Masters Track and Field - the Pole Vault


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Advice from Pat Manson 

Three time winner of the Pan Am games

Twice ranked number one in the USA

Vaulted 18 feet or better for 21 consecutive years!



Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 2:31 PM
Subject: Vaulting training ideas for an adult getting into it.
Hey Roger,
It's great you are getting back in vaulting!
Since you asked...
Summary of what is to follow:
practice some running and gymnastics,( pullups at a minimum)
VERY slow increase of intensity over the next months or even the next year.  (getting hurt is no fun - and we like to have fun)
I always tell people who are getting back into it that it is a sprinting and jumping event with gymnastics, so do all those things for a month at least, before you drop in to try it.  Of course, talk to your doctor first to be sure it's all cool.
Depending on how much running you have been doing is how aggressively you get into it.  I recommend getting a personal trainer if its in your budget.  They have trained many people and know what is a reasonable ramp up without injury.  Tell them you want to pole vault as soon as possible and need to work up to that.
I like repeat 50 yard or 100 yard sprints.  Maybe do 4-12 40s or 50s, with a few minutes rest each.  Start doing them at just a fast jog and then speed them up after a few weeks.  Rest a day or two between each workout.  eventually you want to be running pretty fast.  I end up near a full sprint.  maybe you target getting to near a full sprint in a year.  Be sure to jog for 5 to 10 minutes and do light stretching before each workout.
After a month or two of these, do a few sprints where you take a slightly longer stride, a mild bound if you will, just for a few steps.
Then if your joints permit you can try hopping in place (PLYOS)on both legs (tiny hops to start), then on one leg (tiny again).  If your joints hurt, don't do plyos.  Plyos are very hard on your joints.
For the gymnastics, maybe start just going and hanging on a high bar for 5 or ten seconds at a time, then start doing pullups.  Do lots of abs and lower back exercises too.  Roll around on the ground a little too so you are used to that action (since you land each vault).
The key is to be VERY slow in advancing your training.  If you come in too fast and injure something, it is no fun at all.  But vaulting demands a bit from you, so be sure you are routinely running pretty fast, able to jump, and can do pullups and bring your legs up (abs) and have a strong back before you try vaulting.  To try to vault higher, you would just get stronger in all these areas.
I would ask John Carmony for advice, as well.  He is more experienced in many aspects of training for adults.  I work with elite athletes and high schoolers, so my perceptions are skewed a little.
I train doing sprints and light bounding, and pullups and mild gymnastics, for at least 6 weeks each year before I start, and the prep work is worth it.
In the meantime, c'mon out and see some practices and meet everyone.  I know you are a ways away, but we have kids who drive in from all over the state for a day of vaulting.  Its worth it!!
And just to plant a seed, maybe we can get you to be a certified official.  We always need good officials and its a great way to be around the sport.

Pat Manson
Vault M.C., Superior, Colorado
Tel 303-403-9111
Fax 303-499-1528