The Lake Placid Ironman is closing in on us, Sunday actually; I started to think about something I am privy to see that many other people are not, unadulterated unwavering confidence. (As a personal note: I interestingly enough do not have this trait.)
As a coach I see a lot, but what I learn most comes from my youth athletes. It reminds me so much of something that I think we forget, or lose track of, or it is drilled/beaten out of us. It’s not always about what you know, or what your level of ability is, or resume, or CV. That sometimes, many times actually it’s strictly about self-confidence, and within that. Many times you just gotta “fake it, to make it”.
Kids are just as scared as the rest of us, but interestingly enough they are masters of self-talk. The thing that allows them to pick up weights way heavier, or run further, or swim harder, or sit in guard on the verge of sleepy time longer than anybody thought, is that they self-coach, they are their best cheerleaders, and they can teach us to engage what I like to call the “Megalodon Affect”
C. megalodon is regarded as one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history, and likely had a profound impact on the structure of marine communities. Fossil remains suggest that this giant shark reached a maximum length of 14–18 metres (46–59 ft), and also affirm that it had a cosmopolitan distribution. Scientists suggest that C. megalodon looked like a stockier version of the great white shark.Carcharodon carcharias.- (Wikipedia)
Athletes are competitive by nature, right? No, they learn it along the way. They learn push their limits, trust others, self-coach and self talk. The hype-up is so important. The Megalodon Affect is all about that. To be a shark, you need to act it, to not be afraid of those swimming in the ocean around them, and to know you can stand with them no matter what. The ability to talk yourself out of your limits, because honestly all those limits are, is fear.
So find that moment, that time when you pushed past your fear, and channel it, talk yourself back onto the cliff, and then run and jump into the abyss knowing that you will land, that there is nothing to fear, and that in order to survive amongst sharks all you need to do is not back down, and to just keep swimming, wide eyed and on the hunt.
If all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.
What are you trying to get from a training session? What is the appropriate tool for the job? I frequently find that the barbell is the go to tool for most people. Weightlifting here in America has found itself in resurgence thanks to Cross-fit really putting it in the spotlight with their WODs and Games. I honestly think this is an amazingly exciting thing.
I even think the barbell is an all-encompassing tool for achieving appropriate resistance. That being said is it the right tool? 9 times out of 10. No. No it is not. I love to lift heavy stuff. When I think about the anatomy of a training session what is my ultimate goal for client(s) and for myself.
You would be dead wrong.
MOBILITY is the correct answer.
1.) The ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
(minimum squat to 90 degrees)
Without mobility, you cannot truly develop great strength. If you can’t bend, move, accelerate and decelerate through a full range of motion then there is no reason to attach yourself to an object that:
1.) Limits range of motion. 2.) Requires great range of motion to be effective.
The barbell is your graduate degree. It comes from moving you, your own personal physique effiencently. In multi dimensional planes, under control, then and only then can you really consider yourself capable to move on to adding resistance, this is especially the case in a bilateral activity such as barbell training. So before you decide to go and grab a bar, load it up and then move poorly. Ask yourself. How are my push-ups? How are my pull-ups? How are my mountain climbers? How are my bodyweight squats? Is my full range of motion getting better? Am I capable of doing good squats to 90 degrees without pain, discomfort, or valgus collapse? If the answer is No, then choose what will make you better.
Be excellent at the simple things and everything else will fall into place.
(It’s a goal not a standard, always remember that)
When I opened Contemporary Athlete I had grand dreams (don’t worry, I still do!) of rows of amazing athletes of all ages doing agility drills, with fast moving feet; much like the fingers of a highly efficient stenographer banging away systematically. The uniform whirr of the wheels of ergometers churning away splits in a harmonious cacophony of acceleration and anguish. The cyclists, and tri-athletes; riding their trainers. The graceful yet mind tricking movement of men and women fluidly powerlifting impressive weights from the floor to overhead positions. This is the CA, this is the dream, and all dreams start on the foundation of a big multi-dimensional base…
(it all starts somewhere)
With that in mind, we live in a fast passed world. Our culture has a desire for instant gratification; and results, yesterday, not tomorrow, with little investment. Social media, fast food, email, smart phones, 5 – minute abs, 3 – minute glutes, perfect push-ups, and no minute guts.
