Thursday, September 28, 2006

The 2006 USA Weightlifting World Team

This is a little montage of the members of the 2006 USA World Team. They will compete in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) next week. This world championship event is very important, as it is the initial competition for team slots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The US is hoping to score big points on the women's side and field a full team (4 athletes) for the 2008 Olympics.

The men have a tough road ahead of them, but may benefit from many recent positive drug tests at the European Championships. In fact, the Iranian team had 9 lifters (all male I presume) test positive and the entire team was banned from competing next week. The US could score some higher places and needed points if we do well. Our athletes face a very challenging task, competing against some teams and federations who expertly and systematically apply doping science and practice.

In a fine show of the political cesspool of elite international sport, the current superheavyweight world and Olympic champion, Hossein Reza Zadeh of Iran, was personally invited to compete this week by the the IWF Feds after his team was banned. You see, the International Weightlifting Federation wants the world to see the best of the big boys compete, regardless of the rules. These bad boys are the big show--like the sprinters in track & field--their feats of absolute power jazz the crowds and draw television and sponsor attention. Apparently Reza Zadeh tested negative. But nine of his teammates did not??? Right....

YUM! Organic Rice Krispies! NOT

I NEVER watch the morning news shows, but am watching this morning as CBS is having a young female weightlifter, Michelle Glasgow, on.

The content of the shows and the commercials are just stupefying. How can any person with half a brain watch this stuff? Drugs, crap food and more drugs to make you more comfortable eating the crap food.

Then I saw the commercial for Organic Rice Krispies???!!! You have got to be kidding me. The absurdity of it all...

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Frank DeFord had a great commentary on high school sports yesterday. My husband is feeling the pressure as his school gears up for a new capital campaign for new and improved athletic facilities. Everybody else in the conference is building additional gyms and putting in turf fields. Here we go....

TJ did not make his select club volleyball team. I was bummed. Went to the tryout on Sunday for a bit--it was overwhelming. There were so many, maybe 60, 17 year olds trying out for 20 spots--two teams of ten. It was clear he did not have the skill level or physical prowess necessary to "hang with the big dogs". By age 17, the players on this club demonstrate a fairly high level of sport specialization AND athleticism. And it became clear to me that there is little room on these select teams for a true generalist--a decent team utility player without exceptional physical traits or capabilities.

There was nothing 2 months of basic strength, agility and movement training could've done to help. 4 of the 10 guys from the TJ's 16 y.o. B team did not make the 17 y.o. B team.

In fact, the game is much more specialized than when I played in college. If you are not a setter with sweet hands who can run the game, or a giant middle hitter, or a smokin' fast libero defensive specialist or an extremely powerful strong-side hitter who overwhelms the other teams' blockers, you are SOL.

I was told that many of the guys who did not make this team were headed immediately upon being cut to a tryout for the other major local club. One club had tryouts at from noon to 3 or so and the other club started at 3. Some guys probably spent 5 or 6 hours in the volleyball meat market that afternoon.

It all seemed a little crazy to me, but I only participated in one significant tryout in my life--that was to play on the North Team in the 1989 Olympic Festival, where I had a great time sitting on the bench with future Olympian Cammie Granato (she was 18 and I was 19). I didn't play on a select volleyball or basketball team in grade or high school, and played Division III college volleyball. Never had to face the pressure or really even the prospect of being cut from a sport in high school.

TJ will have an impact on his high school team over the next two years--and I told his father I hope he relishes that opportunity. Let's hope those tryouts are a little less intense.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

AJ & TJ Update

Joe P. emailed to inquire about AJ. She’s doing very well—no shin splints or anything. Works with me one day per week and 2x on her own, assuming she has one competition on Friday or Saturday each week. Here are her results thus far (keep in mind she was 101/164 last fall at the Missouri 3A State Championships with a 22:55 5k as a sophomore, on a hilly course):

Fleet Feet Nike Run

2 miles

2nd of 100


First Capitol Run


15th of 250


MICDS Invitational


7th of 96


Lutheran North Inv


6th of 100


We are looking to 5 weeks or so of continued strength improvement. Right now, AJ is working on not going out too fast, but really coming on strong in the last mile. At the Lutheran North race, she negative split the mile 3 vs mile 2. I monitor her as best I can to make sure we are not over-working her with school/practice/competition/weight training.

