Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 101

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 101

New on OTP this week: Eric Beard on t-spine impairment

I have had a delightful time in Ireland. I am on the train to Sligo this morning after a great workshop in Belfast and a night in Dublin with my daughter, Lindsay.

I got some walking in and around Belfast and Dublin, but I miss the daily swim. I will be in the ocean in a few hours again.  I am hoping to link up with some rugby strength coaches and learn some of what is new and different.

I can’t get over the quality of the Irish newspapers. They go into so much depth on each and every sport and team. I  had a great time with Paul Dunne and he mentioned an article about a GAA football from County Mayo. It is brilliant. “Commitment to the Process.”

“I especially remember one Saturday morning in MacHale Park a couple of weeks after that year’s league final, about six weeks out from the first round of championship. The players came up to the gym in sets of three, where before being passed on to me for some individual goal-setting, they first met Ed Coughlan, the team’s then S&C coach with also a training in skill acquisition. He asked the players to take off their runners. So they take off their runners, in most cases, taking off their right shoe before their left. That was Coughlan’s point; if you’re right handed, you tend to do everything with your right first. But if you were to start doing things with your left, it would set off neurons that would help improve everything off your left. So to improve their left-hand fist-passing, there were players who didn’t just fist-pass to a team or to a wall 100 times a day; they’d brush their teeth with their left hand. Ger Cafferkey walked out the door that day with a bottle in his hand, only to put it back down on the ground, and then, to the laugher of us all, slide over to the other side of the bottle and pick it up with his left hand and recommence his walk to the door. That was the mentality of the group. That was their commitment to the process.”

Well, I love that article. For “how NOT to coach,” I offer this article…from a different set of Irish:

“The center did a very bad job snapping the ball. But lots of players on both teams had trouble handling the ball in a hurricane. (It was really funny to watch.) And yet Kelly continued to ask Mustipher to snap out of the shotgun. And he continued to ask DeShone Kizer to pass the ball, even though conditions made it difficult. NC State simply chose to run the ball instead of passing a lot.

“A better coach would’ve prepared his team for a rainy day by focusing on non-shotgun snaps and running plays. An equally bad coach with a better heart would’ve accepted responsibility for failing to do so. Kelly did neither, instead opting to trash his center.

“College football players fail frequently. It’s part of what makes the sport interesting. But when they do, multimillionaire coaches should at least accept blame for not doing a better job of coaching players.

“Kelly often forgets about that part of the bargain.”

Chris Shuggart did a nice job here of summing some of the issues with diet and food. Frankly, the quality of food needs to be addressed as whenever I come to Europe and enjoy the high quality of dairy, fish and veggies, I think I see the true issue with the obesity epidemic. Nonetheless, this was a good solid piece.

“This is why the simple advice of ‘keep a food log’ usually leads to better nutrition and fat loss, even if no guidelines are given to the dieter – he or she is now aware and thinking about nutrition.

“So that leaves us with two things that always work with any eating plan: Stop eating obvious garbage and start paying attention to what you do eat. And that circles back around to the biggest mistakes lifters make with diet: they won’t stop eating obvious garbage, and they are unaware, mindless eaters.”

I haven’t visited this site in a while, but I was pleased to see this article.

“In the strength world, there is a funny saying us meatheads use when people ask us how to get strong and build muscle. We simply say pick up heavy weights and then put them back down. It sounds simple but it is true and it works. The farmer’s carry can be used for many training goals. Burn fat, build muscle, and increase conditioning, coordination, athleticism, rehab and performance. So as you can see, we all can benefit from carrying around some weight with good posture, proper breathing and heavy loads.

Niall Greenan is waiting for me at the Sligo Train Station. He asked a good question about travel and he told me I should write more about the “secrets.” Like lifting and finance, the secret is to keep learning and adapting and get smarter. I use this list as my basic foundation.

In my next book, I write about how I own 16 shirts that are all exactly the same. I just throw them in my luggage and go. The whole section is this:

I don’t think a lot when I pack.

I learned this Shark Habit from my experiences in the Middle East. When I packed for the trip, I had lots of luggage. In the luggage was clothing. And clothing has great value. Except I brought very few things that would make me travel better. Even a lifter gets tired of carrying luggage!

One night, I wrote down, in very small print that I notice thirty plus years later, the following list:

Nail Clippers                          (This is still true. Nails grow!)
Hand Laundry Detergent     (I didn’t understand laundry rooms yet)
Towel                                      (This is still true. I have an expensive, micro-towel)
Swiss Army Knife                  (Pre-dates 9/11)
1 Dress Pants                                    (Maybe. Depends)
1 Hiking Shorts                      (I use black workout shorts, but it is basically true.)
1 Swim Suit                            (This is still true. Two matching pair I rotate)
2 Mesh Underwear               (The kind I use now weren’t invented yet!)
2 Tank Tops                           (I understand the point, but I don’t bring them now)
T-shirts from home               (Not anymore. Maybe for after hours at the hotel.)
1 Dress Shirt                          (Not anymore…for me, anyway)
1 Tie                                       (I stopped wearing ties when I made a certain goal.)
1 Walking Shoes                    (I just use my “Free” shoes)
1 Flip Flops/Thong               (This is still true; I often use the light water shoes.)
Shave kit/Medicines             (The most elaborate part of my packing. Think ahead.)
Hat                                          (I haven’t thought of that in a while.)
Sunglasses                             (Really can be important, so yes.)
Back Pack                               (I get the kind that rolls into the size of a softball.)
1 Boda Bag                             (For water. Now, we have lots of options. So, yes.)
1 Excellent Guide Book         (Book! I still agree with that. Devices might fail you.)
1 Camera with film               (Some of the readers will have to look up “film.”)
Lip balm                                 (It is such an issue in the desert. Yes. And small.)
Flashlight                               (Always. The traveler’s best friend.)
Socks                                       (I’m still searching for the perfect travel stocking.)

Today, I pack every possible connector for my computer, an international power hook up, and packets of coffees and teas for morning and evening. Each is in its own little sack provided by first class service when I fly International. (Don’t throw those sacks away!)

Shirts, socks, sacks and packed!

Overall, I didn’t find a lot of “breathtaking” stuff this week on the web. I did read the entire Vanity Fair (with Benedict Cumberbatch on the cover) edition and enjoyed some good writing. I also finished the Percy Jackson books that were highly recommended by my Godchildren. With travel, walking and touring, I can only do so much.

So, until next week, keep lifting and learning.


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Publisher’s note:  Dan contributed the foreword to Dave Draper’s new motivational book, Iron in My Hands, just released this week.