on the way down. Got a slight hamstring strain on the next jump and stopped. The timing of the 14' 1" (4.30m) poles is a little different but the carryover from what I did on the small poles was excellent. Technically I was in control but my legs felt tight from yesterday forward. Why?

You learn some of these things the hard way but today was really needed. I knew I could be hurt from my first couple of take offs but I needed to know where I was. Stupid? Maybe but I really needed to know if what I'm doing is really working and will it really transfer? Technically yes, but physically NO!! So dumb as it sounds, I need to find out and I did.

About six weeks ago I removed a whole series of hamstring/trunk stretches that I have been doing for a few years. My reasoning was that I was not improving on them so they must not be needed anymore. Since I haven't had even a minor hamstring ding in two years, I thought I was fine. WRONG!! I will add them back in as well as a few other strengthening exercises.

The real problem today was my run. For the most part I dropped out my hill/sleds in favor of some faster and shorter running (20m, 30m, 40m). Not smart. When I run hill/sleds it's 50m and powerful. The shorter ones without the sled miss that dynamic. Can't allow that again. I depend on power to cover ground and today when I wasn't covering ground, I TRIED to run harder and that contributed to the little ding. Another factor was dehydration. I have felt a little cramping over the past few days and did not hydrate well today because I was driving 3.5 hours and didn't want to make it 4.5 by stopping to pee five times. Next time I will. Dehydration strains typically heal much faster and are not as dramatic.

Typically a hamstring can cost you 6-8 weeks. On a scale of 1-10 this one is a 2.5 or 3 and I'm actually glad it happened so I can make these adjustments. So when you drop two important base pieces of training that have proved essential, bad things happen. At indoor nationals in 2009, which I won, I got a similar ding and rated it a 5. Four weeks later I nearly PRd at the 100th running of the Drake Relays, so I'm really not phased by this baby setback.

I'm jumping really great for 8 steps (on my way to 16) and a relatively big pole without feeling my usual power on the runway. I will stay out one week, train for one week with the hills and stretches back in the program. Two weeks from today I'll start back jumping on my smallest poles from 2 or 4 steps. The next week I'll get back on my 13' 1" (4m) poles and the week after that, my biggest 4m poles. On week four I will be right back where I am today but more solid physically and technically.

My present outlook is that I just finished my off season training and I'm now getting ready for the preseason, which will start in four weeks. I really think I'm RIGHT THERE as far as the overall plan, so this chink in the armor was great to find today instead of later when I'm back on longer runs and bigger poles.

Speaking of poles, I had my two new 14' 7"s (4.45m) flexed as if they were 14' 1" poles and they came out to be the exact replacements of the 14' 1" they are replacing (15.7 & 15.5). PERFECT! The objective is to be able to start my meets on 14' 7s instead of having to switch up to them from 14' 1s during the meet. Pretty excited about that.

Thanks for being here and keeping me sane. I'm really feel like I'm on the right track, even if it doesn't always sound like it. A year ago today I just started jumping again from 4 steps after a groin injury and 8 weeks later I won the World Masters Games in Sydney, Australia in just horrible wind conditions. Sacramento is known for crappy winds as well. I'm "early" for my progress toward hopefully a top five finish at next year's world championships. Or I'm late since I need to get over 14' by Reno at the end of January. Have a great night. Bubba

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 2010 is a Special Month

AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT AUGUST 2010. This August has 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays, all in one month. It happens once in 823 years. I’ll probably miss the next one. Bubba

One Day Until Kris

I've been so swamped with business that yesterday and today will pass quickly. That helps a lot. I'll go load up the poles this afternoon after my travel day. Haven't done that since January 2, when I jumped 13' 1" (3.99m) in Belton and tried 13' 7" (4.14m) for a new American Indoor Record. YEP, I'm a little excited to be loading up and going somewhere; even if it is a practice with my coach 170 miles away. Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nothing Two Days

