Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 179

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 179

A Dan John book excerpt from OTPbooks.com: Dan’s 21-page PDF excerpt from Now What? [CLICK TO DOWNLOAD]


I’ve been traveling a lot. As much as I like it, it also eats into my time writing. Actually, it eats into my time living. I’ve missed a fair share of celebrations, funerals and parties from my road warrior stuff, but, all in all, the ups keep ahead of the downs.

Occasionally, Tiffini will join me. I notice that she shows up on my Hawaii, Ireland, Norway and Costa Rica trips, but seems to skip the winter trips to the American Midwest. I’m beginning to see a pattern.

Food can sometimes be an issue. Recently, in Milwaukee, I thrived on eating every day at a natural food store and ate sushi for lunch. That can help. I have also discovered how I can easily jump on to this “coffee laced with fat” idea that is popular today (Phil Maffetone has a recipe,  and, of course, Dave Asprey has a whole industry based on Bulletproof coffee): I take my fish oil capsules with my hotel coffee. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but I have always done well with fish oil. For me, and this is just an experiment of one (although many others get the same results), fish oil has been a miracle “drug” in my life. I continue to be most shocked by how it improved my skin almost overnight (the largest organ…so that has to be good).

I buy the best fish oil I can get. I find the cheap stuff does not help and has side effects (it involves sprinting to the toilet) that I don’t like, especially on road trips. So, with quality product, I can take three or four and get the benefits.

Oh, I swallow the pills with a glass of water, then enjoy my coffee. Don’t for a second think that I drink fish oil IN coffee. Oh. The Horrors.

I’m getting the miracle benefits of magic coffee including satiation: I don’t need to eat until lunch. Plus, I might be getting that increased cognition that I read about somewhere, but I forgot now (I hope you followed the humor there).

Moreover, it is very easy to pack fish oil capsules versus cream and butter.

As I travel, I also try to keep up on the world wide web. No shock with this first article here, but exercise always has an interesting relationship with the news.YES: fat loss happens in the kitchen (and at the dining table), but the benefits of practically every other thing we chase in the physical realm come from movement.


About one in four deaths in the United States are due to heart disease. But a new study suggests that even if you have a genetic risk for heart disease, there’s a simple way to combat it: Exercise.

In the study, researchers looked at data from nearly 500,000 people from England, Scotland and Wales who were participating in a trial called the U.K. Biobank Study. At the start of the trial, the men and women allowed researchers to assess their genetic predispositions for heart disease. They also self-reported their exercise, wore accelerometers to subjectively measure their daily physical activity, wore hand dynamometers to measure their grip strength, and underwent a cycling test to measure their heart fitness.

End quote

Even if you know NOTHING about the discus, this is just too beautiful not to look at. I don’t know how they made this page, but scrolling a throw like this is lovely. And, it is also a great article.


For Stevens, an athlete who takes great care in her own nutrition and pride in her integrity, her uncompromising quest for Olympic gold has been hampered by others who’ve chosen to cheat.

Take the Final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics for example.

Stevens finished ninth, which meant she missed out on getting three additional throws.

In 2016, Cuban Yarelys Barrios was retrospectively disqualified from that final after testing positive for a banned substance and Stevens was elevated to eighth.

Stevens’ coach of more than 20 years Denis Knowles said if it wasn’t for doping, it would have been a very different story for Stevens in China.

“She should have won that Olympic Games,” Knowles said.

End quote

I had a nice talk with Pat Flynn the other day. I had discussed Pirate Maps a great deal over the weekend and I found this on his site. I am sure I have mentioned this before, but it is just so good:


Easy Mobility Map

Bear Crawls: 2 minutes straight before/after every workout

Kneeling (or Standing) Hip flexor Stretch: 15-20 seconds every time you stand up from your desk.

We’re using 80/20 here… These two moves, done consistently, will fix a lot of “stuff.” Not everything, but a lot.

Simple Strength Map

Deadlift: 2x/week, at least 3 days apart. One heavy session (2 sets x 3 reps @5rm, 2 sets x 2 reps @3rm, 2 sets x 5 reps @7rm); one explosive (4 sets x 4 reps @7rm).

