Work That Work’s

Work! Work! Work! It is comfortable to just do work. Anyone can do work and look busy but is your work actually working? Is it productive? Are you digging a deeper hole or making progress toward a goal? How do you know? As a coach this an important question to ask daily. Your athletes may be getting better in spite of the work not because of it. Read more


Episode 9: Kevin McMahon on Balance

Looking back on this site, I can’t believe I have never covered the topic of the so called “work-life balance.” In interviews I am often asked how I balance everything I do, but I have never sat down to write about it. Part of the reason is that I am hardly alone. Just as I do, Nick also works, coaches, trains, contributes to this site, and devotes a lot of time to family. Unless you are top 10 in the world, this is the life of a modern thrower. Another reason I have not written about it is that there are many others that do it better than I do. One of those people is Kevin McMahon. McMahon was a two-time Olympian and top American thrower for more than a decade despite working a full-time job, coaching, and being married. We invited him on this week’s podcast to discuss his experiences in finding the right balance, priorities, as well as some of the advantages that we all have noticed can come from this balancing act. Read more

Distance coach Steve Magness. As I like to say, you can always trust a man in glasses.

How Mental Stress Affects Throwing

Distance coach Steve Magness. As I like to say, you can always trust a man in glasses.

Sometimes learning more about throwing can lead you to some weird places. Over the last year or two it has led me to read a lot of work by distance coaches. There is so little throws-related research and writing taking place that I am always looking for some nugget of information in another sport that might carry over to throwing. The mass participation in distance running means there are a lot of new ideas, research, and writing on training topics. Former Nike Oregon Project assistant coach and current University of Houston distance coach Steve Magness does a good job of keeping track of what is going in the field and contributing his own ideas on his blog, the Science of Running. His most recent post is definitely one that throwers can learn from too.

As I mentioned last year, mental fatigue can hurt your training. A recent study showed that cyclists peak power output was reduced 20% after being put through demanding cognitive tasks. I notice this first hand: since I’ve started to work my post-work training results have dropped and my morning training is now regularly better.
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This is suit-and-tie Martin.

The Effects of Mental Fatigue

I’ve began regularly throwing twice a day after I graduated from law school back in 2008. When I was living in Kamloops my training sessions would start at 9 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. The results were almost always better in the afternoon. When I arrived in Switzerland in 2010, I continued training twice a day but had to adjust my training times. Since I have to work in between trainings, my morning session normally starts between 7:30 and 8:30 (often depending on the sunrise) and my afternoon training session normally begins closer to 4 (unless I can squeeze it in at lunch).

If anything, you would think this change would mean that my morning training sessions would get worse in comparison. But the opposite has happened. Now my morning training session is, without fail, my best of the day. This summer some of my best results were as early as 7 o’clock. And my afternoon sessions were continuously unimpressive.
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A Day in the Life, Version 2.0

A little over a year ago I posted about what a day in the life of a hammer thrower looked like. At the time I was basically training full time in Canada, so although I spent many hours training, my day also featured some down time.

With my new job, I figured it was time to post an updated “day in the life” post. I think that the schedule below is probably more typical for the hammer throwers I know. The hammer throw is not a high paying sport, so a job is a necessity for most. And with a job comes the need for flexibility. In Canada my schedule would never vary. In Zurich, a late afternoon conference call may force me to move my afternoon training session to lunch and turn my lunch into a quick sandwich on the go. You do what you need to do to get in training, even if that means throwing in the dark or finding some other work around.
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Goodbye Northwest, Hello Zurich

Throughout my career as a hammer thrower, I’ve constantly been traveling to find coaching. I traveled to Harold Connolly‘s cabin in southwest Virginia, to clinics on both coasts, and across the country to learn from the country’s top coaches. As a young college thrower, I went to training camps in Hungary, Belarus, and Slovenia to learn from the world’s top coaches. Then, in 2005, I met Anatoli Bondarchuk after he moved to Kamloops. He wrote my training programs while I attended law school in Seattle and after years of making the five-hour drive to visit him on the weekends, I’ve spent most of my time in Kamloops since graduating in 2008.

In comparing Zurich to Seattle, one of the main differences is that people use umbrellas for the rain in Zurich.

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H.T.A.: Hammer Throwers Anonymous

Hello, my name is Martin and I’m addicted to the hammer throw. It may have been obvious from my obsessively regular posts about the hammer throw on this website and others. But that’s just the addiction you see on the surface. It is much deeper than that.

This weekend I am preparing to head down to Lake Como for a four-day weekend escape with my visiting girlfriend, my friend Andrea, and her brother. I know the chance to relax and have fun in Italy will be well worth it, but I must be honest, I’m having a little anxiety about taking the time off of throwing. In fact, I’m even going to squeeze in a little throwing session Thursday morning before we catch the train. Still, my three day break from throwing will be my longest since September 2007.
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Week 1 in Zurich

I’ve been pretty incommunicado the past week. That’s because I’ve been settling into life in Zürich. I arrived this week and will be staying here throughout the rest of the season. Through the support of my club, LC Zürich, and my job at UBS, I am able to train, earn some money, and have time to travel to some great competitions across the continent.
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A New Job

Earlier this month I announced that I left my job at Univar Inc. I enjoyed the work, the people, and the flexibility, but the job required me to be in Seattle. As a result, I had to leave my coach any time I wanted a paycheck. This was not conducive to throwing far. With a lot on the line this year, I decided to leave the job and spend more time with my coach.

There are three things I look for in a job: (1) flexibility; (2) a valuable experience; and (3) the amount of time I’ll be able to spend with my coach. My job at Univar had two of those three elements. Today, I accepted a position that will give me all three elements. When I arrive in Europe for the summer in mid-May, I will be working at UBS in Zurich.
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Counting Down the Days

The indoor track season is heating up, and it’s is making me anxious to start my season too. Yet again this year I’ve had the pleasure of providing news and commentary for the Evergreen Athletic Fund’s and  This season has already produced some great results that have been fun to write about.  I’ve spent more time recently working on both sites and our traffic has doubled thanks in part to some great features we’ve posted on my training parter Kibwé Johson, world junior champion Walter Henning of LSU, my friend Brian Richotte, D3 record holder Kevin Becker, Norwegian champion Steffen Nerdal of Memphis, as well as emerging coaches Dave Hahn and Scott Block.
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