Today and Wednesday (my travel day) will be "nothing days" as I give my body a complete rest before I go see Kris on Thursday. It's about a three hour drive and I leave at 5:30 AM in order to be on the runway at 9. I could/should stretch but I'm just going to leave everything alone and come in fresh. To compensate I'll take a longer and easier warm up before I get jumping. Nervously excited. I know I can jump from 6 steps (34'/10m) on my 14' 1" (4.30m) poles because I have done it lots of times. But can I get on #2/17.2 and #3/17.0 also from that run? If I can I can jump 13' (3.97m), but if not I'll move back to 8 steps. Have a great day! Bubba

Monday, August 16, 2010

Good News

Fortunately we guessed right about the cause of that little knee/calf irritation as it is basically nonexistent today, even though I vaulted yesterday. Apparently that tendon that causes quick pronation when you blast out of sprint type starts wasn't ready for so much so soon. Last week I was really concerned that I may lose a week or more if it bothered me jumping yesterday, but today I can't even feel it.

The plan is to jump on 14' 1" (4.30m) poles from 6 steps with Kris on Thursday, skip Sunday's vault rotation (still lift/bars) and then start back Thursday. That will give me another week to make sure that it has totally died down so I can start running again.

HOT day in the old garage. A couple of days ago the newspaper ran an article about how we have yet to get over 100 degrees. YEP, very next day was 101. Of course if it rains it cools off but comes back more humid. Oil well as they say in Texas.

Yesterday I was talking about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. It reminded me of conversations I used to have with my great friend, Australia's Simon Arkell (5.80m/19' 1/4"). He would say that in order to learn the right positions that you had to scare yourself. The standards are all the way back so it's not like you aren't going to be in the middle of the pit so GO FOR IT!! He would say, "if you think you are going to die then aren't even close to being in the right position. It's when you KNOW you're going to die that you are getting close." Sure enough, I feel totally vertical over the box yet still hit the bar on the way up. Coming to grips with where you actually are and where you think you are makes all of the difference in the world.

Have a great day and thanks for you support! Bubba

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting Comfortable With the Uncomfortable

What I tell every kid is that in order to progress in the pole vault you must get comfortable with the uncomfortable as soon as possible, and then get on to the next uncomfortable, because there are a whole big line of them waiting on you.

Today I again did not feel good but at least my legs and back didn't feel tight. This may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I couldn't readily blow through my 4m/13'1" poles as fast as the last practice. The plan was to stay at 6 steps/34'/10m. Two great jumps over 12' 6" (3.81m) on my 14.3 and good hip height on 13' (3.97m) on my biggest 4m pole, the 13.5 but couldn't leave it up. Surprising since it was too small on my make at 12' 6" on Thursday. I guess I wasn't running well enough to make it too small. That said, the pole was mush at 13' as I WAITED and WAITED during the extension with no thrust off the top. So GREAT!! Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. That's the end of my days on the 4m/13'1" poles as now I will move on to my 4.30m/14' 1" poles when I see Kris on Thursday. If I can move the right pole I can jump 13' from 6 steps, so that's the mission. Otherwise I haven't carried over the efficiency.

I'll warm up and try to jump on them from 6 steps, but if I'm not in after three attempts I'll move back a stride to 8 steps. Considering my biggest 4m is bigger than my smallest 4.30, I should be able to make this work. I'd love to get 13' from 6 steps so I will push that each day as my warm up until it happens.

The math is simple - 13' from 6 steps = 13' 6" (4.12m) from 8 steps = 14' (4.27m) from 10 steps etc., until I get to 16 steps. So far so good. Beat up from all of the training components but I'll settle in over the next couple of weeks. Have a great Sunday and thanks for supporting me!! Bubba

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Don't have much to say other than I'm pretty beat up and waiting on tomorrow to try and jump. I have a minor muscular irritation just below the outside of my left knee that apparently happened from over pronating as I begin my sprints. Will try to "jump only" (no sprinting) for two weeks and it will go away. Doesn't hurt to vault, only to accelerate rapidly to start sprints. I've had it before so no big deal; more of an annoyance than anything else.

