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I'm Denise Wood. You can read my author bio and the pages on my site, but they really don't tell you as much about sports training as I'd like to share at this stage in my life.
A long time ago, I remember Olympic hurdler Lacey O'Neal say that not enough athletes pass on the benefit of their personal experience to young, rising athletes.
I've always remembered that. And while I've spent a lifetime teaching and coaching, I really want to get my personal thoughts and experiences out there, just in case I've learned something you can use.
So, I decided to post blog entries about where I am and what I've learned in over 50 years of experience.
Yikes! 50 years!
2018 is special to me because it marks 50 years since my first national championship and Olympic Trials in track and field in 1968. 1968 was a landmark year because it opened doors that changed my life forever. I'll tell you about bits and pieces now and then, but let me get to today.
Life is great because I'm doing what I've loved during my entire career--teaching and coaching, learning and giving back.
My day job is at Huntington University of Health Sciences, where I teach courses in exercise science, nutrition and CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) research, and psychology.
Part-time, I'm the Head Strength Coach and Assistant Throws Coach at South-Doyle High School in Knoxville, TN.
What's really exciting about this is that I'm working with a few teams I've never trained before--football, rugby, wrestling, for example, and lots of other sports I have coached before.
I'm designing programs with the sport coaches using a combination of current techniques, and some tried-and-true methods I learned from athletes of different countries during my athletic career. I balance that out with strategies from motor behavior research. It all makes for some interesting and unique programs.
Well, more to come....the day job calls. :-)
I hope you'll check back to see what's going on when you get a chance. I have lots to tell you.
Athletes often encounter unexpected breaks from strength training. At our local high school, several of the teams trained in a conditioning program for six weeks and were about to test their maximums when they missed two full weeks due to the weather. What to do!
After talking with the coaches, we agreed that testing maximums after 2.5 weeks without any activity could cause injuries due to detraining. Plus, maximum lifts would not be very good.
Three of the track athletes, who are also football players, competed in the Indoor State Games at the end of the two-week break. No athlete performed well. Not only did they feel like the lacked muscle tone, but for the throwers, technique was also "flat". Their timing was off even though the correct movement patterns were mainly intact.
The issue is reversibility. We decided to continue conditioning for a short time. We did not test maximums and, instead, transitioned straight into the intensive period to save the time that would have been taken up to test maximums (usually an additional week).
We're using the number of repetitions that correspond to loads at specific percentages for the intensive cycle. We may test maximums for some teams, depending upon their schedules and when they plan to peak.
The bottom line is safety. The athletes' perceptions of how much they lost in 2.5 weeks, their extent of muscle soreness upon returning, plus the research on detraining were a good basis for continuing conditioning, then transitioning to intensive training over the next few weeks.
When someone asks me to help them make an important decision about sports, school, or anything else, my bottom line answer is “follow your heart”. Here’s why.
When I was a kid, all I ever really planned on doing was what I loved—being an athlete and working to be the best I could at it. I never dreamed that athletic competition could open so many doors later on, but it did. Throughout my life I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, doing what I loved and not knowing where it would lead.
It’s been some 30 years since I was immersed in training and competition as a member of the USA Track and Field Team, but my love of sports always gave me direction.
It all started in high school when one of the new teachers decided to take some kids to the Wayne Elks Club Track Meet. I won, and that inspired me to love track.
Two years later, I met Dr. Richard Willing, a college professor and coach, who recruited me to compete for his AAU team, the NJ Striders. When I qualified for the National Championships and Olympic Trials in 1968 in my senior year in high school, he saw to it that I got to Denver and Los Angeles to compete. What an experience for a kid who never really left the NJ area—competing against top athletes that I had read about and crossing the country by car all in one trip!
It was also because of Dr. Willing that I entered Montclair State that year. And it happened that the first college national championship for women was held in San Marcos, Texas the following spring, where I won 3 national titles in 1969 and over the next 15 years made many USA Teams.
I was the only athlete Dr. Willing ever coached in his 41-year career to make a USA Team, but he did not live to see it. Sadly, Dr. Willing passed away on his way to the Mexico City Games, so he never knew what I accomplished and what a difference his passion for coaching track made in my life.
I will always be grateful to Dr. Willing for setting the stage for years of international competition, which later opened more opportunities into a fulfilling career as a professor, coach, and sport scientist. Best of all, I have wonderful memories of a great role model and mentor whose influence has lasted a lifetime.
It all started because I followed my heart and did what I loved, not knowing where it would lead. I think of Dr. Willing whenever I coach kids, and I hope that sharing my passion for sports will make some positive difference in guiding the direction of their lives.
That's why my advice is to follow your heart and let your passion about whatever you love guide you. You never know what doors will open.
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Sports Training Adviser was created by Dr. Denise Wood, former elite athlete and outstanding educator with professional expertise in the sport sciences who has coached beginners to Olympians.
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