Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Best Workout




Ever since I was a kid, I loved splitting wood. I was fortunate to grow up with a hundred or so acres of woods behind my house. Trees fell constantly, and my Dad and my Uncle George would cut it up with chainsaws and I would commence to splitting. I'd try to get as much done before my Dad came home from work and I wouldn't stack it either. I'd leave it scattered all over the backyard just so it would look cool and he would really see how much work that I had done. And he would stand on the back porch overlooking the backyard and he would say, "Wow, good job, Jimmy." And that is all that I needed to hear. That was my reward. And maybe that is one of the reasons that I like splitting wood so much, because I associate approval from my father with it. But its probably more about that I like the challenge of it.

I like it because I am all alone, except maybe my dog, and I can sort stuff out in my head if I want to, but I don't have to either. I can just focus on the wood and get lost in all of it.

 I absolutely love seeing the finished product right in front of me,  it is instant gratification. And it is by far my favorite workout. After a few hours of doing it, I am drenched in sweat, my forearms and biceps and shoulders are all blown up and you feel so damn alive.

Being inside on a hot day in a gym is not fun for me.  I have always loved hot days, the hotter the better. Lifting weights outside is good but doing some actual work outside and getting a great workout at the same time is the best.  I always wonder, evolutionarily speaking, why certain activities are so satisfying. Planting flowers doesn't do anything for me , but moving dirt and splitting wood satisfies  some inner caveman yearnings that other stuff just can't touch.  You mow the lawn and its boredom, drudgery. Let's get this over with as fast as possible. But picking up an axe and crushing something that can actually be used for firewood or building or whatever is where it's at for me. And no, I can't hit a tire. It's fine if you wanna do it as a workout, it's just not for me. Bong, Bong, bouncing off the rubber, no satisfaction in a finished product, just Bong, Bong.

So getcha an axe, find a woodpile and start splitting. Let your mind get right in there, finding the right lines in the wood to hit, and when you feel that axe go all the way through the wood for the first time, I promise you that you will be hooked on this type of training for life.

Selfish/Selfless



I was speaking with a friend of mine one day. This friend is a verifiable  badass, death machine, fighter, shooter, lifter, hunter, father, husband, athlete, soldier, etcetera.

And with all of that, with all of the attributes that he possesses that make him a capable as hell son of a gun in my book, I had to ask him one day:

What makes someone a real man?

And you know what he said?

" A real man is someone that helps his friends when they need help until they don't need his help anymore. And he should keep helping them before he ever worries about taking care of himself."

And that surprised me. It floored me. And it pleased me and it gave me a feeling of relief that someone such as he would be aware enough to get it and to be a well rounded person who realized that along with his ability to do all of the badass things, that he still has the ability to perhaps do the most baddass thing and that is his ability to be totally selfless. And with all of his experience in life, he has come to realize that his friends are what matters, his brothers in arms.

And it is a lesson, perhaps , for those who want to listen and to now take a deep breath and  let your shoulders relax a little and  just let it go a little or more than a little and stop worrying about yourself.

Hell, man, stop worrying about everything. I am worried right now. Worried about a loved one going into the hospital, worried about my parents getting older, there is always something to worry about.

And what good does it do? Nothing. Doesn't help a damn thing, but I know enough that I won't stop worrying but I will try to do better and that maybe the best thing to do for me and for all of it is to just let go and do or be something selfless, for a better cause, for action against selfishness and action for selflessness.

And I submit that the selflessness has some selfishness in it too, because it makes you feel good when you are helping your friends or family, but thats okay. Go with that feeling and know that it means a whole lot to whom you are helping and nothing wrong with it making you feel good as well.

So maybe that is the answer. Think of others. Ignore yourself and your thoughts. Not sure what we all control anyway. Seems like life just moves on and we all are pretty damn expendable.

 Might as well make somebody feel good as we just hurtle along.






Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bas

I had to put my dog, Bas, to sleep the other day. I woke up in the morning and found him lying there, and he didn't know where he was, he couldn't see or hear. He couldn't stand up.

