Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 320

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 320

Well, it’s going to be a New Year no matter what we do: it’s time to look at resolutions. 2021 is going to be interesting. I remember a year ago thinking “Olympics and Election.” My crystal ball needed an overhaul. So, here we go with another trip around the planet.
I’m gearing up for ANOTHER 10,000 Swing Challenge. Fortunately, I have some online friends from DJU doing it with me as well as my Godson, Seth, visiting to do them with me, too.
Challenges are NOT programs. I don’t seem to say that enough. I think the occasional challenge has benefits. If I actually do the 10,000 swings, I should discover some interesting things physically.
In the past, my waistline has come down (a good thing during this Covid time), my grip strength gets better and I tend to feel really good in the whole chain from heel to head. Mentally, I think the challenge, 500 swings a day with the 24 kilo bell for 20 workouts, is an act of filling the vat of self-discipline.
Frankly, I hate it. I have done it many times and I think the ship has sailed on my enthusiasm for it.  As I look back over the past attempts, it got me thinking about “looking back.” This is from my book, Attempts:
On January and the Importance of Looking Back
Whether the month of January was named after Janus or Juno might still be an issue in the wings of the Latin department of your local school, but many of us accept that Janus makes a great symbol for the month of January.
Janus has two heads, one looking forward and the other looking backward. January 1st is the standard date most people begin their New Year’s Resolutions and somewhere in the next day or two, most people ignore them.
For personal trainers and coaches alike, the first of the year is a good time for business and a bad time for success. We find in Janus a good way to begin our year:
Look backward first!
When I’m working with athletes or clients, I want to get to know them a bit. Certainly, we’ll do physical assessments and highlight past injuries, surgeries and illnesses, but it’s important to know the path each new client has taken to get to you.
Forty-plus years of filling yourself with soft drinks and sweets and extra desserts while steadfastly battling back any urge to exercise might also be something we want to discuss in passing.
I wrote an article years ago with the idea that NEXT year’s resolution should be to weigh one pound less on the first of January than you do this year. The article got slammed by many readers. This obviously wasn’t hardcore enough, nor sexy or glitzy. But, as I warned one person, “Gentle reader, get back to me next January 1st.” Perhaps the internet has been down, but I never got a response.
Nor do I expect it.
Before we march forward, we need to check in on how and what we have been doing for the past few decades.
Janus is a good symbol for goal setting: Look forward, yes, but remember how you got here.
Brian sent this in. DJU continues to grow daily:
Here’s a link to Episode 73 of the podcast.
It’s that time of year again. Time for New Year’s fitness specials. Like the rest of the fitness world, we are running a special on the site. Use code NEWYEAR to receive 3 months for $29. That includes the workout generators, all Dan’s programs, access to the forum, over 1,000 pages of downloadable pdfs, and over 100 essays all in a brand new look.
If you haven’t been to the site in a while, now is a good time to check it out.
Have a great week!
I enjoy podcasts. Pat and I welcomed a guest this week and I enjoyed how the discussion flowed around several topics. Pat wrote this:

Pat and Dan are joined by specialist guest Dr. Jim Madden, author of Ageless Athlete, to discuss the importance of focused training blocks for getting more out of your fitness routine, why fitness is like Taco Bell, and how to avoid falling into the myth of carryover when it comes to preparing for athletic endeavors.

I visit this website probably every day. Track and field coaches have a clarity about performance, like swim coaches, that comes down to a pretty simple line in the sand: either it worked or it didn’t. If “it” worked…then we have to do it.

