For my whole track and field career, I have never done just one event. As I got older, I specialized a little…slowly fading out the triple jump once I got to college, no taking the 200 seriously once I was a pro…but I have remained both a sprinter and a jumper regardless. This is what feels right to me, and even though people have told me otherwise, I have never made the decision to fully specialize in just one event. I can’t tell you my favorite, merely that I prefer whichever event is yielding better results at the time. I’d like to be great at both, and in doing so I would appreciate the different ways of being a competitor they both offer.
But I will say this…for most of my career I would definitely describe myself as a sprinter who jumps…until now. Now, I have become a jumper who sprints. And there is a difference-most notably that it has made me into a very sub par sprinter. I made a decision early on this season to put sprinting on the back burner and focus on the long jump. That basically meant that I would prepare as best as possible for Nationals to be a Long Jumper, and my competitions would be jumping instead of sprinting or doing both. My workouts didn’t change drastically but there were subtle differences. Basically, my plan worked and I got what I wanted. And I was still fast…I’m pretty sure I am faster on the runway then I have ever been and definitely the fastest jumper in the World from the data I’ve seen.
But after my last couple attempts at actually trying to run a race this past week, I’ve realized that being solely in Long Jump mode has made me lose my ability to truly sprint. It is frustrating to say the least. I cannot come out of blocks, my turnover seems stuck on my runway pace, and a whole 100 meters seems sooooo long! I know that there must be a way to be good at both. There have been athletes who are great examples of that… most notably King Carl, but that’s not to say it’s easy. Perhaps the formula is different for every person but for me, it seems that being a jumper who sprints instead of a sprinter who jumps is not going to cut it.
It’s not that I’m greedy. I realize being good at one event is more than many can even hope for. I have so much room to be a better jumper that some might think it’s crazy for me not to just focus on that. But in my infinite wisdom there are a few things I’ve realized. For starters, you can make money being a sprinter that you can never make by doing the long jump. This is my job, after all. And secondly, if at all possible, you should stick as close to possible to what makes you happy and doing what you love. I happen to love both. If there is a way for me to figure out how to be successful at both simultaneously then I’m going to give it my best shot.