The 2006 Missouri State Championships are on November 4th, on a hilly course. The 3A girls run at 9 am, which she is happy about.

TJ has his big tryouts this Sunday. He has gained some good fundamental strength all over, but really needs some serious work over a whole year or more as he is 6’ 1” and still 150 lbs. I have talked with him about eating more/better several times—and then today he tells me Mr. Sherrock gave him 4 donuts in chorus class! Only in a boy’s high school would a teacher bribe a student to sing a solo for $2 and 4 stale donuts. TJ said he saved one for today’s post-workout snack. Right idea, wrong choice, eh?

He is moving better in all directions, but would benefit from consistent agility work throughout the year as well. We’ll spend our last session working on better footwork at the net with blocking and approaches (better efficiency). Along with just moving faster and more powerfully. He is definitely more aware of how he moves now and more confident in his abilities. Furthermore, he realizes his hyper-mobile R shoulder needs consistent work and proper lower body mechanics to handle the volume/intensity of hitting and play he wants to achieve. I'm trying my best to get the boy hip to the shoulder.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More OT: Wasabi Makes Everything Better

Sorry no exercise training stuff right now--I'm inundated with Dartfish training this entire week.

I had a long, but satisfying day training the great staff at St. John's Sports Medicine. These people get it. They know how to integrate video into their practice--not simply to say they use technology, but to use it to improve patient care.

After 8 hours of talking almost straight and troubleshooting hardware conflicts, I was ready to decompress and clear the mind. Needed to just be quiet and close my eyes a bit before dinner.

Headed down to a local Japanese restaurant for a perfect end to the day. The soft music and the gentle boats gliding in front of me at the sushi bar floated away all stress. I feasted on a beautifully presented plate of seaweed salad, veggie rolls (radish, avocado, cucumber) and avocado rolls.

As I was finishing my tea, Mr. Locutus of Borg Jr. walked in. He was immediately recognizable by his glowing blue electronic ear piece. Did you know the Borg drink Miller Lite? He ordered some sushi to go. Was he going to order me to assimilate and acquire a blue tooth accessory on my body? I kept my eye on him.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think people who walk around with blue glowing electronics attached to their ear look really stupid? Or like the Borg? Sorry Cindi Lou, but if anyone EVER sees me with one of those things on my ear, you have my permission to slap me silly.

I will not assimilate.

Monday, September 18, 2006

OT: She's Always Your Mom

Your mom is always your mom no matter how old you are. Got this email this morning, after not yet returning my mom's call from this weekend:

dear tracy,
how are you doing? I have been worried about you and hoping you were okay and not sick after eating spinch. I told Angie you were probably in the hospital unconcise. Please call me and let me know me kown if everything is everything is okay, or if you are just busy. tell Kevin and the kids hi and that i love them very much. i have a suprise to tell you , I got something new. call me when you can. love g

So I called her today and told her I wasn't unconscious and in the hospital from eating E.coli infested spinach or spinch (or unconcise either, although I have probably been known to be unconcise, but I wouldn't want my mom to know those stories). You gotta love your mom, spelling/grammar errors and all.

Hi G! We love you! Tracy, Kevin, Millie and Murphy

These furry people are very helpful when blogging.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Back from the OTC

Recovering from my long drive from Colorado Springs. I had a great time at the OTC, but discovered a few things while there. Despite what you might think, the resident athletes here don't always have access to the best and most progressive information regarding rehab and conditioning. That has much to do with who the sport coaches are and how much access s/he gives them to the staff strength & conditioning folks. I saw lots of "old-school" warm-up and cool down activities. Lots of traditional ab exercises. Lots of muscle imbalances, even in American record-holders, that could be addressed and significantly improved.

