Archive for USATF

A Mindset of Sacrifice

Traveling with USA Track and Field during this year’s world championships has allowed me to learn a great deal from the athletes in a unique environment. During preparation for the championships I sat down with Kara Winger, a three time Olympian and the American record holder for javelin. I asked her several questions about what athletes sacrifice and was fascinated with her response.

I specifically asked: “I am amazed at what athletes ‘give up’ or commit to. What do you think of when talking about commitment to your sport?”

She responded with this:

I’ve always been very intrinsically motivated, so when I think about commitment to sport, it’s about bettering myself and not a whole lot else. People get wrapped up in discussing the sacrifice of athletics, but I’ve never seen it as a burden. To me, it’s an opportunity to do something totally weird and different than you ever thought you’d be up to, see the world, and challenge yourself in ways you don’t expect. Maybe it’s partly being 31, but I’ve always loved lots of sleep, I enjoy feeding myself well, and I like to measure my improvement in anything, not just athletics. It’s not a difficult commitment in my mind to see if I can be the best at something, and I’ve been in the sport long enough to know that friendships formed and experiences gained along the way make the effort that much more worth it. 

The only things I feel like I give up are time spent with loved ones in the summer and outdoor adventures that I long to have someday. But I’ve also learned to prioritize time with loved ones when I have the opportunity (off-season and holidays). Smaller-scale outdoor activities help me recover from sport, mentally and physically, so I work those in too. I don’t think everyone gets to figure out that time is precious this early in life, but I truly have sport to thank for that, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Instead of focusing on the sacrifice that she has made she is clearly focused on the reward that she gains by the profession that she has chosen. Athletes at this level give up so much. They always are eating, sleeping and living with performance in mind. I know several that set an alarm so that it reminds them to go to bed on time, clearly conflicting with activities in the evening. We often don’t see this type of commitment because we are not living with them on a daily basis.

Personally, I have now been on the road approximately 18 days of a 25 day trip. This is time away from my family that I cannot get back, but I am inspired by Kara’s words. I also had an amazing moment on this trip when Amy Cragg placed third in the women’s Marathon. She is the first American woman to win a medal at the marathon distance since 1983. I was honored to hand her the flag at the finish line.

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Dr. Arnold On the Road With USATF; Part 3

Last weekend the SVSP crew traveled to New York City for the 110th running of the historic Millrose Games. The event was filled with another list of great American athletes, many coming off a successful Rio 2016.

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The week had challenges waiting for us right away because of the weather. Ten inches of New York snow threw a wrench into our travel plans. After a few re-routed flights and a medical emergency at baggage claim prevented taxis from getting to the pick-up zone, I was finally able to catch a ride and head to the venue. Other athletes weren’t so lucky, like Brenda Martinez, who was scheduled to compete in the 800 but was forced to turn around on her flight to NY.

After all of that I was quite tired and it made me wonder how the athletes deal with these types of distractions. How do they focus? Most people that travel frequently deal with these things all the time. For athletes it is no different, and there are potential distractions everywhere. Late arrivals, fans seeking autographs, no space to warm up, or a forgotten item actually happen to world class athletes.

Leah O'Connor

Leah O’Connor

At this meet I had the opportunity to reconnect with Indiana’s own Waverly Neer, who has recently transitioned into a professional runner. This was special for me as I have cared for her since high school and followed her career through many steps. Having access to her I asked her a couple of questions about her transition into professional running and where she draws her motivation. I also asked her how she finds focus:

What motivates me? I’m motivated by a variety of things in this sport. While I’m no longer running to score points for a team or chasing championships, in a real sense, I still have teammates in my new training partners. I’m motivated by their strengths; which sometimes are my weaknesses. Seeing them excel in a certain workout or a race shows me that things I personally find difficult can be done, and done well. At the same time, I’m motivated to give my best effort during workouts for my teammates because I want to be a positive contributor. And on top of all of that, I’m motivated by other runners and the high level, exceptional performances that pop up throughout the season. Things recently that stick out to me are Abbey D’Agostino’s story over the Olympics, Evan Jager taking home the silver, and any time Ajee Wilson races. I’m inspired by the people who are moving the sport forward, because at the end of the day they are human beings that work hard to relentlessly pursue their dreams. For me that’s relatable, and entirely motivating. 

