Friday, January 13, 2017

Use It Up

It is tough when your pet gets old, and my hunting Labrador, Bas, is going on 13 and life ain't getting any easier for him as the days go on. In his prime, he was a Death Machine, a brave soul who tackled wounded geese full speed and retrieved ducks in icy water without a second's hesitation. Bas' prey drive has always been off the charts. And he is the sweetest boy, never has he snapped at anyone or been untrustworthy.

Bas and Storm

He still retrieves every day but doesn't follow the bumper that I throw as well as he used to follow it. He has had some accidents in the house which has never happened before. He struggles to get up the steps from the basement to the kitchen door, he has false starts while he is trying to find just the right spot on the steps to begin his ascend to the top.

But he gets up those steps, he gets up there no matter what.

So now what?

Live it like Bas, that's what. Live life like Bas.

What's that mean? It means that Bas doesn't care that the end is near, he will go as hard as he can for as long as he can and when that is over, he will have used up every ounce of his body the way that it was supposed to be used. It means that he wakes up in the morning with enthusiasm and excitement for the day. He doesn't care how old he is or about the pain in his hips and shoulders, he just keeps going.

When I see him struggling but still wagging his tail anyway, I think of what Jack London said many years ago:

I would rather be ashes than dust! 
I would rather that my spark should burn out 
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. 
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom 
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. 
The function of man is to live, not to exist. 
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. 

I shall use my time. 

Bas reminds me of a battered weight lifter or athlete that has been dedicated to the task of training for years

Keep going, keep going, it is what I love to do.

If you have been training many years and are all banged up and it seems like you are just spinning your wheels and you start to get frustrated, don't.

It's the way that it's supposed to be when you push your body and what is the alternative anyway? Don't train and be like everyone else? Lie on the couch and say that you will start Monday? Or is the better alternative to just take the aches and pains and surgeries that come with it and to grit your teeth and grab the bar and the situation just motivates you to get stronger and bigger and work around the injury and to just keep going until that injury clears up.

 And then wouldn't you just know it, another one comes along but you are different than the masses and you accept all of it as part of what happens when you are a lifer, not a sometimes kind of guy.

You keep chasing that bumper even though you can't see so great, but you keep looking and then you find it and with great enthusiasm, you bring it back and it gets thrown again and you don't have it in you to ever stop because that is what you were meant to do and it is what you love above all else.

One of my good friends has begun doing some personal training in her spare time. She had her first client the other day, a lady in her mid 40's. The client had no idea that my friend had been a major college strength coach for many years. After the workout, The lady says to my friend, " I know you are new to this, but I came here to just work core and arms, and I didn't want to get all sweaty and work so hard. But I'm sure that you will get better as time goes on."

Seriously, she really said it. Jack London must be doing backflips in his grave when he hears that kind of stuff.

That lady is the anti-Jack London, the anti-Bas. She lives in a world where comfort is her main concern. She is not like you,  you who has persevered through years of squats and deadlifts and presses and sprints and heavy bag work or you who keeps going, squinting through the sweat that is dripping into your eyes on your tenth rep of hill runs on a 90-degree day.

But the client can be forgiven. She can be forgiven because she hasn't found the magic of the THING, the magic of the training session, and the magic of the lifestyle that calls to you to train no matter what and train when you are sick and sore and everyone else is asleep or skipping a day because they say that they don't have the time. The sheer force of will that drives you to squat on the lone power rack in the corner while everyone else in the gym is talking and trying their best not to break a sweat.

It is 6:12 am as I write this, and Bas is in the next room whining. He wants to go outside and retrieve . He knows that it is something that he has done for as long as he has been alive and will try to do it with all his might until he is unable to run another step.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your 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.