Dominique Arnold training article

Monday, Oct. 01, 2007
Guy Cipriano Track & Field
Olympic hopeful comes back to State College for training advice
This has the makings of a compelling television feature during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The athlete is outgoing. Plus, he competes in the 110 -meter high hurdles, a marquee event which includes Chinese star Liu Xiang, one of the most popular athletes from the host country.

So what does this have to do with State College?

This is where it gets interesting. Dominique Arnold, the American record holder in the 110 hurdles, left State College on Sunday after spending 10 days training with Kym Burke, a co-owner of One on One Fitness Consultants on Aaron Drive.

Arnold’s ex-wife introduced him to Kym three years ago. Arnold, a former Penn State assistant track and field coach, was experiencing back troubles when he met Burke and he figured the former gymnast could enhance his training.

“I wanted some gymnast strength,” Arnold said. “It was the best thing I could do at the time because my back issues were gone.”

[b]Burke’s workouts were different than anything Arnold had encountered. He spent more time on foam rollers and balance balls than benches, and Arnold discovered training doesn’t always involve macho pursuits.

“I will never forget the look on his face when I tried to get him to do a single-leg balance,” Burke said. “Here’s this world class athlete who is excellent in everything and the little lady at the fitness center was knocking him on his butt.” [/b]

Arnold, a 1996 NCAA champion at Washington State, repeated the words slowly.

“On,” he paused. “My,” he paused again. “Butt,” he said, accentuating the rigors of his initial workouts with Burke.

Burke calls it athletic readiness training. Her methods prepared Arnold for some breakthrough moments.

His 2005 included a personal-record 13.01 seconds and a second-place finish at the United States Outdoor Championships. The following year, he ran an American-record 12.90 during a meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He started this season with solid performances in Paris, Athens, Lausanne and Eugene, Ore., before finishing second at the national championships to earn a spot in the world meet. But Arnold’s body didn’t feel right, so he bypassed the world championships in Osaka, Japan.

He was diagnosed with an inflamed Achilles, another injury in a career filled with physical setbacks. With the Olympic Trials looming next year, Arnold, 33, didn’t want to risk further injury.

“I felt things breaking down last year,” Arnold said, “and that’s when I knew I needed to do something.

So Arnold called his friend in State College.

He arrived here on a Thursday. By Friday, he was undergoing fitness assessment tests. By Saturday, he was ON-HIS-BUTT.

“It’s getting the job done,” Arnold said.

Arnold and Burke spent more than a week crafting a training plan. They designed the plan to ensure Arnold peaks during next year’s Olympic Trials at Eugene’s storied Hayward Field. Burke filmed Arnold’s movements, and Arnold returned to his California home with workout DVDs.

[b]Some of Arnold’s exercises use weights. Others involve foam rollers, balance balls and bungee cords.

“Why does an athlete like Dominique need to be laying on his back putting a bunch of weight over his chest?” Burke said. “He doesn’t bench press when he goes over those hurdles. He doesn’t want to have a lot of mass to carry on down that stretch.” [/b]

Arnold doesn’t begin his outdoor preparations for the trials until November, when he runs Pasadena’s grassy hills.

He starts training on a track with coach Larry Wade in December.

The trials start next June 27, giving Arnold and Burke eight months to tweak their plan.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we are doing things that other people aren’t doing,” said Burke, whose own Olympic gymnastic aspirations were eliminated because of the 1980 boycott. “This is really athletic readiness training. It’s preparing the athlete to be ready to do the training their coach is going to ask of them.

“I don’t know anything about running the hurdles. But I have an idea about body position and specific strengths and where that explosiveness needs to come from.”

Arnold said most of his competitors are implementing conventional training plans for the Olympics.

“They run a lot,” he said. “Some might do some bungee work, but that’s it. We work from the top of the head to the soles of the feet. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is a full program.

“It’s not lifting, then some ball work and bungee work, and then balancing on one foot and calling it a day. That’s not how it works. If that works for you, then fine, but I know something else that works for me. I don’t want to give them any secrets.”

Don’t worry Dominique, your secrets are safe in State College.

Guy Cipriano is a sports writer for the Centre Daily Times. He can be reached at 231-4643 and