He didn't want to drink water, he didn't want to eat. It was time, and I knew it. I was telling him that it was okay, it's okay, buddy. And my shoulders started heaving and the sobs started coming and then my son yelled, "What's wrong with Bas?" and he started crying when he saw him. So I picked him up and usually he'd squirm around when I did that but this time he just let me carry him. I set him outside with my wife while I called to find an emergency vet to take him. I walked to the truck to get the back seat ready for him and I punched at the air as hard as I could out of life just being the way it is and goddam that's my best friend lying there. 

I put him in the truck and we went.

So I took him to the emergency vet and I carried him into the examination room because he couldn't walk and I was petting him, waiting for the assistant to come in and give him a shot to make him sleepy and I was looking Bas over. His elbows had no fur on them, he had all kinds of screws and a rod in his shoulder. He had a tumor on his side that had progressively gotten bigger over the last few months. His hips were shot. They collapsed on him at times when he was running and it took him forever to get up the basement steps.  He had all kinds of scars and his muzzle was gray.

He'd been on a downward slide for a while, and I knew that it was coming. He'd retrieved the night before, he got that in. I was even able to take him swimming last week, and although he couldn't find the bumper that I threw for him, he loved being in the water. 

And I started thinking that he did it right. He crushed life. He went as hard as he could for as long as he could and he wore everything out that he had until there was no more to give, all of him was spent and he never once held back. He was loyal, hard as nails and brave. He used it up, he spent his life hunting and running and swimming and breaking through brush and flooded timber marshes and never hesitated, not once. Full speed into the water, full speed into the brush. 

One time he made a seemingly impossible retrieve on a duck that landed in flooded timber and I didn't even see where it went down after I shot it. When I saw him swimming back to me, I blew the "come" call on the whistle and then he sat next to me with the duck in his mouth and I was so proud of him that I yelled, " Good boy!" , and with that, he got excited, jumped up and hit me in the chin with his hard ass head. I still had the whistle in my mouth and my two front teeth chipped off in the perfect shape of the whistle that I still had in my mouth. It was worth it though. What a good boy.

Another time I was goose hunting with some other guys and their Lab's. We shot a goose, but it was just wounded and a wounded goose is pretty nasty. One of the guys sent his Lab out there after the goose and that goose hissed and reared up and that Lab came running back into the blind without the goose. So then I sent Bas. He hit that goose full speed and sent it flying and proudly brought it back to me, tail held high in the air. I was yelling,"Did you see that? What a tackle! Like Dick Freakin' Butkus!"

He retrieved his last goose two years ago. It was wounded also, but Bas tracked it down and brought it back. He wasn't as fast as he once was but he was still a retrieving fool and get this- he was so happy to go get that goose that when he was sitting next to me with it in his mouth, he was actually whining with joy. The boy loved doing what he was bred to do. 

It is weird thinking of life without him. Dogs become family and they put up with you through all of your moods and they can tell when you need them and they can tell when you just want to be with them and not anyone else. I never could imagine life without him and I am trying not to think about it too hard right now, I am trying to put it deep in my head where I can store it and not get sad and choked up because hell, if you think about it, he had a great life, he did it right, like everyone should do it. Dogs are something, man. You read all these books and everyone speaks of about being present and in the moment and damn if humans don't struggle with that a whole bunch. Not dogs, and certainly not Bas.  Right now was all that mattered and right now is all that ever should matter. 

After putting Bas down yesterday, my 10 year old son and I loaded my other Lab, Storm into the truck  drove down to Maryland to my buddy Steve's farm. Bas loved it there, it is a retriever paradise.  My son and I started fishing but something didn't quite feel right to me, so I stopped. Now , I never stop fishing. But I needed to work something off, and Steve had a huge pile of oak stumps and I put my rod down and asked Steve if I could split some of that wood. We went up to the top of the hill and I split the wood for about an hour. And Bas' face would come into my head once in a while and I'd hit that stump harder when it did because it started to mess me up inside and when I was done I was soaked in sweat from head to toe, I could wring my shirt out with the sweat that I accumulated. I love that kind of work, and I didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself for not having my buddy around anymore, I wanted to work those tears out in sweat. 

When Steve and I were done working, we walked into his garage and we sat down he grabbed us both two ice cold beers and we toasted to Bas. 

