Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 100

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 100

ISSUE # 100! No misses, 100 in a row.

WW Swimming in Galway

I had a lovely week in Galway and leave for County Claire and Belfast this week. Each day, I walk six kilometers out and back to Black Rock Diving Center and swim in Galway bay. The water temperature is about 14 Celsius/56 (or so) Fahrenheit.

This is “supposed to be good” for you. I would think so. It leads to naps, shivering and an interesting hunger. It certainly clears the head. I am working on some better ways to explain some things (like the concept of Stone) and I seem to get great insights whenever I dive into the water.

I strive for a 15-minute soak in the bay. If the water is calm, it is easier to stay in. On the big wave days, I don’t want to be on the front page: “Dumb American Dies Crushed on Galway Beach.”

But, I feel better and think better.

I hope to have much better clarity with some things, especially as they relate to coaching up the Quadrant II and III athletes. The water seems to bring my thoughts into focus.

There is a large group of people in Galway who swim in the cold weather year round. It’s interesting to talk to them as they are often many years my senior but they have such concern about “younger” issues like the environment and climate. Ireland, as well as Costa Rica, seems to have adults who understand the “Big Picture” of life on this planet.

I looked at a few things on the web this week.

Thanks to Paul Dunne for this. I will be spending two days with Paul and this is just some fun stuff. Lots of information on all aspects of health and fitness here.

Bob Ward, the great thrower and former coach with the Dallas Cowboys (we can forgive him for that!), once noted that the best way to slow an athlete down is to get them to think.

“The brain is the unseen muscle behind all great athletes, and in the 100-metre sprint it has to work on autopilot. ‘We learn movement in the motor cortex but when it’s locked in it moves to the back of the brain,’ says Aki Salo, an associate professor in sport biomechanics at the University of Bath. Salo works with a number of British athletes and has studied the performance of Ashleigh Nelson, a sprinter who travelled to Rio as part of the 100-metre relay team, for our film. ‘If Ashleigh starts to think about other athletes or where she is in the race, the neural system starts to give way and technique breaks down.’

“’After a good race you probably remember nothing,’ Pickering adds. ‘I only have memories of bad races.’

“If sprinting is a battle to focus, it’s also a fight against fatigue, which sets in almost instantly. Weyand says another area of study still being explored is the mechanics and chemistry of tiring. Sprinters who win by appearing to storm ahead in the final metres are not speeding up, but slowing down the least quickly. Bolt hits top speed about 70m into the race. Tests done on stationary bikes, in which big resistance is added suddenly to a rider turning the pedals at a high cadence, show that the power exerted drops on the second stroke and continues to decline.

“’It’s the same on the track,’ Weyand says. ‘When Bolt hits top speed second he’s already fatigued. What we can do is quantify the rate of that fatigue and calculate the loss in performance.’ One of Bolt’s biggest advantages is that his long legs mean that he runs 41 steps in a race compared with 45 for his rivals; his muscles have four fewer chances to get tired. Each time, the muscles use a chemical energy called ATP, which has to be replenished constantly to maintain performance. ‘We think there’s something about that cycle that causes fatigue but don’t know exactly what it is yet,’ he adds. One place scientists are looking for the answer is the heart, which contracts in the same way but never gets tired.”

Someone pinged me this t-nation article and I liked what I read. Then, I realized something about the author. Someone needs to remind me about what I write.

“I use PVC pipes for making practice Scottish hammers, parallettes bars, and slosh pipes. I love making my own equipment and many of the ideas are absolute idiocy, but it’s fun.

“My first sled was a broken wheelbarrow loaded with concrete. Today, I have a nice fancy one and a Prowler, but nothing was as fun as sprinting with the rusty old wheelbarrow scraping the earth and making a noise like a fighter jet. Sigh.”

I am a HUGE fan of FitRanx. I am so happy Nick is getting some exposure.

