Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 212

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 212

New on OTPbooks.com this week: Sue Falsone and Gray Cook were able to catch up on the lecture circuit recently. We’re glad one of them thought it would be a good idea to hit record when they started talking.


Well, the Utes lost to Washington 10-3. When you add up hotels, flights and food, that turned out to be a lot of money per point for me and Tiffini. We sure enjoyed ourselves though.

This was an odd week. Thanksgiving seemed to be a week early this year and most people have noted to me how it seemed like we had an extra week. Actually, most people I know got sick from various colds, cruds and flus this past week.

It’s that time of year.

It’s finally snowing here in Utah. We have been on the wrong side of a drought for a long time. Where I live, the population is exploding and new housing is going up everywhere. Sadly, we don’t seem to be getting enough water…or new parks and new schools. Just buildings.

As football begins to wind down, I’m already worrying about the months ahead when we go through the quiet time of the year in sports. The nice thing is that some of my track and field people are beginning to stir again. Not long from now, we will be tossing and turning in all the throws from Highland Games to javelins.

Let’s look at the internet this week.

First, this is just good news. A whole lot of films are now available for free…including one of my “go to” films, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Enjoy.

Patrick Riedl sent this article in and I think it really does a nice job unpacking an issue that so many of us face. I’m sure this “artificial high” is true in all kinds of endeavors.


Chasing the dragon is a term I’ve made up (or at least nicked from somewhere else), but I think it’s a fairly common experience for retiring athletes. It’s why, unsurprisingly, some ex-athletes turn to actual drugs, because an artificial high is the only way they can satiate the addiction that sport has given us. To add another level of psychological intricacy, much of our self-worth also tends to be tied up in our ability to fuel this fire of ours—we gain confidence from knowing how to push our bodies so hard in training that, on race day, this supreme mental state is inevitable. It’s alienating and challenging, not only to manage the sudden lack of adrenaline and dopamine, but also to feel like your self-assurance has plummeted because trying to artificially recreate environments in which you can get your ‘hit’ feels clumsy and fruitless.

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In my new book, I revisit free will again. I think the “wealthy” part of this reading bears further discussion.


3) Some people just experience fewer temptations.

Our dispositions are determined in part by our genetics. Some people are hungrier than others. Some people love gambling and shopping. People high in conscientiousness — a personality trait largely set by genetics — tend to be healthier and more vigilant students. When it comes to self-control, they won the genetic lottery.

4) It’s easier to have self-control when you’re wealthy.

When Mischel’s marshmallow test is repeated on poorer kids, there’s a clear trend: They perform worse, and appear less able to resist the treat in front of them.

But there’s a good reason for this. As University of Oregon neuroscientist Elliot Berkman argues, people who grow up in poverty are more likely to focus on immediate rewards than long-term rewards, because when you’re poor, the future is less certain.

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I think this point, “Not now, later” is completely underappreciated by most people. This article is part of my Medium posts.


Not now, later

Never say never. Cookies, cake, beer and bagels are not “off” your low carb diet. It’s just “not now” time. Experience teaches us this: if I tell you that all your dreams will come true if you simply stop eating rutabagas, I promise you I know what is going to happen next. I’m not a prophet; I am a coach. You may have never eaten a rutabaga in your life, but from now on, you are going to crave, demand and insist upon rutabagas. Change rutabagas to anything you like but know this truth about human nature: not now, later.

Whatever it is that you need to put off in terms of diet, time or short-term pain and discomfort, you need to remind yourself that “soon and very soon,” you can submit yourself to a virtual orgy of feasting. The funny thing is this: that day may never come as you realize that this temptress has long been forgotten.

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I posted this article on Facebook and it became one of my most followed posts in a year. Enjoy.


When it comes to correctives and corrective work, we must first make sure we are dealing with the basics of risk. After that, we have to get a bit smarter. As I always tell people: “sure, YOU can do this and that and this and that, but what about the rest of us with these things called “lives?” So, before you spend two hours a day with your magic tape and magic wand, try the basics.

Strive for balance in terms of volume in your push and pull work.
Learn to squat deep and master the movement.
Be reasonable when you deadlift.
Find softer paths for your running workouts when you can.
If you bicycle, wear appropriate protective gear.
If you decide to do water sports, learn to swim and wear gear that floats.

