Saturday, December 29, 2012

In strength, the most reps with the best volume/intensity wins?

In strength work, there are so many ways to skin a cat. There are so many ways to get to be able to move more load. But when it comes to skills (and strength is a ....), it seems that over and over what is required is to perform the thing over and over.

In strength training this over and over-ness is celebrated in what might be term the Fundamental Unit of Strength Practice: the Rep - as in the REP-etition. How many reps are in a set, how many sets for total reps. And more:
Total reps * load = Volume (mass)
(Total reps * load)  / time = Density (load/min)

everything in strength practice is factored around the rep (etition). 

Likewise In learning a motor skill (and strength is a....) there is no way around number of reps. Before we can get to a point where we can effectively correct ourselves, to have enough awareness in ourselves about a movement, we need 1000's of reps. Actually, tens of thousands. For that skill to become as basic as walking - hundreds of thousands.

Note that getting reps says nothing about load - just to learn a skill, we need reps.

In strength work, we're trying to induce a particular change: to get stronger. How 'bout that. Getting stronger requires the body being made to adapt to new loads (as best as we understand it - that requirement to grow/change/adapt is crucial to nudging strength).

In this case, where strength is a skill and we need reps to build a skill, and we need load change to nudge strength development, it seems we have a bit of a conundrum: how to blend reps (lots of reps) and load with appropriate recovery to gain skill/strength.
Total reps * load = Volume
(Total reps * load) / time = Density
Here are some of the ways i've been exploring ratios of reps with load/time for strength skills practice: looking at how to get 1000s, 100s, 10's and 1's.

1000s: rehabbing from injury; rebuilding a movement map. 

When i was doing literally thousands of reps with a band for my shoulder, i was both strengthening it, repairing it and relearning the movement of the press (and the pull - do 1000s of presses, gotta do an equal and opposite movement: thousands of pulls).

i hypothesize i was also reteaching my spirit that my shoulder WAS getting better, and that i will press again. and again and again. The adaptation here is for re-modelling everything from tissue to movement patterns. A sufficient load for a challenge in each rep, but also to enable sets of (for me) 50 to 75 to 100 at a go, with short breaks of 1-3 minutes before diving in again.

SO many reps - so many form-perfect reps. I'm trying to remodel pain free firing patterns, too. Part of the problem of an injury is that it can literally cause proper muscle patterns to get fouled up, so that the coordination of the movement is off to compensate around where pain is/has been (there is research here but i do not have the papers to hand. dang. i'll fill this in anon).

I suspect that re-injuries occur once someone says they feel better often because the feeling better is of an out-of-balance firing pattern - or a pattern where part of the muscle itself may not be firing. Re-patterning the whole movement without pain, over and over again i'm guessing in no small part is telling the body/brain that the right pattern is safe. This is a hypothesis on my part, based on my own experience and in working with folks where there muscles are in part "off" post injury and post rehab, and where cuing them to come back on contributes almost immediately to getting out of pain.

My own pain forced me to explore mega reps: it's all i could do, and colleagues i'd trusted said then do that - lots and lots and lots. They were right. Perfect form, burning it in. That's a great foundation for re-building even better strength than ever before. Really (example story).

My coaching thoughts at this point would be: if someone is learning a movement in strength and they care about it and want to excel at it then make this band work a volume day for one's training to get to the 10k point in reps. I'd also recommend working with a coach to make sure the movement getting repped in is a good one, then do the 10k. At one volume session a week, that's 2.5 months. Taking the long view for a life time of lifting, that 2.5 months for bullet proofing doesn't sound like much does it?

Think Karate Kid: Wax on; wax off - it pays off, no?

100s: Exploring a Movement with greater Load; Hypertrophy

This past year, Kenneth Jay introduced me to German Volume Training - a well known protocol for hypertrophy. Alas, i don't do hypertrophy it seems. But i do like volume training this way. For KJ, it's sets of ten with a load where the 11th or 12th rep would be failure, and not allowing full recovery between sets (30-60sec). So ten sets of ten.

I find this a very satisfying way to train for light-ish days - though that's a bit of a misnomer. Anyone who's ever done 10 sets of ten pistols per leg, bodyweight, will tell you - i'm guessing - that that's not nothing. At least that's my story and i'm sticking with it.

Ken Froese calls such 100 kinds of days "play" days - as in explore a movement - get to know it - use a weight that enables a challenge and fatigue at post 10. This kind of practice is about getting stronger, but also building up knowledge of a movement. If we want to get in 10,000 such reps to build up expertise. that's 100 days of 100 reps - that's likely 2 years for once a week volume limited to 100 reps.

From a motor learning perspective, we actually need hundreds of thousands of reps to get to a place where they are as unconscious in their performance as a skill like walking. If we think about sports like tennis where someone is swinging swinging swinging with the raquet, forehand, backhand, slicing, dicing - they may have an advantage of getting to those high reps sooner, eh to "own" that movement?

Now there is *some* suggestion/hypothesizing that load *may* cut down some of the number of reps required in terms of learning - why? because more muscle fibers and so more nerves will get involved in learning that movement, and so movement learning *may* be slightly accelerated. But what's the ratio? 2reps at 90% is worth 5 at 85%? - not quite ready to go there.

 What does seem clear is that adding load/challenge can accelerate a learning insight, but that we still need to rep that insight in for the patterns to become autonomic.

10's: Getting to the Heavy Stuff

I have found in my own practice that i value volume like crazy but that i also require time for heavier loads in my strength practice. This is why my particular approach - what i really enjoy - is a volume day and a load day when working on progressing a lift. The heavy days mean usually three rung ladders and some singles work. I may end a 90min session with 25 reps total.

Now that is not a lot of reps. But it's in the zone of Prilepin's table (and how to use it) for a heavy practice in the 80% zone. Prilepin is something power lifter Fawn Friday turned me on to (pointing to this youtube summary in particular). It's been very good - the table - for generating some two dozen world records, apparently.

Prilepin's Table
So, if the volume days let my nervous system get used to the movement, then the load days let my body figure out how to add one more element to the practice: load.  The body has to fire up more muscle fibers; there may be in fact different firing patterns with load; different timings; different balance. So getting experience with a heavier load - and getting reps in - means a different kind of training. If we want volume, we need more recovery.

Distributing the load across time is where the protocol known as Grease the Groove can be handy - grabbing those challenging reps whenever the opportunitiy presents itself.

What i have found however, is that when i'm initially working up to a new load, i need that full workout before hand - it's a warm up or something - that initially i cannot just step in and get a rep with a 20 or with a 24. I need time for it to become familiar (or perhaps you're saying that's me just becoming stronger. strength is a .... )

1's: singles - the beauty of the One in Ten Thousand. The Goal. 