 How do I focus? I think this is an evolving process for the sheer fact that life circumstances are constantly changing. Whether it’s big (moving to a new location to train), or in comparison small (it’s windy or cold the day of a big workout), as athletes we constantly have to frame and reframe our mindset to meet the demands of a workout, a race, and even life. I find what works best for me is to focus on the things I can control, and that usually boils down to just my attitude and my effort. Rather than dwelling on the negative things that pop up, or the “distractions” around me, I try to channel my energy towards creating a positive mindset and putting forth my honest best effort that day. I’ve found when I do that I’m best able to zero in on the one thing I’m really seeking to accomplish, and that’s to be a happy, healthy, speedy runner.

Find your way to focus. You will certainly have something distract you. Find something that helps you forget the issue. This applies to race day of course but I believe it also applies to training. Training with something bothering you may be limiting you from tapping into your potential. Turn the distraction off, work on the training, not the problem.

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Dr. Todd Arnold On the Road With USATF; Part 2

New Balance Indoor Grand Prix 2017

A world record in Boston. Emma Coburn, Sydney McLaughlin, Brenda Martinez and Jenny Simpson passed the baton for 20 laps of the 200-meter track in world record time. They posted a time of 10:40.31, just under the previous world record. With each pass of the baton the crowd cheered louder and greeted Jenny with loud roars as she raced for the line. It was a great atmosphere!

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The day before the race I had the chance to talk with Jenny Simpson while she was preparing for the event. Last year at this time she was just beginning to train after dealing with an injury. This year is different, and she was anticipating the chance to turn on the jets during the last leg of their race. She stated something that I found very interesting.

She said that she was recently discussing goals with her coaches, with a focus on her strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses? She won an Olympic medal last year after injuring herself during training only months before. Now she is completely healthy and strong, and is looking for weaknesses? I was baffled. But clearly she feels that there are things to work on. The body needs to be challenged.

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The lesson here is: there is always something that can be improved, even if you just won a medal for being the greatest. Jenny also shed some light on why I do what I do. Improving athletes’ weaknesses is what my profession does. Finding something so tiny in movement or joint mobility and correcting it can make all the difference needed to succeed at the highest level. Looking for those weaknesses has become the focus of what I do.

This meet had a high volume of great athletes that we cared for. Please continue to seek them out on social media and show them your support. They are all great athletes, and their athletic accomplishments may not be the only activity that inspires you to discover and attack both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Emma CoburnSydney McLaughlinBrenda Martinez | Jenny SimpsonJeff Henderson

Shannon RowburyPaul ChelimoNoah LylesVernon NorwoodEnglish Gardner

Courtney OkoloJessica BeardAutumne FranklinStephanie GarciaLeah O’ConnorJenn Suhr

Mary Saxer

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Dr. Todd Arnold On the Road With USATF; Part 1

As the calendar turns to the new year, the 2016 Rio Olympics are behind us. The games brought USA Track and Field 32 medals, the highest since 1932 (excluding the boycotted games in Los Angeles) and St. Vincent Sports Performance had direct connection to 27 of them. 2017 looks to have that continued success.

One of the first trips of the year has us in Texas to work with Darrel Woodson (D2) and his group of sprinters. This week it’s in the high 30s, but the commitment is made and the athletes are out and working. We assess movement patterns, strength and symmetry and connect these to their events. The start of the season is a very valuable time for us. If dysfunction is ignored now and fitness is applied over that dysfunction, the risk of injury is higher and performance can be limited. No one wants to limit their potential!

Assessments are no fun in the cold. This is a picture of Sharika Nelvis beginning her Functional Movement Screen in her winter gear:

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Sharika competes in the 100m hurdles, arguably the most competitive event in American track and field. At last year’s Olympic trials, she finished fourth, just missing the team. But Sharika and D2 are focused on 2017, not the past. On this assessment she looks great, moves well and is ready to put in the work to compete. We often tell athletes that when they look good on the movement assessment that it’s the time to work. Be comfortable trying something new. Let the body that moves well adapt to something new and see how it impacts performance.

This trip was pretty unique as we took the roadshow to multiple cities and had the privilege of seeing athletes from multiple disciplines. We started in Texas and Los Angeles with sprinters and hurdlers, moved to Reno to see the pole vaulters, onto Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center for throwers and jumpers, finally ending in Orlando with Lance Brauman and his group of sprinters.

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Please seek out the athletes we saw on this last trip via their social media and show them your support as they attack 2017 with their focus on competing in the many events leading up to the World Championships in London August 3-13.

