Peaks and Valleys

In every sport with every athlete there are peaks and valleys in performance.  In archery there are times when it seems easy to find the X.  There are times with arrows seem to circle the X just missing.  It can be frustrating.

Maintaining a log of data you can review your peaks and valleys.  Over time, with consistent practice, those gaps between highs and lows diminish.  The gap remains, only the intervals between them narrow.

When you begin entering a slump pause to evaluate what has changed?  Is it fatigue or over training?  Is your form slipping?  Is your mind elsewhere?  Did anything drift with your equipment?

The answer to a dip in performance may make itself obvious.  Sometimes having your coach watch you practice and that extra set of eyes may notice something amiss in your process you’ve overlooked.

If you don’t have a coach at hand try something different.  An easy approach to helping discover what is wrong is simply changing your release.  If you have two different releases they’ll activate slightly different. The change may help you keep or regain your edge.

If you’re over training take a break.  You should have recovery days planned within your training plan.

If all else fails check your gear.  Things can shift with a bow.  Cumulative incremental shifts can add up.

Expect that all days aren’t the same. But, you can work through anything.

Recovery Time: What Everyone Knows That I Don’t Understand

Chris McCormick is a world champion triathlete.  He wrote a book about his experiences as an athlete.  In that book he described a younger triathlete who McCormick felt could become great.  A problem McCormick noticed with the younger athlete was that the fellow was working too hard.

McCormick talked to him suggesting he might add some recovery time to his training.  McCormick at the time of their meeting and training together was mature for a professional triathlete being in his 30s. The younger man was in his early 20s.  McCormick warned him to ease up on occasion to allow for adequate recover without which could lead to burn out or injury.  The twenty year old ignored the advice and not too long after was injured and a bit burnt.

In a post here not too long ago I wrote about recovery.  In that post I described my training. I pointed out that I don’t maintain a level of cardio training today as an archer that I did in my youth.  Still, I do train at what I consider an age appropriate level.

Cardio training is a method to help prolong health and give me a longer runway for archery.  Archery satisfies my need to remain competitive.  Certainly, achieving competitive goals remains possible as an age grouper in other sports.

I have a friend that is 69 and runs ultra marathons.  He’s an amazing athlete.  I know a woman in her mid-80s that still does high-level triathlons.  Again, amazing.  Neither started at a early age both picking up endurance sports in their 50s.

I started endurance sports at 17 and stopped at 57.  Forty years seemed to have been a limit for me.  When I tried stopping I was very unsatisfied.  I needed to compete.  Archery is an outlet for that desire.  Of course I still run and ride but the primary goal is to maintain fitness and prolong my experience in archery.

Along with that sport experience comes decades of understanding recovery. I understand it but do not always follow my own advice or knowledge.  I am prone to over training.

In the prior article about recovery I pointed out that as we age recovery times are often required to be more often and longer.  A reader somehow got another message.

He sent me a note pointing out that everyone understands recovery.  That was news to me.  I am still trying to find the right balance.  He somehow believed I am still in my 50s.  He further suggested my training along with the aches and pains associated were typical for a 50 year old, with the luxury of time, however not realistic for someone approaching 70 as he is approaching 70.

I took that comment as a compliment. The older critic, approaching 70, is pretty close to my age as I approach 70.  He is older by a few years but within my age group. He seems to be fairly fit results of his foundation of years of hard work.  He suggested my life of luxury has afforded me at 50 to be able to train the way I train.

That’s not true.  I’ve been able to train the way I train because I have had great coaches that ensured I had adequate recover whether I wanted it or not.  The result was minimal injury and little burn out.  Sure it is unlikely I’ll do too much racing in the future but not entirely out of the picture.  It isn’t that I burnt out on it after four decades, it became too expensive.

Archery is a lot less expensive than triathletes, easier to find events compared to cycling, and a sport that is much less age dependent.  So long as I maintain the best level of activity and recovery I should last a pretty long time shooting arrows.

Here’s the thing, finding the best point where recovery is needed and just plain soreness needing to be worked through is a tough balancing act.  As the 60+ critic pointed out everyone understands recovery and aging.  So, everyone, of you have sound advice I’m listening.

Morning Run

I run nearly every morning.  If I miss a day it is generally due to travel.  The weather is rarely a factor that limits time on the trails behind my house.  I don’t run alone, River, my lab has been a running companion for going on nine years.

Because some of the trails are now posted, for weekend hunters (who have as yet not hunted) River and I stick to trails outside of the posted property. River can run without being leased so long as we’re on our property.  Once we hit the trails that are easements for surveying and beyond private property she gets hooked.