Thursday night I started to teach the Snatch, to a group of 3. For the very first time since I opened almost 2 years ago. The snatch is one of the readily agreed upon 7 fundamental barbell movements for building speed and strength. Now this isn’t the first time I have taught this kind of movement by any means, but what it is, is the first time I have taught it to absolute novice athletes. Normally the situation is one of fixing or forwarding the effectiveness of the athlete. In this case, it is. “This is a barbell, now I am going to help you learn how to use it effectively.”
All we did was move the bar. In systematic and excruciatingly boring ways. Yes, they were sweaty, and probably tired, and likely sore and a bunch of other things you can call exercise. They weren’t hurt, confused, or operating in dangerous patterns all in the good old name of “getting your sweat on”.
(resistance is individual)
Which during my drive home last night I pondered on all of the stupid s*** I hear said and read constantly on memes when it comes to training and exercise. In the case of memes it’s usually emblazoned over a hard bodied, abs ripping, sweaty individual or an ass that potentially was carved by Michelangelo himself.
“Go hard, or go home”
“Engage your beast mode”
“Tears will get you sympathy, sweat will get you results”
“Train like a beast. Look like a beauty”
“When I’m dripping with sweat, I feel bad ass”
“The alternative to boredom is exercise, not food.”
“Keep squatting till your legs fall off”
“Sore Muscles, Happy Pain”
“Sore? Tired? Out of breath? Sweaty? Good. It’s Working.”
“Gonna run till I don’t Jiggle.”
This list goes on, but this should give you enough to start the ball rolling. The idea though, is to do a little more, a little better every consecutive time you train. As an athlete, sometimes in the search of “better” or “best” you might cross your threshold and end up with your head in a trash bin. This is NEVER the goal or idea. It’s a byproduct of testing your limits and if it happens 1:1000 times than your ratio is pretty good. For 95% (<- not a real statistic) of people this should NEVER ever happen though. ELITE is called that for a reason. It’s not EVERYBODY, that’s the point.
So while the new power-lifters work on their range of motion with PVC pipes and the Barbell. Looking for the perfect set up, and motion at a weight/limit that is appropriate for the journey toward excellence. They will get more flexible, and strong, and lean but it all boils down to training smart and efficiently. Which means don’t be a fool and buy into a phrase I recently heard and wish I could coin.
My coffee addiction has a work problem. Or some variable of that statement is appropriate for this post. I recently found myself sitting at the office (Starbucks) for the better part of 6 hours the other day working incessantly on a very exciting but major overhaul of the Contemporary Athlete website. As this community grows and changes I find myself taking occasional observatory steps back so as to see if this crazy awesome ship is traveling in the direction I would like it to; and if not how do I correct that.
(Just a side note: If you haven’t notice lifting is back as the proverbial meat and potatoes of what we do. I got a little lost with all my certification studying and deviated from what I know works. This came from way to much reading of functional fitness, resistance band training, TRX, sand-bells, slosh-pipes, BOSU, and yadda, yadda, yadda…
Then I remembered the last time I went to use the loo and realized I didn’t do a destabilized isometric squat to get to the seat. So yeah, my toilet reminded me what should go in it and that back/front squats are functional.)
Soooooooo a short story long, coffee, I love it. It is good for you. (So is a glass of red wine but that is for another post) I drink my coffee generally as a dark roast, black, in a 12 oz. cup. All in all, boring, uncomplicated and I am pretty sure makes the staff at the ‘bucks I go to bored, annoyed, or most likely just makes me “that guy”. Either way coffee is good for you, or so I read. (I read a lot)
Quick disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist, dietitian, or anything of the like (yet) so this is strictly my OPINION, based on my personal food intake and a ridiculous amount of reading, books, journals, and educational material.
