Wednesday, September 21, 2005

re: zaz's "we're bad" then on to training

Zaz's post on "Big Time Sports" is very interesting (, and I agree with the sentiments. I think Al ( misinterpreted what he was saying. To me, Zaz is saying that a higher presence of over-40 year olds in our sport, as compared to other sports, is a sign that our sport is not at the highest level, athletically speaking. Al and Zaz seem to be saying the same thing. 40 year olds can still play!!!!!...but Zaz seems to think that is not a good sign.

Zaz has his list of basics that our sport is a bit behind in, when compared to other sports: skill, athleticism and discipline. I would like to add training to this list. I would like to be specific and talk about two aspects of training: volume and strength.

I work for myself, and this, fortunately, allows me to make my own schedule. This is out of design, however. I realized, when I finally found the work ethic I lacked as a young adult, that there was no way I could train properly for Ultimate and have a full time job. My wife and I had to make adjustments in a our schedules and our spending habits to do this, and I hope it has been worth it. The SERIOUS training book that I use has, at the beginning of developing a training plan, the term "year hours" to describe the amount of time spent training during the year. The author goes on to list what the year hours are for endurance events and ability. Most of these are events like nordic skiing and marathons, not team sports. The year hours for "average competitors" is between 200-300 hours. Elite and world-class nordic skiers log 500-1000 hours per year. My most OCD period of training occurred a few years ago. This would involve training even when I was on "vacation". I would get up at 6 am drive 45 minutes to the nearest gym, return at 11am, then go out for an afternoon aerobic workout. Needless to say, I felt that things got a bit out of control and my wife hated me. However, even with my flexible schedule and with OCD, it was hard to manage much more than 250 hours of non-Ultimate training (meaning I didn't count practices or games). Bill McKibben, in his book "Long Distance", also talks about being consumed by his training routine (the book is a diary of year in which he trains for Nordic skiing at an Olympic level of volume). So I would like to add lack of training and preparation to Zaz's list of what makes us bad.

I have not done comprehensive surveys, but I am generally amazed by how few Ultimate players do any kind of weight training. There is a hint to the benefits of weight training in a book about Michael Jordan. MJ would shift his plan such that during the season, his focus would be on the "weak points" (ankles, groin, wrist, etc). I have found weight training to be an effective means of injury protection. I was lucky to hire Bryan Doo (played with Dog, now the strength and conditioning coach for the Celtics) a few years back, and he gave me a great, 16 week strength plan that has a variety of workouts. I shift the workouts around so that I am doing foundation work in the winter and plyos as the season comes along. So, again, this is a sub-category to lack of training...and another reason why we are bad.

I am not trying to say that folks should be like me. Those of you that have seen me play will probably realize that they should specifically not do what I do. I have found, though, that higher volumes of training and incorporating strength training have been beneficial.....even if it is confined within the glass ceiling of mediocrity.


deepdiscthoughts said...

I feel that we should add another sub-component of training called "Eating Well."

How many players do you know that regulate what they eat every day from meal to meal, including alcohol? How many can tell you the number of calories consumed per day? The grams of protien, fat and carbs? Ad naseum.

What you put into your body has a direct correlation to what you can get out of it. That being said, a good percentage of ultimate players are "health-conscious" but that is not the same as eating with specific athletic goals in mind.

gcooke said...

Excellent point. I went to a nutritionist a few years ago, and we discussed that nutrition plays a greater part in decreasing body fat than exercise.

I do some of things you talk about (no alcohol, monitoring caories, etc), but I love to it is hard to maintain discipline.

There is a pretty good book called "Nutrition for Serious Athletes" that discusses a lot of this stuff as well as hydration issues.

Great comment.

deepdiscthoughts said...

I have a very similar problem to you: In short, food just tastes so good.

But you have to sacrifice if you want to excel. I've got a relatively small window to accomplish my goals in Ultimate, and if eating better significantly increases the likelihood of achieving those goals, I'm in.

Marshall said...

How much Coke do the books recommend? Less than I drink? I thought so. Hrmph.

Sam TH said...

When you put in 250 year-hours, did you notice an improvement in your play? How much of one?

Also, I've often wished I could return to the commitment level I had when I was a high-school athlete, which I think involved similar levels of committment (2 hours, basically every day during the season). So it's certainly not unheard of for amateur athletes (college varsity athletes put in even more time).

Finally, what is your "SERIOUS" training book?

George said...

"SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes" by Rob Sleamaker

gcooke said...

I had just a few minutes to respond to Sam yesterday, so I thought I would follow up this morning.

The main difference I noticed (in years with a "high" volume of training) was an ability to sustain higher energy late into a tournament on Sunday afternoon.

There were some years that I overtrained, and I think that is natural when trying to learn how to train.

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