“And that last element, community, is another that FitRanX has addressed so intelligently. CrossFit popularized the idea of a fitness community, and many consumers now expect to find community at any reputable gym. Inherent in the FitRanX system is a unique blending of community-building and elements of competition and events. This is something that seems to blend the best elements of friendly competition and community. It is, in many ways, very similar to martial arts gyms in that the testing is a gathering of a supportive community, and a chance to celebrate an individual’s commitment, effort, and achievement.”

That article was linked to this one. Again, I forgot I wrote it!

“Most people have an age that they fear. Often, you hear women claim to be 39 for decades, as if somehow that year makes everything go south. Fifty sits there with its own Roman numeral, ‘L,’ and also has the phrase ‘Half-Century’ tossed in with it.

“I have always found solace in the phrase: ‘It’s not the years, it’s the miles.’ Research from Germany in the 1950s taught us that strength, if trained, remains long into the early fifties. But, after that, things happen. Joseph Campbell described aging like the pieces of an old car suddenly falling off: first, the side mirror; now, the bumper.

“Aging is inevitable. Every calendar year, your age will increase by a factor of one, and you can look that up if you don’t believe me. But, aging doesn’t have to be given the victory. With a little thinking and some reasonable training, you can keep the side mirror and bumper on for a long time.

“Loaded carries build youthful strength.

“Set a positive example for the younger generation.

“A Two-Phase Training Approach

“John Powell, former world record holder in the discus, once gave me some advice for older athletes at breakfast in Orlando, Florida. He noted older athletes need to rediscover two things: ‘muscle’ and passion. He envisioned that we should train in two phases:

  •     Phase One: Hypertrophy and rediscovering the joy of movement
  •     Phase Two: Reigniting passion

“For phase two, ‘Passion’ comes from the root, ‘to suffer.’ Whenever we speak about passion, we tend to jump right into the bedroom, but we also have to learn to suffer for what we love. It could be as simple as sore body parts after training or cutting checks for trips to championships.

“For phase one, there are movements that are the fountain of youth. I break lifting into six global categories, the fundamental human movements:

  •     Push
  •     Pull
  •     Hinge
  •     Squat
  •     Loaded Carries
  •     The Sixth Movement (which is basically everything else)

“Hypertrophy is easy. Just focus on the push, pull, and squat. These are the best movements for piling on muscle.

  •     Push: The press family: bench, incline, overhead, decline, push ups, and tons more
  •     Pull: The pull and row family. Any time you seem to be embracing something, that’s a pull.
  •     Squat: Maximum knee bend with maximum hip bend. Front, back, Zercher, goblet, and overhead squats.

“One caveat: I insist that your total reps in these three moves be all the same. So, if your workout has 50 pushes, you had better have 50 squats and at least 50 pulls. It’s okay for most American males to pull more. Our throwing sports tend to lead to some issues that pulling seems to help.

“If the over-fifty athlete can only do one thing, I would recommend three days a week of push, pull, and squat. You will look good, which tends to lead to feeling good, which seems to help you keep moving good (well).”

I thought this was a great article on the role the First Lady had on working to improve children’s health in the USA. I was often shocked at the choices my daughters were given in school; I hope we can take a more “eat like an adult” approach to children’s nutrition.

“Tackling America’s obesity problem needs to involve more than making junk foods more healthy; it needs to make healthy food more visible and available, said Michael Moss, author of the book Salt Sugar Fat.

“‘As much as I’ve harped on the companies about salt, sugar, fat, reducing the salt, sugar, fat in their products — as they are now all doing — is probably not the priority for a healthier diet,’ Moss said. ‘Adding good stuff is much harder than shrinking the bad.’

“Looking back, Kass hopes people appreciate how challenging improving the food environment is. ‘What people don’t understand is just how hard change really is, how hard every right and every victory comes — particularly in this day and age, with Congress deadlocked and cynicism at all-time highs.'”

Mike Rosenberg sent this in and it makes me want to get back to cartwheels. Before my total hip replacement, I enjoyed doing these anywhere at any time. Goal time!

Don’t miss the follow-up here.

Finally, after doing all the cartwheels, it is nice to know I’m not the only one who believes in the morning recharge.

Next week, I will still be here. Ideally, we will continue lifting and learning.


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