The following is from the Aug. 12, 2008, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Dave Wollman, SMU's director of track and field and cross country, provided expertise for this story.

How to train like an Olympian

Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

The Olympics are in full swing, and, as you watch them from the sofa (with or without a bag of chips), you're probably having a cliché daydream: you, on the podium, gold medal around your neck, tears in your eyes, smiling with pride as the national anthem is played.

Dave Wollman

Since getting to that point takes a combination of natural ability, extraordinary discipline and years of practice, chances are slim that it's going to happen. Still, we wanted to know, "Can regular exercisers do even a smidgen of an Olympian's workout?" We talked with Olympic coaches to get training tips.

Dave Wollman, Southern Methodist University's director of track and field and cross country, has four athletes competing in Beijing. While Mr. Wollman is thrilled for his protégés (shot-putter Michelle Carter, hammer thrower Libor Charfreitag and discus throwers Aleksander Tammert and Michael Robertson), he's no stranger to the Olympics. He's been sending competitors to the Games since 1984.

His approach to training throwers, jumpers, runners and sprinters? Start simply. "You break each event down into a lot of different kinds of drills. The event may have four or five different movements in it that, if you take them apart, you can work each movement separately," Mr. Wollman says. It's all about developing a motor pattern, something your mind doesn't need to think about. "It just happens automatically because you've trained it. So that's a very, very important aspect of Olympic training – that everything they do is done out of muscle memory rather than thought pattern," he says.

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