Partners, Clocks, Growing, And Growing…

 Training Partner:  One And Done

In my mid to late teens I had just one training partner, Mike.  Mike and I were the Arnold and Franco of our gym – at least in our minds.  In our early bodybuilding days, we trained, we ate, and we caroused as though we were headed toward the top of the world.  It isn’t often that youthful ambition and youthful arrogance combine for anything good, but with Mike and me it worked – mostly.  Through my formative gym years, Mike pushed me to fulfill my potential and maximize my efforts in the gym, and I hope I did the same for him.    

Mike and I worked out heavy and aggressively, but our workouts were always fun.  Despite the serious nature of our intent, there were always laughter, unspoken communication, and the sense that we were exactly where we were supposed to be, doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing.  By our early 20’s though, Mike and I went our separate ways; me to the US Coast Guard, he to Santa Monica to pursue some combination of education and bodybuilding at the next level.    

Due to my time at sea, my workouts while in the Coast Guard where intermittent at best and I lost a great deal of ground.  When not at sea, I’d workout alone at the local Seabee base, but there was nothing special about those sessions.  My workouts were hard and heavy as they were with Mike, but I got in, got out, and gone on with my life.  If my workouts at the Seabee base lacked the camaraderie that they had with Mike, at least they were efficient.  Then I would be at sea for another month and lose it all.  After my discharge from the Coast Guard I headed home to Colorado and began the search for a new training partner, in pursuit of new gains – my foolish bodybuilding dreams still weren’t dead. 

That search for a new partner took me through several gyms, several partners, and was short lived.  No partner I attempted to workout with shared my intensity or my attention to the details of the workout the way that Mike had.  Then one day a wise man once told me, “The best training partner you’ll ever have is the clock on the wall”.  Working out alone would become my method for the next 25 years. 

Women And Clocks:  How They Have Influenced Me

The clock and I trained well together.  Just like at the Seabee base it was get in, got out, get on with my life.  Once I began my go-it-alone protocol, I just didn’t want to be bothered by extra flesh in my vicinity.  There were two occasions though, when I did extended stints in the gym with a couple of talented bodybuilders, one male, and one female.  That comparison, between the hardcore male and the hardcore female workout psyche, has influenced my training style as much as anything else.

My workouts with my female partner were just as intense as with any male partner I ever trained with, but the workouts were also elegant. Elegant in the sense that there was no ego, and a whole lot of grace.  They were an expression of creativity.  Jackie taught me to be stone-faced in the final reps of any set.  Not to squander energy, but to utilize it.  She also taught me to execute my reps with a slow, seamless fluidity – more like a dance than a lift.  When she and I parted ways I found myself immediately replicating her style of training which was no-nonsense, clock-based, highly focused, and to use an oxymoron, an intensely meditative style of training.  Through training with her I learned to connect with my body through every repetition, and for 20 years the pursuit of the perfect singular repetition has been my thesis – or my shtick as it were. 

Myles Down The Road

Tomorrow morning I’ll begin 4am workouts with my first male workout partner in 20 years.  Myles comes from a powerlifting background.  Last year he changed up his workout style in favor of more fitness and less bodyweight.  Having small children will do that to you.  Myles dropped about 60 pounds, switched to a no-nonsense approach with the weights, incorporated regular (hard) cardio into his life, and is now contemplating running his first marathon.

Last year, at his request, I took Myles through a series of mixed workouts.  I remember asking him what he thought he could learn from me.  He was just looking for a changeup, so I served it up to him; lots of supersetting, some plyo, lots of sprints – put down the candy.  Seeing his discipline and the changes that discipline lead to over the past year has been inspiring – I don’t inspire easily.  I think I have as much to learn from Myles as he does me.  It’s been a long time since I have left my comfort level and opened my ears and eyes to be pushed by another.  This one’s a no-brainer.

I need it now.  It’s apparent to anyone who’s seen me lately that I’ve let my physique slip a bit in the last couple of years – too much alcohol and too little sleep can break a body down.  My best years aren’t behind me yet.  For an insomniac, the idea of doing squats and sprints at 4am is definitely leaving my comfort level.  That I have given him permission to drag me out of bed if I’m still sleeping when he gets here is a commitment I take very seriously. 

