Part 2 of our interview with John Smith focuses on the training plan for his wife/athlete, Connie Price-Smith. As with our first interview, even if you don't agree with everything he says, you'll definitely find some thoughts here that will at the very least make you stop and think.
L&S: Can you give us a throwing progression for Connie, including rankings and major titles/placings?
7 OUTDOOR NATIONAL DISCUS TITLES: 1987(AMERICAN NATIONAL MEET RECORD 212.8)
1988 OLY TRIALS, 1989, 1990, 1992 OLY TRIALS, 1993 , 1994, (TIED FOR MOST TITLES ALL-TIME)
7 OUTDOOR NATIONAL SHOT TITLES: 1988( NATIONAL MEET RECORD 62.10 1/2), 1990, 1992 OLY TRIALS, 1993, 1994 (NATIONAL MEET RECORD 64.3 3/4.), 1995 , 1996 OLY TRIALS.
4 NATIONAL INDOOR SHOT TITLES: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996,
4 OLYMPIC TRIALS TITLES: 1988 DISCUS, 1992 SHOT/DISCUS, 1996 SHOT .(FIRST WOMAN TO DOUBLE IN 32 YEARS)
NATIONAL MEET DOUBLE WINS: 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994.
WORLD RANKED 7TH ALL-TIME : SHOT AND DISCUS COMBINATION.
PAN-AMERICAN GAMES: 1987 DISCUS BRONZE MEDAL, 1991 SHOT SILVER MEDAL, 1995 SHOT GOLD MEDAL.
OUTDOOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1987 DISCUS 12TH, 1991 SHOT 11TH, 1993 SHOT/DISCUS DNQ, 1995 SHOT 9TH.
INDOOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1989 10TH, 1991 9TH, 1993 9TH, 1995 SILVER MEDAL(HIGHEST MEDAL EVER WON BY AN AMERICAN SHOT-PUTTER IN WORLD COMPETITION), 1997 6TH.
WORLD CUP: 1989 DISCUS 7TH, 1992 4TH SHOT- 7TH DISCUS.
WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES: 5TH DISCUS 1987-7TH SHOT
GOODWILL GAMES: 1990 7TH SHOT-8TH DISCUS, 1994 6TH SHOT-9TH DISCUS.
EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX FINALS: 1991 SHOT 8TH, 1992 DISCUS 8TH, 1993 SHOT 7TH, 1994 DISCUS 8TH, 1995 SHOT 6TH, (ONLY AMERICAN THROWER TO MAKE 5 GRAND PRIX FINALS)
WORLD RANKINGS: 1995 6TH SHOT,(FIRST TO BE RANKED SINCE 1960), 1996 5TH SHOT(ONE OF ONLY TWO WOMEN EVER TO BE RANKED TWICE IN THE SHOT)
OLYMPIC GAMES: 1988 DNQ SHOT/DISCUS, 1992 DNQ DISCUS, 1996 5TH SHOT PUT 63.0 3/4.(HIGHEST OLYMPIC FINISH SINCE 1960 AND LONGEST THROW EVER TAKEN IN OLYMPIC SHOT FINAL BY 3 FEET 2 1/2 INCHES.)
HAS MADE EVERY NATIONAL TEAM SINCE 1987
HAS MADE 38 THROWS OVER 19 METERS, AND TEN OVER 63 FEET.
HAS MADE 32 THROWS OVER 200 FEET, AND 10 OVER 206 FEET.
HAS LONGEST SHOT THROW MADE OUTSIDE USA 64.0 3/4 AND SECOND BEST DISCUS THROW 207.9 TO CAROL CADY'S 208.1
CURRENTLY HAS MORE NATIONAL TITLES IN THE THROWS THAN ANYONE IN US HISTORY
LONGEST DISCUS THROW: 1993 TAC CHAMPIONSHIPS EUGENE, CONNIE THREW 208.5 INTO A 10 MPH LEFTY'S WIND.( FIRST TIME IN US HISTORY THAT THE WOMEN'S DISCUS WAS WON FARTHER THAN THE MEN'S DISCUS.)
