August 08, 2022 5 min read 2 Comments
Photo: Jim Malin readies a throw in the shot put at the USA Track & Field Nationals. He won two bronze medals with clutch efforts in Lexington.
Your neighborhood walking group, or jogging group, or running group can learn from these training partners.
By Ray Glier
The training partners—three to five of them depending on the day—do not allow one to zig while the others zag.
They are ritualists and stick to their 30-minute warmup routine every Sunday and Thursday meeting. It is a serious warm-up of muscles to start the two-hour session. Four are over 70 years old and one is 67 and they are unanimous about not running one sprint, not heaving one shot, or jumping over one hurdle without the warmup.
“For sure,” said Jim Malin, 71, one of the five Masters track stalwarts who meet in the San Diego area. “We’re accountable to each other. We don’t cheat on that warm-up.”
And there you have the first commandment of successful training, or exercise, with partners. Accountability.
Malin, who throws the shot, does the hurdles, and long jumps, said he carried the influence of his training pals all the way to Hawaii this year on vacation. He packed his bands and other workout necessities with his swim suit and sunburn protection. Malin worked out in Hawaii and came back…healthy.
That is the harvest of accountability: you stay healthy and you excel. There are no hamstring injuries, or other tweaks. The partners make sure you don’t walk out on the track and go from 0 to 100.
A healthy Malin won bronze medals in the shot put and long jump at the USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championships last weekend in Lexington, Ky. He finished sixth in the 80 meter hurdles.
Pat Kelly, 72, won the gold medal at the USATF Masters in the 400 meter dash. She took silvers in the 100 and 200.
Three other members of the group, Lewis Jackson, 67, Ed Rose, 73, and John Tomaschke, 72, did not attend the national meet.
Their group was once 15 strong, Malin said. Then, in March 2020, Covid arrived and hollowed out the group. Many people, from book clubs to track clubs, were understandably rattled. There were deaths and hospitalizations in southern California, especially among their age cohort. The training group dwindled to five.
At first, just three, Malin, Kelly, and Jackson worked out together. They kept a lane between them while the tracks were still open and they stuck to their 30-minute warmup routine. When tracks were locked up because of Covid, they found a public park with an old dirt track and worked out there for several weeks.
“It was a way to stay motivated and help each other stay in shape for when the meets came back,” Malin said.
Malin was missing his eyes during the workouts, Ron Widmer and Jack White. They are veterans of the throws and could let him know about his technique. It is not hectoring when friends offer tips, merely coaching.
“I had to go back to square one and work out by myself,” Malin said. He found an old field, then an abandoned golf course to throw the discus.
Malin bought a tripod to mount his cell phone for video of his technique, but it wasn’t the same as having a live pair of eyes on him.
“I find that when I'm working with throwers, most of the time, it's really not a competitive thing at all,” he said. “Even if a guy is in your same age group they're very helpful. And they'd lend a hand. I like to be competitive, at the same time, but I think at this point in your life if somebody else is making some strides you have to give them their propers.”
Malin and his crew are fortunate they live in a strong Masters track area. He said a strong running group can be a big help for an older competitor. It can save on coaching fees, if you can find someone who has some knowledge of the sport. More important, Malin said, “it can validate” what you are doing as a hobby if you have another Geezer Jock striding alongside.
“If you're in an area where you don't have a lot of like-minded people and if you're an introvert and you don't put yourself out there that can be a real problem,” he said. “It does pay off. I was a football player, a team sport, and track is more of an individual sport, but it helps to have people around you, like a team.
“It gives you somebody to compare notes with. If you don’t have that it is kind of like reading a book. Ok, I’m done reading the book, now what, who do I share with?”
If you like to read join a book club. If you like to run start a track club.
In Lexington last week, Malin was clutch while winning the bronze in the long jump and shot put. He saved his best throw for last in the shot to take third.
He was in fourth place before his last long jump. He went 3.68 meters on his last try to beat Bobby Terrell, who went 3.62, which is a difference of 2½ inches.
What’s significant is that Malin had Rose and Tomaschke, both long jumpers, to lean on in his practices. Tomaschke went 13'9 this outdoor season, which would have won the gold in Lexington.
“In the United States, John is highly ranked and he’s been around years and years,” Malin said. “He’s over there every Sunday. It pays off a lot to have somebody watching to make sure your arms are over your head, or you are hitting the board where you can hit the board.”
Here is the other thing about training with others you should know. Cross-training, doing other sports, will help you if you are a thrower.
Malin is 6-foot-2, 190. He is built sturdy from weightlifting, but he is still considered light for the shot put. His biggest competitors stomp into the circle at over 200 pounds. The long jump and hurdles, which require explosiveness and coordination, help him with his spin through the shot put circle, which is an advantage over more hefty opponents.
Malin is used to being undersized in sport. He played D-1 football for a year at the Air Force Academy and was a relative runt as a 200-pound center.
Malin lifts weights three or four times a week and he has several running workouts during the week. The cross-training undergirds everything about him as a Masters athlete.
Check that. The under-girding is the 30-minute warmup.
“It is a good, structured workout where we are doing dynamic stretching, balance, A-skips and B-skips, among other things,” Malin said. “We remind ourselves ‘let’s not forget to do this’.
“Whether we actually say the word, we are certainly accountable to one another.”
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