Steve said,

"Here's to Bas.  He was a good boy." 

Damn, I loved that dog. Here's to you, Bas.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thoughts and stuff

Just got done reading a new biography about Hemingway by Dearborn. Unbelievably well researched, but DAMN! it is depressing. Did the man do no good at all? I appreciate the author's tenacity but it seems as though she may have an agenda , to prove how shitty Hemingway was as a man. Paul Hendrickson's book, Hemingway's Boat is more my cup of tea. Shows that Hem could be a bastard , but also shows that he could have a heart of gold. Basically, Dearborn shows that Hemingway was mentally ill. And had a hair fetish. And drank a whole lot. Well, who doesn't have an issue with all of those things? 

How about he was a BADASS who decided to become a great hunter and became one, who decided to become a great fisherman and became one, who decided to write great novels and short stories and did it better(arguably but only vs. Turgenev in my humble opinion) than anyone. The man had flaws , had multiple concussions, mental illness in his family, and still kicked ass and people are still, yes, still writing books about him. That's a great man. If you haven't yet, read Hemingway's Boat, do it. It kills.


Kids today yearn for structure and discipline and for someone to kick them in the ass when they screw up and to pat them on the back when they do well. Most just haven't had the kick in the ass. They need that first. Then the"good job". But only if they deserve it.

I am a sucker for new, raw country music. If you are into it also, check out Colter Wall. Excellent and no new country bull with overproduced sounds. And Tyler Childress. And Turnpike Troubadours.  And Whiskey Myers. Listening to all of those bands will make you want to drink beer, shoot guns, play the jukebox in a lonely bar with sawdust on the floor, get in a fight, cry over a lost love and ride on a dirt road in your 4x4. And sit with your dog and discuss life.

As far as training music, Slayer rules (If you can find a better song than Reign in Blood, let me know) And Pantera (not Cowboys From Hell).  Far Beyond Driven is classic for those guys. But check out The Crown(Deathrace King) and Terrorizer as well. Good for a kick in the ass when you need it.

As far as training goes, keep training. Keep training no matter what is going on in your life. My Dad is 84 and he still exercises and works in the yard and has all of his faculties. Mom does too. I swear it is because of the fact that they have exercised their whole lives. So do it. Do it and make it an everyday thing and know that it is important and lifesaving and ALL ELSE can wait until the workout is done because when you get that done, everyone and everything gets the best version of you.








Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shy

I have to admit that I feel sorry for folks. 

I have sympathy for those who are down on their luck,  and for those who are sick.  Also, for people who need someone but don't have anyone. I feel bad for kids with awful parents or no parents at all. I feel for kids who can't make friends easily and don't understand that as they get older, they will find those with interests similar their own and the sky will open up some for them a little. I especially feel sorry for the shy kid who wants to hide instead of facing anything new. 

That was me as a kid. So shy that I would shake when I would meet new people or even when I would walk into a room with people that I already new. Never wanted to go away to camp, just wanted to stay in my comfortable surroundings. It changes , and at some point, I changed. I just forced myself to do uncomfortable things over and over. That awful feeling, that shyness, that feeling of dread, never really goes away. At some point everyday, I feel a little pang of it. Even leaving my family to go to work messes me up a little. So I just start walking out the door and I don't look back.  I turn it around in my head, look at it as a foe that I must defeat. 

You feel it coming and you almost welcome it, because you beat it before and now you can beat it again.  

One of my son's is like that and when I see that scared, shy look on his face, it takes me back to my childhood and I feel my love for him deep in my gut and I know that I do the wrong thing by smothering him with hugs when all of this happens, but I can not help myself. He looks up at me with those brown eyes and I can feel what he is feeling and I think that he knows it too. And so I hold onto him real tight until I feel him relax and feel safe. Those hugs help us both feel safe.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Some Tenets

Are you just  getting started in training?

Can you wade through all the crap out there?

Or rather, how do you know what is crap and what isn't? You may need some basic tenets to follow.

These are just my opinion, not set in stone. If you wanna do ladder drills and you think it helps you squat, go for it. Or If you think that running 5 miles makes you strong, break the mold. All you.