In the workouts with the 10s of reps rather than the 100's i also value the singles. I'm not sure if that means i do a kind of double Prilipen: sets of 1-3 reps (usually three rung ladders), then heavier singles. Sometimes the first rep of a ladder is the heavier load, that i can do for a single, then loads i can do for triples.

For instance, today it was: first rep of three rung ladder (which is effectively a single) was 22kg, then the second and third rungs (2 and 3 reps each, or double followed by triple) were with a 20kg.

Then at the end of the work out, i did a few singles just with the 24. These 22's and definitely 24s are the ones of which i can only do after getting in ladders of 20s - so far.

Of course when we get to singles we add in another version of the Rep - the One Rep Max, or Intensity.
( Current Lift / One Rep Max ) * 100 = % of 1RM 
The "% of 1 rep max" is what's used in the Prilepin table, above.

Double Prilepin Workout? What's surprising to me is that my heaviest lifts -at or approaching a 1RM -will come at the end of a long workout - an hour or so in like with that 24kg press. I may only get one rep here. or a few. They're exciting.

These singles suggest that all the previous working sets are a kind of warm up?  I dunno - as said - it seems like a kind of double Prilipen - the 80% workout followed by a 90%+ - does that make sense?

I have tested this repeatedly where i have tried a new load earlier in the practice session and not gotten it; tried again much latter, and voila. Beautiful.

What is happening here? Shouldn't i be more fatigued by this point? it's not like i've been pulling any punches with the work done to that point? Fascinating. But i enjoy it and it seems to be working.

Reps: Beyond the Lift - keeping mobile

At some point, we can talk about Reps, in terms of building movement, and being more than just about strength. there we might discuss other aspects of our practice where we need reps - for energy systems, different planes of movement than the forever sagital.

But for today,
this article started with the observation there are so many ways to skin a cat - to get a lift - easy strength; waving loads; german volume training; periodization etc etc.

There are more programs than sense, are there not? 
How decide?  

So, a question: if in music, chess, sport (like soccer or tennis), programming, the most reps leads to the best results,

In strength training - does the person with the most reps, the best volume, simply win?  Follow up question: win not just for now, but consecutively?

Even if there is no best plan, best program, might optimising for most reps have particular fringe benefits that go beyond the success/goal of the moment? 

Related Posts

Friday, December 21, 2012

Shayne Autry, Dec 19, 2012 - in Memorium -

I'm not sure how to describe Shayne Autry. I kinda fell in love with Shayne the first time i interacted with him. This was at a z-health course - sustenance - and one of the exercises was to team up and practice active listening. Shayne and i were sitting close to each other so we teamed up. I was supposed to talk about something to do with my training and he was supposed to practice listening, reflecting and i think making some suggestions.
This photo was taken by Kathy Graves,
Shane's buddy, and fellow karate expert and
zhealth trainer/co-course attender.

I immediately felt safe starting to chat with Shayne, first because he seemed quietly self-possessed, second because of his lovely texas accent, and third, well, third, Shayne and i are about the same height. What some might call "short."
Beyond these qualities, what made me feel so sweet on Shayne is how well he listened and how well he engaged - i felt heard and like my practice was going to get better.

Shayne could also do amazing movements on the rings - there was a set hanging up where we were at - and he was lovely in his demonstration of skills, and kind in his demonstration of techniques to progress a movement. I was taken with the muscle up, and i recall how he gently and clearly demonstrated the role of the hand position in getting the muscle up on the rings.

I had no idea that this grounded guy was also a 5th degree karate black belt instructor. I learned this later - and not from him - at another course. Why i say i have no idea is that i was more accustomed to the folks who made their martial arts prowess a thing. If you're in this space you likely know what i mean: the guys with the chest forward and the shaved head whose sentences are often peppered with references to their particular speciality. This is not a critique - just an observation of how many of the folks in that space recognize each other. It's a kind of uniform. IT's not however the uniform that shayne wore - at least not where i encountered him, which was in Phoenix on courses. There you're seeing a guy in sandles, jammers, a loose t-shirt, longish hair tied back in a pony tale, beard. Everything looked relaxed, loose, compact.
When i learned about his martial arts expertise, i thought you are like columbo or the spy in sun tzu who no one would expect is the expert, the gymnast, the lethal fists. So impressed that what came to the fore was just this warm, welcoming Texan.

I can't say i "know" Shayne at all. I think i've seen him in person less than a handful of times - always at courses, but always looked forward to seeing him, hearing his voice and especially seeing his awesome smile. It just wouldn't be the same if he wasn't there.
I remember last year when i think i learned about him running his own academy thinking that ya, what a great coach - his students must be so lucky to have him teach them martial arts. And i'd again be struck with how un-pre-possessing this guy who could likely kill me faster than look at me, seemed to be.

video put together by one of Shayne's cousins

Over the past year or so, Shayne and i connected mainly over the net via posts on Facebook - he'd reply to something on one of my posts; i'd reply to one of his. Mostly kibitzing. I don't know why - we just did. It was alway a kind of Warm feeling that another human being was connecting not just with the b2d stuff, but more often the regular fb posts - not conversations - just contact - a virtual smile - acknowledgement - i dunno. Friendly and fun. I think we spoke more this way online - with these kinda  virtual buddy shoulder punches - than we did in person.

The last contact i have from Shayne is a message shortly after an FB event b2d hosted - a one arm push up progress party. Shayne sent me a direct message - first time - saying he thought he might have a way to improve my push up and to call him. Remembering his muscle up ideas, i was really excited that he was offering some thoughts here. And how interesting that he was offering his phone number for contact rather than a message contact or public post.

I'd been on the road at the time his note came in and just saw it the other day. Calling...Guess i missed him...

Then i saw the email from zhealth saying that Shayne had died and there were as yet no other details about cause of death. He was 37. 37.
I still can't parse this. Did i just miss him? Did he want to talk? Hello? Is anybody there?
Shayne, i'm so so so sorry i missed you. That's just not right. None of this is right.
What happened? What can i do?

Despite not knowing Shayne deeply, Shayne's digital greetings have been a gift in my life, and i'm feeling the loss suddenly, keenly. It's a hole around something i didn't really even know i had. It's arrival was unexpected; its departure, more wrenching than expected having reflected on what is lost and that will never be there again.

And that i missed his call seemingly offered so close to the end of his whole life - his whole life. What did i miss? Could i have been there for him in some way?
 That seems the most bitter: to have been so close to that moment and there is no "catch ya later." It's gone. Shayne's just gone.