Sharika NelvisMookie SalaamDiondre BatsonBryce RobinsonAshley Spencer

Morolake AkinosunCourtney Ovolo | Brianna RollinsDalilah MuhammadNia Ali

Dawn HarperCale SimmonsJacob BlankenshipKatie NageotteLogan Cunningham

Kylie HutsonSandi MorrisMary SaxerMike Arnold | Dani BunchJarvis Gotch

Amanda BingsonDeanna PriceMaggie Malone | Curtis Thompson | Felisha Johnson

Amber CampbellAndrea GuebelleMichelle CarterKelsey CardOctavious Freeman

Noah LylesJosephus Lyles

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The Thrill of the Victory and the Agony of Defeat

I’m sure that many of you can recall watching the introduction to ABC’s The Wild World of Sports and hearing Jim McKay say,” The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. This past week I had the privilege of working with a number of USA Track and Field athletes as they pursued their dream of making this year’s Olympic Team.

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I saw the thrill of victory when the world’s best times were posted by LaShawn Merritt and English Gardner. I witnessed the thrill of seeing Trayvon Bromell, Sandi Morris, Emily Infeld and Colleen Quigley overcome injury to make the Olympic Team.

I saw the agony of defeat when Molly Ludlow, Leah O’Connor and Georganne Moline had to deal with circumstances out of there control and were unable to make the team. Everyone felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and gratitude when track and field icons Sanya Richards Ross, Dee Dee Trotter and Adam Nelson failed to make the Olympic Team and announced their retirement. We will always remember their influences in the sport we love.

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Americans love watching and participating in sports for the thrill we get when we are victorious. We keep coming back when we experience the agony of defeat. I feel very honored and blessed to assist athletes as they strive to reach their goals and feel the thrill of their accomplishments.

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Extreme Sports

Track and field isn’t an extreme sport like base jumping, kite boarding or mountain climbing. This week, however, I was in a world of extremes.

In one week I went from Florida heat that reached 105 degrees, to Park City Utah, where we ran in long sleeves and 49 degree temperatures. From sea level to an altitude of 7000 feet. From sprinters to distance runners.

The common theme amongst these athletes is that they push their bodies to extremes. They all push themselves continuously in the pursuit of athletic performance. Sprinters are always on the verge of tearing their bodies up as they explode out of the blocks and go as hard as they can. All this physicality for an opportunity to compete again later in the day or a few days later in the finals. The distance runners log hours of running in a week. They vary the intensity of workouts, trying to maximize their strength with every repetitive step. These athletes ask their bodies to tolerate 60, 80 or even 100 miles per week in preparation for races measured in minutes.

Emily Infeld and Shelby Houlihan doing repeat 400s on the track at the University of Utah

Emily Infeld and Shelby Houlihan doing repeat 400s on the track at the University of Utah

This is the end of my season and the most important part of theirs. I am finished helping them get ready for the USA Olympic Trials in early July. They are about to embark on the most important races of the year. If they can make the USA Track and Field team in July, they have the opportunity to compete for an Olympic medal in early August. I do my job in relative anonymity, they do their job on a world stage for all to see.

When people ask what I do for a living it can be hard to describe. It’s easy to say that I’m a physician and leave it at that, but caring for athletes is what I do. It’s what I love to do. My job is not just seeing athletes when they are injured or ill but trying to help them maintain their health in the pursuit of performance.

Members of the Bowerman Track team do a work out on the track at the University of Utah Matt Hughes (Canada), Mo Ahmed (Canada), Chris Derrick, Ryan Hill, Evan Jager, Lopez Lomong, Andy Bayer, Dan Huling, German Fernandez

Members of the Bowerman Track team do a work out on the track at the University of Utah
Matt Hughes (Canada), Mo Ahmed (Canada), Chris Derrick, Ryan Hill, Evan Jager, Lopez Lomong, Andy Bayer, Dan Huling, German Fernandez

I am blessed to work with some of the greatest athletes in the world. When I see them and especially when I leave I always wish them the best and tell them that I will be watching. Please follow them, reach out to them and tell them you will be watching, too.

 

From Florida this past week

Candyce McGrone | Alexis Love | Isiah Young | Justin Walker | Jeff Demps |

Kaylin Whitney | Justin Gatlin

 

From Utah representing the Bowerman Track Club

Emily Infeld | Colleen Quigley | Shelby Houlihan | Chris Derrick | Andy Bayer

German Fernandez | Ryan Hill | Evan Jager | Dan Huling | Lopez Lomong

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Track and Field Travels

The diversity of track and field impresses me, and the last 10 days did nothing but confirm those feelings.  The Olympic Trials are about 6 weeks away and athletes from all over the country are finalizing their plans, from their workouts to competition schedules.  This week SVSP was dispersed across the globe, caring for athletes competing in Diamond League events from Doha to Shanghai to Rabat to Morocco. Domestically we traveled westward, hitting Portland, Tucson and Austin.  Our personal journey started with the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, where we checked the health and status of the distance runners.

