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Seeking the peak

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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As a verb, to peak means “to reach a highest point, either of a specified value or at a specified time.”

This definition is certainly known by track athletes across the world and can be either a blessing or a curse. If athletes reach their maximum potential in the wrong part of the season, their chances at a championship might slip to nothing.

For this reason, much of the training program is dedicated to making sure it allows the athletes to peak during the latter part of the season. There are many schools of thought that involve peaking, and each coach has her or his own particular methods.

“We periodize our training—you start out with general training in the fall and you gradually work through different phases throughout the year with the intent to peak at championship time,” said Hawkeye director of track and field Larry Wieczorek. “It’s some science and some art.

“Some of it is physiological and some of it is psychological — you want to do your best in those major championships.”

In Iowa’s training program, the heavy lifting and high intensity workouts are in the winter. This increases strength and other attributes but is also much more taxing on the body.

Once competition starts, the intensity of the workouts are cut back to allow for better performances in big-time meets. It also allows for the athletes a chance to gradually work toward that peak; as the adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“As the season goes on, you’re still pretty strong from the winter, and it’s carried over,” junior Babatunde Amosu said. “As the season starts, you ease into it, but you keep that tempo going, and you feel like you gradually improve and gradually get better.

“When you peak, you just feel good all around, but obviously, you don’t stop doing the work.”

Even though they don’t stop doing the work, the intensity and the amount they do tapers off a bit. Once athletes peak, the intention is to keep them in that state and not allow them to regress.

For some, the peak is very close, and there is a tangible feeling that it is about to hit at just the right part of the season.

“We feel good right before the meets; the times are going lower, that’s how we know we’re about to do something big,” freshman O’Shea Wilson said. “We are going to peak very soon and at just the right time — Big Tens are about here.”

This year’s group could be incredibly dangerous. More so than other sports, track’s early season isn’t always representative of what their finish will be. The Hawks struggled for a good portion of the indoor season, but they have gradually gotten better, and they look to take the next step.

For head coach Layne Anderson, peaking now is the result of a carefully executed parts of a larger plan that started in August of last year.

“It’s built into the plan; each coach might have a different style and even that might change by event,” Anderson said. “Even then, the ultimate goal remains the same — we want to get to April and May and be at your best.”


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