Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good Day Considering

I went out with Don this morning and felt pretty flat since I haven't done a single thing since Sunday's aborted jump session. I was in Tampa Monday/Tuesday and then my regular local/regional travel on Wednesday so wasn't even able to stretch. HATE that but sometimes it happens. Should be able to get some good quality work in while in Maine on vacation. GREAT 80m hill right in front of the house and the YMCA works well for lifting and bars.

I was super careful since I felt bad but still managed a few really good jumps on my smallest 14' 1" (4.30m) pole. Running from 44' (13m) I made 12' (3.66m) and 12' 6" (3.81m) cleanly on 2nd attempts and then moved up to the 17.2 and had one really good one at 13' (3.96m). Sounds exactly like the last practice but I felt worse physically yet technically had better control.

Today I lost the battle of wills and did not go to the gym because I have way too much to do at home before I can leave town for eight days. I did complete all of my running at the track though. I'll jump from 10 steps (5 strides) at the meet a week from Sunday and see how it feels.

Gotta run but thanks for being here with me and have a great day! Bubba

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jump Day Tomorrow

Local/Regional travel today but finally get to jump tomorrow. Can't wait.

I also found out that the meet scheduled for 9/25 has been moved to Sunday 10/10, the day after I get back from vacation so we will all go.

Vacation in Maine will be different this year. We were supposed to go last year but Nancy's mom, June, had a stroke just before we were to go. She died on January 14, 2010 so it will be the first family trip to the beach house without her. We have invited friends and family to join us so it should be a fun time remembering her. June was a wonderful lady. She lived with us for the last six years of her life and she was nothing short of a joy.

More after I jump tomorrow. Bubba

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Just got back from business in Tampa. Left the house Monday at 5:15 and finshed day long meetings and dinner at 9:30. Flew out at noon and just got home. Local travel day today, vault Thursday, vacation Friday - Saturday of the next week. More soon. Thanks for hanging with me. Bubba

Late add - I heard back from the USF (University of South Florida) coach today and he invited me to come out to practice the next time I'm in Tampa, which could be a lot.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maturity Sucks

Warming up today I felt good and quick but a little weak behind my left knee in the lower hamstring. This is pretty common when I've bumped up my running speed, gone to longer runs, or bigger poles. Ashley says that the muscles aren't firing in sequence correctly so they can't protect themselves. The late great orthopedic surgeon and friend, Dr. Glen Almquist, used to tell me that it is like "sunburn". When you go out and get sunburned you stay out of the sun until it goes away and then ease back into it. That's why you get fried at the first of the summer and are tanned by the end. Your body gets used to it in doses.

All of this said, I stopped jumping about 1/2 way through my warm up today because I felt I was at risk of getting a ding that could keep me out for another four weeks. I did get my running done but at a lower level. Don't get me wrong, I feel good and am close to being ready to get in some big jumps, but my body hasn't completely recovered from the last two sessions on the bigger poles. I'm fine with that in the big picture, but for today it sucks since I really was looking forward to jumping. Have a wonderful Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Off Day

Got shut out on my earlier post but I was just saying that I had a nice stretch today, feel better and hope to have a good vault/run/lift/bars day tomorrow. Have a great night! Bubba

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dangers of Cipro for Athletes

I got this email today from Penny Hanson, a former elite level gymnast I've known for years as we went to college together. I found it really interesting and certainly never knew about these side effects. Bubba
Hi Bubba,I hope you are doing well. I had something interesting happen this week that I thought might be good for you to know.

I was prescribed the antibiotic "Cipro" for an infection I had last week. I had taken it only once before at the end of June. Anyway, when I picked it up, I looked over the list of complications and side effects and the number one complication is "spontaneous tendon rupture". When I read more about it and checked it out online, it turns out that this is a serious drug that can mess you up for months after you take it. They stated that the ruptures can happen even months after you have finished taking the antibiotic. Also, there are loads of reports of people who have developed tendinitis in their joints when they did not have it before, especially the shoulder and hands.