Here we go-

1. Have a plan. Stick To The Plan.

Have a program and follow it. Follow it until the program ends even if you have some doubt half way through the thing. Set the precedent within yourself that you will finish what you have started.


2. Stick To The Basics.

Not a whole lot of need for cable crossovers, when you should be squatting, deadlifting, rowing, benching, pressing. The most massive, strongest dudes who ever walked the earth have used the aforementioned exercises. Please don't fall for the gimmicks. Everyone I know who does the latest craze (whatever it is, too many to count), is just scared of squatting. They should say, "Hi! Im scared of squatting and its uncomfortable, is there anything that I can do to just let me go through the motions and just talk about how I workout?"

3. No B.S.

 Meaning that you came into the gym to train and train you will do. Talking and talking and talking doesn't do a damn thing. Aren't people tired of all the talk? You be the one who puts his head down and just trains. Nod, smile and grab it and go. Don't be the "lets talk for an hour and then do a set and say that ya gotta get going" person. Put the phone down. Or in fact, leave it in the car. Do a set, text. Do a set, text.

4. Use A Full Range Of Motion.

There is a place for partials but most of the time, all the way up, all the way down. And when it gets heavy? All the way up and all the way down.

5.  Eat Right

Nutrition is a huge part of it. Eat like crap and you will look and feel that way. No question that training is the most important aspect of it all, but ya gotta feed the machine, and you gotta recover. Stick as much as you can to real foods, fill in the gaps with supplements.

6. Make Time.

I hear it ALL of the time. It gets so old. Save those words for someone who cares, because I don't at all. Yeah , you used to lift weights, do aerobics to the Jane Fonda step up tape and you played college softball eons ago. Nobody cares. Oh yeah,  I need to get back into it. I just can't find the time. I have too many injuries. I brought my workout clothes with me , but I just got too busy. Too busy. Too busy.  Oh, I have so many meetings. Oh, I have meetings! I just can't catch a break. No, I don't want to be more efficient, I want to make excuses.

99% of the people that I know just make excuses one after the other. Just say that you really don't want to do it. But stop lying to yourself and to others. You ain't gonna do it because you really don't want to do it, or you are just lazy. I'd respect that more.  Like one of my Special Forces friends said when talking about a guy who didn't make it through a tough part of training, " Just say you quit. You quit. Whether you got hurt or had a family emergency or whatever, you quit."


7.  Squat More Than Once A Week.

In fact, when you are first starting out, feel free to train everything three times a week. Big exercises especially. There is a huge skill component involved with a lift such as the squat. Just training those lifts once a week isn't gonna cut it. Minimum is 2 days a week. You don't have to crush yourself with the volume-Heavy, Medium, Light should work.  Just getting under that bar on a frequent basis will "grease the groove" and make you much more efficient at the lifts.

8.  Don't stay in the gym just to stay in the gym

You can get everything that you need to get done in an hour, Count your partner's reps and then it is your turn. Don't feel bad if your workout takes 30-45 minutes. You are just more efficient than the next guy.

9. Don't Just Lift

Even if you are just powerlifting, get some cardiovascular work in also. It doesn't have to be boring. Hit the heavy bag, hit the mitts, run some hills, do some biking. Twenty to thirty minutes will suffice. 3-5 days a week. Have fun with it. Just don't let in interfere with your strength gains. You will feel much better when you do this; everyone that I know who also gets this type of work in a few days a week swears that it helps their recovery and general feeling of well being.



10. Accept The Uncomfortableness

None of the exercises are comfortable if you are really pushing some decent weight. Just know that at the bottom of a squat, sometimes it feels like your head is gonna explode. And that you may see some stars after a heavy set of deadlifts. Normal. Folks who get really strong welcome those feelings because it means progress. Folks who shy away can get sorta strong, like  sorta strong where regular citizens think that what you are lifting big weights, but those that welcome seeing the "White Buffalo" dance across their vision know the difference .