So here are couple quick things:
Potential for Genius! (Ok not quite) but an earth shattering effect, coffee is a stimulant. It has caffeine in it. Which blocks a neurotransmitter inhibitor called Adenosine. By stopping this inhibitor it increases neuronal firing and releases dopamine and norepinephrine. Also it is proven through controlled experimentation that caffeine improves mood, reaction time, memory, and general cognitive function.
Superhero strength and skinny! (<- A freaking gold plated unicorn says what?) It raises your metabolism and the oxidation of fatty acids. This is due to it being a stimulant and the effect it has on the central nervous system. It has been proven through different meta-analyses that it increases exercise performance by an average of 11-12% this is due to it’s affects on several biological mechanisms, one of them being the mobilization of fatty acids from fat tissue.
Type II Diabetes can suck a doughnut! (But, but, can I still have a doughnut? NO, no you cannot) in observational studies, coffee is frequently associated with a lower risk of diabetes. The range of this is anywhere from 25% to as high as 65%. A recent review article I read with close to half a million participants showed that with every extra cup of coffee people had, it lowered their risk by 7%.
If Mayan gods are doing it… (The Mayan people originally made Coffee as a soup, or porridge. They also ate people’s hearts [<- I think, granted that could be a lie though.]) Many of the nutrients in coffee beans make it into the drink when brewed though.
11% of the RDA for Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
6% of RDA for Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5).
2% of the RDA for Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Thiamine (B1).
3% of the RDA for Potassium and Manganese.
Coffee is the largest source of antioxidants in the western diet; this outranks both fruits and veggies.
Last thing I have to say though. These are great facts but… once you start filling it with 37 sugars, or artificial sweeteners, a half a gallon of milk or creamer, you have then eradicated all that awesomeness with a whole bunch of not goodness. Much like taking a shower in the morning your coffee should be as stripped down as possible. ideally naked.
I love a project and fortunately athletes love to bring me slightly unreal timelines for their impending greatness. Let me start by saying I too suck at time management. It is generally because I think I can do way more than I physically or mentally can do in a reasonable amount of time. Training goals can also operate like this. When emily came to me with her Tough Mudder goals, and timeline, I knew the happy go lucky conversation was going to shift drastically to something that sounds a bit like this.
“Well, I think what you have are great goals. Here is what it is going to take to get there and just so you know I am more than commited to helping you; but this is going to suck. A lot. I mean a whole lot. I want you to go home and really think about this because the next conversation we have might be a bit overwhelming.”
With that being said Emily came back a week later and we went to work. Sometimes we all just need to let it settle in that there is no quick fix, and that getting from point A to point B is gonna take serious mental fortitude (In Mudder language, that’s called Grit) – Bender
Mudd? No Big Deal. Electrocution… uh, can I skip that part?
Monday morning. Do I want to get out of bed? No. Do I want to get out of bed and go work out? Definitely not. Do I suck it up and realize that champions are not made by sleeping in? yes!
Over the course of 5 months I’ve become what some might call a “gym rat” I love the gym and if I’m not there I legitimately miss it. My teammates became my family. My trainer became my friend. My favorite place is Contemporary Athlete. But lets be clear, sometimes you just don’t want to get out of bed…let me rewind for a moment.
My name is Emily, and I’m a Ninja. I started coming to Contemporary Athlete because I was sick of hiding my bad decisions in layers of sweatshirts. I wanted more. I wanted to have muscle definition without flexing. I wanted to eliminate the muffin top, but seriously who am I kidding – I was smuggling more than adorable muffins. From bad break ups to a serious car accident, I had stopped any physical activity and began to wallow in self pity and depression. Eating tasted good and its not like I was ever going to be skinny, it just wasn’t my “body type”. So when my friends decided that running a Tough Mudder race was a good idea, I surely didn’t want to be left out. It can’t be THAT hard, and there’s no time limit. I could do that. And then it hit me. “I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded” “I can’t lift more than 10 lbs” and “was college the last time I worked out?”
The competitor in me flared up and I started talking to Dave Bender about a SERIOUS plan to get in shape. I had barely 5 months to go from eating a box of doughnuts on the couch to running an 11 mile course full of obstacles and not die.