YEAR SHOT DISCUS 1979 39.8 ST.CHARLES HIGH. (MISSOURI) 1980 42.3 ST.CHARLES HIGH. (MISSOURI) 1980-1984 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS BASKETBALL 1985 49.111/2 165.2 SIU TRACK 1986 56.8 175.10 UCTC 1987 60. 1/2 212.8 PUMA 1988 62.10 1/2 205.2 AW 1989 60.10 1/2 206.3 AW 1990 62.1 193.7 NIKE NORTH 1991 63.5 1/2 194.4 NIKE NORTH 1992 62.6 1/2 210.0 NIKE NORTH 1993 63.2 208.5 NIKE COAST 1994 64.3 3/4 204.5 NIKE COAST 1995 64.3 192.8 REEBOK 1996 64.2 1/2 196.9 REEBOK
L&S: Can you give some vital stats on Connie, such as her height/weight, lift maxes, etc.?
JS: Height 6.3 Weight 208-218 LB. (212 is her competing weight), Born June 3, 1962 St. Charles Missouri.
Hang Clean: 286lbs, Hang Snatch 198lbs, Back Squat 475lbs, Half Back Squat (Inside Rack) 650lbs, 1/2 Dead Lift (Inside Rack at top of Kneecap level ) 650lbs, Hang Hi-Pulls(just below chest level) 330lbs. Ballistic Bench 335lbs, Strict bench 280lbs, One Leg Squat 245lbs x3
4.7 40 yard dash, 10.1 standing long jump, 29.8 standing triple, can dunk a women's basketball, throw a football over 50 yards, can do one legged jumps over 28-32 inch hurdles, High jump (straddle 5.11 in high school)
L&S: Connie is arguably the best shot-disc doubler of all time, male or female. Why is this so rare at the elite level and why has she managed to be successful?
JS: It is rare that a thrower has the physical and mental abilities to perform both at an elite level. I have always maintained that Connie has the personality of a shotputter stuck in a discus thrower's body. What I mean by that is, Connie has always felt more confident with the shot than the discus. At best, Connie has only been a part time discus thrower for two very overlooked reasons. When you live and train in Indiana, you usually don't get throwing outside until April and then the weather is still poor. It would usually take two months before Connie would even get into discus throwing shape which resulted in sub-par performances in April and May. If Connie could have thrown at Modesto, Jenner, etc. in July or August her throws would have looked much different. The Shot put was always trained much harder with many more throws because of the Midwest indoor season, which resulted over the years into making Connie a better shotputter. In essence Connie became a product of her throwing environment. If she had been born and raised in California I'm sure that she would be a better discus thrower than a shot putter. The Germans always trained in California during the winter, but Connie never had that same benefit in her own country.
L&S: What is Connie's single greatest attribute?
JS: This has to be two attributes instead of one, because one is useless without the other. Number one has to be Connie's great work ethic and number two has to be Connie's great natural athletic ability. I have seen Connie win National titles with a fractured kneecap, pulled hamstrings, a dislocated finger, an inflamed elbow etc. I have never seen anything that stopped her from training. Connie's athletic ability is something that doesn't come along very often. She learned to throw discus 64 meters with only two years work and the first time I got her to throw the 20lb weight, she one turned 68 feet with only 5 minutes of instruction. It will be many years before another Connie comes along, which always makes me wonder how good she could have been, if she had started throwing shot and discus full time, from and early age.
L&S: Please tell us what your weight training plan looks like in any given year.
JS: OCTOBER: this month is her rest period from the previous season. NOVEMBER: this month consists of lifting 4 days a week, 6-7 exercises per day for 10-15 reps for 3-5 sets.(conditioning work)
DECEMBER and JANUARY: this month we go to a three day in a row lifting routine that involves a clean/back day, squat/leg day, and a bench/upper body day. Each workout consists of 15-16 sets of work that lasts no more than 70 minutes. A specific sequence of reps and exercises are selected for each 3-4 week cycle.
