It’s been a long while but here we go… time to battle.

Stronger than I've ever been.

Stronger than I’ve ever been.

“When your anger stops, you lose your passion.” -Cherie Chan…

This past year of training and building on strength has been in a word frustrating… from seeing lifts he easily did a year ago full-on falling apart to strengths becoming weaknesses again… He has uttered many “Fuck this shit” “Damnit” “Fuck” or “I fucking hate this!” But he continues to do so day in day out because he knows without it he becomes physically weak and mentally breakable and those are not options for him in this season. It’s buck the fuck up or get the hell out of the game.

It has been a year of more downs in his fitness journey than ups, trying to find time to train has been a challenge or downright enigma to solve. He has been faithful to his commitment to not sucking at life and that commitment sears deep in his being… it has created some interesting personality traits some more focused, others more abrasive towards others… he is however still soft to those he trains with, they are family, they are athletes in the struggle with him. Encouragement is a must.

He is struggling on many things and the past year has felt like a long, arduous trek up Everest while having to stop at many points along the way… He is trying his best to chin up when his training isn’t going as planned or when it is frustrating. The common mantra in CrossFit affiliates across the world, “the only easy day was yesterday,” has become ubiquitously true for him. Most workouts he has become to despise and get angry when he sees them again but the passion is still there. If anything it has grown.

The pas year’s frustrations and anger on various movements has benefitted him in other ways, it put the fire back in his belly and has made it possible to dig deeper and go to the places he needs to go when the long burn is going down or the fight is going in overtime or another round… Fight for it has become a mantra to live by, if you want it bad enough, fight for it. If you want to finish it, fight for it… things are not given easily, they are fought for. Every second, every rep, every movement has to be fought hard for…

Tomorrow, he competes once again and once again he knows the unknown and the untried variables will either be his greatest victory or cause defeat. He is hoping more victory is celebrated rather than tasting some defeat. He has done what he has been able to to get to this point again, he knows a years worth of training is about to be thrown into the combine and tested in the fiery gauntlet of the day ahead. Will he once again give a Lion’s fight and embrace the heart of the Lion as he is known to do so… Yes. Will he be faithful and strong to what he knows is going to be tested? Yes. He is as ready as he will be and that is all that matters… Tomorrow it’s game time and he thrives in game time.

His legs are ready for the heavy battle ahead, his body is armored for the brutal beating to endure in the next 24 hours. He is ready for battle.

Whatever the outcome he will know exactly what he is capable of and what will be the game plan ahead. He is ready to be tested and ready to be forged in elite fitness. The community comes together tomorrow and everyone will be tested and encourage each other to fight for it and dig deeper.

strength

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Before the roar, before the storm or all the things I’ve done…

Truth.

Truth.

“I have done what I can at this point. I have made the changes necessary to be stronger, I have trained harder than I ever have and I have put the blood, sweat and pain in to be better than I was a year ago,” he says to himself.

He says this to himself many, many times over the past year as he builds his skill level and proficiency towards the next competition.

The next competition is tomorrow morning…

From where he left off about two months ago, he has been silent. He has put the energy in creating and channeled it into a brutal ramp up in making sure he wouldn’t fail so hard in the next competition. He has intentionally kept mum on his successes in WODs or even lifts, they are successes, but they also were results of many, many times of failure.

He is more focused on the goal of simply not eating it as bad as a year ago. Sure, he has no clue what the workouts entail, nor does he know the standards, as is classic CrossFit in methodology of surprise and “being prepared for anything” as is stated by General Physical Preparedness.

He has a lot of anxiety building up because those unknown factors, but he knows he has a lot of fight in his heart of a lion. He knows he will have to dig deep and fight for each rep as many will likely supersede what he is capable of but knows fighting for it is far easier on the soul then giving up completely. He may even have to reduce the gravity of the weight to succeed and there is no shame or failure in doing so.

He is nervous about the day he will endure with seven WODs to be accomplished and knows they each will be a unique beast to compete against and to take as they come. He isn’t competing against the man on his left, right, front or back; he is competing against his mind, his spirit and for his will to succeed.

Competing is personal to him, it is his way to prove to himself he is worth a damn, that he can take on a challenge far too big or too heavy for him (or so he thinks) and walk away like a boss. He knows every year he does this specific competition he walks away with incredibly valuable lessons on life and the load he actually can carry in life. He takes away information on his skill and knows what needs improvement or what has become stronger and just will get better… as well as some decent battle wounds in the form of a scraped shin, a bruised leg or ripped palm from the intensity he put forth.

