Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 268

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 267

It’s been a nice week. My daughters are at a great age for Christmas and New Year’s, basically 28 and 30, so we can enjoy our little family in lots of ways. We went to Brevies, a bar and movie place, and watched the new Star Wars and Jumanji back to back.
I haven’t been to a double feature in years and this was pretty good! I’ve written about my first experiences with Star Wars before in other writings, but it was clearly an inspiration for a lot of my friends to go deeper into mythology.
I don’t think I exaggerate when I say my career in religious studies and theology has its roots in a drive-in movie theater in the summer of 1977. I can see a lot of straight lines from the first two Star Wars movies to the seat I am sitting in this morning.
What I can’t believe is that Galaxy Quest, maybe my favorite sci-fi movie, is now twenty years old. This article might explain why you don’t know more about it. 1999 also gave me another of my favorite films, Mystery Men. That’s a double feature worth featuring!
I watched a lot of football…obviously. My friends who are Ohio State fans are complaining about the refs, but these same fans were absolutely quiet back when OSU got the call of the century (after an eight-second wait) that gave them the championship over Miami.
Just saying: blame the refs, officials, weather, food, hotels, bus or whatever at your peril as a coach and athlete. I believe I made this point in the book, Now What?. Tiffini, my wife, reminds me all the time to “Respect the Process” and it is a cornerstone of how I coach coaches.
Generally, you can NOT affect the outcome. Things happen. Our job as coaches (teachers, parents, friends…) is to build on the basics, expand the foundation, and prepare for asymmetrical risks.
Yet, things happen. Cars slide on the road, the flu comes around and the balls bounce.
Here is my slide for my 2020 lectures on “Coaching 101:”
1. Embrace the Obvious
2. Invest Wisely in Asymmetrical Risks
3. Respect the Process and the Results Will Take Care of Themselves
Finally, in small print, I have this on the slide:

The “fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” ~ Bertrand Russell

This week’s Pat Flynn podcast was fun. I reintroduce Christmas Adam and discuss fasting (again). Enjoy! 
This week on danjohnworkouts.com:
Since you are receiving this on New Year’s Day, we thought it only appropriate to offer a discount for anyone that needs a little catalyst to start training this year. Use code NEWYEAR at checkout and get three months of full access to the site for $29. This special will last through the month of January and we hope you take advantage.
Episode 17 of The Dan John Podcast is posted! Thank you all for the support on the podcast. Every week it grows and that wouldn’t happen without you. As always, if you have questions, please send them to podcast@danjohnworkouts.com.
New essays posted in the member’s area this week:
Loads for Loaded Carries
Tension and Training
Have a great week!

Driving around the internet this week was special. This article really made my year. 

John’s five basic movement approach to training has become a mantra for many coaches and trainers. His work with Pavel Tsatsouline on Easy Strength is probably the simplest and most applicable template for driving a fitness program based on persona, rather than a generalist approach.
Unfortunately, John is probably less well known among practitioners and average trainees – even more in an age where social media popularity seems to be valued more as a ranking tool than actual expertise and experience – than Tsatsouline and Glassman. However, if there was ever a time for his approach to dominate the fitness industry it would be now.

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There is something about this article that made me read it over and over again. Can it be as simple as going for a long walk every day like what Covert Bailey told us to do in “Fit or Fat”?