Going to Kris on Thursday to get on my 14' 1" (4.30m) poles from my 6 step run (34'/10m). I want to be fresh for that so the week will be a little lighter. At the end of that practice I will also take off on one or both of my new 14' 7" (4.45m) poles. Looking forward to it. Have a great day! Bubba

PS - made our hotel reservations in Sacramento for Worlds before they are all gone. We're staying at a really nice place that Dean "The Machine" Gregory told me about. In fact he booked his too as he's coming down to the meet. Not real big about being around people before big events but Dean was a super hardcore training partner for years, so that type of company will be a big help. He flat out "gets it" about mental prep for big days. He will be able to help me sort out last minute thoughts and plans.

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Favorite Vault Photo

This is why we vault. Nothing feels like flying toward the sky like this . Bubba

REAL Athletes

Young Gymnasts in China
Click to Enlarge
It always amazes me the difference in work ethic of people in life. Some people get it at an early age. I remember getting up at 4 AM and lifting weights in the den when I was 12 and my dad was getting ready for work. In high school we would go for a run every morning before school with a group of friends, again at 4 AM. This may seem extreme but it's what I LIKED to do. So it made it easy to work in other areas of life. My dad challenged me at a young age to show as much commitment to work on things that I don't enjoy as well as what I liked. In fact, do the ones you don't like first. It was a good lesson and to this day I still enjoy that approach to life.
Anyway, the photo above reminds me why we no longer have superior athletes as kids. In California they called it the "fast food mentality" where kids played many sports until they got good enough that it took real work to improve further and then they would move to the next sport. Today I see kids think they can come out and vault for an hour two days a week and actually amount to something. In the book "Outliers" the author speaks of the 10,000 hour rule as being the gold standard of mastery. Tough to ever get there at 2 hours a week. The gymnasts and swimmers that we marvel at during the Olympics started when they were 4 or 5 years old and train five hours a day six days a week. That's why they succeed.
Yesterday I jumped 12' 6" (3.81m) from 6 steps to tie my PR. I am 57 years old. I truly believe I will make 4m (13' 1 1/2") from that same run in the next 2-3 weeks. This didn't happen because I became a better vaulter. It happened because I spent the last seven months training my butt off while injured and unable to vault. I wish more kids were willing to REALLY work. AND my mission continues. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Day From 6 Steps = 12' 6" (3.81m)

I felt pretty bad this morning as my body continues to adapt to the full training load. Before I went out I was agitated because at various times I could feel something in my right groin, left knee, right Achilles and left hamstring. As I warmed up I never felt any of them to any significant level but overall my body and legs felt tight so I played it very safe.

I started from 6 steps on the 4m/13' 1"/176/14.7 at 11' (3.35m). This is the biggest pole I made 12' on from 4 steps on Sunday so I figured it would be a good warm up pole from 6 steps (34'/10m). I made 11' and 12' right away and then the pole started to get too small as my body got warmed up. Moved to the 4m/180.4/14.3 and made 12' by quite a long way and then blew through the pole pretty bad as it suddenly got little. I moved to my biggest 4m, a 182.6 (83kg)/13.5 and made 12' 6" (3.81m) on my first jump, tying my 6 steps PR, but it too was too small. My body felt like trash so I stopped rather than going into the shed and getting my 4.30m/14' 1" poles. I'll save that for Kris' place next Thursday.

Good day but I didn't make 12' 6" by much because the pole was too small. For me to jump 13' from that run for a new PR will take the 14' 1"/17.2 or 17.0. I doubt I can get on the 17.0 from that run so I'm sure I'll move on to 8 steps if I get stuck there. This will probably happen at Kris' next Thursday as this Sunday, on short rest, I will just try and duplicate what I did today.

Overall I was scattered in my thinking and focus today, maybe even distracted by my body and business workload, etc., so I'm pleased I could muster the focus to jump well but I was not sharp with my consistency at all. Though I had no really bad jumps, I only had three that I thought were really good and the 12' 6" jump was the worst of the day. Sloppy on a small pole but made it.

I've determined that I cannot stay at a particular run for a specified period of time, but rather need to move to the next one when I see that it is obvious that I can't use the next pole from that run after a couple of weeks. If I can make or have good jumps at 13' (3.97m) from 34'/6 steps, I'm way ahead of where I have ever been before so I need to focus on getting the most out of each run and pole and then move on.

Great result today but my body felt bad and I wasn't happy with my technique or focus. Hoping to clean some of that up Sunday. Thank you for being here. Bubba

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Travel Day

Feel pretty good today and I jump tomorrow. Today is my driving day to see partners on business matters so maybe I'll get a light stretch when I get back this afternoon.

I've been toying with jumping on the new 14' 7" (4.45m) poles soon but I think I may just stay on schedule and get to it when it comes up in the order over the next 3-4 weeks. I told Kris we could do it when I come tom him a week from tomorrow and treat it like a "strength test" - a one day, see how it feels and then back to where I was test. I guess I'm more concerned that I ramp up properly with my technique and adjust my body to bigger poles slowly without one big slam. The reality is the pole wont be as big as the 14' 1s (4.30m) that they are replacing so that is an argument for trying it. I'll take them that day and we will see.

Right now I may be maxed out at 4 steps as I really don't think I can get on the next pole from that run. I'm already two poles bigger than I have ever been from 4. So tomorrow if the 14.3 does not move from 4 steps I will go to 6 steps for the first time. Surprisingly I am only one pole away from going to my 14' 1" poles and I haven't even gotten to 6 steps yet. At Reno in 2008 Paul Babbitts told me this would happen. Jump on small poles from close and you will find yourself on big poles much sooner than ever before. STILL, no reason to push the pace. I will get to longer runs soon enough and will get tons of longer run jumps.

The game plan right now is to progress to 16 steps by indoor nationals on March 5, and then spend the rest of March (except meets) at 8 steps, May = 10 steps, June =12 steps, and then back to 14 and 16 for the big three. This will allow me to revisit my technical efficiency while reducing the chance of getting hurt.

So there you have my rambling for an off day. Thanks for supporting me and have a great day! Only 11 more months of the grind. Bubba

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dates for the Big Meets

I found out at the end of the day yesterday that I will compete in the National Senior Games in Houston on Monday June 21. I also learned that I will be jumping at World Masters Championships on Wednesday, July 13. Good news with three weeks apart. THEN I have until July 30 for outdoor nationals, so another 2.5 week break. Very nice to have a little spread between three huge meets of that caliber.

Picked up my new poles yesterday. Kris had sent them down with our M50 masters vaulter, Gary Scheffe, after a meet in Austin on Sunday. Got them cut and taped. As you know they come with these little markings and etchings that represent the size and flex numbers. Being a fossil of failing vision, I color code my poles so that I can tell by looking at the color of tape where it fits in the order of stiffness. Hard to read 18.1, from 18.5 from 17.8 in tiny writing. Blue is first place (stiffest pole), red is 2nd, etc., so I have a system.

Another thing I do is "top" my poles, which means I cut the top off. I figure they are mine, I paid for them and no one else will use them, so why not? I'm using a 14' 7" (4.45m) pole but only gripping 13' 3" (4.05m) on the smaller ones, and don't want the end to hit the bar and knock it off, so I cut the top to just above my grip. For maximum pole speed and momentum, I jump with my uprights all of the way back (32" - 80cm), so many times my pole follows me into the pit. If it hits the bar and knocks it off it is a miss. Mine go under the bar because the box is 8" (20cm) deep.

I did not lift arms and shoulders today because I feel a little too beat up and want a productive jump day on Thursday. Gotta pick your battles and this is an unnecessary risk so I just did a long stretch.

Have a great day and thanks again! Bubba

Monday, August 9, 2010

Training & Meet Types

I'm going to address a few questions I've been getting a lot of recently. Some of you know the answers and some don't, and still some aren't that clear, which is understandable.

First, what am I doing for my running? I follow a 14 week program put together by a great coach named Jim Hiserman. Last week was week 1. I do these three sets of sprints immediately after I finish jumping, two days a week. I do not rest between reps but take a brief rest ( a few minutes) between sets as I change equipment. I run them up my light incline hill (2-3%). The first set I run for speed, the next I run for speed with a sled and the last, I run for speed with a pole and no sled. I run at the maximum speed my rhythm allows that day and never push to try and go faster. It's one of those things where you will actually get faster if you run it a 40-60%, though I do try and run faster on the days I can. Strange but it works. http://www.bubbapv.com/Pages/speed.htm

Masters Meet Types
Our meets by classification are called "Masters Meets" and compete in 5 year groups. I am in the M55-59 group. Needless to say, as you get closer to the end of your group, it gets real tough as "young bucks" move into your group. That's why Sacramento will be a challenge to get in the top five. I will be old and young studs will be new.