FEBRUARY: In a World Indoor Championship Year like this year, 4 weeks out from Indoor Nationals we break down into a two day a week lifting routine. The heavy day usually Sunday or Monday Consists of 4-6 sets of pulls, 3 sets of aux. pulls, 4-5 sets of squats, 2-3 sets of partial squats, 4-6 sets of bench, and 3-4 sets of aux. upper body work. The workout usually takes two hours. The light day is usually Thursday or Friday and consists of 3-4 sets of snatch, 3-4 sets of quick 50-60% of max. squats, and 3-4 sets of quick close grip bench presses 50-60% of max. In World championship years we work through Indoor Nationals which has cost Connie indoor titles but have gained world medals.
MARCH, APRIL: after Indoor Worlds we go back to a three days in a row lifting routine. Usually reps between 5-7 for all major lifts.
MAY, JUNE: Lifting changes back to two day a week lifting, one day heavy, one day light, will continue this until outdoor nationals. Reps are between 3-5 per set and 20-25 sets of work are performed on heavy days.
JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER : This lifting is dictated by the European Grand Prix meets. I try to block Connie's competition schedule into 10-20 day blocks with 3-5 meets per block. This year her competition blocks are June 22nd-30th, July 14th-Aug 8th, Aug 22nd-Sept 14. The lifting is designed around the competition schedule with special importance given to the World Outdoor Championships AUG 5TH AND 7TH, and the Grand Prix Finals SEPT 13. Most of the heavy lifting is done at home because it is hard to find places to lift in Europe and even harder to find someone you can trust to spot you. Europe is a double-edged sword. If you do not compete there, you will not get ranked and make enough money to support yourself. But competing does and will take something out of your performance at the major meets. This is where experience on the circuit will come into play and will hurt a younger athlete almost every time. The only American meet that matters is Outdoor Nationals. Everything else that matters are Grand Prix meets and World Championships. Connie's American season is basically practice.
L&S: How about her throwing volume throughout the year?
JS: In most years Connie would take somewhere between 6000 to 7000 throws per year for the shot put and 3000 to 4000 throws a year for the discus. The off-season consists of more 10lb-8lb throwing and in-season more 4k-8lb throwing. Connie in the off-season would throw more 1.25 discus, bars, power balls etc., but in-season was mainly the normal 1k discus. Standing throw to full throw distances were recorded everyday along with all distances for all different weighted implements. I know there are many programs that emphasize less throwing today, but in my opinion this will hurt technique efficiently and specific strength. The Europeans throw much more than most Americans, because through the years their records have shown that throwing creates better throwing. Connie's throwing practice pb's are the following 10lb stand 52.1, 60.2 full, 4k stand 56.6 stand 65.2 full(before she fracture her kneecap in 1995), 8lb 60.1 stand 68.9 full, 7lb 63.4 stand 74.10 full, she has thrown a 12lb 54.7 but this alters technique to the slow side. Discus practice PR'S 1.25 discus 152.7 stand 192.4 full, 1k discus 178.9 stand 218 full throw.( no wind, just before 1993 TAC championships and shortly after Nationals she pulled her right hamstring.) At this time Connie was throwing 10-15 throws a practice between 64-66 meters with no wind. The hamstring injury hurt her throwing the rest of the year and still bothers her to this day. Now Connie is primary a shot putter, which puts alot less stress on her body. She is currently throwing 3 days a week which includes 4-6 stands with 10lb, 2-4 stands with 4k, 15-20 throws with 4k and 3-5 throws with an 8lb at the end of each practice.
L&S: What about other training during this period?
