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Showing posts from December, 2011

Throwing Hammers and Other Things

One of the events in the Highland Games that I have not yet attempted is the hammer throw.  It differs from the hammer throw in track and field both in the weight of the hammer, the implement itself, and the technique used for throwing.

In track and field, the hammer head is attached to a D-ring handle via a flexible cable.  Women throw a 8.82 (4 kg) hammer and men throw a 16 lb (7.26 kg) hammer.  The thrower is able to turn his body as he builds up speed for the throw and move towards the toe board.



In Highland Games, the spherical hammer head is attached to a rattan, bamboo, plastic, or wooden handle. There are both heavy hammer and light hammer throws and the weights are 12 and 16 lbs for women, and 16 and 22 lbs for men.  The thrower must throw from a fixed position which is typically facing away from the toe board.



So, being without a hammer and needing to work on technique with lighter weights, I made one out of a 50" piece of PVC pipe, two 2.5 lb weights, and a lot of Gor…

Getting smoked by a seven year old.

When taking on new endeavors, humility is invaluable.  For example, when you decide to run for the first time in a few months and your seven year old freakishly athletic son wants to run with you, you have to know up front that he will, in fact, leap over puddles, turn in circles, run backwards, and periodically sprint while you struggle to maintain your 12 minute mile "jog".  And when you get home and collapse on the floor, he will go down to the basement to practice speed rope intervals for another half hour so he can set the world record at "First in Fitness" in March.  

Well, if I compared myself to Francis, or quite frankly, anyone who is not me, I'd probably get pretty discouraged about my running.  I talk about my shortcomings a lot when it comes to my strengths and abilities, but the truth is, I'm very happy with what I can do.  At a bodyweight of 130 lbs, I can deadlift 224 lbs, squat 174 lbs, and press 85 lbs overhead.  I can also throw heavy rock…

Building up miles

Probably the most challenging thing for me (aside from overcoming my fear of heights and death) in training for the tough mudder will be getting some miles under my belt.  Most running programs would not have a novice attempt a half marathon (which is about the same distance) unless he or she were already running 15-20 miles a week.

Running, although its one of our simplest activities, has a lot of demands that need to be met gradually.  All modes of exercise should be approached with moderation.  Our bodies will adapt to the stresses we apply to them, but it takes time.  Tendons and ligaments need to get stronger.  Neurological coordination needs to improve.  Muscles need to grow and reinforce themselves.  Just remember, the first guy to ever run a marathon died.  Too much too soon is rarely a good thing.  We must give ourselves some time to adapt to the demands we place on our bodies.  Although death from running is not my primary concern, overuse injuries certainly  are.  What'…

And now for a plan . . .

I have set some goals for myself for the next year that are going to be a bit challenging for me.  I plan to compete (or at least demo) in the Triad Highland Games at the end of April and then do the Tough Mudder race sometime over the Summer or early Fall.  In planning my training for both events, I've had to do some self-assessment which has proven rather humbling.  I'll admit it.  I'm kind of lazy and thrive mostly on bravado and stubbornness.  But, when it comes to actually having to perform at a high level, you can't fake it and bravado will only get you hurt.  You either have it or you don't.  Luckily, I'm not too far off the mark and have a good idea as to how to get the rest of the way there.

The Highland Games are a collection of events that mostly involve throwing heavy things, the most recognizable event being the caber toss.  (Picture a guy in a kilt tossing a log and you're mostly there.)  They also throw stones, hammers, and other weights for …

Turning 40 and the Tough Mudder

So, next year, I turn 40 and either senility has already set in or I am having a mid-life crisis because I have decided to train for the Tough Mudder.  That’s right.  I’m going to run 12 miles through mud, climb walls, crawl through mud, negotiate barbed wire, probably eat a little mud, get shocked by electrified wires, fall into a mud pit,  and who knows what else.  

And guess what else?  I have convinced two of my friends to do it with me.  Stephanie has run a marathon, but has only recently started strength training with me.  Suzanne has also run a marathon, but also trains with a strength and conditioning coach five days a week, and recently completed the Mud Run, six miles of similar shenanigans.  I believe the furthest I have ever run is about 5 miles, however, I can do more pullups than either of them combined.  (This makes me feel better for being an endurance sissy).  So we have a gal with strength, but limited endurance (me), a gal with endurance but limited strength (Stephan…