USA Track & Field is our governing body and also fields our Olympic Teams. Each year we have an indoor and an outdoor national championships for athletes 30+. A "Master" is considered to be 40 years old or more, and under that is called a "Submaster". So we know we have those two events each year and the serious athletes try and make one or both.

WMA (World Masters Athletics) is every two years and open to track & field athletes ages 40 and over. The rest of the world calls track and field "athletics". Next year this will be in Sacramento, returning to the US for the first time since Buffalo in 1995. Last time it was in Finland and before that it was in Italy. When I turn 60 in 2013 it will be in Brazil, so be thankful for a US stopover. So Dean, this is a good one to make as you suggested. Vaulters, I don't care if your best jump is 6' you should go to Sacramento. There is nothing like being on the field in a world championships. Take advantage. Mike Soule, I'm talking to you!!

If you are 50 or older you are ALSO eligible for "Seniors" competitions. Seniors compete in 18 sports whereas the previous events are JUST "athletics". Every year there is a State Senior Games (Senior Olympics) and every other year there are the National Senior Games. Next year the National Senior Games will be in Houston. Mike Soule and his wife Kay will be staying with us so I think I'll ship him directly to Sacramento with my poles while I have the chance and before he can get away. The previous two NSGs were at Stanford University in California and in Louisville in 2007 where Don and I got gold and silver respectively.

The final category is World Games which is the Olympics for all masters aged 30 and up. There are 28 Olympic sports and nearly 30,000 athletes. Like the Olympics, this is every four years with the last one being in Sydney, Australia, where I was fortunate enough to win. The next one is in Tornio, Italy.

So there you have it, submasters, masters, seniors, compete in athletics or Games/Olympics. For us the bottom line is that we always have something major to train for. Have a great day and thanks for your support! Bubba

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Most Interesting Man in the World Sayings

Love this guy - www.staythirstymyfriends.com

  • His blood smells like cologne
  • The police often question him just because they find him interesting
  • His charisma can be seen from outer space
  • The book "Who's Who in America" lists his little black address book as its major source of information.
  • He can speak braille fluently, and it is said, he writes his signature in sign language.
  • He can disarm you with his looks or his hands either way.
  • He learned how to play Chinese checkers in Japan.
  • If he were to give you directions, you'd never get lost. And you would arrive at least 5 minutes early.
  • He doesn't dance to music, the music dances to him
  • It is said, he has never had to ask for directions. Where ever he ends up is where he needed to be.
  • He has never lost a sock.
  • He bought a Swiss Army knife... from the Turkish Navy.
  • He was the very first member anywhere to see a sign that says "Members Only.
  • It is said he never looks up at the stars and wonders.. because he already knows.
  • He never initiates conversations about the weather... not even a typhoon.
  • Even the things his parrot says are insightful.
  • If there were an interesting gland, his would be bigger than most men’s small intestines.
  • He never has to turn on the lights, because there is no dark in his life.
  • When he walks he doesn't leave footprints, only his scent.
  • It is said, whatever side of the track he is on, it is the right side.
  • He doesn't believe in using oven mitts, or potholders
  • He once had an awkward moment, just to see what it felt like
  • He doesn't need credit cards, his word is good enough.
  • His beard alone, has experienced more then a lesser man's entire body
  • He never says something tastes like chicken
  • He lives vicariously through himself
  • He has amassed an incredibly large dvd library, and it is said, that he never once alphabetized it
  • If he were to mail a letter without postage, it is said it would still get there
  • When it is raining, it is because he is thinking of something sad
  • He once punched a magician

Reason for Optimism

I felt fairly flat warming up, as expected, since this was my first week back to the full training load of running, lifting, vaulting, bars, etc. The plan was to stay on my smallest pole at 4 steps(23'/6.5m), the 4m/13'1/167/16.3, but after I made 11'' (3.35m) I knew it was going to be too small. I was fairly hit and miss on my technique and then at 11' 6" (3.51m) on the 4m/171.6/15.9 I hit a really good pocket and went pretty much straight up the pole.