(Scale is the same but the body is not…)
The first few weeks were brutal. I am not kidding. There was swearing. There was crying. There was whining and there were incredulous looks shot at Dave regarding what he thought I could accomplish. Initially I lost weight. 11 lbs by week 3 and 18 pounds by week 6. No one was really noticing, but I found I didn’t need them too. My pants would not stay up. My endurance slowly but surely improved and my favorite part was that I was getting stronger. Things I thought I could never do were starting to happen but OH MY GOD was it slow. My patience is heinous and I’ll be the first to admit I’m quick to quit if I don’t get immediate satisfaction. I began to do 2-a-days training, starting at 7am and then coming back at 5:30pm. People called me crazy. I loved it. I felt good. I felt like I could do anything. I would push through the exhaustion and I found this beautiful potential to go further than where I previously felt like I had to end. My mind had flipped from doing the least amount possible into how much can I do? The possibilities seemed endless.
Then the weights got heavier. the workouts got harder and there were days when I would get so frustrated not understanding how I could still be so out of shape when it had been 3 months of training. I wasn’t losing weight and that felt like such a failure. Those days Dave was able to quietly remind me of where I had started. I got lost in the desire for what I thought perfection was, and how far from an airbrushed model I was, it would pile up and it all started to get me down. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I would try to articulate my poorly thought out and for all the wrong reasons desires to be skinny. I’m a firm believer that no matter how great the plan, you will always have bad days. I had plenty of them and I still do, but I get through them with the help that Contemporary Athlete provides. What I found to be the most important factor in my training was that I was never alone. Dave is the best trainer I’ve ever worked with and while he instructs and inspires, there is something more magical happening at Contemporary Athlete. Something I had never experienced before.
(Sometimes outside the box, sometimes on it, but always improving)
Everyone and I mean EVERYONE is pulling for you. There has never been a group of more supportive, sincerely caring, and downright helpful people ever. Every single one of us had to start somewhere. Some have been athletes since pee wee soccer, and others might have stumbled into an athletic hobby, but I kid you not we were all beginners. I know, I know, you watch Jim do pull ups, and Ryan do push ups, and Lindsey do planks, and Leigh Ann do suicide drills and its easy to think Ok they are freakishly good at those things, but the way they got there is by doing them, over and over and over again. Next time you end up whimpering next to one of them, ask them how they do it. I did. I was floored at the fact that they HELPED. They shared tips and tricks to make the most effective work possible and what not to do to avoid injury. These people are NICE. The bonds get stronger, and the knowing laughs during things like turkish get ups, are what will keep you going. It’s what got me through 5 solid months of training. Team CA runs deep.
(sometimes you just have to start somewhere)
This is not by any stretch of the term “easy”. But it was easy for me to understand that if I didn’t change anything about the way I was living, my life would not change. Food is no longer comfort. Food is fuel which your body needs to go beast mode the next day. I found that no matter how much I trained, if my eating reflected a scene from Animal House….my progress suffered. That being said, I quickly realized how awful I felt if I ate anything close to junk food and not because of disappointment in falling off my path, but because junk is junk. If I ate garbage I felt like garbage and it made training SO much harder when I didn’t have the proper fuel.
(6 months of work, but these pull-ups happened)
There is a champion inside each of us ready to emerge victorious over a slothy lifestyle. So when I started, did I want to get out of bed and jump on the ski erg? no. no I did not. But I did it and you can too! I finished the Tough Mudder in the Poconos, got through every obstacle, and not only did I not die, I was back at CA training in less than 48 hours. Day by day its one more workout down, one more goal accomplished and its beyond amazing to look back on the progress you can make. The only thing standing between you and your health is your mind. So start now. Make the decision to be better, run faster, jump higher, and tackle life with the remarkable ability to keep going. It just comes down to that very first step. At Contemporary Athlete, we take that step together, and we go a lot further.