The body has two main energy sources: carbohydrates and fat. At low exercise intensities—like walking or jogging—the body is mostly fueled by fat. As intensity increases, the body begins using a greater proportion of carbohydrates. A typical person has about 2,500 calories of carbohydrates stored in their liver and muscle cells However, that same person—even if they are elite-athlete skinny—has 50,000 fat calories available. That’s a lot of potential energy waiting to be tapped.
For years, we’ve been told that carbs are the key to performance. That’s changed in recent years, as researchers have observed that, through diet and training, an athlete can burn fat at higher intensities than previously believed. The question I had before my thru-hike was this: Would walking all day, every day, for a month improve my metabolic efficiency when I run at a high intensity? In other words, could I become a better athlete by simply walking?
Before the trip, I was burning 66 percent fat and 34 percent carbs during low-intensity exercise or any activity during which I had a heart rate of 112 bpm. At a slow long-run pace, with a heart rate of 145 bpm, I was burning 52 percent fat and 48 percent carbohydrates. My crossover point—the heart rate at which I was burning carbs and fat equally—was 153 bpm, or a moderate-to-slow running pace.
After the trip, I was, as my test administrator at Real Rehab in Seattle put it, “a fat-burning machine.” At 110 bpm, I was burning 91 percent fat and 9 percent carbohydrates. At 145 bpm, I was burning 70 percent fat and 30 percent carbohydrates. My crossover point had moved to 168 bpm, which I reached at a fairly fast running pace. And even at my maximum heart rate (184 bpm), I was still getting a quarter of my energy from fat.
What does this mean? I can now go on long runs without consuming gels and other foods, or at least a significantly reduced amount. Also, the next time I go backpacking, I will be able to carry less weight in my pack because each gram of fat has nine calories, while a gram of carbohydrate or protein provides less than half that energy—around four calories. This means I can carry more high-fat foods like nuts and cheese, while cutting way back on sugary high-carb snacks like energy bars and candy. Plus, if I run low on food near the end of a trip (something that happened several times between resupplies during our thru-hike), my body will be able to run just fine on body fat until I make it to the next rest stop.

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I have a sauna and use it a lot. Recently, I had lunch with an Olympian and he shared this site with me. As readers probably know, I focus on inflammation as much as anything in my work with both athletes and general population trainees, so this is welcome knowledge.


Inflammation is a critical element of the body’s immune response that involves immune cells, cell-signaling proteins, and pro-inflammatory factors. Acute inflammation occurs after minor injuries or infections and is characterized by local redness, swelling, or fever. Chronic inflammation occurs on the cellular level in response to toxins or other stressors and is often “invisible.” It plays a key role in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
C-reactive protein, or CRP, one of several blood proteins often referred to as acute phase reactants, participates in the body’s inflammatory cascade. Elevated CRP is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, loss of arterial compliance, and incidence of cardiovascular events.[53] Sauna use, however, reduces blood levels of CRP. In a study of more than 2,000 men living in Finland, CRP levels were inversely related to the frequency of sauna bathing in a dose-response fashion, with lower levels linked to greater frequency.[54]
As described above, IL-10 is a potent endogenous anti-inflammatory protein. In a study involving 22 healthy male athletes and non-athletes who received two 15-minute sauna sessions at 98.2°C (208°F) separated by a 5-minute cool shower, the men’s resting IL-10 levels increased, and this adaptation occurred faster in the athletes. A slight increase in some of the HSPs was also observed.[55]

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My son-in-law loved Bourdain. When he lived with us, I became a fan, too. This is some good advice about travel…and life.


On the journey
12. “As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
13. “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

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I love lists and top tens and “best of” stuff. I see a lot of these lists on fitness, but this last point was unique and really a smart idea:


25. Follow the four-day rule

Joanne Chalmers
I have one simple rule which could apply to any fitness activity – I do not allow more than four days to elapse between sessions. So, if I know I have a busy couple of days coming up, I make sure I run before them so that I have “banked” my four days. With the exception of illness, injury or family emergencies, I have stuck to this rule for 10 years.

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Except for taking Metformin, this sums the whole article. I love discussing “inflammation” because it (“literally”) has been my issue since 2008. Having necrotic tissue removed from my body helped immensely (total hip replacements), but these are simple dietary points.

