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

How Mental Stress Affects Throwing

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. Magness’s post takes this topic even further by looking at the overall affect of stress on not just individual training sessions, but on the complete adaptation process.

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.

But despite the need for flexibility, I have not yet been too frustrated by the busy schedule. As I’ve said before, I like the balance a job provides. I get to spend part of my day with physical pursuits and part of my day with intellectual pursuits. The challenge of doing both, and succeeding at both, is what makes it worth the effort.

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.

Since finding Bondarchuk as a coach, my schedule has essentially reversed. I’ve now spent the past two years constantly traveling away from him. Since 2008, I have made the five-hour trip back to Seattle for work several weeks each month. And, this week I signed a contract that will move me even farther away from coach Bondarchuk. But while I will be leaving Kamloops, I will be moving close to something I have missed the past few years: routine…

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 at their house their. 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 of 2007.

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.

The first week, however, was a bit hectic. I spent a lot of time learning the ropes at my new job. I was also staying the week at a friend’s house before moving into my own room this afternoon. And then there was adjusting to the new time zone (although I think work affected my training the most this week). On top of that, I missed being around for my girlfriend’s birthday today.

The week ahead, however, looks great. I’m heading up to Germany on Saturday to visit my sister and compete at perhaps the world’s coolest hammer competition on Sunday. I mean, seriously, how many hammer meets have their own beer garden right next to the ring? Based on how my legs feel, my results might not be the highlight of the weekend, but it will be fun nevertheless. Monday is a holiday and the rest of my work week should be less rigorous than this week. My new place looks to be great too. My club helped me find a great room with an Olympic bronze medalist in curling and his friend. For those of you that know me, I’m a closet curling fan and even drove down to Vancouver just to watch the Olympic curling tournament in February. Among the highlights at the place are a thrower-sized shower (which is nearly impossible to find in Europe), American television (including ESPN), a full kitchen and BBQ patio, and a great internet connection.

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. Starting in May, I will be working at UBS in Zurich.

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 CollegeHammer.com and HSHammer.com.  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.

As anxious as I am to compete, however, I’m still willing to wait another until another month or two.  While the results are fun to watch, the indoor weight throw is not very helpful to the hammer throw.  That leaves me counting down the days until the outdoor season starts.  The past few years I’ve opened up just before the Mt. SAC Relays in mid-April.  This year, I can’t wait that long.  My results from last year left a bad taste in my mouth and I am eager to get back in the ring and show others that I am still on track to reach the 2012 Olympics.  My first meet will likely be at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma on March 13th.  Assuming all goes well, I will then be traveling the Arles, France (near Marseille) to represent Switzerland in the European Cup Winter Throwing on March 21st.

January Update

I apologize for the lack of updates this month, but January has been quite busy.  While the rest of the Kamloops training group has spent the month in Arizona, I have spent the month in Seattle with my family.  While the training facilities are inconvenient in Seattle, I have managed to maintain my training regime and am still about ten feet ahead of where I was last year at this time.  I am throwing the heavy 8-kilogram and 10-kilogram hammers especially well and have been very close to my personal best this week with the latter.  I am also throwing a few light hammers, but I have not been able to throw those nearly as well.

Year in Review; Year in Preview

I have ended the year on a good note.  Coach Bondarchuk reduced my training volume to approximately 25 percent of its normal level this week.  The extra rest has paid off.  Today I threw 61 meters (200-00) with the heavy 8-kilogram (17.6-pound) hammer.  That is little more than one foot off of my personal best with that weight.  Add in six more months of training, a little warmer weather, and the adrenaline of competition, and hopefully some good throws will result in 2009.