Thursday, August 22, 2013

2013 Summed up?

Hmm, nearly 7 months since my last post?  If you remember around that time I announced I would be taking some time off social networks to attempt to focus better on my training.  I stopped posting updates here, Facebook, and Twitter, well my season is over and so here is a hopefully short summation of my year.

My last post was written in January, at the time I was right in the middle of overcoming a fear that I wouldnt be able to hold on to the pole.  I can tell you now that I still havent totally overcome this fear.  This sport is unlike anything ive ever experienced, absolutely every part of the event is tied into the previous action and the next action.  For me it started as soon as I picked up the pole, if the pole didnt feel perfect in my hand it affected my first step which then affected every step after that.  When your confident in your jump, you run differently, you attack the box knowing your safe, and you have total confidence in the pole your jumping on, this changes only when something goes wrong and you adjust to it.  Most of the year I have been expecting something to go wrong, such as not being able to hold on to the pole, getting stood up over the box, the pole being too big, or holding too high.  This affected every meet of my season.  I can tell you that I am so close to being at 100% but it has taken the entire year and Im not there yet!

I learned to accept very small improvements because I went from one practice where things were great, to the next practice and running through 70% of practice.  Now if I had a bunch of money I probably would have stayed home all year and worked through it, but I needed to travel to compete, with the hope that things would turn around and I would jump high enough to make some money or make a qualifying mark.  I am pretty sick of people talking about post collegiate vaulters like we arent working hard enough or focusing on jumping high.  Most of us are PROFESSIONAL pole vaulters meaning its how we make a living.  So either we stop being professional pole vaulters to make money and lose training time or we compete and attempt to improve throughout the year.  Do people think we are just drowning in money and are partying every day, taking our training and vault technique for granted?  If youve been where I am then feel free to criticize, otherwise PLEASE keep it as constructive as possible.  Thats the end of my rant...for now.

June 1st Amanda and I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee so that I could train full time with Olympic gold medalist Tim Mack.  I have been considering moving to train with a renowned coach for about 3 years now.  Every time I thought I had found the right fit something would fall through.  Now I know that was God closing the doors to lead me where He wanted me to go.  I completely believe that God has called me, made me to be a professional pole vaulter, and until He tells me to go in a different direction Im going to continue along this path.  The atmosphere here has been awesome!  Tim expects the very best from each of his athletes, the same way he did of himself.  Its been great to have a group to train with and a coach who is knowledgeable and that I can talk to when I have questions or concerns.  If you have the chance get down here for one of Tim's camps, you will get your moneys worth.

Its hard to look at this year as a good one, I jumped a season best of 18' twice, most of my meets were around 17'6".  My worst season since college, I placed 5th at indoor nationals and 8th at outdoor nationals.  Its tough to be positive, to think things will turn around and Ill be better than ever next year.
But I have to.  I have to get back to work, to focus and make every day count.  To be the best I can be, because if I dont, I might as well give up.  I moved my family 480 miles because I wont give up, I refuse.  Its not a part of me.  I take great pride in my work and things I have accomplished and to give anything but my best just isnt going to happen.

Ill be back here more often, updating periodically on my fall training.  On a side note please check out my new business venture at and get your very own personalized iphone 5 case.

You can also follow us on Twitter @Smokymtncaseco
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Always Pursuing -Mark-

1 comment:

  1. It drives me crazy when people say American pole vault is not doing well because athletes don't work hard enough. I trained 2-4 hours a day 5-6 days a week last year starting in August. I have spent $9000 on poles that I used student loans to pay for and am lucky when I have money for food since a steady job is impossible while competing. I decided not to go to grad school so I can train full time and do everything I can to get better. I think every post collegiate pole vaulter has a similar story. Living off nothing will doing everything they can to chase their dream. So anyone who says pole vaulters in America are not jumping high enough because they don't work hard enough have no idea the sacrifice it takes to do this sport.