So no i don't know really how do describe Shayne in any kind of deep knowing way to tell you any part of his story; i can't witness anything else about him, beyond these glimpses of someone who seemed to be a warm and generous human being, someone i'd trust as a coach, and recommend to anyone else who might be in his area, and loved in these exchanges where the words weren't important; it was just the contact, the presence. It occurs to me how potent this contact has been - what a gift.
Of all the folks i know, he's one of the few who so regularly reached out to just make contact - and never asked for anything back. I realise thinking on this how rare that kind of contact is, and how delightful, how priceless. It's amazing to me, i think, that such quality can shine through, be so potent, even with so little quantity. That's powerful isn't it? That is a kind of testimony to person. A proof that he was here. Will be remembered warmly and missed deeply for at least these gifts.

For those who don't know Shayne and may be wondering why i'm using this blog to talk about Shayne, please allow me to offer this: i think it is important to recognize that a really good member of the health and wellbeing community is gone. That someone who helped shape a profound aspect of people's lives be recognised for this work.

WE are so few of us famous but still profoundly affect the lives around us and so out of repsect should be named, honored, noted, remembered. Shayne Autry stepped here.

I'm glad to have known him even to this small degree, glad to be able to tell you about him, sorry i can't introduce you to him, but hope you will raise a glass this holiday to the good folks who have tried to make our lives better - and even not knowing him - take my word for it if you might - that he's worth remembering in that toast too.

Miss you, Shayne.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

al kavadlo: raising the bar on using the bar - dvd review

Pull ups rock, right? They are a fundamental, do anywhere, super core, righteous bodyweight exercise. They are the foundation to so many other things of goodness, too, in self-strengthening skill work. Despite this, if you walk into any room (including a gym), the number of people who can do a full tactical pull up (palms facing away, neck to the bar, straight pull without momentum) will be, it seems, vanishingly small.

But don't worry: Al Kavadlo of We're Working Out Youtube  fame is here to help, with a DELIGHTFUL DVD called Raising the Bar on pull ups and all moves (including levers and dips) related to pull ups - and bar work.

In fact, this video is so engaging you'll enjoy it if either (a) you already do pull ups - and are interested in getting into their variants like muscle ups or one arm chins (b) you have no intention of doing pull ups or (c) you know people who would like to do pull ups and haven't quite cracked it yet. Anyone you give this to will find something delightful in it.

And Yes i said "delightful"- a couple times. You may ask: can something mc just called "delightful" be taken seriously as a grrr me do pull ups grr type product. Well yes, indeed. And that's part of the delight. You can grr if you wish (Al's brother Danny who demos the movements, too, puts out some of that grr - just so you can do that vibe, too). Or, as Al makes clear from his own presentation, no grring required to be serious about our practice.

Smiling AND doing a one arm
hanging V-sit? What's not
to love? Feel inspired?
Personally, if someone's smiling while doing a one arm pull up,  that's just gosh darn inviting, don't you think? Like, if a guy's all RRR and looking super intense doing a dip it's like "that's super hard ---- oooo - i dunno if i could do that." Whereas seeing Al, the vibe is totally "wow, that looks like fun. i'm gonna give that a go."

And towards that go getting, Al K. puts out a good series of progressions for each of the movements described and illustrated.

[Update: interview with AK about raising the bar now posted - Jan, 2013]

The DVD itself covers
  • Pull Ups - about a million varieties for all levels - from beginner to advanced like the archer pull up
  • Dips - again, both progressions to get started with the move, and then to move on up
  • Various intensifiers like hanging leg raises - again with progressions - L sits, V sits
  • Hand stands - from wall assisted to free standing
  • Muscle Ups and Levers
  • One arms - of course - one arms.
  • Practice - putting these movements together for developing strength and skill - Al and Dan
  • Walk about - a great section of this vid is the proof that bar work is available in all sorts of places - and considering how constantly New York is under construction, the opportunities there to grab a scaffolding bar and pull up are celebrated. 
Frame of Reference: DVD as Bar Progress Resource 
There is a bloody lot of material on this DVD. It's over 50mins long, and feels very rich. An imagined use is as a reference for progressions. For example, someone working on getting a pull up may watch chapter one to get all the ideas about hand position and progressions, and then dig into a particular progression for awhile, knowing that once they get that step, the next one is there to study, such as simply playing with grip position - chin, pull and neutral variants. 

If one's focus is hand stands or levers or muscle ups - just go to that chapter and run the well considered progressions.

Presentors: Al and Danny Kavadlo - Awesome combo
One of the many unique and compelling aspects of this DVD is that while written, produced and edited by Al Kavadlo, his trainer brother Danny joins him to show a slightly different body type approaching the same movements. And if you've followed any of Kavadlo's We're Working Out Vids, it's interesting to see Danny's New Look - a great complement to Al's. 

The Brothers Kavadlo in Raising the Bar.
So the video gives us two different bodies doing the moves individually, and then shows them carrying out the moves in sync. Now that's FUN! 

Synchro Rollovers

These guys are both inked up pretty intensely - but they look very distinct even here. It's very interesting. The ink is also - i think - why when they do their work shirtless it doesn't feel like they're showing off - being buff studs. It feels like they have their ink on. Dunno - it just works.Very urban: the ere art fits in with the art/graffiti around them. Definitely city boys. This is real. I'll come back to that realness in a sec. In the meantime, a brief overview of the work through which the Kavadlo bros take us with the bar.

HUGELY accessible and CHALLENGING across all levels.
It's no small thing to create a DVD that works for beginners to advanced and all the spaces in between. Al's achieved this though. There will be very few people in the population who can say to each move on this vid, ya i got that i own that, Next. And even those few souls will appreciate the presentation of the material. When they get folks coming to them to say "how do you DO that??" you can now say - you brave people - 'Well here, check out Kavadlo's Raising the Bar - i know i did!"

Duel Dipping
DIPS There's a nice logic to the chapters on the DVD too - after pull ups, we get Dips - a great triceps focused, full on body movement. If you think you know everything about dips - on parallel bars or rings, have you experienced the Korean Dip on a straight bar? The plyo dip? of course - there has to be a plyo dip. There's even psuedo cycling while dipping in case you don't think your core is getting enough attention.

HANGS: No Pull Ups Required Speaking of which - here's where all sorts of hanging leg variants come into play - including awesome progressions.  The cool thing about these hanging variants is that we do not have to be pull up masters to do these: can we hang from the bar? 