Let’s start with what to eat and the foods to avoid eating. What follows will likely sound familiar to aficionados of a Mediterranean-style diet: a plant-based diet focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and cold-water fish and plants like soybeans and flax seeds that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
A Mediterranean-style diet is rich in micronutrients like magnesium, vitamin E and selenium that have anti-inflammatory effects, and its high-fiber content fosters lower levels of two potent inflammatory substances, IL-6 and TNF-alpha.
Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, strongly recommends limiting or eliminating consumption of foods known to have a pro-inflammatory effect. These include all refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and pastries; sugar-sweetened beverages; deep-fried foods; and red meat and processed meats. They are the very same foods with well-established links to obesity (itself a risk factor for inflammation), heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
In their stead, Dr. Hu recommends frequent consumption of foods known to have an anti-inflammatory effect. They include green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and collards; fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines; fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apples, grapes, oranges and cherries; nuts like almonds and walnuts; and olive oil. The recommended plant foods contain natural antioxidants and polyphenols, and the fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, all of which counter inflammation.
Coffee and tea also contain protective polyphenols, among other anti-inflammatory compounds.
The bottom line: the less processed your diet, the better.
At the same time, don’t neglect regular exercise, which Dr. James Gray, cardiologist at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, calls “an excellent way to prevent inflammation.” He recommends 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise and 10 to 25 minutes of weight or resistance training at least four to five times a week.
“Although exercise is pro-inflammatory while you’re doing it, during the rest of the time it leaves you better off by reducing inflammation, and after all you live most of your life not exercising,” Stephen Kritchevsky, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, told me. Independent of any effect on weight, exercise has been shown to lower multiple pro-inflammatory molecules and cytokines.
Two other recommendations from Dr. Kritchevsky: “If you’re overweight, lose weight to reduce the body’s inflammatory burden,” and get regular dental cleanings to control periodontal disease, which can be a source of chronic inflammation. “There is no barrier between the gums and the circulation,” he noted, and periodontal disease has long been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Chronic stress also contributes to inflammation, Dr. Gray said. Popular time-honored practices like meditation and yoga, among others, can help manage stress throughout the day. “We may not be able to change many of the stressful situations we encounter in life, but we can change our response and perception by learning to manage stress better,” he said.
Dr. Pahwa and Dr. Jialal noted that stress can also cause sleep disorders, and “individuals with irregular sleep schedules are more likely to have chronic inflammation than consistent sleepers.”
Finally, be judicious in the use of antibiotics, antacids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can disrupt the normally healthy population of microorganisms in the gut and result in “a leaky gut that lets bacteria into circulation and is very pro-inflammatory,” Dr. Kritchevsky said.

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Well, that should be enough for one week. I hope you enjoy these selections. Don’t forget that Brian has a sale at danjohnworkouts (see the note above for the code) and reread Now What? for some insights about the process.
As I looked over this list this morning, I came away thinking that things like flossing, sauna, walking, sleeping, and eat less processed foods will go a long way in keeping us around a long time.
Life can be pretty simple.
Until next time, keep on lifting and learning.


For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 121

Chapter XVI

The Wart got up early next morning. He made a determined effort the moment he woke, threw off the great bearskin rug under which he slept, and plunged his body into the biting air. He dressed furiously, trembling, skipping about to keep warm, and hissing blue breaths to himself as if he were grooming a horse. He broke the ice in a basin and dipped his face in it with a grimace like eating something sour, said A-a-ah, and rubbed his stinging cheeks vigorously with a towel. Then he felt quite warm again and scampered off to the emergency kennels, to watch the King’s huntsman making his last arrangements.
Master William Twyti turned out in daylight to be a shrivelled, harassed-looking man, with an expression of melancholy on his face. All his life he had been forced to pursue various animals for the royal table, and, when he had caught them, to cut them up into proper joints. He was more than half a butcher. He had to know what parts the hounds should eat, and what parts should be given to his assistants. He had to cut everything up handsomely, leaving two vertebrae on the tail to make the chine look attractive, and almost ever since he could remember he had been either pursuing a hart or cutting it up into helpings.
He was not particularly fond of doing this. The harts and hinds in their herds, the boars in their singulars, the skulks of foxes, the richesses of martens, the bevies of roes, the cetes of badgers and the routs of wolves—all came to him more or less as something which you either skinned or flayed and then took home to cook. You could talk to him about os and argos, suet and grease, croteys, fewmets and fiants, but he only looked polite. He knew that you were showing off your knowledge of these words, which were to him a business. You could talk about a mighty boar which had nearly slashed you last winter, but he only stared at you with his distant eyes. He had been slashed sixteen times by mighty boars, and his legs had white weals of shiny flesh that stretched right up to his ribs. While you talked, he got on with whatever part of his profession he had in hand. There was only one thing which could move Master William Twyti. Summer or winter, snow or shine, he was running or galloping after boars and harts, and all the time his soul was somewhere else. Mention a hare to Master Twyti and, although he would still go on galloping after the wretched hart which seemed to be his destiny, he would gallop with one eye over his shoulder yearning for puss. It was the only thing he ever talked about. He was always being sent to one castle or another, all over England, and when he was there the local servants would fête him and keep his glass filled and ask him about his greatest hunts. He would answer distractedly in monosyllables. But if anybody mentioned a huske of hares he was all attention, and then he would thump his glass upon the table and discourse upon the marvels of this astonishing beast, declaring that you could never blow a menee for it, because the same hare could at one time be male and another time female, while it carried grease and croteyed and gnawed, which things no beast in the earth did except it.

