…or how I’ve stumbled through so many different situations.
The other day while throwing, I barely realized that it had warmed up to nearly 18 degrees (-7.9 celsius) that morning (rising almost ten degrees from the 8 it was when I was looking out the window into the gloomy cloudy, yet somehow still dark at 7 in the morning skies…
In 18 degrees, EVERY THROW HURTS PERIOD. It sucks. My fingers hurt on the release, my body is stiff, I can’t feel my toes, the only thing I feel in my fingers is the pain, my nose is running, my throws don’t go very far, I slip in the ring as I tread in ice and snow, I’m slipping on snow with every step to get my hammers and it takes twice as long to retrieve using twice as much energy and I keep thinking this might be a waste of time before I settle in and focus and actually get some work done.
The truth is, we have to throw in a variety of conditions. We throw in extreme weather whether it be heat, humidity, cold, rain, wind, etc. Over the years, I’ve learned to train in those conditions. Because it really is possible to train in almost any condition if you have the right mental preparedness. (Because honestly, it can be a waste of time too.)
As I write this, I look back at my experience in training and competing in different environments and how I’ve dealt with them, mistakes I’ve made, and things to keep in mind. I’ve thrown in temperatures almost a hundred degrees in difference from 18 to 115 from dry, to rain, to humidity.
Rain, Rain and more… effing Rain:
When I first started training in Oregon, I lived with my good friend Cari Soong on an air mattress in her room for almost two months. She was nice enough to let me borrow her bike to ride almost two miles every morning to Hayward Field to practice. Except this was December and so that meant temperatures in the 30′s every day and rain. Yes, rain every day and puddles. So riding a bike meant a wet butt at practice, but it didn’t matter because we’d be out there for almost two hours and then we’d lift after so pretty much everything else would be wet too…
But that’s what we did. We practiced. The ring would be wet, so we learned to control ourselves as to not slip and die, but of course falls were inevitable,but we quickly got over our fear. I know now, I can go into any meet that’s raining and throw full speed.
A funny thing to add, I remember when I first moved to AZ and practices were actually canylceled because of rain. I remember thinking, if we canceled because of the rain, we’d never throw in Oregon! However, while throwing at MCC the field was flooded and we had to wade through the water to grab our hammers. That was like throwing on an island (the ring) and going out to sea (the field) it was actually pretty fun!
Heat I Tell You!
I love throwing in warm sunshine. When I moved to AZ and the winters meant 70 and 80′s I was ecstatic! Even when it warmed up to the 90′s and low 100′s, it was still manageable. But as soon as it hit over 110 and 115, it was just too damn much. I’d leave the air conditioner on 80 degrees in the house and it felt nice because it was 30 degrees cooler than outside! I’d step out of my house at 5 or 6 in the morning and it was 90 degrees already.
Heat can be so draining. You’re constantly thirsty, the air is so dry and it’s so hot. By the time you walk out to get your hammer, the handles burn your hand. I would strip down to my shortest shorts, sports bra, and chug an entire 64 oz water bottle in the first half hour of training and not only would I be exhausted, one time I had to leave while throwing at PVCC because I was nauseous and dizzy (early signs of heat stroke anyone?)
We canceled practice one day at Eugene because early spring we got a heat wave and it jumped to 90 and I was trying to train at 11am one morning in the middle of a sand throwing area in 115! Not smart.
On top of that is when you add in humidity. Not even sweat saves you at this point. You just feel sticky and tired and it’s hot and did I mention that it’s hot?! I’ve competed in 95% humidity and 95 degrees and sunshine which is like wearing a down ski coat, drinking a hot cocoa, sitting next to a fire IN HELL!
Sweep you right off your feet, WIND:
Wind can be a throwers friend if you know how to use it, if it’s blowing in the right direction, and you’re a discus thrower. Otherwise, these high winds we get out here can make throwing with four turns almost impossible when a tail wind as each steps blows you twice the distance or like throwing into a wall when a strong head wind… you just don’t move forward. Throwing in high wind conditions almost always sucks.
But when you throw cold in there, it’s down right miserable. The wind gets through your layers so fast and you just can’t get warm, it harder to throw in 30′s and wind than 20′s and sunshine!