How to hang is covered in the video - and believe me there is technique here so as not to stress the shoulders. Hanging is kinda a misnomer i think - that sounds really slack - but a good hang sucks in the shoulders - the back is nice and active while the core is also working and then from that hand we get some leg work. 

Aside, a wish: If i had my way - or enough money to have my way - i'd have pull up bars installed everywhere - starting with my campus - attached to buildings, and posts driven into the ground. Everywhere pull up bars. And the verticals can be used for human flags, and shinnying up and down

ADVANCED From basic pull ups, we get (bien sur) advanced pull ups - all sorts of playing with hand/shoulder combinations - that not only are a whole new workout place with pull ups but explore new positions - slightly below the bar; above the bar - all over the bar. Sweet stuff. 

MUSCLE UPS And yes for those at the ten bodyweight pull up place (i just hit that this fall - happy happy - let me say again, getting lean makes pull ups suddenly easier - go figure) - then there's a thumbs up to work the Muscle Up on a bar - or what looks really lovely - on parallel bars. 

Then as with each chapter, we get some sequences on how to put these variants together into some nice working funky combos. 

Wall-supported Hand Stands for Shoulder Strength:
The push to the Pull up Pull
Balance the bod - HAND STANDS Here's one step off the bar to doing some inversion orientation. Why? doing pulls, gotta counterbalance with some pushes - ain't nothing like handstands for this. Now i like to work shoulder stand press ups every day, but i cannot get that balance thing yet so i imagine i shall back away from the press ups to balance and maybe hand walking - why? it looks COOL! - and see someone go from a frog stand to a hand stand (yes that's in here) - well that's on my "i couldn't do that" - but thanks to this DVD i'm thinking - well - i can practice that. Already one simple tip from Al in this section improved my frog stand times immediately - like wow. 

But the biggie here? Kavadlo cares (i can see that as a t-shirt slogan). Really - we do pulls; we need pushes. So while not on the bar it supports the bar. In balance. Very nice, don't you think? Don't you want this video even more now because it's so thoughtful? 

Bench Levers towards Bar levers - and still Smiling
LEVERS? well, you can do them on a bench or a bar - hence being on this DVD - they're bar movements. And personally? i've now hit the wall - from this point i'm watching for pleasure as opposed to practice - maybe next year at this time i'll be ready for this part of the DVD - and isnt' that cool? Like i said: lots of room to grow. 
That said, Skin the Cat is in here - as a progression - and i've been doing that since i was a little kid so i guess i have a wee bite of this - towards a real back lever - so goodness - maybe not quite a year away...

FULL CIRCLE: ONE ARM PULL UPS:  And then, way out there, the sinecure of bar movements, the sex on a plate, he's so fine movement of pull ups: the one arm.

When i was but a grad student, twenty something, training with the x-country team, every once in awhile the guy who worked the desk at the uni gym - forty something very craigy and lean and fit - would come into the gym and pull a few one arms in his t-shirt and sweats. I can't think of one gal there who didn't swoon just a little bit. Somehow a 20 year old doing that just wouldn't have had the same effect - not that there was a 20 something in the gym who could do that. mm mm mm.  You know the difference in the second real star wars where Luke goes after Darth Vadar and whips out his light saber and then Darth brings his out, slow and controlled? That sorta thing. Nothing says experience like a well executed, controlled, slow, strong one arm pull up. But i digress.

The brothers Kavadlo present a set of progressions and variations for this movement too. For instance: can we hang from a bar, one armed - no shoulder stress? How get that full range of motion practice? They have solutions there too. 

Presentation: Excellent
The filming, editing, presentation of this video is EXCELLENT - Kavadlo produced and edited the whole thing. The music, as with his We're Working Out vids is his own, too.

You know how most DVD's are filmed inside in a studio and they just have that kinda contrived vibe to them?  Well, Raising the Bar  is NOT a studio DVD. This whole thing takes place outside, in the real, mainly at Thomkin Square Park in NYC. It's a real space where Al actually works out and children play and sirens scream.

Nice use of camera angle to show position on pull up
But also unlike a lot of single camera health DVD's that more or less set up in front of the athletes and that's it? One angle throughout - well, Al's thought about the shots for these moves. We see the move from the whole body; we get shots close up; we get shots from the top of the bar. And it's done so well, we don't notice the cuts to get the shots because they just feel logical in terms of conveying what we need to see to understand the movements.

Even the audio has been well-considered. Good audio on site describing the moves, and voice over the particulars of the movements for good attention to detail.

I mentioned the body art and how the guys fit in with the environment they use in the vid. Urban and real. This real-ness is another delightful and compelling part of the video - and another reason why i recommend it so highly - these guys walk the talk. They completely embody what they're talking about, they demo it, and you know from this presentation is not only part of what they do themselves, but what they have rather a lot of reps coaching others to do, too.

HIGH TRUST If you're interested in coaching fitness, this DVD is a masterclass in presentation. If you're into learning these moves, this is a presentation you can trust. Getting both of these attributes in one package? Goodness.

Aside 2: What's on the Feet?? yes that's Al Kavadlo movin' in some sweet Xero Shoes (review)

Recommendation: Buy and Give Raising the Bar

buy it for about 16 different reasons - just buy it - for yourself and for someone you love

As said, there is nothing not to enjoy in this DVD. The case for its purchase, as i hope i've made above, is pretty clear whether we're interested in bodyweight practice ourselves, or helping folks casually or professionally, this presentation is a gift. As a class in how to make an instructional video - pretty nice work there too.

BUT wait, there's one more reason: Al Kavadlo has been giving it away on YouTube for years now. If you want to learn how to do anything bodyweight from a dragon flag to a Human Flag, he's there with his zippy happy We're Working Out videos. My sense is that buying Raising the Bar is a nice way to give back and to say "thank you" to Al for all those freebies. Not only does the purchase become a thank you, but we still get all this great content. A bargain, a value, a gift.

the human flags in the real - no special equipment required

Summing up. I can't think of when i've been this impressed with a package - especially since really Al K. put the package together himself - this is his vision of what Raising the Bar should be. Plainly he's attracted a swell crew and willing publisher to support that vision. Again, the biggie for me is the realness of the presentation as well as the friendliness. We can smile and make progress; we can make amazing progress with our bodyweight alone; we do not need a gym. What the workouts together show is that we do need each other - or do well when we can help each other.

Nice nice material, nice presentation, nice story. Great model DVD. Enjoy - and if you really want a kick, put Raising the Bar in someone's stocking this holiday. And if you think it's too late to get the physical copy, order it and stick a pic of the cover into the stocking so they know it's coming.