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I thought this whole article was a joy, but I love this idea of “inventing” ways to describe wine.


Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

There are many reasons to love this uncharacteristically romantic novel by Waugh, including the delirious wine commentary of its protagonists Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte who spend an idyllic summer trying to drain the wine cellar at Sebastian’s ancestral castle and inventing ways to describe it.

“It’s a little shy wine like a gazelle.”
“Like a leprechaun.”
“and this is a wise old wine.”
“A prophet in a cave.”
“And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck.”
“Like a white swan.”

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I learned this lesson back in the early 1990s at a workshop, but this article reminds us of NOT wallowing in low value work.


Automate it. If it’s low value, it’s easy to automate. Just find a friend in your IT function to help you do it. Whether you are talking about scheduling, acknowledging, or making standard arrangements, there are probably existing applications that you could use. Just figure out what you want to do, and find someone to help you do it.

Write your own rules. Limit what you are going to do and then make sure people know your rules. A professor decided to write personal references only for her advisees or the students in her seminars, and announced the fact to her lecture classes. It saved her hours of time.

Every week, block off the same time for yourself at work. Use the time to figure out how to get rid of your low-value work. Just an hour can make a difference. Pick a time, and stick to it. Close your door, if you have one, or find a conference room. It may take a while before people learn not to interrupt you during that time, but if you are politely persistent, it will work. Or, take the pediatrician approach and hold call-in hours — let people know when you will be available for interruptions of all kinds, and when you will not.

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This weekend, I am off to Kansas for a workshop. After that, I ease up on travel for a while. Until then, let’s all keep on lifting and learning.


Sue Falsone and Gray Cook were able to catch up on the lecture circuit recently. We’re glad one of them thought it would be a good idea to hit record when they started talking.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 68


They were coming to the monarch of the forest.

It was a lime tree as great as that which used to grow at Moor Park in Hertfordshire, no less than one hundred feet in height and seventeen feet in girth, a yard above the ground. Its beech-like trunk was embellished with a beard of twigs at the bottom, and where each of the great branches had sprung from the trunk the bark had split and was now discoloured with rain water or sap. The bees zoomed among its bright and sticky leaves, higher and higher toward heaven, and a rope ladder disappeared among the foliage. Nobody could have climbed it without a ladder, even with irons.

“You think well, Measter Kay,” said Little John. “And there be Measter Robin, atween her roots.”

The boys, who had been more interested in the look-out man perched in a crow’s nest at the top of that swaying and whispering pride of the earth, lowered their eyes at once and clapped them on the great outlaw.

He was not, as they had expected, a romantic man—or not at first—although he was nearly as tall as Little John. These two, of course, were the only people in the world who have ever shot an arrow the distance of a mile, with the English long-bow. He was a sinewy fellow whose body did not carry fat. He was not half-naked, like John, but dressed discreetly in faded green with a silvery bugle at his side. He was clean-shaven, sunburned, nervous, gnarled like the roots of the trees; but gnarled and mature with weather and poetry rather than with age, for he was scarcely thirty years old. (Eventually he lived to be eighty-seven, and attributed his long life to smelling the turpentine in the pines.) At the moment he was lying on his back and looking upward, but not into the sky.

Robin Wood lay happily with his head in Marian’s lap. She sat between the roots of the lime tree, clad in a one-piece smock of green girded with a quiver of arrows, and her feet and arms were bare. She had let down the brown shining waterfall of her hair, which was usually kept braided in pigtails for convenience in hunting and cookery, and with the falling waves of this she framed his head. She was singing a duet with him softly, and tickling the end of his nose with the fine hairs.

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I’m not sure I can really say much more here: this description of Robin and Marian seems to leap off the page. Oddly, as descriptive as White makes his writing here, we still have plenty of latitude in filling in what we think these two look like in “real life.”

Marian is going to be a force. Wart is going to be fascinated by her and her ability to hunt and fight mixed with her role as a “woman” in this story. She will have talents in fighting that Wart and Kay will be shocked to see, but she still maintains her feminine qualities. Marian will be a counter to Mim in almost every way.

There is not much to say about this, but Robin and Marian will now drive our story forward.


Want to last as a trainer? Thomas Plummer presents the Laws of Money and Coaching: Personal, ethical and business guidelines that it pays to heed.

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