11. Have Patience But Don't Have Patience.

Meaning this- As you gain experience, and you are stalling in progress, make changes. If your deadlift has only gone up 20 pounds in 3 years, do something about it. Gain bodyweight, add heavy rows, squat heavier or maybe just man the hell up. In fact, those people that I know who have super human strength are more super human tough than anything else. I swear that they could do any program and make gains. And maybe that's the key; just crazy mental strength. It helps if you have played a contact sport or have gone through tough times or worked on a farm, or have been punched in the face.

12. Have Fun

Training should be fun. Getting stronger is fun. Hitting new numbers is fun. Planning and achieving is fun. Watching everyone talk about pinky position while you are training is fun. Flip the attitude from drudgery to having a damn good time. You chose to do it, right?

13. Pick A Few Mentors

I have been fortunate to have been around some strong, smart guys. I have picked their brains for years. Most of them I met by just calling them on the phone, or showing up when I knew that they were gonna train. And why not? Most lifters will help you if you show enthusiasm and just shut the hell up and listen. And on that note, SHUT UP. Listen and learn. You are there to learn, not to go on and on about yourself. That is a issue that I see all of the time. When that happens, I just nod my head, say "That's great!" And move the hell on.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Macroinsanity

Diet is a pain in the ass. You listen to all the podcasts, you read all the books, Bulletproof, IIFYM, Vince Gironda, Low Carb, High Carb, Zone, Twinkie Diet, and on and on and freakin'on.

I like the beer and quesadilla diet, but you won't lose weight on it very easily. Well, if you ate just that and drank just that, you would lose weight. I ate chicken wings and drank beer for pretty much all summer one time and lost a bunch of weight. I'd fast until like 2pm and then have wings and like ten Budweiser pony's. During the day, I would lift and do 30 minutes of the recumbent bike, usually first thing in the morning.  But then I started to see the weight coming off and then I'd get crazy and get miserable and do cabbage and beef and a few sweet potatoes and two hours of cardio plus lifting and I'd feel like I didn't wanna do anything but smack somebody. That's some miserable stuff right there.

So in the meantime, you go on, confused as hell because these guys with doctorates are telling you that this works but then other ones with doctorates are telling you that what they think works and what to believe?

So what does it all mean, where does it all go from here? This is groundbreaking stuff, I think. I really think that........... 

You must listen to your body. Crazy, I know.

Now, this is not for people who have absolutely no idea about macro nutrients and protein and carbs, and just the general knowledge thing. I am saying this because some people have no idea what eating right means or even training right , and that's okay, for those folks, it's a different ballgame, start reading, get some general knowledge. Get real confused and then go back to what your grandmother said to eat, and unless she was a Cheeto fanatic, you will be fine. Probably just good for you stuff unless she is real young and then, well then, you are screwed. If that is the case, try to find what your great grandmother ate. You'll be alright, then.

So just what am I saying? Not sure, but it's frustrating. Maybe stop reading and just start living?

I remember being in high school and trying to lose weight and then I ate a bunch of pasta midday and my Dad, the wise one said, just eat less later. He was right. I lost weight.

My son Donald lives down South where everything is fried and most of the women go from hot to not hot as they age because of the fried food that is constantly thrust in front of them. I know that is  a sweeping generalization but its true in my experience and I am trying to make a point here , so that's that.

So when Donald was trying to lose weight , I just told him to cut down on portion size, because when it's yeast rolls and chicken fried steak night, nobody is gonna make you chicken and green beans. That's sacrilegious, it is.  So what does he do? He watches his portions and damn if he didn't lose a bunch of weight and he looks just fine and says that he feels miserable if he eats too much and doesn't like that feeling at all, and MAN!  I think that he has it all figured, too. A lot more than I do, for sure. Because I will eat a whole cake and then go crazy and lose 40 pounds and eat 10 cakes and gain some back and then go crazy and eat tuna and drink club soda for three months and lose it again. Stupid, I know, and enough after awhile, don't ya think?

So let's summarize here:

Eat what you want but don't make a pig out of yourself, and you will be fine and happy. Maybe have a little more protein than the average guy or gal. Don't beat yourself up over having Wendy's once in a while. Have a bad day where you eat a cheesecake and a mess of fries? So what! Do better tomorrow. Look in the mirror and you don't like what you see? Eat a little less and lift your ass off. It works .

And it always will work.