In an upcoming episode of b2d, we'll have an interview with Al K about the making of Raising the Bar, and some of his fitness philosophy. Really cool, nice guy on top of the talent for training modelled here. In the meantime, while you wait for your DVD to arrive, check out Al's website. Interesting cool articles there too.

Best of the Season Getting To, On, Up and Raising the Bar.

Related Posts:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Death to Flip Flops - Steven Sashen's Passion at XeroShoes (b2d Interview Conclusion)

Flip flops are great ideas but they suck -  they cause all sorts of walking aberrations  clawing toes to hang onto these things; not real fit, and we've all lost one making an attempt to run in them. And they make a funny sound in a quiet hallway. Nice to feel the air on toes; not nice to kill the foot in the pocess. 

Huaraches, on the other hand, solve these problems. They are the next best thing to being barefoot, and in some respects, they may actually be better in terms of bringing awareness to one's step. The best sandals i've encountered for running, walking and generally banging about - from the warmth of a Seattle Summer to the rain of a UK fall - are Steven Sashen's Invisible and now Xero Shoes. And yes, even in the fall heading to winter, these are cool footwear. 

an example of a slip on tie style for a xeroshoe - 5kmile guarentee.
The b2d first six weeks review is posted here. There's also the first part of an Interview with Steven about the modus operandi behind founding Invisible (now Xero) Shoes over here. 

It's Thanksgiving in the US; Facebook is filled with reflections on folks giving thanks, and talking about various dinner options. A lot of thanks is around health. It seemed appropriate to come back to the final part of the interview with Steven more about the philosophy of barefooting, eating, health and well being around now. 

That Steven's also hosting a Thanksgiving 20% off sale on XeroShoes till Dec 2 is no small thing either. 

So without further ado, let's step into the messy irony of talking about "barefoot running" when very few of us are actually naked of foot

Steven Sashen Xero Shoes:
Mission - death to Flip Flops

How do you feel about the term barefoot running, when really most of us are not running with bare feet? 
Check out our post "barefoot running isn't just running barefoot"
All right, i've done that. And you're suggesting that you see folks run just as poorly in minimalist footware as you do in runners.

Part of me finds this narrative really really hard to believe: one of the things that has become a truism with me when i talk with folks about taking off their shoes to explore grass and other surfaces running is that YA CAN'T HEEL STRIKE - or put it this way - you won't do it more than once or twice cuz it hurts: it's self correcting. apparently not??
That said... It depends.Most people use the term as shorthand for "barefoot-style running" which is shorthand for "natural movement" which is shorthand for "don't overstride, mid- or forefoot strike, get your feet off the ground by lifting your knees rather than pushing with your feet, and HAVE FUN!"I'm okay with that usage.But I take issue with shoe companies that refer to their "barefoot" products that are still, well, just shoes.
I don't care how flexible your outsole is (not as much as ours) if there's .5" of EVA foam under your foot, or if the shoe has a big arch built into it, or it's so narrow I can't get it on my foot, or it restricts my foot's movement.
example of an outline for a custom xeroshoe

one of the fun facts i like to share with folks:our feet have 24% of the joints in our body - the most of any part of our body (besides the head and the movement of those joints is debatable so leaving that aside)why have that many joints in the feet? each joint being surrounded by proprioceptively wired nerves is sending information about where we are in space and how fast those parts are moving. The brain is WIRED to get that information. The more of that picture it gets, the happier it is, the clearer it's sense of where we are is.
AGREED... and if you don't give the brain that stimulation, it stops paying attention (the brain map for your feet de-differentiates).
The analogy is with shoes on it's like being in a region with a weak cell signal - only a couple of cell towers to give a phone signal and the transmission can sound choppy and drop out and just be really hard to hear what exactly is being said - lots of effort goes into getting the info.
Great analogy.
When there's loads of cell towers in an area, the signal is strong, the voice comes across loud and clear, we can relax and just focus on the conversation - less effort. Our feet are wired to give the brain a super duper incredible clear signal because i guess we evolved such that that much info was pretty important. Shoes kill our wiring. 

sorry for that digression. 

And the brain (your phone) needs to be turned on with the battery charged. If you don't use it, it drains and gets no signal.(it's a feedback loop). 
Even the VFF has enough padding/stiffness in the sole that it dramatically reduces the amount of feedback you get (and need) from the ground.
hmm. i've been pretty happy with the bikila's - but yes running actually barefoot does feel a lot different. 
I've seen SO many people put on Bikilas and go out for an overstriding, heel-striking run.
Most of us on "this side" of the barefoot running movement will say "It's not about the footwear, it's about the form," but that's only partly true.
everyone can be their own cobbler with xeroshoes
nice observation.

Barefoot is not the same as shod (even in our sandals). And having your feet touch the ground is a very different experience... and a valuable one.
agreed. but unlike Mike Wilkinson whose series on Barefoot Running you commented on i believe - i haven't given over to all bare all the time. Perhaps i'm just a wus. 

There are no bonus points or gold stars for being barefoot all the time. 
Further, I hate when people say "I got hurt barefoot running," and they've never actually been barefoot or, worse, they've only been in a pair of Nike Free.
i hear ya. 
And I really hate when doctors say "My patient got hurt barefoot running," and they never asked the patient "Were you actually bare footed?" and didn't check their form on video tape, and don't keep in mind that, 40 years ago they were saying "My patient got hurt in these new padded running shoes."I could go on... ;-)
by all means, feel free: your experience with real folks is valuable here, so i'm happy to take in whatever ya got. 
Oy, I would if I had the time. It's all (mostly) on the blog... and in the upcoming posts
--Ok, well lets shift a little bit to what's on that site. you also tell folks how to make their own sandals - without purchasing from you. That's very cool. how did you decide to give this away? 
It just seemed like the right thing to do.I made my first pair by scrounging for materials and it was a blast. I wanted to make that possible for others.Plus, I knew it would foster creativity. I like to say there's been more creativity applied to sandals in the last 2.5 years (since we started) than there has in the 19,998 years since this type of sandal was first invented.
You have collected some impressive stats, Sandal Man.
I do what I can.
is there a commonality among IS wearers? 
Other than that they wear our shoes?
yup - but that in itself is cool.
 Less and less every day.The types of people who wear our shoes expands every day. At first it was almost all men. Now it's probably 55/45. More kids are wearing our shoes lately. More hikers, kayakers, walkers, and other non-runners are buying from us. More people who just like the look (and no nothing about performance or biomechanics) are buying from us.
do you find that most folks are still buying for running, or is it becoming all the time everywhere?
More and more customers are not runners.
(personally, i'm trying to figure out how i can wear these through the uk winter of rain - how many months in can i get...i really do want to get this tying thing sorted for that invisible feel, so that these *just work* for breaking into a run - which is most of my commute mechanism) and
Cool acclimatisation work there...