This is Pascal Dobert (also a former Olympian and university of Wisconsin runner) taking part of the Bowerman Track club runners through a workout.

This is Pascal Dobert (also a former Olympian and university of Wisconsin runner) taking part of the Bowerman Track club runners through a workout.

Next up was the Elite Throws Event hosted by the University of Arizona.  This year we witnessed some great throws, including an American record when Gwen Berry threw the hammer 76.31 meters.  This was followed by an 18.99 meter shot put by Jill Williams, putting her at 5th in the world. All this after recently having a child! Georeanne Moline ran the worlds fasted time to date in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at 53.97 seconds, followed closely by Dilaliah Muhammad at 54.64 seconds.  Cyrus Hostetler shined by throwing the javelin over 83 meters.  Distance runner Bernard Lagat showed off his fitness during a workout on the track. He won the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Classic just two weeks ago, and has a legitimate chance to make the USA team at that distance.

Georgeanne Moline races toward the finish line after the final hurdle in he 400 hurdles on the way to a current world best time.

Georgeanne Moline races toward the finish line after the final hurdle in he 400 hurdles on the way to a current world best time.

The trip ended in the heart of Texas with Daryl Woodson and his team of sprinters.  Some of these athletes were in Shanghai just a week before, so we picked up where they left off in treatment. We placed a focus on mechanics for starts and high speed in preparation for the Prefontaine Classic this weekend.

This is Jill Williams on her throw of 18.99 putting her 5th in the world currently. Husband Dustin immediately tweeted out this is her personal post baby best.

This is Jill Williams on her throw of 18.99 putting her 5th in the world currently. Husband Dustin immediately tweeted out this is her personal post baby best.

Days like these reminds us of the great athletes we care for and the great environment we are blessed to work in. When you have time please seek out these athletes on social media and show them your support and support for the USA Track and Field team as they prepare for the Trials and the Olympic games.

From Portland: Andy Bayer | Evan Jager | Chris Derrick | Emily Infeld | Shalane Flanagan | Amy Cragg | Lopez Lomong | Dan Huling | Shelby Houlihan | Andy Bumbalough | Elliot Heath | Ryan Hill | German Fernandez

From Arizona Elite Throws: Gwen Berry | Jill Camerena Williams | Cyrus Hostetler | Michael Lihrman | Darrell Hill | Reese Hoffa | Liz Podominick | Matthias Tayala | Riley Dolezal | Tavis Bailey

From Austin: Michael Rodgers | Michael Tinsley | Natasha Hastings | Mookie Salaam | Bianca Knight | Jasmine Hyder

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Payton Jordan Invitational

Darrell Barnes and I had the opportunity to travel again for USA Track and Field this weekend, attending the historic Payton Jordan Invitational hosted by Stanford University.Each year elite distance runners converge on Palo Alto to take advantage of near perfect running conditions.  Many come here chasing the standard, trying to get an entry into that years qualifying or championship meets.  This year’s event educated me in a unique way, and I continue to learn about the care elite athletes require in their pursuit of success.

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Runners race for a variety of reasons, and the 2016 Payton Jordan Invitational found many runners racing in events that are not their specialty.  Some were using it as a challenging workout while others were working on racing strategies.

 

Many athletes felt that they had not performed up to their expectations, however a common response was not that of disappointment or frustration, but of recognition that this is part of the process.  This is not the goal, but one step of many toward the end result.  Initially my response was one of disappointment for them.  I am used to seeing these athletes, some of them the best in the world, win every event I witness.  But talking to them after the event opened my eyes to the humility they possess, recognizing that this day is but one small part in the process.  In the grand scheme they might not win every race, but they experienced something this weekend that will help them win THE race.

 

For young and developing athletes I feel this is a lesson to heed.  There will be moments in training and competing that don’t feel like improvements.  These moments are important, however.  Each is part of the larger process, part of the completion of the larger goal.  These moments can come in the form of injuries that require large amounts of time off, workouts that inflict pain, or races that fall short of the desired result.

 

This weekend we heard several explanations as to why performances on didn’t look good on paper, but the common theme was a humble respect for the process.  Respect for the plan their coach has outlined.  Respect for the steps it takes to be truly great at something.  Respect for competitors; something we can all learn from.