Just a brief word, I asked Haley Sive, who does an amazing job with the website why she trained at the CA one day not to long ago. The more that she spoke the more I thought it would be great to have some words printed about the otherside of the coin for once. She wrote this for the site and I only edited a few gramatical things (yep, I edited stuff for once). -Bender
He sat there in the amber light of Starbucks, cradling his black coffee and patiently nodding, as I told him the story. The story of my broken heart. The best part was that I didn’t have to explain it to him. From the very beginning, he understood. And he is a patient listener, calm and open, so he didn’t rush me to an end or dismiss me.
The truth? It wasn’t a lost lover. Or a family member. Or even a place left behind. Just my team. I was just upset about not being on a team. DIII NCAA Championships… Graduation… Summer fun… And then in the first fall not at school, it hit me: I was all on my own now.
It really was just a team – just people to train with. I had no right to be so upset. However, it felt like a whole lot more. Losing my team felt like losing my sport or losing a part of myself. Ten years is a long time when you are 22. I had been rowing with a team for almost half my lifetime.
Now, I was a lone girl, treading water in the great sea of exercise and fitness. Treadmills, ellipticals, bozu balls, 12 lb dumbbells, and yoga mats floated around me. Skinny women wearing expensive yoga tops wiped their brow with crisp, clean white towels. Men in muscle shirts jocundly pounded each other on the arm. Televisions strewn about the gym advertised the body that I should be training for. It all seemed oppressively self-oriented. I couldn’t navigate these foreign waters.
Dave had been listening to my lament for about fifteen minutes. When I finally stopped long enough to take a breath, he took a small sip of coffee, and offered a few words.
He doesn’t speak in long sentences, though I do my very best to draw them out.
“Yep. That’s a team,” he said.
His brevity drove me nuts. I groaned inwardly and went on, “Yes, but what do I do without my team? What is the point if they aren’t there? Seriously. I did it all for them. And now they are gone. I can’t do this alone.”
“Do you like rowing?”
Hesitantly, “Yeah… I love rowing.”
“Then that’s what you should do.”
I stared at him dumbly. What do I even say to that? How can I possibly row? Just row? It took all my inner strength to not throw my hot tea at him. That was far too simple an answer. I felt my quarter hour soliloquy deserved a full on lecture with spreadsheets and flow charts explaining my feelings and how they might be analyzed and how I could carefully go about solving my team-deprivation problem.
He said, “Row.”
— — — — — — — — — — — —
The truth is, for Dave, it is that simple. We – we, humans, that is – are worthy of devoting time to the things we love. The things that make us happy. That give us joy.
And there is a deep satisfaction and reward for devoting time to training. Not the easy fitness thing. Not the I-just-want-to-look-good thing. The real thing. The tough thing.
The just desserts of training hard are the same as those of studying hard or working hard on being a better person. The greatest fruit grows after the season of the most storms and most oppressive heat.
Why bother working hard, if not for some end greater than my own looks or my own ego? Rowing for myself doesn’t mean I am pouring time into a selfish endeavor. It means I am pouring out myself to grow stronger so I can strengthen the other people around me. Not that they are dependent upon my health, nor do they even care. But it makes me happy and strong, so I can be strong and happy for others.
It still surprises me how gently I realized these truths while training at Contemporary Athlete. It didn’t happen suddenly. There were no flow charts. No spreadsheets. No dissertations. No journal articles. No formulas. No lectures.
It happened with a simple word. A patient suggestion. A broad smile and laughing eyes when I looked like a fool trying hang cleans. A forgiving spirit when I wanted to storm out of the room. An unassuming posture. A quick demonstration. A dismissive glare when I broke into self-deprecation and self-doubt. A gentle encouragement. A sincere suggestion.
Dave doesn’t think that his person shapes this place, and indeed, he would tell you he doesn’t want it to be about him. What Dave doesn’t know is that what makes the box one worth standing in is that he is there.
He is here telling us that we are worth it.
Most places only tell you that you are worth it if you look beautiful, if you are skinnier than the next person in line, if you have bigger muscles, if you log more hours.
The truth is all you have to do is want to be a little better than the last time you walked in the door.
the big muscles,
the trimmer waistline
they are just the result of a more sincere desire,
one that is knit together with
being worth it in and of yourself – you and you alone,
and wanting to give it away to a team.
