Over the past couple weeks I’ve been able to talk with a few people in a few different disciplines about “wanting it”. Having the privilege of being around a few pretty high level athletes in my time I have been able to see the rather distinct line between those athletes who really want what they are going for, and those who are just hoping to do really well. Additionally, I get to hang out in a gym, coaching athletes every day, and I get to see the exact same thing. Those athletes who give it their all, they are the ones that see the greatest gains and end up making it to the next level.
Not this is pretty self-explanatory when you think about it for a few seconds: the athletes who put in the best work see the greatest results. Duh! But this is about something a little deeper than that. This is about committing every single aspect of your life to the thing you want the most. If you do you put yourself in the greatest position for success, if you do not, well, chances are pretty high that you’ll come up short.
So what do I mean when I say “wanting it”? Well, I really think it should be pretty simple to understand, but it turns out most people have a tendency to lie to themselves about what they really want, and what they are doing to get it. I’ll be so bold as to say that about 99.9% of the people reading g this right now fall right into the “not smart enough” category. If you feel a tad defensive, would it help if I put myself into that category as well? Eh, probably not, but maybe I’ll use myself as an example rather than insult you all any more.
I wanted to play professional baseball after college. I wasn’t good enough to get drafted so I decided I would do whatever it took to get there. I “wanted it”. Every chance I got I was working on pitching. I studied the body and how to make myself function better as a human and as a pitcher. I trained each and every day for it. I researched how to program throwing to get better at what I did and I filmed myself on a daily basis throwing against a fence because I had no throwing partners or coaches who could help me. I ate as best I could, I trained as best I could, and every second of every day after I graduated college was focused on how I could make it to the next level. And while I never played in the big leagues, it worked, and I made it enough to play three years of professional baseball.
Flash forward to this the 2013 CrossFit Games Open. I wanted to make it to Regionals after just missing a shot at the Games last year with a team. I trained hard, sure. I ate well, sure. I studied up on programming and what it took to be that level of an athlete, sure. I did all that, but did I do it with the same intensity and drive as I did back when I wanted that baseball contract? Nope. And if you remember my sappy, self-pity party post from post-Open failure, I lied straight to my own face about the work I put in. I got stronger, better, and all that great stuff. But I took rest days when I probably shouldn’t have, I slipped up on my diet good amount of times, and when I should have committed to dropping down to a better weight of 220 or so, I allowed myself to stay around 235. That did NOT help and the two workouts that involved a ton of body weight proficiency had me finishing far enough behind to miss regionals by only a couple spots. I was pissed. And I was so pride-filled that I refused to see the holes in my approach. I chose instead to blame something external and avoid the pain of taking responsibility for not doing the right things.
I didn’t “want it”. OK, enough of the quotations. If someone truly wants something they will do whatever it takes to get there. They wont take weeks off, or extra days off. They won’t find excuses for not staying focused. And that’s exactly what it is that gets in the way of people making it to that next level, excuses. You’ll always be able to tell the people who want it because they never make excuses and just do the work. There’s no talking about it, no bragging, no cheat days, no extra days off. It’s all dedication, commitment, and intelligence. I used to keep a note in my wallet and looked at every morning and night, it said: “what did you do today to make yourself and better baseball player”. Jason Khalipa (just finished 2nd in the CrossFit Games today) wrote on the wall of his garage gym: “what’s Rich Froning doing?” (Froning won, his 3rd straight year).
Whatever it is that motivates you, use it. If you feel like making excuses, don’t. If you really want something, ask yourself: how bad? If you really want something you will find a way. If you just sort of want it, you’ll find yourself making excuse after excuse and blaming other things rather than being honest with yourself and taking responsibility for your failures.
If you want something, go GET IT!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
I'll start this post with a review of my first ever weightlifting event. Turns out it was a historic event with something like 209 competitors in total, and myself and my training partner were "lucky" enough to be in the absolute last heat! The California State Games are run similar to the Olympics in that there are Summer and Winter Games. Each season begins in a slew of events covering a good collection of sports, and from what I could find, there seems to be a pretty good history of some highly successful athletes who have come through to compete. Unfortunately they take pl;ace in San Diego and started in early July so I wasn't able to attend the opening ceremonies and all the awesome crazy that apparently happened. I got to show up late Saturday night, hang out until late Sunday afternoon and then trek out to a pretty damn secluded CrossFit gym that was hosting the weightlifting event over the course of three days.