The most disappointing aspect, in my opinon, is the sports medicine situation. The OTC rotates athletic trainers and other health professionals on a yearly/quarterly basis. So, taking weightlifting as an example, their current ATC will be with them for 3 months, then rotate to wrestling or speed skating. THIS STINKS FOR THE ATHLETES AND THE CLINICIAN. The athletes develop no trust or relationship with this person; and the clinician may have never worked with the sport before and have ZERO understanding of the demands of the sport or how progressive s/he can be with the rehab. I saw a great deal of frustration in an international-level lifter who is coming back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The ATC in charge was working her at a snail's pace and had her doing NO real conditioning while keeping the actual shoulder restrictions. The athlete was chomping at the bit to do SOMETHING--and had little respect for the ATC. It was clear the ATC knew little to nothing about weightlifting-related exercises that could be used with the lifter while she was keeping within recommended medical restrictions. I never saw the resident sport coaches speaking with the ATC to collaborate, communicate and make sure progress was on track. I'm not sure the R hand knew what the L hand was doing.

Does anyone else think the OTC--America's elite--is NOT the place to experiment with rehab or conditioning? It is fine to train clinicians there, but don't just leave the newbies alone with the athletes to stumble through. The clinician MUST know the sport inside and out; must have the chance to really relate to the athlete. For someone who is passionate about helping these men and women succeed, it seems like there should be funds to keep consistent sports medicine staff with these athletes. It shouldn't have to be survival of the fittest or dumb luck if the US truly wants to win the battle for gold medals.

Friday, September 08, 2006

At the OTC

I'm at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, taking a coaching course. It has been very refreshing to interact with the other professionals here. It is not often I get to be around so many other women who enjoy sport, especially weightlifting and weight training in general.

The other neat thing is getting to watch the resident weightlifting athletes train! Since the World Championships are at the end of this month, it is even better as many athletes are hitting heavy lifts at this time.

We did some practical stuff this afternoon--and it was hysterical to have tourists press their faces up against the window, staring at us lifting! Pretty sad if our little group would be mistaken for elite athletes! I am very happy to be the weakest woman in the room--good motivation to keep working hard.

I will post more as I have time, but this is a highlight from todays 2nd training session. Natalie Woolfolk made two personal records today, after a morning workout, squatting at > 90%. Very impressive!

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Labor of Love

Well here it is Labor Day and I actually labored a bit. Actually most of the labor on this project was completed a week ago or so, but I wrapped things up today and sent off my review. I am currently on the editorial board for the International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching and this is my second paper review. The review process for this journal is open, so the author knows who the reviewers are and the publication acknowledges us as well.

This review was quite challenging for me, as I had to review a paper submitted by a former mentor and noted expert in weightlifting/strength & conditioning--someone who no longer wishes to collaborate professionally. How to constructively criticize someone who taught you much of what you know, how you think about and view the very topic addressed in the paper? How to criticize someone who has been the editor of a journal himself? I could hear every phrase in the paper as I read it, as I'd heard them a thousand times before. The topic was near and dear to my heart; part of me was in that text. But it could be better. How to tell someone considered an expert he can, he must be better?

The process was scary and exhilarating at the same time. I learned so much about my own writing style and how to make it better by having the opportunity to review this work. I could see how my own ideas and teaching methods have evolved over the last 6 years. I could see how to make the paper better, and I said what I thought, as frankly and professionally as possible. Most importantly, this endeavor reinforced my belief that I DO have something worthwhile to contribute to the world of strength & conditioning. And I said, and say them with love.

On that note, I'll leave you with a passage brought to my attention by Pamela Slim of the blog Escape from Cubicle Nation.

by Kahlil Gibran

On Work

Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work.
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of the earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.
But if you in your pain you call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Often I have heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet."
But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks no more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Friday, September 01, 2006

2 Old 2 Go Slow

Thanks to "2 Old 2 Go Slow" for his comments on working with me! You can check out much of our journey so far at his blog site, Two Wheel Blogs. Find his latest post here.

As many of you can tell, I'm pretty old-school and basic when it comes to rehab and conditioning. But technology has its place and this is an example of using technology (Dartfish) to help elucidate an issue that fairly complex, yet subtle in its nature. When it comes to cycling and bike fit, a few millimeters here and a few degrees there can create "massive" (said in my best Paul Sherwin voice) changes in power output and lead pain/injury over time.

From this photo, does it follow that 2 Old 2 Go Slow's issue is on the L side?

More Movie Madness

Here's my latest foray into video compilation. It is dedicated to the athletes who persevere on the platform day after day--even when gravity gets the best of them. Have a great weekend and stay strong!