In the last 72 hours a lot has been going on in both my personal life and business life. What has been interesting is the thread of connection back to a place some 1,800 miles away and 10 years ago, I called home. I have been privileged enough to be part of a successful program and what I learned during it and my time at SMU has given me an edge on life, and business. In this I have been taking solace/escape in the trials and tribulations of my alma maters basketball team during their March madness run.
(surprising nobody has yelled at us yet for not warming up)
I wear a lot of college gear, (thanks to all of my collegiate athletes hooking me up with hoodies that I wear proudly). If you didn’t know though I am a proud pony. What that means is a bit different than most though. I am part of the Mustang Nation not just as an alumnus, but also as a letterman. I was fortunate enough to be part of a highly successful program, one that continues that success everyday. Being part of four championship teams I got to ride high. So watching your fellow athletes, train, study, train, eat, study, train, get hurt, get healthy, compete, and not be able to see them succeed is hard.
Rough days of training. Endless trampoline/dry board work, weight training when my body was already wrecked, the Nat, Eddie’s always good natured temperament, Jim’s constant push, dragging my a** to evening classes barely able to stand, studying with one eye open knowing I needed a nap but my course load didn’t care. Long trips across Texas in vans, competing on the road and knowing you have to go back to a mountain of work when it was all over, good or bad. These are the things fans don’t quite get. While I was there the “big” sports struggled while the rest of the teams were producing conference champions and championships, All-Americans, world-university games competitors, national team members, national champions, and Olympians.
(This was my world for a long time)
Yet some of the hardest days were standing in the student sections with all the other athletes from the other teams, and the rest of the school body watching yet another blowout on the gridiron or the court. Those were the hardest days as an athlete. Not the close loss but the ruthless beating. It wasn’t the coaches, athletes, facilities, it was just something that was off and it seemed nobody could figure it out.
With the NCAA non – decision for the tournament, you can say a lot of things. One way or another they didn’t make the field of 64. So be it. To the NIT they go, and watching them struggle and rally has been something all athletes no matter their colors understand. For me getting text messages from friends, teammates, family, with score updates while at work reminded me of so many great things but biggest of all some key lessons.
(Lets be clear, this sucks)
Being an athlete teaches you how to get knocked down and how to get up again. Learn from it, and to perform no matter what. How to manage your time, stay cool under pressure, multi-task, depend on others to do the same, risk big, fail often, and understand that all you can expect on any given day is to be average. You just have to make sure your average is better than everybody else.
So as schools both public and private, universities and grade/high schools look at their budgets and slash and burn sports (and the arts but thats for a different post). You forget that those things are what teach character, and at the end of the day, it’s the athlete that is going to stand naked in the thunderstorm with a metal rod in hand because if that’s what they have to do to get ahead then they are going to do it. They just want it more, and they might just do it to beat you.
The 22 point run SMU went on Tuesday night against Clemson in the second half to win and head to the final is a true testament to their character. It comes from years of being kicked when you’re down. To great teachers like Coach Brown, a supportive community, and the best thing that could have happened, was for them to not make the tournament, now they have something to prove, and that makes them dangerous.
(nothing like getting snowed in on the road)
On Thursday night in a packed Madison Square Garden in their final game of the season against Minnesota this show down will be epic. No matter how it unfolds every athlete that will be watching that game will feel both the pain of defeat and the joy of success; because at the root of it all, we just want to be there all over again.
Personally I’ll be in the second row, behind the goal with the rest of the Red and Blue.
Once upon a time on a beautiful spring night after getting out of work, a young, optimistic athlete’s world changed drastically.
A half-mile from his home, a driver who was trying to make a changing traffic light struck that persons vehicle doing about 50 mph.
The vehicle spun around a number of times and ended up facing in the direction of on-coming traffic. Fortunately the victim was wearing his seatbelt and in was in peak performance shape so he thought he might walk away from the accident unscathed.
Six weeks later after a number of medical visits, it was discovered the victim had broken three vertebrae in his spine and was lucky to be walking. The outcome was grim; sports were out of the question and lifting heavy was not to be done.
