Featured Thrower - Kara Patterson
Kara set American record in javelin (66.67M) in winning her third USA Outdoor title
Won the Nike Prefontaine Classic and was the Diamond League runner-up
Kara Patterson brought American Javelin throwing back to the forefront and established her place on the world javelin stage.
Video USATF AR Series - 61.42M - 62.80M - 66.67M
Questions from fans:
Where and when did you first encounter the throws and what path led you to the javelin?
Freshman year at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington, my math teacher (Ron Heidenreich) was the head girls' Track and Field coach, and he talked me into trying the javelin in the spring! I tested out the sport in eighth grade and didn't find anything I loved (my events were discus, high jump, and long distance then), but this new event intrigued me. I wanted to try something just for fun, as I was pretty serious about my other sports (swimming and basketball). Turns out, I got pretty serious about javelin, too! I earned second place at the State Championships freshman year (2001) with a 15-foot PR, and won each year after that. By my senior year, it was clear that my chance at a collegiate athletic future (not to mention a great education) lay in Track and Field.
Who has helped or influenced you the most in your throwing career?
What benchmarks do you use "to know" you are ready to throw far?
Knowing I'm ready to throw far is still a concept that I'm getting used to! I had a blast this season, as I felt physically ready to succeed, and I finally had the mental capacity to enter competitions hungry for far throws. I don't need to throw far in practice to know that I can in a competition; I just need to have had solid technical practices. If I feel strong in my shoulders, core and legs, am very focused on a few important technical cues, and have a laid-back, positive attitude, I know big things can happen.
What parts of your training (improvements) enabled your breakthrough this year?
What is the key to throwing the javelin far? What are the most common mistakes you see?
The most common mistake I see is deceleration at the end of the approach. This causes many other mistakes, like dropping the throwing arm and causing the tip to go up, collapse of the upper body because it's no longer moving forward at the same rate it was, and releasing the javelin too far in front of the body because the thrower must force the throw. Not accelerating all the way through a throw might be caused by the thrower's timidity (it's scary to run that fast and then just stop!) or their right leg stopping their momentum instead of moving out of the way to let the left get down. My own personal keys to throwing the javelin far are the things that I focused on when I was having trouble during competitions this season. These were go-to cues that I knew would serve me well if I felt physically okay. 1) Keep my shoulders closed (perpendicular to the line at the front of the runway) until my left foot is down. 2) Don't even think about my right foot just before release. In fact, pretend I don't have a right foot; just drive my right knee straight down to the ground after my impulse in order to get the left down fast. 3) Leave my throwing arm back as far as physically possible while maintaining upper body posture. 4) Be aggressive and fearless!
beyond your AR?
Have you had major injuries? How does one stay as free as possible from injuries (advice)?
In March of 2007, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my 5th lumbar vertebra. I wore a Boston Overlap Brace (solid plastic circling your body from ribcage to hips) for 6 months, and I dealt with pain from it for the next two years, despite all the rehabilitation I very diligently did. That was the first major injury I had ever experienced besides breaking my throwing arm playing mud football freshman year at Purdue (oops!). This past February (2010), I sprained a facet, or spine joint, in the middle of my back doing over-head shotput throws at practice. I didn't throw for 6 or 7 weeks because I had basically no extension in my back, and I was very worried that my season was in jeopardy. The best advice I can give about injuries is that "pre-habilitation" is the best route! I do preventative core and shoulder exercises often, and if anything starts to hurt a little bit, I try to fend injuries off before they really become a problem. We also all know that injuries are unpredictable; you can't plan when you get hurt, and things seem to get inflamed at the worst times. When injuries do happen, stay calm and let your body heal itself, along with smart rehabilitation. Nothing good comes from forcing yourself through pain or pretending that you're 100% when you're really not. You can't lie to your body for very long before it shuts down altogether. Also, rest was the most neglected aspect of training for me before this past year; it's SO important to give your body a break sometimes.
Who forms your support system and how do they contribute?
My friends and family are amazing. I'm going to list some people who have been pivotal to my success so far, and I'm SO blessed that this list is long! Family: My parents, brother, grandparents, and Canadian family will always support me whether there's reason to or not! They fiercely encourage me always, and I'm extremely lucky to have come from such a loving situation. I also love that they keep me, me. Training partners in Chula Vista: Mike Hazle knows exactly what to say to me at practice to kick my motivation up even further and keep my mind on the next season! Britney Henry and Becky Breisch are always good for a frustrated (but hilarious) venting session or for loud encouragement during a lift or running workout. It's always fun to see my roommate, Becky Holliday, at practice, because she pays such attention to detail and has smart advice on everything. Tracy Lamb (the director of the training center) and his wife Alicia are amazing; they are extremely supportive of track and field, and we couldn't have better (or more fun) administration. Everyone at the training center has something different and awesome to offer. Coaches: Ty tells me exactly what he expects of me, but also trusts me to complete tasks on my own. I'm extremely motivated to live up to his expectations. He's very positive, but I really like that there are no excuses accepted for not accomplishing something when I have the capability to. I still talk to Coach Zuyderwyk periodically, and it's really fun to be able to share my new experiences with him and hear how his work is going with his new athletes! Vancouver, WA: Every time I visit my parents I meet someone new who is following my career, and it sometimes seems like my entire hometown is behind me! I have good friends from high school still; Erica, Jessie, Anna and Amy do an impressive job of watching me whenever possible, which I never would expect them to do, but means the world to me. Still being able to visit with some of my old coaches and teachers is so touching; they did so much for me growing up, and their support is so important. Purdue University: It's so fun to be able to go back to Indiana and see some of my old coaches and teammates, and to visit friends who have moved away. Emails from Boilermakers offering encouragement are treasures. My college teammates and roommates will always be so special to me because we grew so much together!
Russ Winger: We have dated for over three years now, and known and supported each other for a year before that. Russ watches my practices when he can, which makes it easy to talk to him about what I'm working on. We were able to spend a lot of time together in Europe this season, and I got to travel with him to watch a few of his meets! I love that we do so much outside of track and field also; during the year, we're at SeaWorld, the tide pools in LaJolla, the San Diego Zoo, out eating seafood, or swimming around in the waves whenever we have opportunities. He really helps me expand my horizons and relax about javelin. The javelin community: It has been incredible to hear from younger javelin throwers, retired javelin throwers, and javelin enthusiasts that offer encouragement, advice or ask questions about throwing. I talk to Jeff Gorski quite a bit. Andreas Thorkildsen trained in Chula Vista this spring, and was really helpful and encouraging throughout the summer! Meeting more of my international competitors this season was awesome, because most everyone is gracious and fun to eat meals with at meets! I know that I'm forgetting someone! You can definitely learn something from everyone you meet.
What short term goals have you established?