Imagine When Ryan Crouser Gets Healthy

Despite an extended sequence of maladies, Ryan Crouser made his outdoor debut a massive one. (KEVIN MORRIS)

“I’M REALLY HAPPY with where I’m at because things have definitely not been ideal,” said Ryan Crouser after a weekend that saw him produce the two farthest puts of his life. The Rio gold medalist noted, “It’s still really early and to expect everything to be executing technically at a high intensity—you can’t have that this early. You hope for it, but it’s tough to do.”

So yes, he sees room for improvement. Especially after the last few months, where not much went according to plan. “It’s been kind of a rough transition from indoors,” he admitted. His first meet of the year was the Millrose Games, where he won with a big toss of 73-3¼ (22.33) over former world champion Joe Kovacs. “I was really happy with that and was just training pretty much through it. And then I got sick before USAs but was already committed to doing it. I went and threw 22.22 [72-10¾], which for me I was extremely happy with, being as I had a high fever and had lost a little bit of weight and was just feeling overall pretty, pretty terrible.” The travel and the competition, though, set back his recovery, he explained. “I kinda got sick again. It made it worse. And so I was out for 10 days after that.”

Wait—there’s more: “Coming back from that, I had a small pec tear on my throwing shoulder and had to take 3 weeks off throwing and essentially 4 weeks off in the weightroom of any pressings. So it was a really rough 6 weeks there. Just now was I able to come back to training pretty quickly, but it was all very, very light, very, very, easy. I did 3 weeks of putting a cone at 12m [c40ft] and just getting confidence in it again.”

It’s all coming around, he added. “The number of hard practices I’ve had hasn’t been a ton, but it’s been good. I’ve used it to be a little more rested. I know I have a tendency to push my limits and be closer to being overtrained than undertrained. A lot of athletes do that because you want to train to be the best and so you naturally think, ‘If I’m going to push it harder, I’m going to be better,’ which isn’t always the case. You still have to take the time to recover. So the injury and the sickness was good in the sense that it made me back off a little bit.”

Notably absent in Crouser’s demeanor is any sense of jubilant celebration over the best throws of his life. Perhaps because he’s confident there’s more coming, and this is just one stop along the way: “I am really happy with how this weekend went—mostly just walking away from a hard throwing session and being 100% healthy afterwards.” (continues)

He clarified that his training limitations in the past few months did not resemble any sort of training taper and would not lead to an early peak, saying, “I definitely was a bit more rested than I would plan to be for an opener, but I was still under a load and training heavily during the week. I wasn’t backed off so much the day of. Hopefully as I come to a peak, things will be rested but also sharper technically and I will be executing a little bit better, just by having more reps under my belt in terms of throwing at high intensities. This definitely showed the baseline power is there and the baseline strength is coming along.

“And then my biggest thing this year is just trying to stay healthy and hopefully upping my body weight a little bit. I’d like to gain 10 pounds [c4.5 kilos] between now and July.” Right now, the 26-year-old Oregon native, who stands 6-7 (2.01) is hitting about 313 [142kg] on the scales, which is where he was in ’17. But he said, “Body composition-wise, I’m in better shape than I was at the time. I want to gain weight, but I want to make sure that it’s the right kind of weight. You see a lot of really big shot putters. I’ve tried to be more of an athletic thrower. The extra weight doesn’t necessarily help me if it’s not at least some muscle when I’m gaining it.”

With Drake coming up—on the way to the Doha DL—the Texas alum is confident he is on track at this point in what will be a long season that ideally will loop him back to Qatar for the World Champs final on the evening of October 5. “This is ahead of where I thought I might be,” he said. “I’ve had some pretty good indicators in training, but I haven’t really ramped it up in terms of high-intensity throws.” He adds in a classic understatement: “I feel like I executed really well for a season opener.”