Pull Ups: 3/x week, on non-consecutive days. One heavy (5 sets x 2 reps @ 3rm); one medium (3 sets x 5 reps @ 7rm), one light (50-100 reps @bodyweight by the end of the day)

Simple? Oh, Sure…

But for anyone who has a few to lose, is tight in the hips, and wants to get better at pull ups/deadlifting, these three maps will help them progress. They’re also flexible.  There’s no “diet” or program to follow. Just a set of rules. They’re not even rules, really. They’re reminders.

But here’s the thing: people are so used to associating value with “heft” that it’s become harder and harder to get people to simplify and see less is more.

End quote

I love this little piece on tidiness. It is filled with wisdom about all kinds of things about life, too. I thought “this is me” in this section.


3. Tidy People never let the sun go down on their filth. They know they’ll have to do it anyway, better now than later.

Tidy People do not watch Dancing With The Stars while there’s a sink full of dirty dishes sitting in the kitchen.

Tidy People practice the quick reset, that might mean different things to you than the Tidy McTidersons down the street, and that’s okay. Maybe for you that means getting the entire family involved right after dinner and clean up for five timed minutes of tidying.

Tidy people take a few moments each evening for a quick reset and then they watch Dancing in peace.

End quote

I love, obviously, great fantasy reading. I thought this piece on Tolkien really deserves some sharing and discussion. I didn’t realize that J. R. R. had lost so many friends during the Great War.


Sam Gamgee, British Soldier

Tolkien had a great deal of respect for the privates and NCOs (non-commissioned officers) with whom he served in France. Officers did not make friends among the enlisted men, of course; the system did not allow it and there was a wide gulf of class differences between them. Officers generally came from the upper and middle classes; enlisted men usually came from the lower classes. However, each officer was assigned a batman – a servant who looked after his belongings and took care of him.

Tolkien got to know several of his batmen very well. These men and other men in Tolkien’s battalion served as inspiration for the character Sam Gamgee. As Tolkien later wrote, “My ‘Sam Gamgee’ is indeed a reflection of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself.” Sam represents the courage, endurance and steadfastness of the British soldier, as well as his limited imagination and parochial viewpoint. Sam is stubbornly optimistic and refuses to give up, even when things seem hopeless. Indeed, the resiliency of Hobbits in general, their love of comfort, their sometimes hidden courage, and their conservative outlook owe much to Tolkien’s view of ordinary enlisted men. These traits enabled British soldiers not only to survive their tours of duty on the terrible battlefields of France, but to bravely attack and counter-attack the Germans.

The officer/batman paradigm also describes some aspects of Sam and Frodo’s relationship. It is clearly not a formal one in a military sense, but it goes beyond that of an ordinary, civilian master and servant. Their relationship encompasses the closeness of soldiers who have been in combat together and who have depended on their comrades for their lives. Sam is steadfastly loyal to Frodo. He looks after Frodo’s physical comfort – cooking, fetching water, and so forth – and helps Frodo on his quest as much as he possibly can, even carrying him up the slopes of Mount Doom when Frodo’s strength gives out. He loves Frodo although he does not completely understand him. Sam also defends Frodo from danger when he is attacked by Shelob and rescues him from the Tower of Cirith Ungol. Sam and Frodo had been through terror and were tested against the lure of the Ring together, and were closer than a master-servant relationship would imply.

End quote

Looking over this week’s offerings here on WW, I am thinking we have a nice template for life, living and everything else here.

Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


Here’s Dan talking about assessments, specifically “What do you want?” [CONTINUE READING]


The Sword in the Stone


Tilting and White

Our second paragraph of The Sword in the Stone expands on the formal education of Wart and Kay:

“In the afternoons the programme was: Mondays and Fridays, tilting and horsemanship; Tuesdays, hawking; Wednesdays, fencing; Thursdays, archery; Saturdays, the theory of chivalry, with the proper measures to be blown on all occasions, terminology of the chase and hunting etiquette. If you did the wrong thing at the mort or the undoing, for instance, you were bent over the body of the dead beast and smacked with the flat side of a sword. This was called being bladed. It was horseplay, a sort of joke like being shaved when crossing the line. Kay was not bladed, although he often went wrong.”