Selected quotes:
·      “I coach the hands and feet, I try to make them like mini-trampolines (a lot of bounce to the hands and feet)”
·      “The shoulders and the hips, I use the old Chinese medicine term, the “4-knots” tight enough to stay on, loose enough that you can un-string them”
·      “We as Americans have this love affair with these dressed up fancy programs on a spreadsheet… and it’s all crap… until they are throwing over 200,210 (feet) we don’t have to worry about the small details”
·      “With my throwers, we do almost zero conditioning, but on Friday’s, we always play a game”
·      “When you have no expectations, you let things happen (specifically in context of track and field throwing)… life at its highest end.. it’s effortless”
·      “It’s the art of practicing letting go… I think that a true meditation might be as good as (that extra little bit of conditioning) because practicing letting things happen, especially in track and field (is important).’
·      “Track and field is nothing but “bows and arrows”. When you high jump, you turn various parts of your body into a bow and arrow, and if you synchronize it enough, you rocket over the bar”
·      “I think that’s our job, to make the complex simple”
·      “If you are doing farmer walks and throwing 40lb hay-bales for a couple of hours a day, you have pretty much covered your GPP”
·      “You can’t have “leakage” when you are carrying a couch up the stairs”
·      “Depravation increases capacity… by not having anything, you’ll be a better coach because you have to out-think”
Tim Boyer is a member of DJU and a young man who inspires me. This is an excellent podcast with him.
I enjoy my weekly wanderings around the internet. I found this article was simply amazing. This idea of sleuthing location by the use of nouns really caught my attention.

The word lox was one of the clues that eventually led linguists to discover who the Proto-Indo-Europeans were, and where they lived. The fact that those distantly related Indo-European languages had almost the same pronunciation of a single word meant that the word—and the concept behind it—had most likely existed in the Proto-Indo-European language. “If they had a word for it, they must have lived in a place where there was salmon,” explains Guy. “Salmon is a fish that lives in the ocean, reproduces in fresh water and swims up to rivers to lay eggs and mate. There are only a few places on the planet where that happens.”
In reconstructed Indo-European, there were words for bear, honey, oak tree, and snow, and, which is also important, no words for palm tree, elephant, lion, or zebra. Based on evidence like that, linguists reconstructed what their homeland was. The only possible geographic location turned out to be in a narrow band between Eastern Europe and the Black Sea where animals, trees, and insects matched the ancient Indo-European words.
In the 1950s, archaeological discoveries backed up this theory with remnants of an ancient culture that existed in that region from 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. Those people used to build kurgans, burial mountains, that archaeologists excavated to study cultural remains. In that process, scholars not only learned more about the Proto-Indo-Europeans but also why they were able to migrate across Europe and Asia.
In turned out that, in the past, the grassy plains of steppe that run from Western China to the Black Sea had large herds of wild horses. Early humans hunted them for food, but the Proto-Indo-Europeans were probably the first people who domesticated the ancestors of modern-day domestic horses. That brought them an enormous advantage, allowing them to move a lot faster than any other human group. Then, they adopted—or, less likely, invented—wheeled vehicles and attached these to horses. “That’s probably the moment when they suddenly managed to expand into the Middle East, into India, and across Europe,” says Guy. “Within the next thousands of years, they expanded like no other human group that we know about in history. Because [now] they had mobility, which nobody else had.”

End quote
Marty discusses here something that I found absolutely crucial throughout my career. Keeping track of PRs is really helpful.


If you are ignorant of what you are capable of, if you just do what you can do with no real forethought or afterthought, then every exercise session is Ground Hog Day, you are just doing the same workout over and over, treading water, maintaining whatever you have, at best. The central idea behind high-intensity, low-volume resistance training is continually striving to attack some personal record in some exercise for a particular rep range. Herculean effort is what triggers hypertrophy and strength gains.
If you do not know your current limits, it makes it hard to exceed those limits. Athletes do not become more muscular and stronger engaging in a steady diet of sub-maximal training. Without limit-equaling or limit-exceeding effort there is no physiological incentive for the body to grow new muscle. Growing muscle is a defensive measure only invoked when stresses are equal to, or past, current capacities, be they enhanced or diminished. How can you equal or exceed capacities if you are unaware of what those capacities are?