[Update - two days ago 5C UK, hard rain - those sandals were great for keeping my feet - well not dry of course but not sopping wet with wet shoes and socks. got to work, sluiced off my feet, put on some sandals i have there, and away we went.]

Ok back to business and vision: what would you like to see happen with your business? what looks like success to you?  (what's next for invisible shoes)

Oh, boy... I know that what will REALLY happen next is probably something I can't plan, so I don't actually know what's next.That said, things are expanding and growing FAST.
it seems to have been fast pretty much from day one!
We're moving out of the house (which can't fit all the product and people) and into commercial space in 2 weeks (edit - this statement is from end of Aug. 2012; move is done).
he makes bows as well as shoes...
Thanks.I guess it'll be a while until I get  that nap I hoped for.

We just hired the founder of Avia Footwear (who, most recently was the senior designer/developer at Crocs )
Good for you taking that person away from unflexible flippy shoes  
He came willingly. ;-) 
We have a few BIG accounts we're talking with (thanks to our success at the Outdoor Retail trade show.
May i ask - what does that mean - folks who would like to see iShoes/Xero's in their stores? buy them for all their employees?
Can you say "Huarache Making Merit Badge"?Or LL Bean catalog?
So, what's next is expanding our product line, improving our current products, providing more educational material online
The friendliness of the material is awesome.YOu have great prsescence on the vids - professional while also being engaging. 
Very kind of you to say.
Also will be doing more comedic stuff (like sh*t barefoot runners say / and sh*t runners say to barefoot runners ).
that's very good. i particularly like "where do the orthotics go"

and really, dude, over 50? would not have guessed. thank you for redescribing age perception, too. 

Thank my mother and her lineage. That's where I got it.
And if you don't mind - another aside - what is your weekly TIME spent doing movement stuff - deliberate movement like running or biking or training of some kind - is running your main movement activity (sounds like you bike as well?).
I bike around town a lot... oh, and I have a treadmill desk. So I'm moving about 8-10 hours every day, minimum.
and one more: how would you describe your approach to diet/food? 
Curious, inquisitive, unwilling to believe in miracles (but wishing there were one), and, as always, looking for what's TRUE rather than what people THINK is true.
For example, the paleo diet is a big deal now...
Well, I've never liked meat. EVER. (one paleo doc thinks I have a genetic disorder where I 
don't taste umami well and, therefore, don't like meat). Plus, many paleo teachers and bloggers are still 20-50 pounds overweight!  
As far as I can tell, what makes paleo work, for those that it works for, is that fat and protein are satiating for them, so they eat fewer calories without noticing (I have more research that proves that). But there are vegans who make the same claim. 
The idea that one diet fits all makes no sense to ME in particular, because I'm a genetic freak (remember, fastest Jew in the world over 50). It seems reasonable that my dietary needs would be different from someone who doesn't have the same genetic makeup and can't sprint. That could be wrong, but it's reasonable. 
It's not worth getting into the particulars of my diet... but let's just say that I'm happy and worried about the fact that our new office is less than 100 yard from
Cool - thank you - so Success for Invisible/Xero shoes is...
Success? Our goal is the eradication of the flip flop from the planet! ;-)
Goodness - i admit i have reasons to think the flip flop is evil but what are yours? and i support your mission!
They don't fit, they use your feet all wrong, they fall apart (or are too expensive)... etc. In the meantime, I'm just focused on growing the brand, helping people discover the fun and benefits of getting out of their shoes, engaging with our customers, and having FUN doing it.
Care to share a few of the things that equal "fun doing it" with captal FUN? that would be great to hear. 
oh, making the comedic content, teaching, chatting with people online, going to events, having meals (did I mention there are gourmet doughnuts near our office? ;-) ) If, along the way, someone offered to write us a check with a lot of zeros at the end... I wouldn't complain.
goodness, we must have a similar philosophy i wouldn't mind that either. 
I'll see what I can do.
Excellent! Thanks for the time about the business, you, and the where and how of where y'all are going. 

And with that, Steven, shod in new green colored Xero's, went off to his donut, walking desk and replying to more customer queries. 

Reminder of that Thanksgiving Day Sale...till Dec 2, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

You call that Failure? Lessons Learned in m.c.'s path to the Iron Maiden Attempt

What can one say about "almost" making a goal? Is a miss as good as a mile? Or is success still simply in just "showing up" as dan john says, and valuing the PR?

Of course the line is easier to draw under a goal as something "complete" when the objective is achieved: the accolades that attend are lovely. But that may just be selling oneself and one's practice short. As i said during the olympics - so few athletes get prizes but what does it take just to be part of that field? What of that story?

Stepping Up

This past weekend (saturday Oct 27, 2012 to be precise) i "showed up" for something called the Iron Maiden Challnege. This is part of the RKC kettlebell scene, and i've written about the challenge before, quite a bit in fact - i'll list a few articles at the end of this one for reference.

Iron Maiden Quick review.
There are three lifts: the pistol (a single leg squat) with the 24kg kettlebell, a pull up with a 24 kg kb hung from the waist, and a single overhead press with a 24kg kb.

My concern about a month out was that i had to big a hurdle to make for one move - the press - to get to the challenge - that i'd really need another two months to be solid, just based on progress to that point. As the time approached it seemed close enough however to give it a go: who knows what adrenilin might do?

Down at the First Hurdle? Ironically, both my attempts on the pistol - my strong event - ha! were disqualified, so i couldn't officially test the remaining two. It seems i'd practiced an incorrect form. Great time to find out, eh?

For example: here is K.C. Reiter's successful pistol - please note bell position relative to hips on coming up and any movement with the arms.

Now here's mine. Please note the same details:

So you can see where a person may be a wee bit forgiven for being surprised.

Now - a lesson learned here may have been to go up to the judges prior to the actual event and to say - does this look right - in fact i did that with my dead hang position for the pull up because that was the only place i had a doubt about form! Never ever did i think my pistol was wrong.