Speaking of Freezing!:
So as I started this rant, yes, I threw the other day in 18 degrees, but on average I had been throwing in the 20′s. When I had the afternoon off work the other day I threw in 34 and that was down right toasty!
When I first moved back to Colorado, I remember coming from the AZ heat of 100′s and it was about 58 degrees and I was freezing and asked when we moved indoors to train. Now, because of my practice times, I don’t have access to train indoors and throw in everything but ice. (This morning it was 5 degrees and we just got about 5 inches so I’ve missed the last two days of throwing at CSU). We didn’t get snow in Oregon and I remember we got about 1-2 inches and the town seemed to shut down. Now, I don’t even blink.
Do’s and Don’ts of Throwing in Extreme Weather:
- Do Throw in All reasonable weather: It might be raining in London, you don’t want your fear of slipping to hold you back. Plus, training in all different types will prepare for competing. The weather in Brazil is different from China, from Cali, from Oregon or Colorado. You want to be able to do your best and that takes practice… even practice of staying in control and focused in different weather.
- Do Layers: Always have light layers in almost any condition. If it’s raining, you can always peel off layers as they get soaked to avoid getting too wet. If it’s cold you can add light layers so you don’t start sweating and then start freezing. If it’s really hot, a light breathable fabric is actually better than just naked skin believe it or not
- Don’t Over Layer: You still need to practice, so if you are wearing too many layers and heavy restrictive fabric like a rain coat or winter coat, you’re not going to be able to throw. Also, as you throw, you heat up and start to sweat, sweating can actually make you more cold. So I suggest an under t-shirt, a long sleeve layer, then a sweat shirt.
- Do cover your ears and other hand: When it’s cold, wear something on your ears weather a hat or ear warmer, it makes a huge difference. Also, don’t be afraid of wearing a glove on your non-glove hand. If your fingers hurt, it can throw off your technique.
- Do put ribbons on your hammers: Throwing in the snow means buried hammers, don’t be afraid to tie some brightly colored ribbon or marker tape on the hammer to find it faster in the snow.
- Don’t Throw on Ice: You’re tough, but hurting yourself is stupid. You can throw insnow, but if the ring is icy you can’t throw. We cover ours with a tarp to keep the water and snow off to avoid ice or put something on it to melt it away.
- Don’t sweep the water out: If it’s raining, it’s actually better to throw in a puddle than a slick layer of wet. Just leave the water in and have fun splashing!
- Do bring an umbrella: If it’s too hot (not for the rain you pansy, just suck it up, you’re going to get wet). When it’s really hot that sun is no joke. You’re out there for almost two hours. Just keeping the sun off you when you’re waiting in line or grabbing hammers will make a big difference.
- Do wear sunblock: Always always weather it’s cloudy, cold, rainy, or 115.
- Do throw near grass: I learned in AZ throwing in area near grass is better than throwing in an area surrounded by track or sand. If you have the options… just saying.
- Do bring extra socks in the rain: I already spoke about layers. You can peel off layers as they get soaked, but your shoes will just be wet. So if you go to lift after, having an extra pair of socks in your bag is nice
- Don’t throw in lightening: Be smart, you can’t throw in rain but as soon as it’s lightening… where do you think in a flat field and a giant metal cage the lightening will strike?
And finally, Do pay attention to your body and your throwing: If you’re prepared and focused, there’s actually a lot you can get accomplished in almost any environment. You may have to slow down, not throw a PR that day, need to drink more water, take less throws, or just settled on being uncomfortable. Focus on what you’re trying to do and not how uncomfortable or miserable you are. However, if your training is just sucking, you’re feeling bad, or it seems like a waste of time, just stop. It’s okay to miss a day. Of the the thousands and hundreds of throws, missing 15-30 won’t kill your training but a hard fall resulting in something broken or sprained, a pulled muscle, heat stroke, etc can make a difference.
I guess Christmas is almost here… I got everyone the same thing so they wouldn’t fight over it… nothing. I’ll be doing something this year that I always love. Throwing and then crying alone… I mean, not crying, googling on the internets. Bah humbug. But for those who celebrate and are with their families, Happy Holidays and Happy Throwing!