M40 Decathlon Title = Awesome, but Score…ah, not so much.

gold1Last weekend I competed in the USATF Masters Decathlon Championship.  I scored “okay” and was able to take the M40 title, but I failed to reach the score I was gunning for.  My goal going into the competition was to break into the top 10 all-time m40 decathletes (World, not US).  Kip Janvrin, one of the best decathletes of all time, owns the M40 World Record by a country mile, so there was no chance of getting close to that.  Compared to the extremely thinly competed Indoor Heptathlon in which I set the American Record back in Feb, Outdoor Decathlons are common, so the number of high quality athletes who have competed in them is high.

Anyway, my quest for Top 10 failed miserably.  I was barely able to break into the top 25…and in retrospect, it’s pretty obvious why.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great weekend of bonding with a bunch of old guys who are as crazy as I am to still be doing this. 🙂

Competition is not Practice

I have lots of excuses I can pull from:  Weather (90 degrees with 90% humidity), jet lag, sleeping in hotels, road trip food, headwind, 45min delays right before the 100m and 110H…but those are all standard things an athlete and coach must deal with.  And, honestly, I think I planned and dealt with all those things pretty well.  The real reason I scored below my expectations was a poor training plan (I’m not willing to say my expectations were too high, yet).  And I should have expected it really, but I was lulled into thinking I was “okay” because of my practice results.

Here’s the situation.  I’ve been fighting a sports hernia for over a year now.  Going into the February Heptathlon, I was able to get some good physio (thanks to Brian from Dorfman Kinesiology) and load up on Advil to make it through.  But after that meet, I scaled down my workouts and really focused on healing.  I completely removed weight lifting, plyometrics and Anaerobic Speed from my training.  I only did Anaerobic Fatigue and Aerobic Fatigue, because these types of workouts didn’t aggravate my injury (I added some 30m from crouch and did a few sessions of Pole Vault in the last weeks before the competitions…but that’s it).  During these months, I was surprised that my times/workouts continued to progress.  I thought without Anaerobic Speed/Plyos/Weights, I’d just see progress in the longer distances.  Instead, I saw progress in both my 150s (ran rarely) and my 100s (ran only once).  And when I did finally do my first 30m starts, they were faster than ever.  Here’s some examples:

3×150 (98%) [15′]  — 17.53, 16.87, 16.99

Flying 100m at 10.90

30m Crouch at 4.26

For me, these are all improvements since February, so I was lulled into thinking I was more ready for the Decathlon than I really was.  The rude awakening came right out of the blocks.  My legs weren’t heavy, but they weren’t responsive.  The “pep in my step” wasn’t there.  This resulted in a horrible first 40m in the 100m/110H and a lack of explosion in the LJ/SP/HJ.

Lesson Learned — Back to the Lab Again

One of the best things about last weekend is how well my body held up.  While I’m soar as all get up, my injuries did not present themselves.  I believe it is now safe to reintroduce Anaerobic Speed/Plyos/Weights to my training, but at a lower dosage than my example meso-cycle.  For the time being, I’m adding in one Anaerobic Speed day per week, will continue with 2 Anaerobic Fatigue days, and cut my Aerobic Fatigue to one per week (however, I’ll run 2-3 mile runs on some active rest days).  I’m going to add back in weights and plyos; I’ll do one day of heavy weights (80-85% max) and one day of explosive/lighter weights.  At 43 years old, I’m beginning to think this is a better template than my original mes0-cycle structure.  A sample week might look like this:

M: 8 x 60 (95%)[8′]  — Plyos + Max Weights
T: Active Rest (2 mile run)
W: 200m Step-downs: 3 x 200 (400+2″, 400+1″,400) [walk/job 200]
Th: 10 x 200m (1500m) [jog 200] — Plyos + Max Weights
F: 3 x {300 (85% 400)  [1′] + 100f (100%)}  [10′]
S/Su: Active Rest (2 mile run or hike)

Categories: Decathlon, Sprinting | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “M40 Decathlon Title = Awesome, but Score…ah, not so much.

  1. tonygiov

    Another old crazy guy here…had a good run at the multis when I was 50/51, trying to decide now if I make a run at the 55s next year. Also suffered a sports hernia last fall; tried everything for 3 months but just couldn’t make it go away. Both the inner and outer ab wall were torn. Fortunately we have one of the best docs in the US for this injury here in Northern California, William Brown. Would highly recommend him if you have ongoing issues with this. Good luck with your training!

    • Thanks Tony. I’ll definitely consider William Brown if it comes back/flares up. Did you go through therapy? Love to know when he put you through (in general).

      Hope to see you in future multi’s. I know there is one up your way in Sept (Marin area).

  2. Conrad Oberholzer

    Great article!! I’m 45 and done a couple of decathlon’s so far and loved it. Great training program I might start doing your program. Do you need to add 1500m training into your program?

    • Ha! Great questions, but I don’t have a good answer. Like many decathletes, I’m horrible at the 1,500. In college, at D2 Nationals, I got last in the 1,500 two years and 3rd to last my senior year, running a PR of 4:52 (I won that year…luckily I had a big lead). To be honest, I just don’t believe I have a lot of slow twitch muscles.

      A few years ago, at 46, I had to run something like a 5:05, which I thought was way out of my range. I ended up with a 5:08 going on pure guts and running through the pain. If you believe in the age adjusting calculators, that’s like running a 4:33…which would be a huge PR. I was in great shape, but I hadn’t done anything for the 1,500.

      What I did was recall an interview the Galen Rupp where he talked about not giving into the pain. I think that helped. As you probably know, the 3rd lap is key and where most fall apart (of course, proper pacing is key, too). So, for me and my body type, repeating a mantra during the 3rd/4th lap about “run through the pain…run through the pain” and focusing on keeping your stride steady even though your body is crying to stop, that’s the biggest key.

      Of course, if you are or have an athlete who is skilled at distance, then including some sort of 1,500 training may be useful. I don’t do it and I don’t coach it, but that’s just me.

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