He is excited, he is nervous, he is anxious, he is focused… but most importantly he is ready to throw down and have some fun in the tests and trials he will undoubtedly endure tomorrow.He is ready to put it all on the line and fight for every rep regardless of ease or hardness, he will have joy in the outcome and will be ready for the unknown.

He is stronger, he is more skilled, more patient and more at ease with what he lifts and moves. The heart and fight of the lion is teeming to roar… and roar it will. His mind is ready, his body is ready, his heart is ready… he is ready.

“I have done what I can at this point. I have made the changes necessary to be stronger, I have trained harder than I ever have and I have put the blood, sweat and pain in to be better than I was a year ago,” he says to himself… again.

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Growth through change or slaying a weakness, even if painful

Surprise yourself!

Surprise yourself!

Growth is painful…

It really is…

Change is more painful…

The past few months he has been on a radical change in his training regimen. He has forgone the usual MetCons or WODs in CrossFit and replaced them with linear progression, Wendler loading and de-loading cycles, mainly strength and Olympic lifting, more reps than he has done in the past two years.

He has been spending many hours in the box, many of those alone hearing his body, his breath, his heartbeat and feeling slow, deliberate movements rather than attacking a workout like a battle to be fought and conquered. He has gone back to the painful basics of lifts, movements and etc in pursuit to master them and keep proper form in mind.

It has been a heavy and strong endeavor as he has lifted and moved weight which has even surprised him on many levels. He has seen strengths where there once were possibly fatal weaknesses and seen strengths get stronger. He feels the lift with more prowess and virtuosity. He has had many physically tough lifts, many where he was afraid he would be crushed under the weight but was shocked he was able to even lift that and at the end he knew he was markedly stronger than where he was just four short months ago.

Four months ago he was broken from the Open, both mentally and physically. He had never seen lifts go so wrong or take so much effort to execute even for one repetition. He mentally had some of the worst lifts in his four years of CrossFit and had never felt that damaged.

The changes in his training were painful, he lived for the WODs and the MetCons, he was good at the endurance based stuff and being able to just knock out the movements with others around him, it was like adult playtime with heavy objects. He knew making this change in his regimen and going into the cycle, he would be giving up the thing he loved most about CrossFit, the community atmosphere. The first few weeks he felt isolated, like he was on a journey alone and not much motivation to go forward with the cycle. He was so easily tempted in going back to the normal class structure he was used to. He missed his Nooner group, the co-sweating it out, the co-effort, and the jocular atmosphere. It sucked.

As time grew on he began to see changes in the lifts, new growth in both muscle and understanding of the movements and in how he felt in his cycle. He started to see it work and felt the pain of the heavier lifts he was doing regularly versus whenever a strength day was written on the whiteboard. He saw a rapid growth rate in many things, akin to the growth he saw when he initially began his journey in CrossFit. These weren’t the small jumps, they were rather substantial in growth rate. That growth rate was pretty heavy and mentally challenging in dealing with. Sure, there were happy moments but it was seeing the change from him being the endurance athlete to being the strength athlete.

Clothing became outgrown, his attitudes on movement began to change and his overall posture and demeanor changed from the constant energy to something more sustained and reserved. He was seeing the fruits of his new discipline firsthand. Others started to ask him for advice on movements and etc, he felt obliged to impart and empower them with what he had learned as a pay it forward in the old Glassman adage, “If you learn something new, you teach another what you learned.”

Flash forward to four months, he is on the last month of his cycle and things are ramped up, with heavy and higher volume. He sees the light in the end of the tunnel, but knows the new challenge will be the MetCon as it will hurt for once. Its not going to be the typical run in the road and be done with it. He will struggle to do what he had so much ease in doing before.

In two months he will put all his training to the test as the first competition of the fall CrossFit competition season begins. Will he repeat the issues and weaknesses in the Open or will he be much stronger than he ever thought he was and surprise himself? Who knows, he just hopes his effort was not in vain but for actual change and growth as an athlete and ultimately as a person.

 

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ROARING like a lion, SOARING like an eagle or how to rebound from negativity.

soaring-eagle4

Soaring can give you clarity on what has passed and what is to come.

This past week has been a mental feast for him, stuff to munch on, mostly hard bites to swallow. He is doing his best to attempt to find a silver lining in it all or put a happy face on it, but those attempts are just that… attempts.