Here are the rules that i had from the 2010 RKC manual (which is a fluke that i had as i certed before then and they ain't in my manual):
The competitor must perform one (1) rock bottom Pistol holding the 48kg
(106lbs.) kettlebell.
‐ The competitor can choose which leg to use for the attempt.
‐ The competitor is granted two (2) attempts and can rest for as long as
necessary between attempts.
‐ The referee must give a clear “Go” signal before any attempt can be made.
‐ Chalk is allowed.
‐ The non-working leg must be extended to the front of the body.
‐ The non-working leg must be kept off the ground during the entire
‐ The knee of the non-working leg does NOT have to be straight.
‐ The hamstring and calf of the working leg must touch in the bottom
position of the pistol. (personally i was most happy at getting this hamstring/calf touch)
‐ The kettlebell may be held by its horns with two (2) hands in front of the
body or it may be cleaned and held in the racked position of either side of
the body.
‐ The foot of the working leg must NOT move during the attempt.
‐ The referee must approve the competitor’s attempt with a clear “Yes” or
“No” signal before the competitor may put the kettlebell down. If the
competitor fails to do this and does not wait for the signal the attempt will
be invalid.
‐ The competitor does NOT have to pause at the bottom of the pistol.
What disqualifies an attempt?‐ The competitor fails any of the above-mentioned standards.
‐ The competitor tries to stand up “around the kettlebell”. Notice the
subtlety of extending the working leg from the bottom position but
keeping the hip in a flexed position thus keeping the kettlebell in the
same vertical distance from the ground until the knee is extended and
then doing a “One-Legged Goodmorning” to stand erect. The increase in knee angle when standing up should correspond to a similar verticalelevation of the kettlebell.
THere doesn't seem to be anything in this version of the rules about arm movement disqualifying an attempt or that the arms have to do anything - which is what i was called on as "doing a curl" with the bell. In the rules that i have, however, it seems that as long as the knee doesn't come up before the bell, you're good. I don't think i'm doing a "good morning" around a bell and then pulling up the bell?

So perhaps - again - the rules got changed between 2010 and today and i should have thought to ask dragon door months ago when i started prepping for a copy of the latest version just to make sure there were no changes. It's just not something i anticipated!  If you're an RKC with a more recent version of the manual and can check for any other bits, please let me know if the rules have changed, and perhaps send me the changed bit...thank you. EDIT - have now seen this is the same wording in the 2011 RKC manual. Have just been told, however, that there is a change in the August 2012 manual that reads "The pelvis may not raise faster than the kettlebell."   Hmm.

The best solution i suppose is just to be prettier so there's absolutely no ambiguity about form, eh, so that judgement doesn't have to enter into it. How long to get a 24 pistol, with the bell in the rack?

Take away:  where and when possible - check with judges to ensure what you're doing is what they call right; get the version of the rules that will be used at the event well in advance.

Another irony? i was obsessive about getting the rules for recertification well in advance and making sure i had everything agreed on weigh ins and movements - but the challenge rules? Why did i miss that? JEEZE.

But at this point - you fail on one event, you're done! that's it for the rest of the event.

We Perform what we Repeat - who SAID that?

"What?" - m.c. learning her second
pistol attempt was also a form dud.
While the other competitors were recovering for their next lift, i did volunteer to try the press which has been my bete noir, and i did get it on the second attempt - but for my knees apparetly being "soft" - that means there was a bit of bend  in them (i didn't feel it) so that the press becomes a mini push press. Oh dear.

But - what is being repeated here? How i tend to learn a new load.  A first time load up when it's heavier than what i'm used to is usually with a wee push press - ever so slight - at first - and then gradually work out the knees. Apparently two reps (the first one being four days previous) with what i suspected was some knee (as i'd posted on FB) is not a sufficient number to work out the literal kinks.

As for the the pull up? I did a SINGLE attempt on that, too, and came within an inch of it. I'm not sure if asking to take the space to do a second attempt would have done it. At that point i own my heart was not as fired up as it might otherwise have been, so perhaps that factored into a less that glorious rep?

A Few (More) Lessons Learned 

Out on my "strong" event before the game had really begun, and on the other moves, "nothing neither way" to quote Hamlet. Four months of near obsessive focus - wasted?

That's a toughie: did i get what i came for? No. Was i surprised by the result? Really, no. Do i feel like the desired result is beyond me? No.

People of course tend not to ask folks who don't win how they did what they did - since End Results count for a lot. But sometimes learning from gaps can help inform improvements for the next soul.

Humbly offered, therefore, a few Personal Reflections (a new definition of PR?) that may be useful to your strength practice planning .

Where I began with the lifts: from about July 1, 
  • Pistols: i went from single body weight pistols to a pistol with a 24kg kb.
  • Pull ups: i went from zero pull ups in March due to a rehabbing shoulder to getting back a single pull up in July to clearing the 24 off site, and coming within an inch on the day. 
  • Press: went from a few trepidatious 12kg presses in July due to shoulder rebuilding from rehab to pressing the 24 on the day - and that solid press, no knees, was the THIRD press of the day with the dam thing, off to the side.
Related Wins-
  •  HLR i can do hanging leg raises, and have the negatives of the dragon flag. Not things i ever imagined doing, but boy what a good "hollow position." 
  • Lean. That i am as lean as i am right now is really cool for exploring bodyweight work - and it feels nice! i don't want to lose this, well, loss - but dam it it takes discipline to get here, never mind stay here. How's that gonna work? Leave that one for tomorrow...
  • Workout Fuel Tuning Learned how to optimise pre and post and during (peri-workout) nutrition for practice.
  • on the day 24 press
    Paul Simister, photo.
  • Relaxation as Astronaut Training. Learned how to relax before the event by practicing exactly what i do now before focuesed practice - and that i enjoy (that green tea ritual, ref below, works in many places - and that as a tip from Ken Froese)
Little pr's 
  • at the event i got my first ever free standing - no wall in sight - head stands - right out there in the middle of the floor.  
  •  i can consistently bottoms up press the 16 pretty easily now which last year at this time was unimaginable 
  • i have a handstand push up (against the wall) with head to the floor for reps
  • i can press a 20 on my left for reps now
  • i go the 24 on the day - if not quite at the right time.  

Beyond Strength (as one might say)

Beyond the particular personal records, there were related discoveries in getting to those places. Here's just a couple of finds that i would never ever have discovered without this attempt, and that are going to carry me forward in whatever i practice next.