I tell you this because, on July 1st, 2 days after I had finished my course of Cipro, I shredded my calf muscle from my Achilles....big pain! They said it was a muscle tear and I ended up spending 6 weeks in a boot and doing weeks of physical therapy. At the time, I was just walking barefoot on my floor, no heels, no crazy steps, etc. I had never had any pain in my calf before this either.

My conclusion is that I had a "spontaneous tendon rupture" caused by the drug! I called my doctor this time and got another antibiotic....I will never take Cipro again. I thought you might want to be aware of this scary side effect just in case you have an opportunity to take Cipro. Don't do it! Take care Penny

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Facing My Demons

No matter how much you run or lift, the act of vaulting requires a particular type of mental focus to improve. You can't just vault. You have to try and do specific things better on each jump. As I have said a million times, you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and then move on to the next uncomfortable. Today's goal was to start at 8 steps (44'/13m) on the first 14' 1" (4.30m) pole and just get some jumps in. I accomplished that but not without some frustration.

Started the day feeling like crap. I'm fighting a sinus infection which gives me a body ache type feeling in my head. It's supposed to rain again on my next jump day, Sunday, so I didn't want to miss the chance to vault. I did skip all bars and lifting and will head to my PCP this morning for some antibiotics.

The goal is to start to accumulate some jumps at this level as a new baseline. I had no problem moving the poles today. The longer poles roll slower so I have to really focus on completing my take off and keeping my body long and without a hip break during the swing. Knowing what to do, and even how to do it, is sometimes a challenge in mid jump. Because it's new it took REAL focus to mentally discipline my mind to do what needed to be done.

I started at 12' (3.66m) and made it on the 2nd jump on the 17.5. Jump #1 I forgot how to vault and cut off my take off. That's frustrating because the warm up jump with no bar just before that jump I hit with perfect timing. That's what this is all about; focus under fire. Made 12' 6" (3.81m) on my 2nd attempt and nearly left up 13' (3.96m) on the next pole, the 17.2 on the 2nd jump.

If I can get another day or two like this in before my trip I will be up one more pole and probably make or be super close to 13' so I can move back a stride to 10 steps. I have two more jumps sessions before my vacation so I think this is highly possible if I focus.

Again, I would love to just move back 30' and move up about six poles bigger but it is important to maintain the technical efficiency I'm building. So for my first true practice entirely from 8 steps, I'm pretty pleased with my ability to make technical changes from jump to jump when my mind and instincts are telling me not to. Small victory for the mentally weak. The mind is like a muscle and will get stronger if used. I was able to make these adjustments and show mental discipline on the 13' 1" (4m) poles, so now it's time to do it here. Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Late add - when doing heavy lat pulls on Monday I felt a spot of fairly sharp pain in the middle of my right bicep; then one that kept me out of Reno, Kamloops, etc. Almost didn't jump today and then thought I would try on small poles. Finally I decided to just go with the big pole plan as I could always stop if it hurt. Never felt a thing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On the Road Again

It's Wednesday so I'll make the local/regional loop and try and get a stretch this afternoon. At least the rain has stopped so maybe it will be dried out by tomorrow. Have a great day! Bubba

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Change of Plans - No Meet

In Texas football trumps all. I grew up here and played football for years so I understand. Our meet scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed until 10/9 (when I will be on vacation) because the University Texas vs. UCLA game has been moved up to early afternoon making officials tough to come by. I'm fine with it as that will give me some more consistent training.

Next week will be challenging in that I am in Florida on Monday and Tuesday, do my normal local travel day on Wednesday, and then leave for our annual vacation in Maine on Friday. That said I'll jump on schedule on Thursday/Sunday/Thursday. I will miss a couple of upper lifting sessions but I can afford that more than missing the running, jumping and lower lifts.

I get back on 10/9 and have the Texas Senior Games three weeks later. There's a great 70m grated hill in front of the house in Maine and I will lift at the YMCA a few days also. I usually do each three times. I always come back from Maine feeling like I've had a week of good training, caught up on my business computer and well rested.