I'll make two comments on the organization of the whole thing before going into my experience. First, the thing was run damn smoothly. I think they were maybe off by one or two minutes here and there and that is incredibly impressive given the amount of people they had coming through. Not sure how they pulled it off, but it's really cool they did and I respect the hell out of the organizers for running such a tight ship. The unfortunate aspect of the whole event was that it took us almost 40 minutes to find the place. There was no instruction anywhere explaining where the crazy hidden gym was actually located and there were no signs posted anywhere showing anyone the way. We drove all over the place and finally found our way to an office park, behind another office park, here the gym was wedged in. The warm up area was cramped and muggy, the weigh-in room was in a hoarders-type room with old medical equipment stacked to the ceiling, and the platform was under a tent, outside in the tiny behind-the-offices parking lot. At first we were completely thrown off by the seemingly makeshift set up of everything. The location of the entire place was so out in the middle of nowhere that I think we were more frustrated than anything. But once we settled into the whole thing, we mostly forgot about how sketchy everything was and just enjoyed ourselves.
So, on to the experience. I was feeling good and prepared, not nervous or anything, just excited to experience something new! I chose to open with 95kg (209lbs), a weight I was sure I could hit and all I wanted to do was make sure I got at least one successful lift! They announced when I was on deck, I strolled out to the awkward waiting area behind a tent on a sidewalk where there were a few chairs and pulled up the top of my singlet. When they announced it was my turn, I chalked up my hands, approached the bar, took and breath and ripped it over my head. It honestly felt like it was 20 pounds, just flew up in a power snatch. It almost knocked me over! I dropped the bar, nodded to the judges and walked back off the platform to announce my next attempt to the announcer. I'd go for 100kg (220lbs). It went exactly the same as the first lift, but this time I over-tensed up and the forward pull of the bar sent me running to the front of the platform. I was able to catch my balance with locked out arms just as my toe reached the front of the wood and the head judge was ready to dive out of the way to save his own life! Two whites, one red, good lift (there are three judges who award you wither a red or white "light"; you need two or all three whites for a good lift)! I initially asked for 103, but then said what the hell, I'll go for 105kg (231 and would be a PR). Just missed it! Oh well, I was happy with 100.
After that I was able to chill for a bit before warming up the clean and jerk. Still feeling good! I hit my opening lift of 130kg (286lbs) and again, it felt like an empty bar. It almost knocked me over it felt so light, and I actually felt like I was trying to stop the bar from flying straight up o the jerk. I was happy with that feeling. I announced my second attempt at 135 (297 and a potential PR clean AND jerk). Caught it a little forward but it was smooth all around. I was stoked for that lift. Next was my choice of going for 140, or playing it safe and going for a somewhat reasonable 138. Went back and forth a little and chose to go for 138 (303.6). Hit it!! Made 5 out of 6 lifts and got a 238 total. Very happy (and I beat Mike by 3 kilos!!!!). What an awesome experience all around, and I am really looking forward to doing more and more of these coming up.
OK, after the fun was over and I got back, I was back to training today. Felt crazy slow under the bar for the weightlifting complexes I have programmed for this next phase, but the tough part was the new phase of powerlifts we have coming up; sick! Working quickly up to our heaviest triple, then down and back up with doubles, then down and back up on singles, LOTS of lifting heavy weights!! Additionally I am adding some CrossFit style workouts back to the program and while today's was fun (power snatches, rope climbs, muscle ups and HSPU's) it felt like I hadn't done a tough workout like that in years. It'll be interesting incorporating these back into the program on a regular basis now, especially since I really want to get my weightlifting total form 238 to 260 as soon as I can!
The program I'm on now is filled with lots of heavy weightlifting, serious squatting at constantly heavy weights, heavy pressing and heavy deadlifting. Very carefully programmed accessory work and now, some regular accessory-based metcons. I've been feeling so good with everything, I can't wait to see how far this gets me over the course of the next couple months.
Rock on, that's all I got for now!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Recently I've been so obsessed over being honest with yourself about who you are as a person. I think that with all the changes going on in my life, it's been hard to for me to balance the outside world with my own inner being. But I'm always up for a challenge and it's clearly been an effort that I happy to have to go through. I know it's so damn hard to sit with oneself and really take a look within to figure out what's going on. But it's something I feel so strongly about, that I will always find time to do it myself, and try to motivate others to do as well. I am one of those guys that really believes in sayings like: "you can not truly love others until you love yourself" and "to thy'n own self be true".
My mother used to always tell me and my brother and sisters to "take care of you, and if you do that you'll take care of me". All she ever wanted of us was to do what's best for ourselves. And she knew, that when you do that honestly, you end up taking care of everyone and every thing around you. It's like the concept of eating perfectly clean. If you truly do so, you can eat as much as you want and you'll always be healthy. This is the case because your body will never crave more than what it needs if you are doing the right thing. If you treat yourself wonderfully, are honest and open with yourself, you will inevitably be honest and open and loving to others.
But what is the easiest thing to do in this situation? Lie to yourself. It is probably the most common thing I can think of when it comes to self-analysis to lie to oneself. Why is this the case? Well, the easiest response is that it's really crappy to accept that you have negative qualities abut yourself! Why on earth would I go around admitting to sucking at something? In my mind I want to be perfect, really good at the things I like, incredibly attractive in all the senses of the word. But the truth of the matter is that every single person on Gods earth has something negative about them. It doesn't matter how good you are, or how well-intentioned a person you are, there is something (probably many things) about you that just ain't that great. Does this mean you suck as a person? For most people, no. It just means you aren't perfect. Duh! Who is? Nobody!
I've given all sorts of ways to give yourself a better chance of being honest with yourself over the past year of blog posting. But in the end, there is nothing myself, or anyone can do to help you get there. It is YOUR choice to be the person you truly want to be. All I can always talk about is not bull shitting yourself, ever. It's hard, but aren't moist things that are important? And imagine the payback for being honest with yourself! You'll have stronger relationships and friendships, you'll be better at what you do, you'll enjoy your life so much better! Obviously you could play the whole "ignorance is bliss" card and be perfectly "happy" the rest of your life being a moron. Well, I guess I don't have an argument for that, and I honestly don't feel like I should have one.
Anyway, enough ranting away. I just think this is something we should all make sure we focus on a little on a regular basis. It's so easy to distract yourself or lose sight of who you are with all the crazy things life throws at you. But if you take the time to make sure you're taking care of YOU, then perhaps you'll have a better chance of being a honest person. Acknowledge the stupid things you do, the ignorant and negative habits you might have. The more you can acknowledge these things, the easier it will be to deal with them and maybe become a little better!
Here's to a better, more honest life!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
It's been a while since I've written about my own programming and how it's going, so I thought I'd share. It's been going well. I've steered away from the classic CrossFit plan and more towards a straight up strength and weightlifting focus, it's been fun to say the least! While I do enjoy getting my butt kicked in the gym with a brutal metcon here and there, I do very much enjoy the day to day demands of a very serious strength training program. I am watching my numbers creep up slowly but surely, and when I keep my food in check, my mood, energy, and weight all keep getting better and better.
The best part about the program as of late is that i have a group of people to workout with. Team Courage has been a slowly building project at the gym and as of now we have five really serious members, and another 3 who are a tad less involved. The energy around this group looking through the programming and hitting the gym hard has been one of the best aspects of my training I've ever had. Couple that with the feeling of pride I have every day when I walk into y own gym with the big orange wall and my logo on it, I just feel good about where everything is going.
So, the program itself is using three major sources as its motivation: the strength program I wrote two years ago that saw 100% success rate in all athletes who've gone through the whole thing, a very, very base level conceptual feel for the Bulgarian Method of training, and some aspects to how a few of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting programs have been designed. I can comfortably say that this program is about 98% mine (most/all good programs use tons of research and ideas taken from other programs already in existence) and to be honest, I have an idea of what will come out of it at the end, but I am really curious to see just how big some of our gains will be.