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I wish I would have used the dictionary more the first few times I read The Sword in the Stone. I have to tell you that as a fourteen-year-old, I would be using the terms “Fewmets,” “Croteys,”  and “Fiants” in much of my conversations. They all mean excrement (poop!) and beg to be used in a school setting. “You Fewmet-face bowl of Crotey” seems a great thing to say to a receiver after a play.
The vocabulary in this chapter is really important and I finally decided to just share the section from A Glossary of Names, Allusions, and Technical Terms in T. H. White’s The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn by Michael Anderson (Editor) and John William Sutton (Editor) from The Camelot Project 2003.

alaunts, p.145 – “allans or allauntes, a large hound.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 282)
beagling, p.148 – “hare hunting when the field follows on foot.” (OED)
coverts, p.133 – A covert in this context is a “place which gives shelter to wild animals or game; esp. a thicket.” (OED)
croteys, p.142 – excrements.
cy sa avaunt, p.148 – “a hunting cry, forward.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 283)
fewmets, p.23 – “the droppings of the beast pursued.”
fiants, p.142 – “excrements of the wild boar.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 187)
gorgeaunts, p.133 – “wild boar in his second year.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 288)
gralloch, p.260 – “The viscera of a dead deer.” (OED)
grease, p.142 – “the fat of certain animals.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 288)
harborer, p.23 – To harbor – “to trace the deer to its lair.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 9)
hogsteers, p.133 – “hoggaster, wild boar is his third year, App.” (Baillie-Grohman ad Baillie-Grohman 289)
huske of hares, p.143 – “a number of hares, App.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 289)
lesses, p.146 – “excrements of boars and wolves.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 290)
mark to ground, p.11 – “Hounds indicate that a fox has gone to ground by giving tongue and digging (worrying) at an earth.” 
mask, p.149 – “Hunting. [T]he head-skin of any ‘game’.” (OED)
meet, p.134 – The hunt.
menee, p.143 – “note sounded on a horn; also the baying of a hound hunting.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 291)
M.F.H., p.43 – The Master of Fox Hounds, the person in charge of the hounds in a fox hunt. 
mort, p.9 – a horn-note signaling that the quarry is killed. (Moran 24)
os, p.142 – The dew-claws of the stag and hind. (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 292)
prise, p.152 – “A horn signal . . . in England for the hart and buck after the kill.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 293)
recheats, p.140 – a. “The act of calling together the hounds to begin or continue the chase of a stag.” b. “The series of notes sounded on the horn for . . . these purposes.” (OED)
sounders (of boars), p.18 – “What men call a trip of tame swine is called of wild swine a sounder, that is to say if there be passed five or six together.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 53)
suet, p.142 – “The fat of the red-deer and the fallow-deer.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 296)
swef, p.148 – “a hunting cry, meaning gently or softly.” (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 296)
undoing, p.9 – “the flaying and butchering of the animal.” (also the unmaking or breaking) (Cummins 41)
venery, p.134 – “derived in one sense from the Latin venari, ‘to hunt’.” (Cummins 81)
warrantable, p.23 – “Applied to a stag which is of an age to be hunted.” (OED)
bevies of roes, p.142 – a group of small deer.
Master Twyti’s interest in the hares always brings me back to the story of my dad and Wilt Chamberlain (see earlier WWs for the whole story). I’ve noted before that when I go out with famous strength coaches, we don’t tend to talk about five sets of two or kipping pull-ups. We talk about wine, life and laughs.
Remember Twyti next time you to try to impress someone!

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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