I When I was in Reno in January for the National Pole Vault Summit, rubbing elbows -- literally at times -- with some of the greatest pole vaulters in the world, I met a guy who told me I should incorporate yoga into my training workouts to help increase my flexibility.
One of my issues as a new Masters vaulter is runway speed. When I take off running toward the pit, it feels like I'm getting up to a decent speed. But when I see video of one of my jumps, all I see is a really slow, old guy lumbering along -- almost unrecognizable, at times.
When I was in my late 30s, my oldest daughter, who was then 17 years old, said something about being able to beat me in a foot race. I took her up on the challenge, and I beat her pretty easily. About a month ago, I was running some weighted sleds before vaulting practice, and the teenagers were warming up, doing sprints and other things to get loose.
I challenged one of the boys to a race, even though he was at least four decades younger and probably 60 pounds lighter. Not to mention I was wearing a harness attached to a metal sled with a 25-pound barbell weight on the top of it.
He said, sure, walked back to the end of an adjacent runway, about 10 meters or so behind me, and said, "Whenever you're ready."
I took off and held the lead momentarily -- about two seconds -- before the kid just blew by me like a shot out of a cannon. He turned around at the finish, held his forefinger and thumb up about a half-inch apart, smiled, and said, "Got ya by this much."
Apparently, the two biggest factors in improving my speed are strength and flexibility. I do plyometrics to work on those fast-twitch muscles, things like leg press and squats to work on strength, and run weighted sleds for overall conditioning.
Flexibility is something I still tend to forget about.
So this morning, I plugged in an old yoga DVD and did a 15-minute workout in the living room. It was really good, and I plan to start doing that more often. I've got to get faster, so I can grip higher on the pole, hit the box with more force, and generate more energy at the take-off.
If you've never tried yoga, it's pretty cool stuff.
You can do it ...