Again I knew that pole would be too small for 12' (3.66m) so I moved up to the 15.5. Had a good jump but it was too small. I made the decision to try and go to the 176.8/15.0 and made it on the first jump but IT TOO felt a little small. I'm really in uncharted territory now because I have never even been on the 15.5 from 4 steps until six days ago and now that and the 15.0 are too small. I decided to stay at 12' and try the 14.7, a pretty big stiffness jump. Made it again even easier so I decided to quit while I was ahead.

I went ahead and did the rest of my running, bars and lifting with a sense of optimism I haven't felt in some time. I knew at some point that all of the running and lifting I did this year for the months that I couldn't jump would pay off but this is clearly another level. The again, does it matter how fast and strong you are with a 4 step run? probably not.

I had just told Nancy the day before that if I wanted to really break through I would have to stick the the shorter run and clean up my technique rather than moving on just to clear higher bars. Today I was rewarded so therefore I will continue to challenge myself from 4 steps until I got to see Kris a week from Thursday where I will try to go from 6 steps.

Have a great Sunday and thanks for the support. Bubba

Saturday, August 7, 2010


It's easy to romanticize big meets and performance goals but the reality is that you have to show up on THAT day and perform them. I train and train and train thinking about a big meet months away but when I get there a whole new reality is present; you actually have to now DO IT!! To me that means I need a 13' 9" (4.20m) grip and a 47' mid from a 16 step run. I have to have worked my way up to that while maintaining efficiency.

When I first decided to jump again in 1988, I was out at UCLA and I looked across Drake Stadium and saw that Anthony Curran had a bungee up for the kids. It looked pretty high and when I got over there it was at 14' (4.27m). I was 36 and thought, shoot I can jump 14' in my jeans and flats. I finally made it in 1997 (9 years later) at age 44 and made 15' 1" (4.60m) the next year. The reality, as I learned, is that you actually have to do it as simply dreaming and believing can't make it happen.

At the World Masters Games in Sydney, Australia I was VERY ready and felt great going into the meet. When I got over to the field for warm up I felt a little queasy and my legs felt really dead. On top of that the wind was blowing HARD from all over the place. It was so loud it was hard to talk to someone. I just felt sick because THIS was the big day I trained so hard for and here I am feeling like crap in bad conditions.

After I got moving around for awhile I felt pretty dang good and also was able to kind of pick up a wind rotation pattern so that maybe it wouldn't blow my pole out of the box or come directly in my face. I ended up winning but it was by totally blocking out everything else around me and thinking about the exact technical mechanics that it would take to succeed.

So the irony is that you romanticize and prepare for the pageantry and pressure of huge meets but when you get there, in order to do well, you have to block it all out. So much for visualizing. Anyway, this was my revelation today as I lifted in the garage thinking about Worlds in Sacramento. As much as I focus on that place and those conditions today, when I get there I can only succeed if I totally ignore them.

Have a great Saturday! Bubba

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back to Garage Lifting

Kris and I briefly considered JUST vaulting for awhile but decided that would be too much strength and speed training lost. So back to the hot garage for lifting today. I'm feeling very good but again I just restarted and I'm taking it on a fairly easy ramp up. I've got 11 months of this grind so it's more important to be focused and deliberate than to try and PR on lifting every day.

Every year about this time when I start my August grind I always focus on the big meets coming the next year as that gives me the sense of purpose to get through hard training when most guys are taking a break. What's funny is that by the time those meets actually arrive I have done so much more that looking back on these days feels irrelevant. I'll just keep that a secret from myself for right now so I can continue to crawl slowly down the planned path.

As a vaulter you want to grab the next pole, move the run back and clear something respectable. The problem with that thinking is that I already know what I can jump on every pole from every run, so what's the point? My time would be better spent trying to get everything I can out of the smaller poles from the shorter runs so that I can jump even higher when I get back to the longer runs and bigger poles. If things continue how they have started I will be on much bigger poles by then.