Thursday, April 20, 2017

Modern Times

I read a lot of books. Sometimes I have three or four books going at once. They vary in subject, content, genre. Most are survival stories or war stories involving people facing seemingly impossible situations and the struggles that they face and then overcome with will and determination and heart. Stories where one can see the that the body and mind are capable to achieve so much more than we think. World War II books of POW, Vietnam War books, lost in the wild books.

Sometimes I read books that would be described as Self Help but they are usually about how to shut off distractions and get what you have defined as your priorities done first in the day,  helping you identify what is important , things like that. And inevitably the message in most of the books is that you can have all of the plans in the world , the best plans, the perfect plans, but the key to all of it is action, taking the step to move.  I really believe that the action that you take may even be wrong, but you are moving, not talking about it, or thinking about it, or looking it up on the computer, but putting some movement into the whole thing.

Which brings us to training.  I have gone to a public gym a few times recently and what I have noticed is that most folks don't do a damn thing. It's freaking amazing. Here is what I figured out is essential these days to modern gym life:

Set up a camera to record everything that you do in the gym. Because unless you record it, you really didn't do it.

Warm up with bands all tied around you, stretching yourself , hanging, and of course, filming yourself doing all of this.

Look at your phone, take selfies, text , take more pics, mix some protein/BCAA/Preworkout. Sip on drink while rolling on knobby thing that looks like a foam roller but has bumps all over it. I'm out of the loop on that one, for sure.

Set out all of your wraps, straps, belt with name on it, (or even better- a Velcro belt) to prepare for WAR (at least that what your t-shirt reads). Comparing training to war is a little far fetched.

Take picture of wraps, straps, belt.

Walk outside with phone to ear, covering other ear with hand because of loudness of music that people think is hardcore but is really just metal that is Pantera influenced but never as good as the real thing.  Damn, singers try so hard to be like Phil Anselmo from the old days. Let it go. Or the music is talking and rhyming without anyone playing instruments. Anyway.

I have thought for years now that one should be able to walk into any gym without anything, well, maybe something that fits into your pockets, wrist wraps maybe, or one pair of straps, but not that you have to say, "Oh no! I forgot my____ !" So that you have to turn the car around to get said crutch.

Just walk in, grab the dumbbells and start benching. Is that the first set or your warm up? It is my first set, its always the first set because I just did a set and I don't want to think that I haven't really started yet so hell, we count everything.  Look over  at that guy smiling while he looks at his phone and adjusts his tripod. Just like Draper in the 60's training in the Dungeon.  Use him at as motivation to finish workout before he even starts, taking short rests, chasing the pump. His multi color tights match his cutoff shirt that reads , "SAVAGE". Savagely killing that camera and that smoothie.  Lord.

So the take action advice may get misunderstood by many. It doesn't mean just going to the gym, it actually means that ya gotta do something.

But maybe it's just me, archaic and not hip to the new world. Maybe it is best to analyze your gait in the mirror before you begin, to make sure your pre workout is timed just right or it won't allow for maximum recovery, to write everything down from your feelings about the weather to the perceived exertion of your warm up.  Probably the way to go, wouldn't want to not analyze every damn thing.  

Isn't all that stuff boring? Because while you are doing all that, the weights are just sitting there, longing to be used.

And then you finally do a little something and adjust the camera for just the right angle and do some crunches and drink something for post workout loading and then you tell all your buddies that you just had LEG DAY and you can barely walk as you down just one Michelob Ultra because its doesn't fit your macro's on your carb cycling/IIFYM diet. Then break out the Tupperware with the chicken and rice measured out just right. You have it all figured out.

I reckon that we are getting as far away from doing Viking/Greatest Generation/Highlander/Depression Era/70's Steeler's stuff as can be. Far away from just doing squats and pounding the Budweiser. Away from Old School Metal and cutoff sweats. Away from flannel shirts and Levi Garret. Away from a lone canvas heavy bag in the middle of the gym. Away from the owner's Rottweiler roaming the gym.

Out to pasture I go. And I ain't taking a camera with me.






Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Special Times


​I do not get to go hunting much these days, maybe ten times a year if I am lucky. That may seem like a lot to some, and not much to others.

