Today was/is Inauguration Day. For many it is the best day ever. For many others it is the worst day ever. What did I do today to celebrate/mourn?
I went to work.
I got out of bed at 5:36am. Made coffee. Sent out my remaining invoices. Talked to my daughter about her essay. Then I went to work.
I cut up a fallen tree.
I met a prospective customer for a bid.
Because the bottom line that as bad as this new administration is going to be, it was already baked in. In fact, to those mourning, it is really your fault. Hillary Clinton should have never be the “presumptive” candidate. The majority of Trump voters would only have voted for him, with the alternative of Clinton.
And given all that, my only real option is to continue to block and tackle. Put in the work. Everyday. Keep it basic. Trump is not on my side. Lord knows, Hillary is not. So much theater–These people are on the same team.
Who’s going to pay my mortgage? Who’s going to fix my truck?
Just another day. You know what I doing next?
Hitting the weights.
For the last two and a half years I have had problems along my left side neuromuscular chain, from neck to my shoulder, through my elbow, forearm and wrist. However, that is now turning around. I have been lifting heavy in the gym (in a programmed way) and things seems to be improving.
For a long time, I had avoided lifting heavy bench,and over head. But for the past several months, I’ve been following Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 programming, and the weights are now in territory I’ve never been. This has been challenging for my shoulder, elbow, and forearms grip strength. It is to the point sometimes that I need to buck up just to shake a man’s hand.
I have had to take a week off from shoulder work here and there–well not a week off, but a week with careful shoulder work. For instance, only the major lifts which engage my shoulder, and dropping any minor or assistance work that may challenge my shoulder.
At night I wasn’t able to sleep on my side, I’ve only been able to lay on my stomach or back without pain.
Well what about the rehab part?
This past week I’ve noticed considerably less pain at night, and have even been able to tolerate short periods on my side.
I completely believe this is due in large part to careful progression through flat barbel bench, incline dumbbell bench, strict overhead press, cleans, and clean & press. Progression to PR level weights for me in every lift. The cleans and clean & press are PR level, but I have not really pushed them and have sacrificed them on those dodgy shoulder days.
Flat bench. The key for me has been to really dial in my form, and to vary my grip width as the weights move up.
Overhead press. This can be challenging, but it is largely a form issue. Overhead press has, I feel, greatly improved my range of motion
Incline Dumbbell Press has been helpful because it is a less compromised position, and the dumbbells allow you to rotate your shoulder position to be more stable.
Clean, Clean & Press. Cleans are Push Press are an inigma in that they engage and involve the shoulder and upper body, while simultaneously the lifter tries to minimize upper body engagement in these lifts. This seemingly contradictory situation has been helpful for my shoulder rehab, as I can tell when my form is breaking down as shoulder pain sets in. Also, it has helped teach better should mechanics through minor adjustments which either hurt more, or hurt less.
There you have it–my dawning revelation and thoughts regarding my shoulder pain subsiding in recent weeks (week or two).
Stream of consciousness. . .
It is 2105, and I am back in the saddle again. Not yet literally. The amount of energy I had put into ramping up for Ironman was quite remarkable, in hindsight. Only in retrospect can I objectively see how much energy preparing for and executing that race required. Just a few days after the race, I was T-Boned in a car accident. And then my work (that thing I do to eat, pay the mortgage) got very crazy. Subsequently, my blogging, and social networking in general has really suffered. In the vein of New Year’s resolutions, I will be devoting more effort to my online activities. I have some blog ideas that have been back-burnered for some time.
It all works for good. I’ve been in the gym getting strong. I am the strongest I’ve been in my life. Though, my cardio endurance has certainly suffered, my physical resilience has multiplied.
Topical Preview for 2015
. . . Still in stream of consciousness mode. . .
Politically, I have grown more cynical and suspicious as I see the news media and national politicians directing our focus towards distracting events, and spinning even those with thinly-veiled and misleading (at best) narratives.
My spiritual focus has been more on the mundane, than the philosophical. I continue to prioritize practice over philosophy. Though, I have worked to put a definition on my practice. In the past, I’ve argued that this is a gratuitous endeavor. Nonetheless, I have found it instructive, especially in exposing certain emotional attachments I still have to my past practices, despite the fact it no longer serves.
Certain business challenges have brought me into contact with an entire class of people whom I thought I knew, but as it turns out, really didn’t. I knew intellectually, but didn’t really know in a tangible way, the extent to which education, or the lack thereof, acts effectively like a learning disability. The post-Great-Recession labor market environment has left some very large holes in the labor market for my very hands-on, mud and dirt business. In recruiting to fill these holes, I have been introduced in a new way to an entire segment of our society (a significant segment), that I had not fully understood.
In fact, in this post-Great-Recession environment, I have come to a whole new understanding of the future economic prospects, investing, effects of currency manipulations, business direction. I have always argued that our consumer/debt based economy had a certain cannibalistic tinge to it, and that wealth and prosperity required actual production. I feel that it may be more sinister than that.
At any rate, it’s good to be back. Talk to you soon.
I have taken some planned, and some unplanned, time off since completing (read: finishing) Ironman Florida. In that time, I have had time to reflect on what I want to explore in this blog. My focus isn’t going to change so much as it is going to narrow. Heretofore, my focus has been on Warriorship, and in the past 12-18 months or so, specifically on the training aspect of Warriorship. However, it has occurred to me that all of that really begs the question.
