Down to AustinRead Now
My friend, Ben Ploetz, owner of Austin Pole Vaulting and Throws, surprised me last night with an invitation to come down this morning and join him for a morning jump session before a bunch of youngsters arrived for a group practice at noon.
I got there early and Ben wasn't there yet, so I took off to find a restroom. It's about an hour's drive from my house, and I was chugging coffee all the way. The vaulting facility is in a big warehouse complex, and I guess now that I think about it, I could have gone in the back doors, where some other people were doing something in an adjacent section of the building, but I headed back up the road, found a McDonald's, went in and used the facilities, then promptly took a wrong turn on the way back.
My sense of direction has always been pathetic. I pretty much knew I was headed the wrong way, but whipped out the GPS just in case. Sure enough, U-turn.
Ben arrived shortly after I pulled in the second time, and we both got to warming up after a little bit of small talk, then this former college decathlon champion, showed me some sprint drills I can work on to help improve my speed, and some little drills with mini-hurdles to also improve running mechanics with and without a pole in hand.
Then, it was over to the main pit for some two- and three-left jumps, where Ben finally got me to stop making my little hop-step start to the approach, and use a smoother, rock-back type start that hopefully will make my run more consistent.
Good vaulters, their run and take-off is very consistent. When they plant the pole and take-off, most all the time, they are hitting the same mark -- the same spot on the runway. When you do something the same way every time, or at least close to it, it is a lot easier to make adjustments.
When you're not so consistent -- like me -- it's kind of hit-or-miss, hit-and-hope.
Eliminating that little hop-step, so that I'm consistently starting from the exact same distance each run, was awkward, and that's why I never really tried to make it happen. But I stuck with it today, and the rock-back technique started getting more comfortable. And my take-off got better, too.
I'll use the rock-back tomorrow when I go to my regular Sunday practice at Jack's place. Jumping two days in a row is a little iffy, especially with Nationals coming up in a few weeks, but I'll take it easy today. Everything feels fine, so if I don't do anything crazy, it'll be all right.
Anyway ... how are things going with you?
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