He read something he wrote four years ago and he realized he is cycling self doubt, insecurities and lack of worth again. Clearly, some cycles don’t go away in time. Clearly, they stick around like old gum under a school desk from decades past, not going away until  discovered, or rediscovered as a matter of fact.

He has always been told he has a heart of lion in the effort he puts forward in his competitions and tasks given to him. He knows there is no substitute for hard work and effort as both are important parts of the equation of power and success. He sees a heavier barbell, he accepts it is heavier than he is used to but knows to at least give it a shot, failing at the lift isn’t a matter of his weakness it means he has a new goal to attain to as an athlete. He takes on a challenge of something he is not used to and knows if he succeeds at the movement, even if he has to fight hard for it and it hurts, he did it and that immense satisfaction overcomes his being… giving him joy.

When he takes on something far heavier than he is used to it gives him this face of a lion which is roaring for all he is worth. It is a powerful and loud roar. It rumbles the ground under him and carries throughout the atmosphere around him. He is a beast in its most primal and regal form. He gets this from fighting for it and through his diligent effort not to give up.

Soaring, is another story. Though his most marked symbol on him is an eagle, he hardly feels like one. He stumbles through life, wondering if he is good enough, if he is strong enough to take on another one of life’s curveballs, if he will ever fit in with those around him.

He had wings once, they were burned off of him as he flew too close to the sun, like Icarus and fell violently back down to earth, injuring not only his mentality but his self worth. He then grows some new, weaker wings. He then tries to take off and flies a little then falls back down again breaking the new wings, so he has to fight his way back up to the nest. He then sits on the branch of life and heals and regrows. He goes over and over and over and over the failure and it becomes this odd cycle.

If only he could have the strength of his roar when he is tested physically in his flight through life he would have an impressive soar and fly like he used to, with confidence and assuredness, not wavering in the wind nor caring what others think of how he flies. An eagle with a purpose and direction.

The past few days he has felt less like an eagle, he knows he is facing another life giant. His training is strong and ramping up, he needs to take his success in this venue and have the confidence he needs to keep his head up and train his being in growing stronger wings and  the confidence he needs to have to REALLY SOAR, not like an eaglet, but like a mighty eagle with a wingspan. He is good enough, sure he has been damaged in life, but as he has written before, each failure or fall needs to be viewed as a launchpad for future success. His legs are strong and have horsepower, his upper body and wings need to have the same power to lift him in the air, then he will be able to soar and roar.

Life isn’t about failure it is about how you rebound and take on new heights.

This post was inspired by this song on a bike ride home from the box.

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The compelling of fear or taking the jump in life, for time.

Sometimes the journey gets scary or tedious.

Sometimes the journey gets scary or tedious.

Fear…

It is what drives us to fight or flight, it is what drives us to take a risk or give up, it is what compels us to make one choice over another it also can either make you buck up or back off.

He has never been a person based in fear until he was expelled from a city he was in love with and loved being, it was a rejection from a lover who no longer wanted him there. The expulsion from the city caused him to live a lot more cautiously but it also took its toll and replaced a fearless energy with a deep injection of fear and rejection. One that when in a place where he would have gone head first into something, he observes before making a move. The unknown or the grey clouds of uncertainty circle above his head and around him like a giant he is staring at head on but paralyzed to actually face down and slay.

He takes the risks at his proving ground of fitness all the time, he dares to go heavier, he dares to move the weight around in a manner most call power. He has no problem facing a physical element and making it work for him or at least trying at it. He looks at a bar and knows he is going to move it from one plane to another or along a singular plane of movement. He used to be afraid of the barbell and now he looks at it as a tool to getting stronger and a sort of combine for his weaknesses and strengths. It is his therapist and his redemption on many things.

So there is a disconnect between the fearlessness he has in one venue and the fear he has in one much more important.  Life is one big WOD you just can’t say time on, it is much bigger than a 7 minute Fran, it is something that he can’t leave at the gym and it is something he can’t just do and be done with it. It is much more complicated than that. Sure there is living, but then there is LIVING. The latter requires a fearless, take risks attitude, the former is mediocre, wrought with fear and complacent.

He is afraid of taking that step or this jump because it brings the very real possibility of rejection and failure. He knows that you learn nothing from successes and learn everything from failure and rejection… even if those are hard bites to swallow. He is unsure if it will all work out or the cost of yet another failure in life and what that will bring. It has taken him a while to rebound from the rejection of the city lover.

