Javelin Throw: What's the Secret to a Good Winter?
BY BEKAH WALTON
It is so easy nowadays to go onto social media and see your role models or other competitors training hard and preparing for the summer season. But what we see is only a snapshot of a full training schedule. Most are often left wondering, 'what is their secret?'. Without knowing how the top athletes programme their training, their training success can appear as a big mystery. Following on from my previous winter beginnings blog, where I wrote about the best way to prepare for winter, this blog discusses how athletes can make the most out of the next few months to prepare for the competitive season.
WINTER TRAINING PROGRAM FOR JAVELIN THROWERS
A misconception about elite athletes is they are constantly grafting at training, leaving every session a sweaty mess after pushing themselves to the extreme for hours before going home to prepare to repeat this the next day. And it's a fair assumption if you have ever watched any film or tv show about elite sports. The truth (at least within athletics) couldn't be further away from this. The secret to training and a good winter is actually a little boring.
I am not saying that this kind of training is unnecessary for athletes. It absolutely is, but its purpose is to prepare the body to meet the demands of athletics training, and it is very likely that this would need to happen at the beginning of winter so athletes have a strong foundation of fitness on which to train. It is, however, optional for it to happen all year round. What athletics training and programming requires is a priority for the most important aspects of training, and all other training to supplement this. For a javelin, throwing is the most important session of the week. The timings of all other sessions and the content of these sessions are then all tailored with this in mind...
WHAT JAVELIN TRAINING EXERCISES CAN I DO?
As mentioned previously, winter training is a great time to reflect on the ways to improve for next year, and it is important to be clear about the improvements you would like to make.
Most athletes, myself included, are in a strength cycle at this stage of the year. In the winter, I have the opportunity to improve my strength which I do not have in the summer, as it is too fatiguing and detrimental to performance. I focus on increasing my Olympic lifts' weight but always try to move them as fast as possible. Strength training is not limited to the gym, and focus on medicine ball throws is also less specific and more strength-based. Exercises may include caber toss, two-handed throws and rotational throws. This kind of training is very draining as it requires maximal efforts in short bursts of time. This improved strength will transfer to explosiveness in the throw in summer.
Winter is also a great time to build up your foundations. Identify your weaknesses and address these areas with strength and mobility work. Javelin throwing is a high-risk sport, and athletes are at risk of injuring shoulders, knees, backs, and elbows – to name a few. To reduce the risk of injury, take the time to plan prehab into training. This can be as simple as bodyweight conditioning exercises that can be done at home or accessory work that supplements a gym programme. This kind of training is not particularly fun to me – I actually find it quite dull. But I would much prefer to prioritise an hour of my training once a week to help prevent an injury that may take me out for months.
HOW TO TRAIN FOR JAVELIN IN THE WINTER
Most importantly, the real way to get better at throwing is to throw. But to throw further, something must change technically, and athletes must be prepared to regress to progress in the long run. It's incredibly challenging and can be demoralising at times. Still, you have to be comfortable getting out of your comfort zone and accept things won't be perfect whilst making technical changes. Keep in mind there is still a long time till the summer season, and stay focused and clear on the technical goals to address. This can be an overwhelming thought but think of it as a window of opportunity to make improvements in several areas that other events may not have the chance to.
Like all year, the weather is unpredictable, but in winter, the cold can sometimes make training unpredictable. Unfortunately, as best as we try, no plan is straightforward, and no training schedule is followed strictly to plan; there are always some deviations due to timetabling or weather. What is important is ensuring a backup is in place. For example, if it is too icy to throw, is there a sports hall in which ball throws can be completed? If no indoor facilities are available, can training days be rearranged, so the athlete completes conditioning work instead? Or it could be more beneficial to give a rest day instead, where focus on active or passive recovery is made, with some analysis on throws.
JAVELIN THROW TRAINING SCHEDULE
To summarise everything discussed so far, a typical training schedule in January may look as follows:
Strength and conditioning, including prehab
Med ball work, strength and conditioning
Throwing, sprints/foot contact work
Strength and conditioning, swimming
I hope this blog has outlined some ways you may look to train for the remainder of the winter. Be clear on your aims and work towards them!
WHICH JAVELIN SHOULD YOU USE FOR WINTER TRAINING?
CHOOSE THE BEST JAVELIN WITH NEUFF!
If you're struggling to choose the right javelin implement for your winter throwing, Neuff has some of the best UK athletics coaches on hand to give you advice based on where you are in your journey (completely free of charge, too!).
One of these coaches is David Turner, who is the Head Throws Coach at Loughborough University and specialises in javelin throw. For the best javelin advice... he is one of the best to ask!
If you would like to find out how to receive advice from David or any other top UK throws coach, take a look at Neuff's throws guidance page!
ABOUT BEKAH WALTON
Originally a netballer, Bekah quickly discovered a talent for javelin throwing, and hasn't looked back since.
Bekah is a British Champion and now has her eyes set on Commonwealth and Olympic glory!