The first day of training in the snow each year fills me with the excitement of a schoolboy arriving to the first day of class. The snow mutes the air, leaves a still, peaceful and relaxing silence to train in. I am not alone either. I was excited to see some of my young throwers not only train without complaint in the snow this year, but hit a few personal bests and brag about training in the snow on Facebook. It is a merit badge in winter throwing.
But it gets old. Fast. First is the physical element. I put together some tips for throwing the snow last year, and while it makes things better the weather still drags on you. Walking to retrieve the hammer drains the legs more and more every training. While you may think it would be good to be warmer, the slushy snow is just more slippery with throwing shoes on.
Then there is the effect on technique. As Jüri Tamm noted in our interview last year “In winter the weather conditions are very bad. It is also a question of quality if you are always training in the snow. The muscles are not the same. The feeling is different because you have a hat, heavy clothes and heavy shoes.” Throwing the hammer just doesn’t feel the same.
Finally, the psychological impact is perhaps the strongest. It is hardly motivating to wake up knowing that no matter how good your technique is and how good you feel you will not throw far. Knowing that a real competition is still months away. Last week I was nearing top form, but first hard rain, then wind, then near gale-force winds, and then a combination thereof arrived. It felt like someone was against me as I struggled to throw within a few meters of what I knew I was capable of. I would normally advise throwers to just focus on technique and throw as far as possible. To not be afraid to take your time to stay fresh or to throw in the towel if you’re too tired. But this is difficult for me, especially since I train in a program where we are taught to measure our results every day.
Why am I writing this? I just need to vent a little. Hopefully spring will be arriving in a month, but my patience is wearing as thin as the layer of ice covering the ring each morning. But it is not only a pain; it is a test. It is the merit badge, not just to share on Facebook but for ourselves. For better or worse, only the truly motivated will train no matter what the conditions. Knowing I passed this test keeps me going on days like last week.