A few weeks ago, he had the opportunity to jump from a ledge. Due to fear he decided not to and he kicks himself for it, was it fear of injury or fear of looking like a fool, or heights. All of the above. He should have at least jumped to prove to himself he still has some semblance of fearlessness.

In the end he needs to take the jump and do life, for time.

Does it mean he is immune from being rejected again or failing? Absolutely not. He just wants to see a little success in his life and wants to see the bigger vista of the horizon at this point. His fear is blinding his focus on seeing the beauty ahead.

Fear-of-Success-Fear-of-Failure-1

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The Cycle of Fear or how to make a foe a frenemy… Again. Again. Again.

Sometimes stripping off all the weight and going for a restart can make you stronger, so much stronger...

Sometimes stripping off all the weight and going for a restart can make you stronger, so much stronger…

He constantly deals with anxiety, anxious thoughts and fear of failure and flying… it is not the best thought processes in his head nor is it a good mental state in most cases or any case at all. He tends to analyze and overanalyze all, well most of, life’s potential scenarios and tends to air on the side of worst case scenario.

Maybe it is his uber fatalist stance on things or maybe its his hyper, “be prepared for anything” reality. Either way it tends to get the best of him and he is left in the cycle of fear.

The cycle of fear is this… and it happens relatively fast.

Within a few seconds he can go from confident to near accepting defeat.

The first stage he goes through is a fast look through of what is in front of him, he makes a split decision if he knows he can do it or not, if the latter he proceeds onto the next step, the over analyzation or compartmentalization of defeat.

The more fatal is the latter. It is where he resigns the weight of the situation and says, “I cannot do it. So I am scaling and etc. Or worse, I am going to do something else.” Fear tends to be a result of failing time and time again at a singular thing or a myriad of things and it prohibits any brave undertaking or courageous thing. It onsets anxiety, worry, it is a destructive force. He has been working on minimizing this cycle by going back to the basics, like severely back to the basics in what he is doing.

He has seen where issues and weaknesses lay and how they are tied with the cycle of fear and has decided to face both head on. He has been spending a lot of quality time with PVC pipes and empty barbells in his quest to make sure mistakes or fears are not met again.

He thinks to himself, “Wow. This is weak sauce, I mean empty barbells and working on one movement and focusing on a piece of the movement is seriously frustrating.”

He gets more criticism on the lift or the part of it and then goes back to that part. Again and again and again and again. He continues doing this for countless more lifts and reps until something of memory is ingrained in his body and muscles.

There are some old videos he used to watch of Coach Mike Burgener coaching various people in his garage gym, the original CrossFit box, and there were many moments where Coach Burgener would tell the athlete to, “Put the —-ing bar down and sit down.” Then after the athlete would breathe out frustration, Burgener would say, “Do it again.”

The athlete would not be up to Coach’s par and would be told the same, the same, the same until BLAM, moment of success.

The athlete began to memorize how to correctly do the lifts with form being key and their muscles started to mold around what they were being told to do. As a result the athlete was able to lift heavier and faster due to dealing with the foe as an empty barbell.

He trained today doing the same method, his coach being Steven and being told the same cues as the athletes in the garage were told. He knows going this route isn’t creating weakness but is building proper technique and form while making a bar more of a frenemy over a full on foe.

He is forgoing the usual training in expectation of making a fearful foe, well less than and making sure he never feels the issues he has experienced as of late. He figures 10 thousand reps later he will be well adept and a master over the bar, not the other way around.

So in hitting a weakness he breaks his cycle of fear, until then…

Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again.

 

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From Party Boy to Warrior or how a barbell saved my life.

At the end of the day, day you can't regret it if you were trying if you were trying.

At the end of the day, day you can’t regret it if you were trying if you were trying.

I know many of you have seen me write about my long-term love affair and essential marriage to the movement called CrossFit the past few years. It has been as tumultuous as an actual marriage and I always keep on coming back for more because without it much of my life simply makes no sense.

Here is my backstory…

I was playing collegiate lacrosse for my university’s club team and had just finished my time with them. The party atmosphere I had developed in myself while on the team, still existed. I learned on the team I was in fact a solid athlete when it came to endurance, I was in the midst of triathlon training as well. Academically around that time was a low point, due to the constant partying and constant social life I had a fondness for beer but not for this thing called studying and getting coursework done, mainly was either too drunk or too hungover to ACTUALLY develop a cognizant thought. Academically and personally I was a mess and things were wrecked beyond what is acceptable.