Today it's raining and may still be raining Thursday and if that's the case I'll stay on schedule and skip the vaulting component. My body feels good so I'll just chill out and stick to my regular routines. That's it for today. Thank you so much for caring! Bubba

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lifting With Purpose

I always try to train with purpose for each and every component, but I really notice a heightened awareness as I approach my first meet since indoor nationals at the end of March. Again let me state that this is a fun little meet, nothing of giant importance, but yet still an opportunity to jump in a competition. So today's lifting was very good. Even on the worst days I grind through, but at least now I have something immediate to look forward to.

All lifts are up to the higher level benchmarks so the objective Saturday will be to get to my upper pole/run benchmarks back to reality. That means the game plan is business a usual as far as starting poles, and run progressions. I'm looking forward to that more than anything.

The next goal will be to come back and get some high level training sessions in from 8 steps until I'm consistent at 13' (3.97m) from there. Then I'll move to 10 steps until I have consistent jumps at 13' 6" (4.12m), etc. It's not going to happen overnight but my body will then get conditioned to more and longer run jumps. The key will be to keep the poles very small until I am completely warmed up.

All of this explanation is because that is why I have decided to start jumping from 10 steps like a regular meet. Because getting on my bigger poles will make my smaller 14' 1" (4.30m) poles feel small in practice and that's what I need to start progressing with them. This is the fastest and safest way to make that happen. If I'm lucky I'll even get to my first 14' 7" (4.45m) pole. Have a great day and thanks for your support! Bubba

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Better Than Expected

I felt pretty good in warm up so I started on one pole bigger than I was going to; the 4m (13' 1")/176/14.7. Made 11' (3.35m) and 12' (3.66m) on first attempts from 6 steps (33'/10m). Moved to the 14.3 and made it again but it felt too small. Skipped my biggest 4m pole, a carbon 13.5 and went into the shed and got out my smallest 14' 1" (4.30m) pole and moved my run back to 8 steps/44'. Made 12' by a long way and had big height on 12' 6" (3.81m) twice before stopping as a precaution.

The poles and my vaults felt good but I was very careful with my runway speed still. The sled has really helped considering I was at 42' 6" at Kris' while trying to run hard, and at 44' today trying to go real easy. That would put me at 45' on a normal day which is good. Covering more ground with the same running motion and the same number of steps means you're faster. I'll take that.

At the meet next week I'll probably run from 10 steps rather than four so I don't get caught forcing my run. The meet series record for M55 is 12' 6" (3.81m) which I jumped in November of 2008, so I'd like to try and advance that. Also, four weeks after this meet is the Texas Senior Games where I have the State Record for M55 at 13' 1/4" (3.97m) and I'd like to be in a position to beat that. SO, I'll go from 10 instead of 8 steps at this meet and plan on being at 12 steps next month at TSG.

All and all I'm on track and my body feels good. Knock on wood - LOUDLY!! Thanks for being here. Bubba

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I'm torn about what to do at practice tomorrow because it is the last day I will vault before my meet next Saturday. It's a no big deal meet but I haven't jumped in one since indoor nationals at the end of March. I'm sure my warm up will tell me, but I've got two choices; 1) start from 4 steps on my smallest 4m (13' 1") pole and move through quickly to see how far I can get through those poles from 6 steps OR; 2) start on a mid sized 4m' pole from 6 steps and try to get through those last four poles in that series. I'm leaning toward option #2 because I just spent a month at the option #1.

Why does it matter? If I start in the middle and work through the biggest poles then I will take only my 14' 1" (4.30M) poles to Austin. The smallest on is very manageable from 8 steps. In fact I don't even take it to meets because it's too small. This would be the preferred option because that would put me back where I was the day I got the little ding with Kris. Considering that by meet day that it will have been 5.5 weeks, I'll be 100%. I'll let you know tomorrow what happens but that is the best case scenario.