We are pulling heavy weights from the blocks each day (working 80% and up on all sets) and then our strength work is seeing about 8+ programed sets each day. It's pretty brutal having to work up to 100+% of your 5RM or 3RM and then head back down to 85% and work back up again. The combination of load and volume is something that has taken a little to adapt to. But, I feel like I'm adapting pretty well and I am feeling stronger each day. My drill work with the Olympic lifts is now consistently only 10-15# below my best ever lift. While this is depressing that my 1RM sucks, it's promising that I am getting more efficient and consistent at heavy loads. Here's what a typical week looks like:
Monday: snatch, squat, snatch strength accessory
Tuesday: snatch, clean and jerk (light, drill)
Wednesday: clean and jerk, bench, front squat, c+j accessory
Thursday: snatch, deadlift, strength accessory
Saturday: snatch, clean and jerk, squat
It's been intense, but real fun. I am hoping to get to my first ever Weightlifting meet this coming weekend, but it's way down in San Diego and I am not sure I can get there. We'll see. Either way, it'd be SO much fun to actually compete at this stuff. I am setting up goals slowly but surely.
My food has gotten under control and I am down to around 235# consistently. I think that I'd feel my best around 225-230 and I'll probably be there next week and will plan to stay there for the next few training cycles. I have a lot going on, and all going in the right direction, so that's cool in my head.
Have a good deal of business and personal stuff going on that could be a lot better, and I will be filling everyone in on the details about all that pretty soon. TONS of growth for the company coming up but I want to keep some of it under wraps until things are 100% confirmed. I will also fill people in with some of the crummy stuff that has led to all this good stuff as well. Should be an exciting few months for sure. I do like writing about my workouts and programs, so I'll be sure to make a point to continue doing that as the summer progresses.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This is the first of a new effort in this blog to reach out to some new resources. You'll see interviews, guest posts, and some more fun stuff over the coming months.
My first guest blog post comes from my longest running client, and now Head Coach at Courage Performance East, Andrew Whitener. "Whitey" had always been one of the hardest working athletes I ever had. His passion to improve his baseball game was infectious and it was always a joy to train him. When he expressed interest in getting into the training/coaching world, it was a pretty seamless transition. Now, as Head Coach at the East Coast branch, he has taken the responsibility of being the only employee of a portion of this company that I have spent 10 years building; needless to say he jumped right into the deep end! And has been doing a wonderful job! Here is his first post, of many to come!
A few weeks ago I was invited to be a speaker at Career Day at local charter school’s in my hometown of Washington, D.C. A friend of mine teaches at the school, and she thought that the kids (I would be talking to seventh and eighth graders) wouldn’t eat me alive, so I gladly agreed to participate. Now, I had obviously listened to adults come and talk in school when I was younger, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember any of them with any clarity. Thus, I really had no idea how to organize my “presentation,” so I went into the day pretty unsure of myself. I’ve always been confident in my ability to think quickly and talk on my feet, but I must say, the prospect ofaddressing a room full of 13-14 year olds was a little intimidating – middle schoolers can be ruthless.
The direction I decided to go in was a simple one – I told the brief version of my own life story and how I came to work for Courage Performance. For those that don’t know me (which, I assume, is almost everyone reading this), I love the game of baseball more than any non-human thing in the world, and it played a large part in defining my life (at least, I thought it did) until I “retired” after my senior year of college. Thus, my baseball playing careerwas a big part of my talk. When I finished my story, we did a question and answer session for about fifteen minutes until it was time to move to a different classroom. The kids had a long list of pre-prepared questions, and I answered a lot of those, but the best and most interesting ones werethose they thought of on the spot.
In one of the last classrooms I spoke to, a kid asked me the question that motivated this post. He calmly raised his hand, and when I called on him, he asked,
“If you could go back in time, would you change anything about your baseball career?”
I stopped for a second and had a moment of true, honestintrospection that I then shared –
“No, I have absolutely no regrets. I would have loved to have performed at the level I thought myself capable of in college, which would have given me a better chance to play professionally, but I can honestly say that I worked as hard as I possibly could have to maximize my potential.”
And that’s what having no regrets means to me. Not that you could have gotten more hits, or made fewer errors, or given up fewer runs in the games you played, but that you couldn’t have done anything more to put yourself in a position to succeed. That was one of the big messages I wanted to send to the kids that day – that not everyone has enough innate ability to do exactly what they want to do, and not everyone has the same opportunities in life. What every single person is able to do, however, is work as hard as they possibly can to be prepared on the day opportunity comes knocking. The great thing about this is that it is entirely up to you, which brings me to the title of this blog post. Hold yourself accountable.
