Inside the head: Didier talks highs and lows of pole vaulting
April 15, 2011
“The Courier” recently spoke with senior pole vaulter, Whitney Didier to discuss how she got started pole vaulting and what she enjoys most about her sport.
Farraher: When/how did you start pole vaulting?
Didier: My sophomore year in high school I started vault half way through the season. They started teaching my friends how to vault and I thought it would be cool to try it too. My brother vaulted so I thought I’d try it even though I thought it was way too scary to actually do it.
Farraher: What is your favorite thing about vaulting?
Didier: I love the feeling of a good jump. I kinda get a feeling right when I start down the runway of if my jump is going to be a good one or not. Kind of shows that this sport is a very mental one. A bad thing about vault though is that the crossbar always wins. You always end on three misses. Very mind defeating. Maybe that’s why all pole vaulters are crazy.
Farraher: How/where do you keep practice in the off season?
Didier: Since I do cross country in the fall I didn’t really train a whole lot with vault in the off season. I started mileage and cross workouts in June and worked through cross season training for something completely different from the vault. Every once in a while if I had a good workout in cross season, coach would let me pull out my pole and I could do some wall plants or assisteds as a reward. I always got pretty excited about it.
Farraher: Do/did you play any other sports that helped you become a better vaulter?
Didier: I think that cross might have helped me a little bit. A lot of people would argue against that though because cross is the complete opposite. I would train my slow-twitch muscles when I should be training my fast-twitch muscles for vault, but I think getting into 5k-6k shape really helped me with my run and my endurance down the runway. I feel like I can take a lot more jumps down the runway because I’ll still run 2-3 miles before every meet. Any other jumper thinks that would trash their legs.
Farraher: How has vaulting helped you other than athletically?
Didier: I think that since vault is such a mental sport it has helped me a lot with mental toughness. There are a lot of obstacles that can get in your way that can really affect your performance, but you just have to deal with it because everyone has to deal with the same things like wind, rain, cold, bugs, etc.
Farraher: How do you prepare for a meet? What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have any superstitious routines?
Didier: I always run at least an 800 before I start warming up for the vault. Then I’ll get into my static stretching, dynamic stretching and then plyos. Once I get on the runway I do the exact same thing. For a warm up I take two triangle drill jumps, then one inverted jump. I always wear the same pants and t-shirt warming up. Since I started wearing a helmet I always have to have my hair braided.
BY ANDREW FARRAHER