I'll tell you what though, to me, going ten times is not much at all. If I had my way, I would go hunting every day, and I would enjoy every minute of it and I would have great days even if I didn't kill anything at all. Because each hunt brings excitement like it is Christmas morning.

But then the hunting season ends and you are left with this blank, empty feeling like when I was a little kid and it was Sunday night and 60 minutes just ended and all of the football games were over except the Chargers and somebody on the west coast and I knew that I had to go to bed soon and the dreaded Monday was coming  and school was my punishment on a Monday. 

 Just what is that feeling? It's when anything that you love is ending and you dread the next "have to do" thing and the funny part about it all is that I know when I am hunting that it is something special, I know that it is great. You know how you look back on some stuff and you go, "That was great, I wish I would have enjoyed every moment?" Well, when I am hunting, I am in the moment and I get it, I know that it is special and I am aware that man, this is wonderful and great and that I wouldn't want to be doing anything else at all. From the paddling in the dark to the decoys being put out to the first bunch of ducks to appear to the joy or frustration of a successful or failed hunt, to the biscuits and gravy at the diner after the hunt, all is great and grand and special.

I get the same kind of feelings when looking back into the past an my training when you just know that the gym or your partners or both are special and you just want to stop and freeze time so that you can keep everybody right there and stay the same and continue onward and upward with them.

For sure, there have been times in my life when I had the perfect situation when it came to training. One of the best times was when I was coaching high school football in Florida. I had two of my players who were hell bent on getting strong. We joined a gym called the Power Plant that was in the next town. Also training with us was my buddy, the  former Pro wrestler, Bill. Great guy, strong as all get out. We had some great training sessions together. Sunday was our squat day and the sessions were all good, not one bad one that I can recall. 

The one high school kid, who later became an Army Ranger, squatted 600(in a meet) as a junior in high school.  The other one pulled 700 a few years after high school. What was so special about those sessions? Camaraderie for one. We all pulled for each other, we trained until our muscles were weary and the sweat poured off of us and the Goldline wraps would be digging into your skin and the next set of squats was gonna be a bitch but you knew that everyone was pumped up for you to get your set and you weren't gonna let anyone down. And those high school kids? I could have told them that we were doing sets of one hundred in the squat and they would have done it, no questions asked. Something to be said for that kind of enthusiasm. You'd walk out of the gym and you'd be covered in chalk and your calluses would be bloody and that warm Florida air would hit you and damn, you would feel awesome. After wards, we would all go out to eat and talk about the workout, which is also one of the best parts of having great training partners. 

My buddy Jimmy and I had some great workouts when we were both coaching college football together. We would crank up some Charlie Daniels and get after it. We would "squat and leave" on a regular basis. Sometimes we'd leave the weights on the squat rack and just close the door. Something cool about doing that. And then we would come back later and put them away. But to just finish your last set and walk out the door was our thing. Our mindset at the time? Don't do anything that will mess up the next workout. Yeah, you are coaching and we like doing that and all, but Jimmy, you know we have to squat tomorrow so don't demonstrate anything or run anywhere or even walk too fast, because expending that extra bit of energy may take a rep from you tomorrow just when you need it the most. 

A few years back, when Cristi and Tracy and were competing in powerlifting, we had "Deadlift Fridays", and we would all meet in my office and watch inspiring videos of Kirk or Coan and take our pre workout and the adrenaline would start to get pumping and then Black Label Society would come on, your soundtrack on Friday's and the knurling on the bar felt like old home week and the first warmup set you would swear could be thrown right over your head if you wanted it to. We trained at eleven o'clock  on the dot and you better get your reps while we were all watching. Some crazy numbers were being thrown around and your shins better be bleeding when you were done and the rest of the day nothing else matters a whole lot, because damn, it's Deadlift Friday, and what could top a day of deadlifting?

You can't force any of this to happen, in my experience. Moments and times that are remarkable have to just sort of come together and even when you go back and try to duplicate them it doesn't seem to work very well. Just gotta dig into the moment, realize the uniqueness of it and take notes in your head so that you can remember all of it. I guess that half the fun of it is looking back and wondering why things can't always be special.





All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.