JS: From November to April Connie will do plyometrics once a week for 50-100 touches. She does some aerobic work during this time also. In the past 10 years I have seen to many young college throwing coaches train their throwers like decathletes. Our work breakdown looks like this, 50% of all time is devoted to throwing, 40% is devoted to lifting, and 10% is devoted to plyometrics and aerobic activities.
L&S: Tell us what the plan is day-by-day for the week preceding a big meet. For the benefit of our readers lets say that both events are on the same day.
DAY 7 SUNDAY: Heavy lifting day : Cleans or Snatch 3,3,3,2,1,1 go for personal best if possible, Squats 3,3,3,2,1,1,(top rep should not exceed 65% of max.) Bench 3,3,3,2,1,1, go for bench personal best if possible.(If your cleans and bench are near pr levels, then you know your body is in peaking shape.)
DAY 6 MONDAY: Throw for distance both events 20-30 throws, 7-10 throws with light shot, record top 5 throws for practice. (If your throwing looks good on this day you're on the right track.)
DAY 5 TUESDAY: Rest day (48 hours after lifting is always sub-par throwing day so just avoid it and rest.)
DAY 4 WEDNESDAY: Light lifting day: 80% of max. Snatches for 65% of max. cleans 3-4 sets of 3, 3 sets of 3 reps close grip bench 65% of max., 3 sets of 3 reps of 50% of max. squats. (All lifts are to be done as fast as possible.)
DAY 3 THURSDAY: Throw easy 10-12 throws each event, concentrating on the implement moving far but easy. (Its good to throw a light shot on this day.)
DAY 2 FRIDAY: rest day (This is usually a travel day also)
DAY 1 SATURDAY: BIG COMPETITION DAY, take 3-5 warm-up throws per event, and stop at the first good warm-up throw. I have seen to many throwers waste their best throws in warm-ups and this includes the top level. At the 1996 trials Connie took no warm-up throws outside the stadium while many throwers had practice in 105 degree heat. There were many long throws outside the stadium that never happened inside the stadium because the heat and duration of time took it's toll. In any practice a thrower only has 3-6 very high level throws. Every time you take one of these in warm-ups that is one less you will have for the competition.
L&S: Without divulging your personal finances, is Connie able to throw full-time? Can she make enough money in a year to live on?
JS: Connie has been able to throw full time since 1990. Between bonuses from shoe companies, USTAF money for winning nationals, Indiana sports foundation money, and the European Grad Prix winnings she can piece together a decent living. As long as Connie keeps winning things are good. The only stipend contract Connie ever received was with Athletics West in 1988, in which she received 500.00 a month stipend. Every thing else she has made, has come from performing well.
L&S: You mentioned that Connie is very popular in Europe. Why is this?
JS: The Europeans feel that Connie is a great representation of the women's shot and discus, and because of this Connie can get into any Grand Prix meet without any problems no matter how good or bad she is throwing at the time. Connie's favorite part of track is the Grand Prix Circuit because it's the only time she's treated like a World Class Athlete. During Connie's career she has been unfairly criticized for not throwing 70 and 240 in the shot and discus by many of our US coaches and fans. Connie made a choice to compete and stay clean which irritated many people in the sport. To this day Connie doesn't read Track and Field News or any other track publication. She rarely gives interviews and only helps other throwers on a one on one basis. Connie's greatest hope is that somehow people will look past the world records, and understand that she is one of the few clean world class throwers that exist today. Connie has never thrown in a fair international contest, and often wonders what it would be like to throw in one.
L&S: For how long does Connie see herself continuing to compete?
JS: I think Connie can compete at a world class until she's 40 years old, but this is totally up to her. She may take next year off and see if she misses track enough to come back in 1999, and 2000. Drug use is on the rise again and this may play a big role in her decision to continue. Growth Hormone and testosterone tests are just around the corner and this may play a role in her decision, along with the direction the sport will take under new leadership. All these things will be looked at, but the bottom line is that Connie has to have the inner desire to train hard everyday, to stay at an International level in the sport.
Thanks once again John! In our next interview, John will focus on the shotput.