 

The Olympic Games are less than 100 days away.  Please support these athletes as they pursue glory and gold in 2016.

Bowerman Track Club | Dan Huling | Chris Derrick | Evan Jager | Lopez Lomong |

Shelby Houlihan | Andy Bayer (Indiana native) | German Fernandez | Colleen Quigley |

Emily Infeld | Amy Cragg | Shalane Flanagan | Ryan Hill | Laura Roesler | Dana Mecke |

Kendra Chambers | Jesse Jorgensen

 

 

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Dr. Arnold from the West Coast

St. Vincent Sports Performance is partnered with several National Governing Bodies including USA Track and Field. Dr. Todd Arnold of SVSP is a performance scientist for USATF, helping its athletes prep for major national and international events. Here’s a dispatch from Dr. Arnold’s travels.

We had a few weeks at home, but the road to Rio calls again! This past week, the SVSP team traveled to California and Phoenix. Our athletes are really ramping up their training and are starting to get worn out.  Some competed for the USA Indoor Championships and those that advanced competed just one short week later.

It was such a pleasure to see and evaluate Brianna Rollins. At 24, her performance is already promising; Brianna is coming off a second place finish at the World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles. As of this year, she also holds the world’s best time for the 60m hurdles. She is a joy to work with and takes great care of her body. Out of curiosity, I asked her what advice she would give her younger self if she had the chance. Without hesitation, she said “to believe in yourself, always.” She was emphatic, but thoughtful as she spoke.  She exuded confidence in herself and what she had said; she had no doubts.

Brianna Rollins

Athletes to Watch:

400m runners, Kind Butler and Bryshon Nellum, are two athletes to look for in 2016.  Kind is from Indiana but now trains in LA. Cali native Bryshon, was horrifically shot early in his collegiate career. At the time, the doctors weren’t sure if he would ever be able to compete at a high level again. Fortunately, he made an amazing recovery and now participates at the highest level of competition. Please follow and support both these athletes as they make a run towards the USA Olympic Trials, in hopes of representing the US.

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Dr. Arnold in New York with USA Track and Field

St. Vincent Sports Performance is partnered with several National Governing Bodies including USA Track and Field. Dr. Todd Arnold of SVSP is a performance scientist for USATF, helping its athletes prep for major national and international events. Here’s a dispatch from Dr. Arnold’s travels.

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This weekend, we were in New York for the 109th Millrose Games hosted at the Armory. The weather was almost nice enough to host an outdoor event and we went for a run in shorts(!) in Central Park. For many of the athletes in attendance, this is the last indoor race before they compete in the USA Indoor Championships in mid-March with a chance to compete in the World Indoor Championships a week later, both hosted in Portland.

 

We are truly blessed that we have a job that lets us do these amazing things. In the last year, I have traveled with elite USA Track and Field athletes to Monaco, Belgium, Stockholm, London, and in the last two weeks, Boston and New York. Although it is cool traveling to these unique sites, the athletes are what make these trips special. We know their ailments and limitations well, but we also get to know them as people. We see them when they win and we see them when they fall, which speaks volumes about their values and personalities.

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Working with Natasha Hastings this weekend was a fun treat. She is a New York native so this was like a trip home for her. She shared some insight the morning after her race, where I believe she set the years current best 400m time by about a full second. When asked what it is like to compete at home, she paused and thought for a moment. Natasha said she felt a mix of thrill and pressure. The thrill may come from competing at this high level in front of friends, family, and throngs of supportive young athletes; while the pressure is rooted in the heavy expectations that she will win. Her name used to adorn the walls of the Armory with records of her youth but they have all since been eclipsed. Undoubtedly, she would like to get her name up there again, which only adds to the pressure she feels. With a great smile on her face, she reminisced about the times she would stand on the rail watching professional athletes race at the Armory as a young runner. This year, I can imagine there were quite a few young athletes on the rail watching her every move.

 

I spoke with Andrew Dawson, who was in the was in the treatment room after the race and he shared a memorable insight. He said he is using this race as a benchmark – not necessarily the result, but his form and the video of the race – to assess his mechanics. When he volunteered that having good core control allows one to maintain appropriate body control, I knew he’d be an easy athlete to work with! Imagine losing that control while you are swimming; there is a chance you would not survive. In running, we would just fall apart. This quote showed me that Andrew is clearly in tune with the way he runs and trains.

 

 

 

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