The question seems to be more accurately–How do we actually make things happen? or What is the mechanism of Manifestation? These seem to be the questions that go the heart of Warriorship. The Warrior’s key role is to act. The question then is, What does it mean to Act? How does one actually Act? What is it to transform a Thought, Concept, Idea to an Action? and What is involved in Action impacting the larger Reality?
Training and Warriorship remain ideal forums for exploring these questions.
Join me on this new leg of exploration.
To start, it was a great race. The weather was virtually ideal (for the race portion, at least). Had some great camaraderie on the run, and after the race. The hotel stay was decent, though sort of far. And, most importantly, I met my goals in relation to prepping for Ironman Florida.
- The weather was ideal, partly sunny to overcast for most of the race, with moderate temps. Whereas last year the temps were hot, and then it rained off and on for the run. It did rain this year, but only after the race (for most of us).
- I stayed in the Comfort Inn on the west side of town–somewhat far from the venue, and not the hotel I had hoped to get initially. But they did a good job, and it worked out well. As it turns out, the hotel I wanted, that did such a great job last year, didn’t do quite as well this year (some friends ended up in that one)
- Evidently Augusta is becoming a popular race, and all the cheap rooms were gone early.
- On the run I linked up with a football coach from the Atlanta area and we helped pace each other through the second half. In the final three miles or so, we linked up with another fellow from Florida, whose legs were still fresh, and he helped us with the final push for the finish.
- I finally linked up with my training partners, who it would seem, had put me on ignore going into the race. Ran into them on the shuttle back to get our stuff from transition. Was certainly a boon over last year, where I flew solo the entire event.
- Goals: My main goals were to practice pacing for Florida–primarily to not let the bike hurt.
- I also was able to confirm my nutrition strategy for Florida. Nutritionally, with “Special Needs” bags, I should be good to go.
- My cardio was bullet proof this race. At no point was I sucking wind.
- The area of weakness was muscular endurance. On the bike and the run, it was my muscular endurance that was a limiter, not my cardio.
- This is a good thing (I think) as it would seem that muscular endurance is an easier fix in the weeks before Florida.
- Another piece in the nutrition/endurance aspect was my emphasis on muscular hydration. I had zero cramping issues–Success!
- Flexibility and too much plasma hydration remain limiters, especially on the bike.
Some quick thoughts on the race. I’ll sit down and pound out a more thorough race report in a few days.
There is no purpose to my training. There is no real end-goal to all of this. People ask why I train. Last night the question came up with one of our surrogate daughters (as I call them). This time it was in the form of “Why do you triathlons?” We were discussing Ironman. The answer was “Because it was the next step”–Which doesn’t really answer her question.
The question of Purpose implies in part a practical purpose. My training and competing does have some practical side benefits. There are several very real real-world reasons I train. However, these are not compelling enough in themselves to justify what I do. Therefore, in honesty they are not Why I Train.
I have asked this question before.
Training has many practical benefits. I have actually needed it in the real world. Survival is a huge one. General health. Improved mental functioning. Ability to keep up with my kids. Respect amongst my peers. Social outlet. Fun. Improvement in my other purposeless activities (rock climbing, camping, hiking, fishing). It is a tool on my spiritual path. But none of these, even surviving the coming apocolypse, is really compelling enough.
I’ve been reading the “E-Myth” Series of books, by Michael E. Gerber. In E-Myth Mastery he tackles this question of Purpose, Passion, and Vision (his distinctions). Gerber concludes that once something is reduced to purpose, practicality is attached, and the original vision is killed. This is something experienced in business all the time. Artists talk of how earning a living from their art, killed their art. I am going through this in my business right now. My artistic vision has been compromised by the practical needs of operating a business. Consequently, I find my passion waning.
Walking back to the soccer fields last night, approaching from above, I was able to look out over the whole complex spread out under the lights. I was struck by the sheer numbers of kids working hard at something, which, for most of them, will yield no practical results. There will be no soccer scholarships for most. Most will not play on the top state and national teams. Even for those who play on top teams, or make their competitive high school squads, the real practicality of it all is hard to define. There are much better ways to finance a college education than pouring all the time and money we do into sports. We put a massive amount of effort and resources as a society into sports. All of which only yields “practical” results for an improbably narrow slice.
Why do we do this?
I believe it is a primordial longing that compels us. Our obsession for sports embodies a longing for a Human state lost thousands of years ago. I’ve talked about how the Warrior class developed as human society became more organized. How the Warrior class is an embodiment of some of our most powerful Human evolutions. The Warrior is a link between Civilized man and Natural man. We long for this connection.
There is no Purpose to my training. I am compelled by a calling from time before Reason, a root deeper than Purpose.
Neurogenesis. The process of the brain producing new brain cells. This was believed for decades to not exist–Despite case-study evidence to the contrary. At any rate, this is the first step in reprogramming your brain.
For the Warrior, neurogenesis provides a unique opportunity to reprogram the brain. Exercise contributes to neurogenesis–it induces the growth of new brain cells. This is great because we are already training and exercising. New brain cells are already being generated. However, this is not enough.
New brain cells alone will not make things different. These are raw cells that need to learn stuff. They can learn what you already know. Or you can program them with new information, habits, behaviors, reactions.
Bottom line: New brain cells need to be programmed with something–this can be negative habits or new, positive behaviors.
Your move. You’ve got these new brain cells. What are you going to program them with? You need to consciously decide what learning, what habits, what behaviors you’re going to expose these new brain cells to.
You can pick up a new book. You can take a class. You can Meditate. Meditation, with its own effects on the brain, seems like a great way to double-down. You can continue your old, bad habits.