End quote
I think this is an interesting article (well, obviously…I’m including it here). I think the whole point of the article is worth spending some time digesting the basic concept here.


This reminds me of a concept called the good enough mother—today, I’d rather say good enough parent—coined by the psychoanalyst DW Winnicott, in the early 1950’s. The good enough parent doesn’t immediately respond to their child’s each and every need. But they don’t abandon their child either. Instead, they create the space for their child to become themselves. The pay attention to their child so they can shepherd the process of growth and development along the way. They create a container in which their child grows.
One way to embody good enough is to go from giving explicit directions to asking questions. Not just leading questions, or those where you already know the answer, but ones truly born out of curiosity. These questions can serve as a way to keep someone on the path without plowing it for them.

End quote
Adrian Cradock sent this to me. This is probably my favorite swimming spot on our planet. “It’s refreshing,” to say the least.


Another really interesting aspect of Blackrock is the fact that for a long time, Blackrock was a men’s only bathing spot. It wasn’t until the 1970s that women began to splash about and it became a universal area of enjoyment. Not a day goes by that the bright stone of Salthill’s Blackrock doesn’t bring a smile to the face of many and we count our blessings that this little piece of history stands nearby.

End quote
That should keep you going for a few minutes. I hope you enjoy our weekly offerings and I hope to continue doing this for another year. And, until next week, 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 174

Merlyn and the Wart slipped away invisibly from the rejoicings. They left the slaves thronging out of the Castle while King Pellinore carefully unlocked the iron rings from their necks with a few appropriate words, as if he were distributing the prizes on speech day. Glatisant was still making a noise like thirty couple of hounds questing, outside the Tower door, and Galapas, with all the furniture piled against the door, was leaning out of the Tower window shouting for the fire brigade. The occupant of cell No. 3 was busily collected the Ascot Gold Cup and other trophies out of the giant’s safe, while the publicity man was having a splendid time with a bonfire of truncheons, thumbscrews and anything else that looked as if it would melt the instruments of torture. Across the corridor of the now abandoned dungeons the inventor was carving a rude message with hammer and chisel, and this said, “Sucks to Galapas.” The firelight and the cheering, and King Pellinore’s encouraging remarks, such as “Britons never shall be slaves,” or “I hope you will never forget the lessons you have learned while you were with us here,” or “I shall always be glad to hear from any Old Slaves, how they get on in life,” or “Try to make it a rules always to clean your teeth twice a day,” combined to make the leave-taking a festive one, from which the two invisible visitors were sorry to depart. But time was precious, as Merlyn said, and they hurried off towards the Burbly Water.
Considering the things that had happened, there must have been something queer about Time, as well as its preciousness, for when the Wart opened his eyes in the solar, Kay was still clicking his chessmen and Sir Ector still staring into flames.

End quote
The adventure of the Giant Galapas comes to an end and, dare I say “magically,” time has been stretched to accommodate our heroes. Everyone, save the giant, is safe and sound.
We still have a little bit to go in this chapter as the Vicar and Merlyn will be discussing the theological impact of the Vicar’s evening reading. Ideally, everyone will practice dental hygiene twice a day as recommended by Pellinore.
Pellinore reminds me of Lord Polonius in his exhortations here. In 1982, I took a course on Shakespeare. I had this idea…correctly…that a teacher should always take courses. The essay questions were all fairly open-ended and I struggled with a question about Polonius. So, I asked Chris Long, my best friend and English teacher and wrestling coach, about this speech:
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
Chris summed it simply: “The guy is a blowhard. It is a speech of cliches.”
Ah! Enlightenment. As everyone is seeking revenge of the giant and scrambling to leave with whatever boons they can collect, Pellinore is giving speeches.

Having said that, I have always cared for Pellinore. He is always around Wart and provides him with a lot of opportunities to learn. And, no matter what, cleaning your teeth twice a day is good advice.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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