Monday, February 17, 2014

Amanda Smock Ready to Defend Her US Title

Amanda Smock smoothing out the sand to ensure a soft landing :-)
Amanda Smock has been preparing to defend her US indoor triple jump title this weekend in Albuquerque, NM at the USATF Indoor Championships.  Smock and the other participants will be hoping to garb a spot on the US team that will compete in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland.  Below she talks about her approach to the sport.  What she tries to accomplish every year, and some memories that linger from her career.

Down the Backstretch:  You seem to take things year by year, what brought you back for another year?

Amanda Smock: Taking things year by year has definitely been my “MO” these past couple years. My coach has my training planned through 2016, but I have yet to really make that commitment. Mentally, I find it easier to stay present and focused on my day to day training sessions when I have only one season to be prepared for. What brought me back another year is the joy I find in training and competing in the triple jump. Additionally, I’m in my second year working with a new coach and I really wanted to give his training time to take hold and see what develops from the new plan. 

My coach is Jeremy Fischer. He coaches at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. I switched coaches after London in quest to switch up my training plan. I had seen Jeremy's plan create successful results with other US jumpers and was really aligned with his training philosophy. My previous coach and old training plan had taken me through five years, but after London I felt as though I needed to make some changes to keep things exciting and different moving forward. 

DtB:  A seemingly recurring theme for you is making World or Olympic qualifying distance.  You’re the defending champ at the US Indoors, you finished in the top three outdoors.  You find yourself competing against a qualifying standard more than other athletes it seems.  That’s a much tougher standard than merely competing in a national championship.  The weather, amount of competitive opportunities, etc. have more of an impact on a triple jumpers ability to make World or Olympic teams if the standard is close to what you are capable of jumping.  How do you deal with the issue in planning your season, setting your goals, and your training?

AS: My event is so unique in that sense - that my biggest competition is the qualifying mark. This year, is a little different than most. Since there is an Indoor World Championships, but no major outdoor championship, I am putting a lot more focus on the indoor season to try to reach the Indoor World standard. 

For me, that means I’ve increased the intensity of my training sessions earlier than I normally would, and I am jumping from a full approach at competitions more often that I would in a typical indoor season. For example last indoor season, I jumped in Glasgow and the US Indoor Championships. This year, I will have jumped in four meets before the US Indoor Championships. My indoor meets after competing at NDSU were Naperville, IL 13.61m; Seattle, WA 13.48m; Albuquerque, NM 13.64m.  I really needed to amp up the intensity earlier to dial in on the rhythm and technique I need to jump the 14.25m (Worlds Qualifying Standard).

DtB:  What have you been working on this year to get ready for the season ahead?

AS: Overall I have been working on increasing my applied strength and technical movements coming off of the take off board. I’ve seen a lot of progress from short run approaches and am hoping the transfer to full approaches takes hold soon! 

DtB:  This year the only national team is indoor Worlds. Is that the primary goal for 2014 or is it to be able to consistently jump at a higher level, so that you take the qualifying mark out of the equation?

AS: A definite short-term goal is to make the indoor World team, but as I transition into outdoors I would really like to nail down those technical movements I referred to earlier. If I am successful with that, I should be consistently jumping at a higher level. The longer I am in this event/sport, the more I have realized I am most successful when I focus on the process rather than marks or distances. 

DtB:  You’ve made both the World and Olympic teams.  You’ve been close to the American record.  What sort of competitive goals keep you going?  Things you’d like to achieve before you hang up the spikes?

AS: I enjoy so many aspects of this sport. The combination between the technical and physiological science and art of training for the triple jump is one of the most exciting parts. The idea that there is greater performance potential in me is really what keeps me going. Aside from that, my criteria to continue on this journey are: if I am healthy, if I am continuing to improve my performances, and if it is still fun. If these three things are in place, I’ll stick with it through the Rio trials. 

DtB:  What memories, if any, stick out among those you’ve experienced during your career?

AS: The entire 2012 summer is at the top of my list of memorable experiences, beginning with the lead up to the trials, the trials themselves, sharing that with my friends and family and then of course the Olympic Games was the thrill of a lifetime. I've also really appreciated the travels, adventures and various people that have been brought into my life through the sport.  

I have a vast array of vivid memories. Two favorites, in addition to my 2012 summer are: 1) the past two years I have taken long winter training trips to San Diego and Greg has joined me, last year he stayed for two weeks, this year for five days. I would train from 10:30 to 4 and each evening we would take beach cruiser bikes to the beach and stroll through Coronado. I felt like I was literally living in a dream world, it's such a beautiful city on the beach, and I was so happy to be spending time there at the same time I was getting in really quality training sessions. 

The track in Lahpinlahti, Finland.  Photo by Amanda Smock
The second vivid memory is from last summer competing in a meet in Lahpinlahti, Finland. There was great competition in the triple jump, so jumping was a lot of fun, but what sticks out to me was the environment. This great track was plopped in the middle of these huge pine trees outside a little town in the middle of nowhere.  In Finland, the latitude is further north that Anchorage, Alaska. The air was so crisp and fresh, the stands were packed, and there was a lot of energy. But for moments while I was competing I was having flash backs to my childhood and camping trips to northern Minnesota. I really loved competing there. 

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