Training & Physiological Recovery
(Two or more simultaneous seasons)
(Two or more simultaneous seasons)
An important perspective to consider when reading the following is the dilemma facing training recovery considerations of athletes placed in two simultaneous sports' seasons. The fact is that in-season sports technically have priority over formal or informal out-of-season sport's training. The looming question is about the outcome objectives and focus of the out-of-season sport's training program? Is the focus in harmony with the athlete’s best interests and physical well-being or of the outcome of the out-of-season sport during their own competition season, months away?
The design of physiological training programs for pole vaulters must be carefully planned in order to provide an adequate safe and timely training effect. Training information is readily available and can be use as a guide to tailor a specific workout for an individual vaulter or pole vault squad. However, few coaches have the time necessary to design and train each and every athlete individually, therefore, group training workouts have their places. Nevertheless, some level of individualization must be considered to get the most out of each athlete at the optimum competitive moment. A valuable tool to consider is to individually ask the athletes how they feel before beginning that day’s training session. Furthermore, it is a good idea to check each athlete’s resting heart rate* for that day before beginning the session. If the vaulter feels tired, is sick, or is not fully recovered from the previous workout, (based on resting heart rate), then this is a good time to modify the workout by directing the athlete to rest or even modify the workout to small amount of active rest, (possibly drills only), instead of the planned workout.
During the past 40+ years, this author has found that one of the most valued tools for producing big performances at the optimum competitive time, is allowing for rest or active rest as needed by the individual. In physiological training, the saying “more is better” is very seldom true. The quantity and timing of a workout is a very valuable component for development of an athlete, but it is only as valuable as the physiological readiness of the athlete to perform the training. Physiologically speaking, a structure can not be built upon a weak foundation.
Safety and Performance Note: For the sake of the athlete’s safety and timely performances, the pole vaulter cannot afford sub-maximal efforts during “off the ground drills” or actual pole vaulting. Therefore, the athlete should never vault or attempt demanding off the ground drills during sub-maximal physiological conditions. If the athlete is at less than full capacity (including days following demanding workouts), off the ground drills and practice vault sessions should be modified accordingly. Furthermore, if the athlete is in competition and is sick, not feeling well, or is tired, he/she should never attempt heights that are at his/her limits.
*Resting heart rate: Before the first day of the season, the athlete, upon waking in the morning, should gently arrange himself/herself in a position on his/her bed in which he/she will be able to watch the second hand of a clock and count his/her pulse. (Count pulse for 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4 = resting heart rate). Once the resting heart rate has been determined, then for each subsequent morning during the season, the athlete should check his/her resting pulse rate. If the resting pulse rate is above the baseline resting heart rate, he/she is not recovered sufficiently enough to begin the next demanding workout. That athlete may need an additional twelve to twenty-four hours of modified workouts before the next demanding workout is attempted. Finally, recovery time from competition must also be considered before assigning demanding workouts.
Example: This article and a recent personal experience presents a point for serious discussion. Without any hesitation, I can safely state that the pole vault is a physically and mentally demanding sport. If an accident were to occur to a pole vaulter, can the accident be attributed to insufficient physiological recovery time from a demanding work out, and could there be negligence or liability involved? Secondly, does this situation demand a discussion of “out-of-season” training programs, such as football, during and in-season sports program, like outdoor track and field? Regardless of the liability, both sports programs should be acutely aware of the physical state and physical readiness of such an athlete to be able to fully execute the demanding effort necessary to remain safe during their legal in-season sport.
A final thought, is it safe and/or fair to the in-season athlete to possibly perform at a lower level due to secondary workouts of an out-of-season sport? The major or minor status of a sport is immaterial at this point. The only question should be, “What is the motivation of a coach of an out-of-season’s, (aside from the obvious), training program? Is that coach thinking of the ATHLETE’S BEST INTERESTS or his/her own personal goals to get a jump on their own season and/or to elevate their own team’s success and/or their own coaching reputation? Far too often during my four decades of coaching and observing the minor* sport of track and field, I have witnessed ego driven coaches, of major sports, forgetting about the individual and only focusing on their “team’s” competitiveness.
*Major and minor sports are generally divided into two categories based on whether they are revenue-generating or non-revenue-generating. On the high school level: football, basketball, baseball, and wrestling are generally considered major sports since spectators pay admission fees at the gate to attend. Even though on occasion a minor sport may have a paid admission, rarely is that income sufficient to support their own sport, let alone others such as is the case in football basketball and possibly baseball and wrestling. Therefore, sports like track and field are generally considered minor sports. However, historically track and field was the first sport competed in ancient Olympia along with some wrestling. All activities in the competitions were directed towards functions found in warfare; sprinting and hurdling was attributed to messengers, javelin, shot put, discus, and hammer were considered throwing competitions mimicking the throwing of weapons, distance runners, such as the marathon, were also considered messengers that would take news of battles back to their own kingdoms in order to report the progress of such battles in a timely manner, jumping events, as well as hurdles also represented obstacles that a short distance messenger would encounter, relays were intended to simulate tactical information being advanced from one battle zone to another, and then to another in the fastest possible manner. Just about every scholastic sport being contested is a derivative of what track and field started and is all about; running, jumping, and throwing in the most correct manner possible for optimum performance. Therefore, it’s quite obvious that track and field events are the basis for just about every other sport that include running, jumping, and throwing. Beyond the point of a sport's value or respectability the innate danger posed by certain aspects of track and especially pole vault should be given complete autonomy unimpeded by other sports' out-of-season interference or objectives.