If that's the preferred option then why wouldn't I just commit to it? The last session I jumped from 6 steps on a pole that is normally too small from 4 steps. In other words, I was overcautious on my run so I wouldn't have to hit the take off so hard. I still think I'll shoot for the big 4ms from 6 but I'll really need to be more dependent upon body angles and mechanics than runway speed to feel safe yet productive. It will be a good exercise to make me face my demons technically.

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

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall

Yesterday was four weeks since my little right hamstring ding at Kris' place. As planned and predicted, I have my running power back, flexibility is increased and I'm back at full strength on all lifts. That's the amazing thing I learned from an early influence, physical therapist, the late Logan Wood. He said, "you're an athlete and you are going to get hurt. It's your job to ALWAYS come back better than when you left".

This mentality has served me well with my three years out after two Achilles surgeries, and a year and half on a hip inflammation problem that happened to be three hernias. From the outside it looks like I'm hurt a lot. Not really. Most are merely annoyances that I'm overcautious with to keep from blowing up to something bigger. But how about a year and a half of four weeks of rehab, followed by 10 days of activity, followed by six weeks of rehab, etc. That was my hip issue - for 18 months that went on. The Achilles was stripped of fascia but the micro tear did not show up so I ended up with a 7" vertical split. That was six months of rehab followed by a year of rehab all with no hope of vaulting.

So I'll take any little ding I get now over any of these other BIG issues. BUT, every time something happens I keep building the wall, brick by brick. If I can't vault I can do something to get better and it will pay off when I can. I just have to keep showing up every day and that I will.

My general rule of conditioning is that I should always be within four weeks of being very competitive. The longer I can train consistently and uninterrupted, the better I can get physically. Right now I'm still about three weeks from when I left for Sydney a year ago, yet I'm in far better shape. Now it's time to jump and do so consistently. Very excited. Thanks for being here as always! Bubba

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back @ 100%

Apparently the little left groin thing was a kink from no activity as I was able to easily vault this morning with no pain or physical limitations at all. I did my normal, and sounds very stupid, warm up of NONE. My orthopedic surgeon used to tell me that I need to determine if my event is injuring me or my training is. His advice was that when in doubt, only do your event. If that works then add your training back in.

I did 3 X 2 steps and 3 X 4 steps and then 2 X 6 steps just to check the body out. I felt the cobwebs a little but physically I was strong and relatively fast. On my smallest 4m (13' 1") pole, I started at 9' 6" (2.90m) jogging in from 6 steps (33'/10m) and made it by a mile so I skipped to 10' 6" (3.20m) and made it and 11' (3.35m) by a lot on first jumps. On my first jump at 11' 6" (3.51m) the pole was way too small. I did not want to move up poles and have to run harder on the first day so I stopped. I did my sled at 50%, then bars and hit them gym for my lifting.

Sunday I'll step it up to the normal poles I use from 6 steps. Today I used the one I start on from 4 steps so it was very small with little lift at 6. On the next Saturday I'll jump at the meet from 6 steps and see what I can do.

Of course I could jump on my 14' 1" (4.30m) poles at the meet but why invite trouble when I'm going on vacation to Maine five days later? I'd rather leave and return healthy. I'm wearing my Kamloops shirt which says DO NOT GET hurt, so this is the smart move for this time of year. Even though I can and have done more, DON'T for right now.

Thanks for being here with me. It really means a lot to hear from you and to know that you're feeling the good and bad with me. Have a great day! Bubba

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Road Day 2

Can't wait for tomorrow so that maybe I can feel like a pole vaulter again! Bubba

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the Road Again

I'm out today and tomorrow on business but my body feels really good. I'll give everything a shot on Thursday AM. Bubba

Monday, September 13, 2010

Somewhere Among the Theories is Truth

OK, so I didn't skip the full rotation as I went out and lifted and did sprint drills today. As fast as the groin issue creeped in, it has almost entirely left. This is typical when your body gets a shock it's not quite used to. I can remember working with several athletes who made physical or technical level changes that injured them until they learned how to operate with their new bodies.