I'm going to vault with Kris on Thursday, 8/19 for the purpose of picking up and trying to jump on the two new smaller 14' 7" (4.45m) poles. It won't matter what run or grip I use, just that I see what they feel like as those will become my meet start poles. It also won;t matter if I can't get in enough to go at a bar. Just feel the poles at every grip starting at 2 steps and probably ending at 12-14 in flats. Jog in with rhythm and hit the pole. Looking forward to it.

Have a great day and many thanks for hanging out here with me. Bubba

PS - Pole costs? I'm asked this fairly often. For these two poles I got a deal at $957 including shipping.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Good Day

I felt pretty good going out this morning but I'm sure that is over now that I have vaulted, run, done bars and lifted. No height improvement, still 11' 6" (3.51m), but I had more control of the jumps and did get to a bigger pole (4m/171.6/15.5) and had some decent attempts at 12' from my 23', 4 step run. Everything was better except the height cleared. I'll take that because it felt more consistent and in control. My PR from this run is 12' (3.66m) once, and I have never been on the 15.5 from that run so that is progress. I'll grind away again Sunday and then next Thursday when I get stopped at 4 steps I will move to 6 steps for the first time this year.

Everything felt really good and healthy and I stayed well within myself. That will be the key to success this year. At this point it comes down to doing the work with focus and listening to my body. Feels so good to not be hurt any place.

If the miracle of getting a medal at Worlds next year will happen then I will have have to have this type of training, uninterrupted for the next 10 1/2 months. Get the most out of every day without stepping over the edge. Not hard to do when you're running from 23' (7m) but at some point over the next 4-5 months I will be at a 14 and 16 step run for the first time in two years. I'm hoping I progress properly so that means bigger heights.

Have a great day and thank you for your support!! Bubba

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to Work Thursday

WELL, I have driven miles to meetings over the past two days so I will be home tomorrow catching up. Left at 4:30 this morning for a 4 hour drive to a 9 AM meeting. On Thursday my hardcore training for next year will resume and I am very excited. The grind is SO MUCH better when you can also vault! Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! Thanks for being here!! Bubba

PS - Entered the 2011 Pole Vault Summit in Reno today.

Tried to enter the Texas Senior Games but it had a glitch and did not list my event.

Found out that I jump at the National Senior Games either on 6/21 or 6/24 (my birthday). Since it is in Houston, this will be the first time my dad has seen me jump at a National Championships since college.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Good 1st Day Back

My weight was this same this morning as it ever is, about 175 and I find that SHOCKING after the cruise. My body felt OK but a little stiff from no activity. I started from 4 steps today for the first time and cleared 11' 6" (3.51m), which too is very surprising in a pleasant way. Started on the 4m/167/16.3 and made 9' 6", 10' and 10' 6" on first jumps before getting 11' on my 3rd, though all good jumps. Moved up to the 4m/171.6/15.9 and made 11' 6" on my 2nd.

Gotta hit the road for a lunch meeting. Glad to be back and vaulting. Bubba

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Almost Home

We left the ship and cleared customs at 7:55 AM Pacific time and came right to the airport. Our flight wasn't even on the board yet as it was scheduled for 12:25. After grabbing something to eat we saw the flight time had changed to 1:05 and was leaving from terminal "N", and that means a train ride.

I can't say enough about the experience with Seattle/airport/support and Holland America Cruises. Amazing service and very fast and efficient processes. Not to mention a very beautiful corner of the world. BTW - I'm on Sea-Tac's free airport WiFi!!

The only thing missing from this trip was the chance to connect with my great friend and former training partner, Dean "The Machine" Gregory. Dean and I go way back and spent years as very intense training partners. The time window was just too short this time but he suggested he might possibly meet up with us at Worlds in Sacramento next year. Awesome! So a perfect trip except for missing Dean.

I'm going to be on the runway at 7 AM tomorrow as I have a business lunch 90 miles away. Did some striding and skipping in the halls starting Friday and felt very heavy. Yesterday was a little better and today is still better. Looking forward to getting back into my routines.

Have a great Sunday and thanks for your support! Bubba