River’s nose is much better at sniffing things out to explore during our runs.  On our property, while free ranging, I noticed she’s moved a few feet off the path.  Curious as to what it was she was examining I moved closer.

She’d discovered a massive yellow jacket nest.  We eased away and continued down the trail.  I hoped, that until I can spray this nest, so long as I leave them alone maybe they’d not attack me.  Oh, I’m going to get them.  Yellow jackets are often relentless when it comes to stinging me.

Moving down the trail River nosed what seemed to be a trespasser who’d met its ultimate demise.  Later, I’d learn that was indeed the case.  Only the posted sign hunters didn’t bring about the end.  The trespassing critter had been wreaking havoc on plants at a neighbor’shome.  I suppose this section of the trail will project olfactory offense soon.

If you’ve been reading this you are likely an archer.  Possibly, you are not a runner.  Possibly you enjoy getting outdoors to hunt.  If you’re an archer that runs, especially on trails, you know that sort of outdoor activity, trail running, is a nice way to enjoy the woods.

 

Time for a Break

I’d planned a short break between the final outdoor tournament in indoor training.  The day after the last outdoor event I set my practice range up for 18-meters.  Once it was arranged, resistance was futile.

All week I’ve shot and shot. I’ve shot morning and afternoon.  Through record breaking temperatures I sweated and shot.  In addition, I stretched every morning, ran everyday, went cycling (during the hottest part of the day), mowed, cut, and trimmed property, planted 8 trees, and completed daily chores.

On Saturday (a week after the two-day outdoor tournament began), after stretching and running, I headed out to the range. Twenty-seven arrows later I was heading off the range. There was no doubt it is break time.

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.”

That’s about the size of it.  Dr. Suess couldn’t have said it any better had he been a spectator at an archery tournament.

Archers are not the most fit of athletes.  Oh sure, archers can stand real still.  That alone is a skill.  But, as a long tournament wears on that standing still part becomes less still. Being fit can help you sustain the still focus you need for archery.

USA Archery sent out the first edition of the Athletes Development Model.  In it the authors break down age groups.  When the model reaches the 15 – 17 year old age group the instructions includes: Training will include mental, strength, cardiovascular and coordination training.  They further suggest strength training along with nutrition training.

That remains a theme for athletes until the age of 60 where they drop the strength, cardiovascular and change it to – May include light strength and coordination training.

Here me now and believe me later, if you are over 50 and are not doing any resistance training like lifting weights you are going to lose muscle mass.  If you’re over 60 and have neglected cardiovascular training you’ll be in for a surprise should you start.

You don’t need to be a lean cardio machine to be good at archery. However, being fit at a young age and hanging onto that fitness can pay dividends as you age. 
Even if you’ve never held onto any general fitness working to improve your health through fitness training is a good thing.

Hope No One Throws Anything At Me

“I’m fixin’ to go for a ride,” I called to my wife, Brenda.  “Take your phone,” was her instruction.  She wasn’t looking at me her attention on some word game played on an iPad.  “I hope no one throws anything at me,” I added.

It has happened.  Once while riding in Maryland someone tossed a full can of Mountain Dew at me and missed.  The can landed in soft bushes and didn’t rupture.  I picked it up, took it home and drank it later.

Another time, during a hot summer ride, a lady’s bathing suit top was flung toward me.  It happened while cycling toward Savannah, Georgia on Highway 80 leading away from Tybee Island, Georgia. The lady who tossed the top was a passenger. There was no doubt it was her top. Aside from those two times spanning 36 years nothing else has flown my way aside from bugs.

“I hope no one throws anything at you either,” said Brenda still not looking.  So, I asked her, “Look at what I’m wearing.”  She looked then seriously warned, “Oh, be careful.”

Where we live is essentially Athens, Georgia.  The SEC is a near religion and the University of Georgia Bulldogs practical deities.

I am a Graduate of the University of Tennessee among other schools.  There I studied art and earned a ‘Professional Certificate’ in Cartooning – really. There is no ‘degree’ in cartooning.  Although, many degrees are jokes. (The last sentence is a gift for proofreaders.)

I drew this for a soap company.

The cartoon program was completed decades ago. I don’t believe the program remains in operation. It wasn’t likely to have been a moneymaker for the University. It was a fun program. There’s more money to be made teaching art and illustration pricing it out over 4 years with loads of electives and fees.  It was a simpler time when cartooning was meant to be fun.

I painted these and eventually threw them away. They hung at our place in North Carolina. There was no room for them when we moved to Georgia. They were practice pieces for a larger painting.

The ride was event free. Go Dawgs!

Give a Dog a Bone

River has a serious problem leaving me alone while I’m trying to practice archery. She’d much rather I played stick, chase, or run with her.  So, self-centered. If she is given a bone, I am entirely forgotten. Until the bone is gone.

Oh, River is gong to run
You can see the yellow signs now posted on either side of this trail

It isn’t like she’s been ignored all day.  After breakfast we run for a few miles.  We avoid busy roads running mostly over trails in the woods we own and along the easement of nearby property.  Until recently we cut through undeveloped land filled with trails. Those paths are now unavailable because a couple of guys think they’ll shoot deer on that land.

This truly sucks – but alternate paths remain available

During archery practice, River needs to stay calm.  She’s not too bad so long as I toss a stick between ends.  If I fail to comply all barking will break loose. Sticks do the trick for a bit.  A bone is better.

During practice I play music using my phone to help simulate the noise at a tournament

Running is part of my archery training.  Being in as good of condition as I can I believe helps during long tournaments.  If you compete you know you’ll be on your feet for hours. There’s a lot of walking involved.

At 50 meters and 30 meters I practice on two targets to save arrows. The orange flags are distances measured using a tape measure rather than a range finder. These are set at 5 yard increments from 20 to 100 yards.

The tournament this weekend is one where my age group will shoot: 70 meters, 60, meters, 50 meters and 30 meters.  At each distance there are 36 arrows shot in 6 arrow ends. This works out to a total of 1.75 miles of walking back and forth.  Here’s how I got that it:

Overall fitness is a bonus for archers

70 meters is @ 77 yards.  Round trip to the target is 154 yards.  There are 6 ends and 2 “Official” warm up ends.  That means 8 round trips of 154 yards or 1232 yards.  At 60 meters, or 66 yards, the total is 792 (6 ends only – no practice, same for the other two distances), 50 meters, 55 yards or 660 yards, and finally 30 meters, 33 yards, for 396 a total of 3080.  The sum of the distances in miles is 1.75.

That isn’t all  –  you’ll end up adding another 800+ yards per day walking to and from the car, to registration, visiting friends and firing off “unofficial” practice arrows.  The total walked is going to be closer to 2.66 miles.  Not far to walk unless you never walk a lot. This can be especially taxing when the temperature is expected to reach the upper 90’s while you’re walking back and forth and trying to hit a target with an arrow in between the hiking. Running can help reduce the impact of being unconditioned in such a situation. So, River and I run.

Putting 6 arrows in the center of an 80 cm target will ruin them. It has to be done in competition, at practice using multiple targets can save vanes, nocks, and arrows that are occasionally Robin Hooded
Give that dog a bone

River is a great running partner.  Afterwards, during archery practice she’s often times less than an idea spectator. Give that dog a bone.

Building Your Training Program

Each of you has a level of training, or a workload, that will maximize your performance.  Finding it is a trick.

There’s an excellent archer, multi-time World Champion, who practices archery for an hour per day.  Another famous archer, a great 3D shooter, says he shoots 30 arrows per day. He claims he shoots 30 perfect shots a day and puts his bow down.  I suppose that can work in 3D were 30 arrows per day might be physically enough.  However, that might not be enough if you need to shoot over 100 arrows a day.  There’s another top dog archer that says you can’t practice enough.  For each of them, their training seems to work.  They’ve won a lot of tournaments.

For the remainder of us we might need a more formal approach.  An hour a day, 30 arrows a day or shoot all day isn’t, in general, a set of rules to train by.

Most archers are not making a living as a professional athlete.  A few are and only a few.  This is true for most sports and most athletes.  The bulk of athletes have a day job – including most “Professional” archers. As such, your time is limited and valuable.  So, your training needs to be planned.

Showing up at a range whenever you get a chance is fun.  It is unlikely to land you on many podiums.  If your goal is a good time you can achieve that goal.  If your goal is to be a State, National or World Champion your training will require more than having a break in your schedule to go shoot.  The question will ultimately be how bad do you want it and what are you willing to give up to get it.

You may be able to create your own training plan.  Many if not most amateur athletes are self-coached.  Even if you are a ‘pro’ you may be self-coached. Should you find yourself struggling let me help.  No – my help is not Pro Bono and not for everyone. There’s also a limit to how many I can coach.

If you are in need of help forming a personalized and physiologically founded training program for archery send me an email at: Dlain117@yahoo.com.

It Has Been Hot But Not For Much Longer

Practicing outdoors in the summer is Georgia is sweaty work.  Trees cover my range and that makes a difference.  Still it has been hot. I’ll take the heat over the cold.

The days are already getting shorter.  They aren’t getting cooler and we could use some rain.  But, if you enjoy being outside and can tolerate the heat.  Tt has been a good summer for archery, not go great for lawns.

When it is 90°F or above I break up practice.  Lately, the practices have been about 90 minutes before I take a break.  When I finish shooting I’m sweating like the pig that knows it is dinner.  During the break between morning and afternoon practice I’ll have lunch, take a short nap, ride a bike, then shoot some more.

Bike riding seems to land during the hottest part of the day.  Often the temperature is well over 90°F by the time I roll off.  When I finish I’ll cool down have a snack and pick up the bow.

It seems like a lot of work and it is.  Before I’ve shot the first arrow in the morning I’ve run for 30 to 90 minutes. Generally, I’m on trails with my dog River before 0730 and it isn’t too hot.  Today, for example it was 77°F at 0720 when we headed out to run.

It has been too hot for River to do the entire run.  She ready to cut back and head home after a mile.  Because we run on our property and the undeveloped woods connected to our land she free range runs.  When it gets to hot for her she stops.  I’ll look back and she’ll start headed the way we came.  She’s not smarter than me when it comes to heat; I have a better cooling system than she does. When it cools off she’ll not want to stop running.

At any rate it has been hot. In the heat you have to keep fluid in you.  I’ve go a gizmo that measures my total body water (TBW).  I’ll check my TBW daily in an attempt to stay around 55%. When we’re born we’ll have a TBW of around 75%.  As we age that percentage decreases.  Essentially, we dry up and die. Stay hydrated.

Coaching Tip

Admittedly, I am looking forward to fall and moving up to 25 and 18 meters.  Then, winter will be here and I’ll have to begin making the trek to the indoor range at Ace Hardware in Social Circle.  Even in Georgia December, January and February are too cold for me to do much practicing outside.

As We Age We Need Longer Recovery Times

When I was in my twenties I could go on an eighty training one day and hammer it out again the next day. In fact, 120 miles rides day after day weren’t uncommon.  When I turned 40 I began to notice my legs felt sluggish for a day or two following a hard training ride or race.  Since I turned 50 I can’t recall a day where I haven’t been sore.

In this photo I’m 4th from the front, aged 48

“Masters athletes completing two training sessions per day should maximize the duration of the recovery period (i.e., early morning and late afternoon). Alternatively, following exercise that results in muscle damage such as weights or hard training, it should be expected that exercise performance will be reduced for up to 24 hours.” (1)

Right now my legs are sore. I’ve been running a lot over the past few weeks.  Nearly every morning I head out for 30 to 90 minutes.  During the afternoons I’ve been on a bike for 30 to 90 minutes.  There isn’t a duathlon on the horizon.  There is a 5K I’ll be running but it isn’t serious. Nope, there isn’t a bike race looming in the near future.  I’ve been putting in those miles thinking about 2020. Even so, I might not compete in any of those sports.  Archery is the primary sport for 2020.  All the other exercise is part of a fitness plan I have in place for archery.

At 60 I’m still being chased

Archery practice includes 3 to 5 hours of shooting per day.  That is broken into two practice sessions, morning and afternoon.  All of this exercise is supplemented by 30 minutes every morning of stretching and balance.  It is a lot of training.  I’m sore.

It isn’t a painful soreness. It is the kind of physical effort that lends itself to a good night’s sleep.  It isn’t delayed onset muscle soreness, that awful pain that sometimes follows a particularly heavy effort that one might not be accustom.  No, it is a general soreness and eases once I start a run, ride or shooting session. This isn’t how I felt at twenty-one. I barely remember being sore during those youthful days.

Coaching Tip

As we age, I’ll be 65 soon, it take us longer to recover.  As part of recovery I plan one day a week or every 10 days were I don’t do more that the morning stretch and balance as far as training is concerned. Furthermore, I take a nap, 30 to 40 minutes, everyday after lunch.  That nap is part of my training plan.  During my bicycle racing days we had a set of rules that included:  Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down. I know that short nap helps with the afternoon training.

Nearly half of all competitive archers are over the age of 50

If you’re among the Masters athletes in any sport you might be envious of those kids in their 20s and 30s. In archery we can perform longer at a higher level than most other sports.  You will still need to plan recovery times.  Use your head, plan your practices and training, and you shoot as well as the kids.

At 64 using archery to fulfill my need to compete.
ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon, Team USA (age 53)

If you plan your recovery and taper before major events make sure you’ve practice that schedule before the event.  I find if I am too rested I tend to shoot a bit high.  I also know, that lifting weights on Monday screws up archery for Tuesday. (1)

Be aware, all you Masters archers and athletes, it will take you longer to recover. (Trying to ‘Will’ a faster recovery doesn’t seem to work.  I’m trying it right now.  No dice.)

Reference:

1.)  https://www.mastersathlete.com.au/2017/03/weve-proved-it-older-athletes-do-take-longer-to-recover/