Since my little hamstring ding I've spent four weeks in deep training of sled, changed my stretching for the better and got back to some massage. All of these things have loosened my body so that I can move more quickly and powerfully. Sometimes when that happens you have to take a little more time to ease up to the new intensity level allowed.

That said, I also have upped all of my bars and when you do some of the concentrated lower ab things, it can flare the area where I had my hernia surgeries. This feels very much like a groin strain. In all cases you back off and ramp back up being a little bit more comfortable.

With all of this said, I should be on schedule for full training on Thursday, so I'm very happy about that. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Skip a Rotation

The inside left groin is better but still too tender to torutre it today so I'll skip the next two day rotation and pick it up Thursday. Not a big deal but I need to keep it from becoming one. Feels more like a stabilizer than and true groin strain. Strains don't get 50% better in one day. Started feeling like Nancy was giving me my cold back last night so that was the final determining factor to assure the skip.

I was planning on jumping from 8 steps on my 14' 1" (4.30m) poles at my meet in two weeks, but to be safe I'll go from 6 steps on my 13' 1" (4m) poles. It should be fun and comfortable. After that I'll move up to the next level and run to get ready for the Texas Senior Games on 10/24. That is the qualifying meet for next year's National Senior Games to be held here in Houston next June. I just need to be in the top five so I should be safe.

Hope you have a great Sunday and thanks for hanging out with me. I made a decison that I would condition my body to train and compete at a higher level. It's a balancing act and I will have dings, but I'm getting much better and predicting, avoiding and managing them. Bubba

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back Home

Yesterday I jogged down the hall to get ice at maybe 10-15% and felt nothing. During the night my left groin, which has never been hurt, feels strained. This reminds me of when I did the same in Alaska and my hip/glute really flared up. Two days later I didn't feel it at all. I'm pretty much guessing that's what will happen here. Of course why would that be a surprise when I have done absolutely nothing since last Sunday. I was sick, it rained and then I left town. These things happen but I'm not going to worry about it. We'll see tomorrow morning. Meet in two weeks so I won't push it since I'm in good shape.

Nancy asked if I'm sure I wanted to post this because it always sounds like I'm hurt. OF COURSE I do because I promised from day one that I would put everything out there; the good, bad and the ugly. More tomorrow. Need some sleep. Nancy got my cold and coughed all of last night, right up until our 3:15 AM wake up call. NEITHER of us slept but at least were home. Bubba

PS - it was 56 this morning in San Francisco and 96 when I arrived home. It made the AC in the house feel too cold. What a difference a couple of days make.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Great work day yesterday here in San Francisco so we did a little sightseeing today. Head home in the early AM and will be back to vaulting on Sunday morning. Here are a few photos that you can click to enlarge. Have a great Friday evening. Bubba

The Ferry Building from our hotel window at the Hyatt. Strangely the best view was at the end of the hall by the ice machine. That's the Bay Bridge to Oakland. We always try to do this "self portrait" where I take the picture of us left handed. The city skyline is just above the fog. Photo taken from the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fog rolls in on the Golden Gate Bridge.
View down California Street from inside the cable car. That's the Bay Bridge in the middle.
Who says work can't be fun?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feeling Better

Not near perfect but at least I can exist. Heading out to my regular Wednesday road trip and then off to San Francisco on business for two days tomorrow. Will jump Sunday as scheduled. Have a great day! Bubba

Late Update - 30 minutes out I felt sick to my stomach and came home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


My cold has turned to full blown flu so I'm dead for the day. The curse of rarely being sick is that when I am it's bad. Sucks! Have a great day! Bubba

Late Update - I got out of bed at 4:20 and tried to catch up on email. The fact that it is POURING rain outside lets me also think that this is another case of me being protected from me. I was afraid to do too much on Thursday but felt good Sunday. Would I get too aggressive and blow it up a little tomorrow if I went out as planned? Rain and sickness will keep me from being able to try. Thank you!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Rest

I got a pretty good cold throughout the day yesterday so I will skip my lift today. Too much going on this wake to prolong the cold. I rarely get sick so wen I do it's usually a little worse than the average cold or flu. I also want to jump Wednesday before I go to San Francisco on Thursday. Laying low. Have a wonderful day! Bubba

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jumping Again

At the 17 day mark since my little left hammy ding I was able to easily clear 10' (3.05m) from 4 steps (23'/6.5m) without feeling anything. I would never use those three poles from 4 steps because they work well from 2 steps but I didn't want to push my run. I'll move it up a little and jump from 6 steps on Wednesday on small poles. After that my Sunday should feel normal again. I have a small meet three weeks from yesterday so I should be fine for my smaller 14' 1" (4.30m) poles.