This devastating news sent the victim reeling out of control. Without sports, this athlete had lost his identity, was depressed, and was slowly drinking and eating himself to death. At the lowest point, he had packed on an extra 1/3 of bodyweight and was barely recognizable.
Does this sound like every world-class athletes comeback story?
Well it kind of is. It’s my story, and it’s the antithesis for
12-12 Reboot, Reform, Reclaim
Ten years ago, I was that person in the car accident and it closed a door to part of my life only to open a much greater one. At one point of time the scale read 225#, which doesn’t seem too bad until you realize my healthy weight range is between 160-170.
As I struggled to get back to the old version of myself, I learned some hard lessons. What it feels like to train as a severely de-conditioned athlete, how to eat smart, hydrate, and ultimately how to push yourself through those bad sessions/days/months. I came out of it a year later stronger, faster, and tougher than ever before.
I was able to “reboot” my own life and reclaim my health, so why couldn’t that same formula apply to others? We’re not talking about a quick fix, Band-Aid, infomercial BS sales pitch but an actual fix.
I started going through old notebooks full of training plans, and food journals, and diaries. The reboot program was born, and it is all about finding that person (possibly again), with a great support system, some solid guidance, and a realistic timeline.
I invite you to consider this journey to make a lasting and permanent change to your health and wellness.
(I wrote and posted this without Haley, Lauren, or any number of people who love to correct my grammar proofing it. So if you want to know what goes through my brain here ya go.) – Also sad fact Haley’s head might explode because of it… 😉
Hi there ninjas!!! So the word on the street is that today is my birthday (31). Which made me think about writing this entry. I hear a lot of people complain about their birthday, getting older, more health issues, yadda, yadda, yadda. I generally turn a furrowed brow.
Your birthday is this great opportunity. It’s when you came into this world, via any number of possible reasons or means. I personally like to think that it was snowing, thundering, and lightning all at the same time on my epic entrance but according to my parents that wasn’t the case. (I’m going with it though.)
So you can cry about being older and blah, blah, blah. Or you can train in any number of ways to make it the entrance into a better year of “racing”. So a few years ago I started the birthday challenge series, for myself. I train for it. I train hard, as it generally is something daunting, mildly stupid, and makes my parents generally laugh at me and ask if I need medication when I tell them what it is for that year. So I thought it would be a great time to do a little reflecting and throw out the birthday challenge for this year. Last year it was all based around entering my 30’s, by doing a lot of awesome stuff including ripping a 600 lbs. (DL) off the ground. I’ll tell you more about that though shortly.
Like my programs: part 1.
So what I have learned: 31 things
Or as I like to say “Smarter…?” (These are in no particular order)
1. Surround yourself with people way more awesome than you. (If you’re lucky, and damned lucky, you can hang onto their coat tails for a long time.)
2. Be a great friend (I struggle with this one. The CA consumes me.)
3. Smile! (It’s not hard and it will make you and anybody around you happy.)
4. Eat more cookies. (Seriously, as long as it’s not a whole sleeve of Oreos your good.)
5. Be a good son. (My parents are generally right, just don’t tell them I said that.)
6. Set crazy awesome goals, for yourself, and for others. (If they seem doable, you are being a wussy.)
7. Ask for help. You can’t do everything alone, and people make the journey better.
8. Be confident, even when your not. (If your not using it, you’re losing it.)
9. Listen, don’t talk, just LISTEN.
10. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable, that is how growth works.
11. Lift heavy sh*t. (Do it often, make it hard, and don’t worry what you look like in the mirror. If the bar is bending everybody is watching whether or not you want them to or not.)
12. Read, voraciously (<- that’s and SAT word, I learned it in a book 😉
13. Give, give until it hurts a little. It will come back to you, and it will make you happy.
14. Cry, it’s ok, really. (Just make sure you are muttering some words that make no sense. Then you can pass it off to yourself as being a moment of temporary insanity.)