Leanness and Strength. Most of us have heard that it's hard to gain mass or get stronger while also getting leaner. In fact one of the suggestions i was given when trying to get the last 1.5kg on my press was "eat." But it seemed i kept getting stronger while getting leaner.  Indeed, i have been doing the modified velocity diet (links below) since the start of august and peeled off ten pounds in 12 weeks, and am at about 13-14% bf if the harpendon caliper readings are correct. At no point did i lose strength while getting leaner. So it does seem to be quite possible - at least for me - to get a lot stronger while getting leaner. Which leads me to feel pretty deeply that strength is not always about more muscle fiber.

from first weekend in aug to third weekend in oct. 2012.
Pressing, pistoling and pulling up the 24 sopping wet at 5'6" and 122lbs
Motor Learning IS skills Learning; Strength is a Skill.
My sense from getting stronger despite getting leaner is that one might only worry about not being able to get stronger while getting leaner if one were a really advanced/experienced lifter. I would never claim to be any such thing. Hence, a lot of room to improve strength with technique, and with reps to coordinate the tissue already there.  That i did get stronger suggests a heck of a lot of skills training aka motor learning during the hours i put into my practice for this. I do feel that both my body has been learning how to make connections within itself, and i have been learning to make skills connexions.

Practice (i.e. high volume days in particular) is Exploration - of Skills
I have been fortunate to have been able to engage with several great folks in the course of this process. I'll introduce them in a moment. One of the things they each have had in common is to say that Volume Rules for owning a lift.

We know as well that in learning a skill so that it is automatic we have to perform thousands of reps. Even in four months, i have only performed hundreds.

Within this volume there is not only motor learning - the body learning how to groove an action. There is also the opportunity for deliberate practice: to think about what is happening and having the opportunity to explore these movements and what lets one advance and what may hold one back.

A worked example: the pistol as skill At the end of a  heavy day pistol practice - i decided to take some more time just to explore getting the 24 under control in the descent. All i wanted/expected was how to go down in control; not get back up. The first few times i came down under control but landed on my butt - and then i started to get the hang of how to stay balanced. 
Common wisdom would suggest that at the end of a workout when now just doing skills practice it's not time to go for a pr. But each time i used my other foot to help me get back up, i noticed i was getting a little higher up without help. So, i kept exploring this up-ness part, too. What it felt like to shift position, what was happening in my leg. And then, there is was. The first what i called "ugly" pistol with the 24. 
That success would not have happened without the willingness to explore one part of the movement - to play around - with intent - to discover how to do one part of the skill. It happened in that case that that particular practice lead to insight about another part of the practice.

Loads of examples of this - of just looking out a little further to find new connexions within a movement.

Time isn't After Us: 
Another part of volume that i had not considered previously was time: allowing for longer workouts - to keep exploring a lift especially on a heavier day so there's time for recovery. That i found absolutley revelatory. A greater VOLUME of TIME for training - not just volume of reps. At least at my skill level.

Everyone needs a coach - the right coach at the right time.
That i got as far as i did, as safely as i did i attribute to having a great coach. I have been fortunate to have great support through this process as well as great ideas at key moments.

The Kindness of Experts

Ken Froese:  For the past four months, via email, vids and the occaisional skype, Ken's been there to explore ideas to improve my practice sessions to tune them to move them along as best as possible towards the goal. It's been great to have another soul to say "what about this?" or "where next"?

We explored what i was doing, where i was at, reviewed and tested options.  Ken was never "this is the thing to do." We did not program this beyond we need to figure out the right combination of volume and load across these three lifts to make good and consistent progress.  What worked we kept; what didn't we analysed and might discard or revise and retest. Collaborative exploration - where i also trust the expedition lead. Knowing that i could send off an email to reality check what i was doing, and have empathy and guidance has been huge.

I only wish we'd have had more live session times - and i'd encourage anyone training with a remote coach to do whatever it takes to make it possible to work live every other week or so if training for an event. That's just a general lesson. More opportunities for more tweaking - so as not to fall afoul of technicalities....just saying.

A few other folks kindly offered feedback when i had specific questions about approach, and their feedback made a huge and immediate difference.

Dan John - when i asked if i could do this challenge, he said "yes of course" at the right time.

Pavel Tsatsouline - kindly offered exceptional feedback and training suggestions for my weighted pull up that i put into immediate practice and that had immediate effect.

Kenneth Jay - Kenneth Jay and i had some wonderful conversations about the role of volume in strength training and applying it. I think jumping between planes - or perhaps airports - he offered some awesome advice for getting the last couple KG's on my press in a short period of time. Excellent ideas again that had immediate effect

Eric Cobb - likewise while on the run, took time to provide council on accelerating the press. Likewise applicable, useful and usable - and big differnce.

My goodness. These guys are good.  And not only that, they're gracious. They are busy and expensive people and they made time to respond attentively, personally to what they saw when they quite easily and reasonably could have said nothing or that they were too busy or "gee i dunno."

Family Planning: the sine qua non

It is a pain in the ass for one's kin to go through this kind of training - especially when they don't know what they're about to go through cuz you haven't been through it before and you can't quite brace them for it - but now they're part of your "learning experieince" too.

TO have saturday workouts that used to take an hour suddenly take all morning. To change the dietary practices of the household. To find out that one really may well be obsessive compulsive in this regard - and how that must be to live with. To have the compass always pointing Due Practice.

All i can say is that it's a really good idea if ya think your plans MAY become disruptive to engage on these points in advance.  Know what i'm saying? People first, as Suze Orman says.

And So...Making Lemonade rather than Crushing Sour Grapes?

There's other stuff to be sure - this is a first wave unpacking of a rather intense four months of very single focus of what dan john calls "quadrant four" practice.

Am i dissapointed with the end result? of course.

But as said, i'm not surprised - and in a way i think that in and of itself is a learning too - that even a month out i could tell where things would likely need more time - and if my shoulder had been ready i'd have started earlier to get that time - but there it is. And  my family is likely delighted - given what eating (or more usually not eating) with me has been like over the past three months - that i didn't focus on this for longer.

So while i can't really bring myself to say (yet) that "it's all good" - it's not ALL good - i can say that more than 90% of it has been extraordinary, revelatory, and that's more than enough of an outcome to keep moving forward - and to know beyond a doubt that it seems, despite the seeming lateness of the hour, my path to better resilience, strength, self-understanding around strength practice, has just taken its first mature step.

Thank you again
Thank you to the kind folks who stood up during the Challenge and cheered - thank you to James Breese of Kettlebell fever for having a beautiful space for the event.

Thanks again to those Great Guys who offered such effective, generous council at key moments
Big hug to Ken Froese - Ken, thank you thank you thank you.

And to my family for so much support despite thinking me a bit crazy for putting so much into this odd moment.

Whither voyager? 
Like how to stay this lean? What to do next? more pressing? something else? That's tomorrow. Today, it's the first whole food breakie i've had in four months, more tea with milk than i've had in ages and tonight it's Cockneys vs Zombies.

Hope in the interim these thoughts may help your practice, too.

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