I was kicked out of school due to my academic progress and had just been accepted back after a semester away at another school to show I could handle coming back to take classes seriously at NAU.

I was accepted back to NAU and was talking to a couple friends who were in crazy great shape and always saw their pictures on Facebook of what they were doing. I was intrigued. I had to enroll full-time to be back in school and had one extra credit I had to fill and saw this class that could be fun, it was called CrossFit Bootcamp. I, in fear and trepidation decided against all better judgement to sign up for the class, knowing the word Bootcamp scared the shit out of me. I wanted the challenge and needed to fill the void where lacrosse and other stuff athletically had once existed. I remember talking to some friends in Tuscon who had been doing this thing called CrossFit for a couple years and told them I had signed up for the class, she and her then fiancé (now husband) told me it was definitely an ass kicker and tough but both said it was something I would like because it was a brutal challenge.

I nervously anticipated my first class the night before as I was honestly scared about doing the class, the idea of hitting something that hard to the point I could puke or pass out in a pool of sweat didn’t seem like a fun time, it seemed like torture.

I drove up to Summit, (my former gym, and yes, I drove a car at one point too) and my heart was racing, I was more nervous than excited, I entered the “classroom” and saw some frat guys, sorority chicks and other ROTC students, I think I was the only one without an actual affiliation, so I was the loner. Jarrod and John came forth and some other guy handed out the disclaimer and indemnity forms, I thought, “Sweet, what I am about to do and signed up for could actually kill me. Awesome!”

We were given the intro to the methodology of CrossFit and a Burgener Warm Up then the workout was unveiled. It was a fit test to assess where we were at, it consisted of squats, pull ups, push ups and a mile run. I thought phew, this is doable. I did it and my results weren’t so bad. The next class was the real workout, it was pretty awful that is all I remember… Some Longest Mile bullshit, like 20 pull ups, 30 push ups, 25 squats, some prone rows and KB Swings then run 400 meters and you did it 4 times, hence being the longest mile to run. I finished it in 45 minutes and was drenched on the floor. I thought, “What the fuck did I just accomplish? Did I actually do what I read not even an hour ago? I am so toasted.”

I got in the car feeling wrecked like I had never felt before and woke up the next morning with soreness I had never felt either. I was smacked against a tree and it felt fucking great! I remember going into the next class sorer than ever because I am a delayed onset person, so 48 hours after and I am at my peak. I saw this 300 workout on the board and knew it was going to be tough. I finished it in a sweat drenched pool once again, soreness on soreness and it was awesome. I started to fall in love with what I was doing.

I began to realize fast I was going to have to make lifestyle changes to keep up with doing well at this thing called CrossFit and knew the excessive partying and long weekends of drunkenness were doing nothing for my progress in the class. I saw myself staying in more on the weekends and nights in general and was using that time of rest to do homework and other course related stuff. It was a complete change and essential 180 from where I was at when I had enrolled in the class. Even a couple of my professors and faculty advisor had remarked on the change they saw. It was seriously impressive to them, I guess. I saw for the first time in my college career a 3.0 semester, and the subsequent was a 3.5.

I was eventually asked by Jarrod about leaving the Bootcamp class and taking the On-Ramp class that I would learn the different Olympic lifts and other movements pertain ant to CrossFit WODs. I thought about it for a month before actually signing up for the class. I ended up passing the On Ramp and was allowed to train with the beasts. I remember to this day, nearly four years later what my first WOD was, it was Elizabeth. I remember new soreness from that one because it was an actual lift with a real barbell. 

In retrospect and all good hindsight, a barbell and CrossFit saved my life. In so many ways. It took me out of an abusive situation with beer and alcohol and replaced it with health, wellness and fitness. It took away the irresponsibility of not doing what I needed to do to succeed and replaced it with a near military discipline or behavior of responsibility and stability. CrossFit was a saving grace for me, it gave me a place to channel my negative output and create and build a positive output on life. I am constantly challenged by it and its dividends are many. I have seen the skinny boy become a strong man, I have seen the party boy replaced with a warrior and so forth.

I am thankful for the best decision in my life over five years ago. It put so much into motion and made me the man I am today. It made me strong, stable, wise, cognizant and ultimately saved me from myself. I am forever grateful to those who have been a part of my journey in CrossFit as they have unknowingly mentored me to be a better man and gave me a community where fitness and healthy choices are nurtured and empowered.

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