We do a lot of short run jumps and progress to longer run jumps after three misses. At some point a vaulter feels like he/she is gripping too high, or the pole is too big or they have little room for error to get enough height to make a bar. I would rather get over that feeling from 2, 4 and 6 steps than back at a longer run where there is true danger. We call it "facing our demons". Because what we do wrong at a low level is what we do wrong from a high level. If you put yourself in that position right away, you have a lot of jumps in you to get past these sticking points and really make progress. Most vaulters get too tired and quit right about the time they face these issues so they take much longer to work through.

I was told that Alex Parnov (Russia/Australia) has his kids stay at 4 and 6 steps for 2-3 months at a time. Anything to strip away speed. As Bubka's coach Vitaly Petrov says, "all vaulters are strong and fast so I must take this away from them". Maybe that's why Steve Hooker jumped 18' 6 1/2" (5.65m) last year from 8 steps and then almost became the second man in history to jump 20'. More jumps, more fun, more learning FASTER!! Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Nice "last week" of summer practice for our regulars. I'm letting them run from 6, 8 and 10 steps on Saturdays so they are all already near their PRs, with all getting or tying six step PRs this week. FUN!!

I'll be out of town most of next week but then we start back and everyone can come out. If you were in the summer program you still vaulted this week. If you were not then you wait until the 14th. Pretty simple. I'm not letting progress be interrupted by people who also has the option to be here all summer. In fact, they will have to pass a series of tests and progressions to even be allowed on to the main pit with the others. We're out to improve this year. No more social networking on the runway. Already seeing results and breakthroughs and that is exciting. Have a great day! Bubba

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day by Day the Opponent is Me

You often hear football coaches talk about not looking past an opponent. Well for a masters pole vaulter with any significant meet months away, each practice is an individual opponent. You can't just slog through it half way and the turn up the intensity when you get closer to something important. You have to focus on every set and every rep of whatever you're doing or you simply won't get better. The calendar pages are flipping but you're not improving. This happens with a lot of high school vaulters who think that by taking some jumps a couple of days a week that they will get better. You won't, and it's frustrating.

So I face my biggest opponent every single day in practice and I'm sad to say that the opponent is me. I'm busy, I'm sore, I'm tired, I'm thinking about something else I need to be doing, I'm thinking it would be OK to cut this short, etc. I think I'm full of crap and won't listen to me. I just keep showing up every day and doing what I can to the best of my ability without risking injury. That's all I can ask of me. I certainly can't trust the "me" that's constantly in my head. I can only trust the one looking at this next individual component. Todays add up to be yesterdays, and if you have enough good yesterdays behind you then you will have many good todays. That's all I'm after. Thanks for enduring the rambling! Bubba

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Staying Within Myself

I took off about six times and felt pretty good. I stayed about 20% under what I thought I could do so therefore chose not to jump at a bar and risk stepping over that line. Everything feels really good. I should be able to do more each day as I will try again on Sunday and Wednesday before I go to San Francisco.

The very hard part is to take your time and do all of the stretches and other supporting exercises. It takes about 30 minutes a day and because they are easy, you can talk yourself into skipping them or cutting them short. Can't do that. It's the difference between SAYING you have a goal and ACTING like you intend to reach it. Got past that temptation today! A small victory. Have a fun day! Bubba

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Off Day / Travel Day

Nothing special. Will try and jump tomorrow. Bubba

Actually, Ken Stone at posted this National Senior Games preview -