15. If you use an elliptical. Stop they are stupid. Go run outside. There is sun, wind, rain, trees, real air, and occasionally pretty girls will pass you, make sure you smile! (Those things will make you happy)
16. Dark Beer, and IPA’s. (If I need to explain this your not of age yet.)
17. Cook and eat real food. (Stop running around like a crazy person and enjoy something simple like making something for yourself and others that keeps you alive.)
18. Dance. (I generally do it naked after I shower. If your going to make an a** out of yourself you might as well do it naked, it’s more fun that way.)
19. Buy the person next to you a coffee. Just because. (Thanks Heather)
20. Ask good questions. (Think before you speak)
21. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (Thanks Coach!)
22. Own less stuff, things don’t make you happy, awesome people do.
23. Own less clothing and only that which fits. (I know I’m a little special but 100 articles.)
24. Wear a helmet. Yeah I said it. It protects your skull.
25. Plan one crazy trip, expensive or not; and then figure out how to make it happen.
26. Race. Why? Because it’s fun.
27. Figure out who your alter ego super hero is and channel that bada**.
28. Skinny jeans negate your war beard. (Also if you can fit into them do more squats.)
29. Tell people you love them. Just because; they need to hear it, and you need to say it. It’s a win win.
30. Lists. Why? Because they make you accountable to yourself. (I keep mine in my shoes. 5:56 has been at the top of mine for a long time. If you don’t know what that means buy me an IPA, I’ll explain it.)
31. High Five. (Your awesome, and anybody you touch is gonna be awesome, so make sure everybody can hear it. Also aim for the elbow, then you never miss.)
Birthday Challenge: 30 year-old Combine:
Last year: The concept, go big, then go home.
1 RM Push Press: 285#
3 minute push-up challenge: 127
1 RM Back Squat: 525#
1 RM Front Squat: 485#
1 RM Clean: 365#
1 RM Snatch: 265#
1 RM Deadlift: 600# –Boom slam dance
Sub: 6 minute 2k: 6:03 – Damn close but not there yet
Sub 19 minute 5k (Run): 18:57 – I am pretty sure part of my soul died on that one
So I passed solidly into my 30’s stronger and faster than I have ever been before.
This might be the scariest one yet for me. With being out of training for the last 7 weeks thanks to the good old Lyme’s. It seems a bit like climbing up the slide at the playground covered in baby oil. (This could make for a good Youtube video)
Erg for time: 31,000 meters: For time.
(Well I won’t die right now at least)
Lift heavy things, a lot.
(This legitimately scares me)
Combined weight: 31,000 lbs.
(It’s a little more but it makes the bars easier to load)
5 x Snatch @ 115
4 x Bent Row @ 135
3 x Push Press @ 185
2 x Back Squat @ 275
1 x Dead Lift @ 405
For time: or 31 minutes, which ever comes first.
A quick Follow up:
31k erg: 2:12.4
( I learned a lot about myself and how much I hate the color white that the walls are painted)
31K Club: 29:20
(got in in under the 31 minute mark but definitely had to channel my inner bada** to get it done.)
A little while ago, I was asked about fat bar grips, grip strength, and what to buy. As I have finally got back into my regular routine (albeit slowly), I immediately thought about this question. My answer was simple:
Start playing with your food.
As you might imagine, I got a rather questioning look in response.
Here is a really simple and inexpensive way to increase your strength on the cheap, and it’s highly effective: go buy yourself a 20 lbs bag of rice and a bucket. With these tools, you can break through any of your max-lifting plateaus. And, it only takes 5 minutes of work, as part of your warm up, everyday or every other day.
When lifting heavy, generally what fails on you are your small muscle groups; in this case, hands, wrists, and forearms, when it comes to deadlifts, cleans, snatches, and jerks.
Here are the basics:
With your hands, either individually, or together, claw your way to the bottom of the bucket. Reset your hands back to the top. Rinse and repeat.
Knead your way around the circle, both clockwise, and counter-clockwise.
The snowball. Take a handful of rice and pack it between your hands until all the grains no longer remain.
This is more for the shoulders, but treat your hand like a paddle and make big figure 8s in your bucket.
These are a few good starters, but essentially all you have to do is play. As long as your hands are moving and your fingers; you are doing the work.