How to make your training more productive
by Al Myers
(Webmasters note: This was a story I wrote for the Braemar Stone Tablet several years ago that applied to Highland Game training, but it contains ideas that can be applied to All-Round Weightlifting as well. I had actually forgot that I had written this!)
The throwing season is upon us again! Time to dust off those hammer boots and put a new coat of paint on the throwing implements! It always amazes me how fast the winter goes and all that off-season weight training that you have been doing to make you a better thrower never seems to be enough. It is now time to hit the throwing field and put in time with the throwing weights. I want to share some of the things I have learned (mostly the hard way!) about how to make your training more productive. These are the 5 most important things to focus on in making your training better.
1. Set workout times - This is critical. It is too easy to procrastinate if you don’t have a scheduled workout time. Saying too yourself that I’ll workout a couple of days this week after work, if I’m not too tired, if it is not too hot or cold, if nothing good is on TV, won’t do it! Even if time only permits one workout a week, plan for that day and then no matter what DO IT!!! Remember, the highland games are not a leisure activity!
2. Keep a training log – How in the world are you going to be able to evaluate different training programs if you don’t have a good record of what you have done? I know, there days that really suck and you wish not to remember them, but at least put something in a training log! Maybe you are over-training? Maybe you have a nagging injury that is keeping that one throw down? These are the things you want to avoid and by looking at what you have done leading up to it, it may be avoided in the future. This is where a log helps! I often look back at my log from previous years and evaluate training programs that worked for me and those that don’t . Remember, it doesn’t really count if you don’t write it down!
3. Set Goals - I know, everyone knows this. You always hear guys saying I want to do this and I want to do that. By next August, I’m going to throw that light hammer 150 feet!! Yeah right!!! There are goals and then there are dreams!!! To me, goals are something that you are actually taking steps in working towards, whereas dreams are those thing that you imagine doing while sitting on the couch eating Doritos. Goals need to be specific, and along with them the steps needed to accomplish them. They need to be realistic, and they need to be short-term. Long-term goals are okay, but will not give you the focus you need today! Again, write these goals down, and develop a plan to achieve them. Remember, real success is achieving what you set out to do!
4. Get information - To be a better thrower, you need to continually learn. Never tell yourself that you know it all. Listen to the experts. Look at tapes. Read everything you can get on the games. Get feedback from other athletes. Spend time watching other throwers and studying them. Then after you do all of this, forget most of it!! What you ask? Let me tell you something – there are no magic secrets, just good advice and bad advice. It is up to YOU to tell the difference!!! What works for one athlete won’t for another. You have to find out those things that work for you. And whatever you do, don’t change your throwing on game day because someone gave you a good tip right before you stepped up to the trig! Take these “pointers” home and find out in training if they are good or bad. I know that all throwers mean well and want to help out their fellow comrades, but this trick of giving someone a good “pointer” right before they throw is one of the oldest psych-out tricks in the book!!! Get information and study it at home and try to apply it to your training program. Remember, it is not illegal to “steal” throwing information!
5. Have fun – This can sometimes be overlooked. It is easy to put so much pressure on yourself that sometimes fun can be lost. Enjoyment and having fun is one of the reasons that drew you to the games in the first place, but it is easy to drift away from this as you get more dedicated and focused. I know, it has happened to me in the past. Sometimes you have to step back, and ask yourself, what do I need to do to enjoy this more? Maybe you need a different training environment for awhile. Go to the park until they kick you out. Maybe try a new training program. Do a little traveling on the weekends and find other athletes to train with. Training with other athletes will help with training enthusiasm greatly!! In the past, I have done a lot of training by myself, and I can tell you, it is a lot more fun to have other athletes that can share in the throwing agony with you!! Having fun, and enjoying the sport for what it is will go a long way in making those training sessions better. Remember, you can’t set a personal record in every training session, but you can have fun trying.
I know I didn’t address any specifics, but these general points are the ones to focus on first in making your training more productive. You may notice that I didn’t mention anything about having good implements. Good implements are nice to have and may improve your self-esteem, but believe it or not they are not critical in improving as a thrower. I know a lot of throwers that have homemade weights and made a lot of progress with them. Don’t use this as an excuse that you don’t have the weights to train with or the weights you have aren’t Dodd weights. Improvise, get something and start training! I hope that these ideas will help a little in making your throwing season this year the best ever. Consider yourself lucky to be involved.
CREDIT: the Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #1