Dang, that was cold! It’s been colder.

Yes, it is snowing up north and the temperatures are low.  In Boston it is 30°F.  It is 32°F in Pittsburgh.  I picked these two examples because I’ve lived and worked in those two cities. In Cleveland, Ohio, another northern city I am acquainted with it is 35°F.  All those cities currently have cold temperatures.  It isn’t that cold here near Athens, Georgia.

It is chilly enough here near Athens.  The high today was 43°F.  Not too bad compared to those northern towns.  Of course, the wind is blowing here.  The wind is always blowing here or so it seems. The breeze is flowing at 11 mph with gusts up to 22 mph.  The final leaves, those last dried up survivors of fall, are now few and far between – excluding my lawn, which is blanketed.

Fifteen years ago in Cleveland I was outside before and after work.  I’d run in morning and ride in the evening.  I lived downtown at 12th and Euclid Street in the Theater district.  I’d run before the migration of workers from the suburbs arrived and bicycle once the herd departed.  Downtown Cleveland was pretty empty outside of normal working hours other than around the medical centers. During the winter Cleveland is really cold.  I don’t care where you live the North Coast is cold in the winter by anyone’s standards.

I’d put every piece of clothing I owned before heading out in January and February there on the shores of Lake Eire.  I’d stay comfortable enough to enjoy the fresh frigid air.  By frigid I do mean those blasts from the Canadian territories.

By those standards 43°F seems mild.  Even adding the wind chill here in Georgia it was still above freezing at 37°F.  In fact, the weather was just fine while trail running this morning.  It was less fine while practicing archery.

Doing archery it is awkward to shoot while wearing 30 pounds of layered apparel. For the hour or so spent shooting outside I wore only long pants, a short sleeved t-shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt, a fleece sleeveless vest, and of course socks, shoes, at hat, etc.  I also stood next to an outdoor propane heater and stuffed my pockets with hand warmers.  It really wasn’t too bad.  I didn’t shoot all that well; neither did I embarrass myself in front of dogs or squirrels – spectators who seemed oblivious to the lower temperatures.

Cycling, after archery, too wasn’t all that bad.  It was bad enough.  Lycra is a poor insulator and half way into the ride I sensed my error in layers.  (Too few –for those who are not fond of guessing)

Training in any sport isn’t always easy.  Well, for me it is rarely easy.  There is work involved.  There will be times with the elements, the weather specifically, isn’t ideal.  The weather isn’t always going the idea during competition.  But, hey, it least here today it wasn’t as bad as the weather during the San Francisco 49’ers and Baltimore Ravens played in this past weekend.  We have pretty much the same conditions here today as yesterday in Baltimore except it wasn’t raining.  I mention that since I lived in Baltimore for 5 years as well.

Stuck and Needing to Move

Heading out to the range to fire off a bunch or arrows is fun.  You will get better shooting a lot.  But, there is a point where you may need to change your training to make improvements.

Reviewing my results, those from training and competition, it was apparent the upward slope had leveled.  In some instances, those data suggested things were beginning to head in the wrong direction.

As frustrating as you’d guess this to be there are ways out of the funk.  Those methods are not as much fun as heading out to shoot. It means getting outside of comfort zones.

With every practice there is a plan.  That plan has evolved little during the past 60 months and 25 days.  The plan has worked fairly well. However, the results after little more than 5 years aren’t satisfactory.

A change has to take place in order to move forward.  In my case, a number of changes.  This meant rewriting the 2020 training plans, establishing new goals, and essentially being willing to drop even more points until the 2020 effort takes hold.

Refined 2020 training schedule. (One month only shown)

Continuing on the past course would lead to improvements.  Those improvements would take a while. If I were simply shooting for the fun of shooting that would be fine.  But, that isn’t the case for me.

In order to make more rapid advancements isolated technique work is required.  That work isn’t the fun part.  I suppose I’ll see how the revised practice routines work.

If you’re shooting to win competitions just shooting a bow isn’t necessarily the path.  To win you need to refine the minute steps in your process.  It isn’t always fun. It is like doing intervals running or on a bike.  They hurt and will leave you sucking wind. The the payoff is real.

What The Heck?

What the heck?  Seriously, what is up with these numbers?

Shooting an Elite Victory 37X with 60-pound limbs adjusted to around 50 pounds seemed a bit like pushing the limit on the bow regarding how much weight to take off the limbs.  I changed limbs and went to 50 pound limbs set for 50 pounds.  I expect to see an improvement in my scores.

The results weren’t what I expected.

The final ten practices using the weight reduced 60 pound limbs shooting a vertical 3-spot at 18-meters my average score was 580. The new 50-pound limbs, after collecting 10 sixty-arrow practice sessions the average score is 565. The arrows were the same as was the release.  The difference is extremely significant, unpaired t-test were t= 3.969 (this means the difference is real).

Shooting a higher average, the 580 score, the standard deviation was 12.07.  Shooting the lower average, the 565 score, the standard deviation was 2.89. The lower score is very consistent.  This suggests the shooting variance is similar on most of the shots.

The variance, however, is currently outside of sight adjustments.  Reviewing the misses, the arrows are evenly distributed around the X. In both sets of numbers there are no single arrow scores below 9.

Time to take the bow and the archer to get evaluated.

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.