I probably won’t be writing about this again for a while – until we’ve put a few months behind us.  I will be taking pictures along the way though, and if the progress is good, I’ll post the bad, ugly, and the good of it all – in that order.  Be well.  rc 

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from the V-Roys, enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev6Lc5Kdykg&feature=context-gfa

Run And Done…

This is Part II of my intermittent series on running.  Part III may be in several weeks, or not for several months, we shall see.

I am currently on vacation in Colorado and Nebraska.  Please check back in early August.  Thank you.  

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Status Slow

Five years into becoming a regular runner, running is no longer a struggle for my body or my mind – but it’s not a joy either, it’s just something I do.  I admit that I do just enough to get by with my running, never seeking to improve.  The three of us; my mind, my body, and the road coexist in the same way that compatible roommates coexist.  There’s no love, but no animosity either.  We’re just near each other at times, and respectful to one another when we’re engaged.  When we’re away from each other, we don’t think too much about it.  It’s a clinical collaboration with little expression nor celebration.  By anyone’s definition, it’s just another marriage…

Her Vocation, My Vacation

My daughter, an aspiring archeologist, chose to spend time this year studying in Athens, Greece.  Makes sense – they have a lot of old things there which require study.  Shortly after her arrival in Athens, I decided I would travel there toward the end of her academic year, to exploit her knowledge and spend time allowing her to guide me through all which she had been studying.  Of that, she did an excellent job and I remain grateful for such a comprehensive tour.

I had recently completed the book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  In this book, the author writes briefly about his experience running in Athens.  Away from my gym and my bike, and with my inherent requirement for daily action, I decided ahead of time that each morning during my visit, I would run the streets of Athens – mixing in some push-ups and pull-ups when I could.  This would be enough, I thought, to satisfy my craving for physicality.

Base Of Operations

I had rented an apartment in Athens to use as a base of operations for my visit with my daughter.  The apartment was located in the district of Pangrati, a charming community known for its markets, tavernas, and central location to all the history which transpired a few thousand years back.  Pangrati is also home to the Panathinaiko stadium. In fact, the apartment I rented was located directly behind this historic stadium.  The running track at Panathinaiko stadium, my daughter explained to me, is open to the public from 6:00am – 10:00pm.   My daily fitness requirement now had a timely and proximate outlet, and I would never have to set foot on the treacherous streets of Athens.

I took my first run at Panathinaiko stadium on my second morning in Athens.  Like all my runs, I pushed only as hard as I needed to – enough to feel like I was working, but there was no runner’s high.  Prior to the run I did some push-ups and pull-ups on a fitness course set up at the top of the stadium.  This, I decided, would be my protocol while visiting my daughter.

Something unusual happened though, during my third morning run in Athens; I didn’t want the run it to be over the way I usually do as my end distance approached.  Partially inspired by the stadium I suppose, and partially due to my recent consistency with running, I began to feel strong on mile number three.  I began running faster, stronger, and I finally began to feel that floating sensation described in Part I of this series, 30 years after seeing the movie, The Jericho Mile. I chose to go an extra mile, then two. 

After my run I did another half-dozen sets of pull-ups and push-ups.  Then, leaving the stadium feeling completely energized, I sprinted along the straightaway connecting the stadium with my apartment.  The runner’s high had finally arrived in my psyche.  I arrived back at the apartment to enjoy coffee on the patio and a breakfast of fresh green beans and turkey slices drizzled with olive oil and a dash of pepper.  I felt like another god in the pantheon; Royeclese, god of running.

Panathinaiko stadium was the last place on Earth I expected to enjoy a morning run.  In truth, I had never expected to enjoy a morning run anywhere.  My morning run – any run, has always been something I just tolerated.  However, in this famous stadium – hallowed ground where athletic history has been made and celebrated, in the shadow of the Acropolis and adjacent to the Agora, I would feel the joy of running for the very first time.

The following morning I woke, and eagerly headed to the stadium to duplicate my first runner’s high.  Nope.  Not happening.  I didn’t struggle to run, but my three miles was completed with no joy, and no self-imposed extra credit at the end. It was run and done, as usual.  Running and I once again were simply coexisting.  ‘Sniff. 

The next day my daughter and I were off to the island of Mykonos.   What kind of running might I find there…?   Check back in a few weeks and see if there is more to this story there…  Be well.  rc

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I am currently on vacation in Colorado and Nebraska. Please check back in early August to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Colin Hay, enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVL1aIgq3Kc&feature=related