As I warned our readership then, White uses each of these afternoon programs to expand out the stories. My favorite chapter includes the hawks of hawking and we will enjoy a lot of stories with archery and chivalry. At the start of this Chapter Seven, White returned us to tilting and, it is obvious to me, he is no fan:

“Tilting and horsemanship had two afternoons a week, because they were the most important branches of a gentleman’s education in those days. Merlyn grumbled about athletics, saying that nowadays people seemed to think that you were an educated man if you could knock another man off a horse and that the craze for games was the ruin of scholarship—nobody got scholarships like they used to do when he was a boy, and all the public schools had been forced to lower their standards—but Sir Ector, who was an old tilting blue, said that the battle of Crécy had been won upon the playing fields of Camelot. This made Merlyn so furious that he gave Sir Ector rheumatism two nights running before he relented.”

As a reminder, Crecy was won by the longbowmen.

Tilting will be the thing that gets Wart to desperately seek a sword as Kay waits to prove himself in a contest…sadly, or perhaps knowingly, forgetting this piece of equipment that seems to me important in fighting:


“The Wart walked up to the great sword for the third time. He put out his right hand softly and drew it out as gently as from a scabbard.

There was a lot of cheering, a noise like a hurdy-gurdy which went on and on. In the middle of this noise, after a long time, he saw Kay and gave him the sword. The people at the tournament were making a frightful row.

“But this is not my sword,” said Sir Kay.

“It was the only one I could get,” said the Wart. “The inn was locked.”

“It is a nice-looking sword. Where did you get it?”

“I found it stuck in a stone, outside a church.”

Sir Kay had been watching the tilting nervously, waiting for his turn. He had not paid much attention to his squire.

“That is a funny place to find one,” he said.

“Yes, it was stuck through an anvil.”

End quote

This section does not reflect the greatest moment of jousting and tilting:


Is it safe to look?” inquired the Wart, who had shut his eyes at the critical moment.

“Quite safe,” said Merlyn. “It will take them some time to get back in position.”

“Whoa, whoa, I say!” cried King Pellinore in muffled and distant tones, far away among the gorse bushes.

“Hi, Pellinore, hi!” shouted Sir Grummore. “Come back, my dear fellah, I’m over here.”

There was a long pause, while the complicated stations of the two knights readjusted themselves, and then King Pellinore was at the opposite end from that at which he had started, while Sir Grummore faced him from his original position.

“Traitor knight!” cried Sir Grummore.

“Yield, recreant, what?” cried King Pellinore.

They fewtered their spears again, and thundered into the charge.

“Oh,” said the Wart, “I hope they don’t hurt themselves.”

But the two mounts were patiently blundering together, and the two knights had simultaneously decided on the sweeping stroke. Each held his spear at right angles toward the left, and, before the Wart could say anything further, there was a terrific yet melodious thump. Clang! went the armour, like a motor omnibus in collision with a smithy, and the jousters were sitting side by side on the green sward, while their horses cantered off in opposite directions.

“A splendid fall,” said Merlyn.

The two horses pulled themselves up, their duty done, and began resignedly to eat the sward. King Pellinore and Sir Grummore sat looking straight before them, each with the other’s spear clasped hopefully under his arm.

“Well!” said the Wart. “What a bump! They both seem to be all right, so far.”

End quote

Pellinore and Grummore are not Lancelot and Galahad. “Sward,” by the way, is a word I need to use more. I think we would say “a patch of grass” now, but using the term “sward” seems a bit fun:

“Okay lads: rest a bit over here on this sward, while I talk with the officials.”

I like that. None of my athletes would have any idea about what to do, but it would be fun.

The sweeping stroke is considered by White, and I imagine jousters would agree, to be the lowest kind of attack in tilting. Our next selection will be a bit long and it contains White’s most comical discussion. These two jousters turn to words quite quickly.

Until then…


New this week on OTPbooks.com: Dan goes back to second grade to expand on the compass that has helped guide him to find balance in his life.. [CONTINUE READING]

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