Only you know if you are getting up every day andworking as hard as you can to achieve whatever it is you want. I hear excuses from athletes all the time for why they were late to lift that day, or why they stopped coming in during their season, etc., etc., etc. Excuses always make me angry, but they shouldn’t, because at the end of the day, you are the one who has to look in the mirror and honestly evaluate your efforts. All that I, or Josh, or any coach or teacher can do is offer you the resources you need for success, and if you don’t decide to use them, well, then it doesn’t matter much what I think. Make it your goal, as I’ve made it mine, to go to bed every night knowing that you put in the best day’s work you could. Do I do it every day? Of course not. But I’m getting better.
I busted my ass my entire life to be the best baseball player that I could be, and simply, I reached my ceiling, and it was Ivy League Division 1 baseball. I am OK with that. I have a new primary obsession, and it’s being the best coach/trainer I can possibly be. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m committed to putting in a hard day’s work every single day. Are you?
Never Stop, Get FIT.
Andrew "Whitey" Whitener
It's pretty common to use metaphors to help explain what life is all about. We are high performance cars and we must fuel ourselves with the highest quality gas/fuel, and and make sure we bring ourselves into the best mechanics and auto-body people to constantly tune up and keep the thing running smoothly and perfectly (and looking clean and beautiful) for as long as possible. Makes sense.
This past weekend I was out in the woods, doing my little "hang with me" thing. I run around, stroll around, go off the trail and explore, climb trees, boulder rocks, and usually find a perfect spot to lay down and take a nap to completely clear my head of everything that's going on back in the "real world". I found a mossy rock deep in the woods about 10 miles from my place and as I was lying there I stared up into the swaying trees and though about the metaphor of us being like trees. Trees bend with the wind, but rarely, if ever, break. They adapt to their surroundings and are shaped and designed so that they can grow to be hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years old. Nature is one of the most brutal killers, and yet trees seem to withstand the test of time. Never really changing who they are, but dealing with the aggression of the world as it knows how.
Just watching them move in the wind is fascinating. They glide back and forth so calmly as the wind pushes through their branches and leaves. They just move side to side, chilling out there in the woods without a care in the world. What if we could live our lives like that? Nothing really effecting us in a bad way, just easily moving with our surroundings and never letting anything break us.
I was watching these trees dance in the wind and thought of some other metaphors for life. I thought of the idea of being a rock. Well, the sandstone rock I was on seemed to be pretty stable there. But when the harsh winds blew, it would mold itself over time, into a different form to adapt to those winds. While a rock seems to be never-changing in its space, it actually is a silent adapter. All the elements can change the structure of a rock over time, no matter how tough it thinks it is.
A friend of mine told me about a story his mother used to always tell him: you have a pot of boiling water and you can put three things in there, a carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean. When you put the carrot in the water, it softens. The tough, hard veggie reacts to the heat and becomes mushy and malleable. When you place the egg in the water, it hardens. The soft, liquid insides react to the heat by toughening up and becoming dense. And when you put the coffee bean in the water, the bean does not change at all; the water changes.
I've always like metaphors, I think they paint fun pictures and allow you to have different perspectives of your life. But in the end, we are not cars, or trees, or rocks, or carrots, or eggs, or coffee beans; we are people. Metaphors can and should be used to help build the imagination and help us understand that we are all connecting to so many things. But in the end, I find that so many people are disconnected with themselves that the only way for them to understand a situation is to make it NOT about them. Let's take the car example: we are people, we are highly functioning and NEED to put the absolute best nutrients in our body at all times. We need to constantly fill our bodies with those nutrients. We need to take ourselves to the best doctors, and other health professionals, clean ourselves, research how we work and make sure we are being taken care of on a daily basis so that we can last for a long time, and always be functioning well. Sadly this is rare to see. A lot of people just don't understand this.
People sometimes seem to understand how to take care of cars better than themselves.
To live to be old, and happy, we would be better off taking all the harshness of the world and just going with the flow. If we stand up to it with the same energy it's coming at us, we will be effected negatively by it no matter what. It may effect us quickly, it may take time, but it will break us down. And when we can calmly sway through the crazy of the world, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, and this allows us to change the world rather than have the world change and break us.
Just some musings for your Tuesday. Right or wrong, agree or disagree, I hope it makes you think a little.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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