My Lock Down Plans & Challenges

My fitness was great the whole 7 months I was unemployed. I knew going into it that more structure not less was going to keep me skyrocketing and it did. It wasn’t always emotionally easy to feel like I was doing something but I was actually always doing something.

In fact, getting a job with hours all over the place threw me off a lot more than I expected or would like to admit.

And now I’m effectively unemployed again. The store’s closed almost exactly when I said it would (I worked Tuesday and said I very much doubt we’ll be open Friday, even made a video about it). I had that feeling we’ve all had a bunch of times this week – like the facades of a Hollywood set just came down around you and you’re suddenly standing nowhere. There’s nowhere to turn because there aren’t any corners.

Then my self-training kicked in and I was like – get a pen and paper out and come up with some things you can track. Literally anything will do. At work last year we felt inundated with Brian Adams songs on the radio so I kept count and said I’d buy a round of drinks every hundred; and rather than hate Brian Adams after that his unexpected presence became neutral and then fun.

Still garbage though. Pure garbage and fuck him for being so damn Canadian.

The point is: Track anything, it’s soothing.

So here’s what I’ve got so far: The Kelly Starrett Squat Tabata. I’ve mentioned this a bunch of times all over the internet and IRL but it’s from K-Starr’s book Ready To Run. 8 intervals of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest – that’s known as a Tabata. Do it with squats and get as many as you can in each interval. Mine today was:

11, 12, 13, 13, 13, 14, 13, 13

(I actually did it while writing an email to my running clinic group and did it for them; then the email didn’t go through and all the text was lost. So…. bourbon. And that email was a lot like this post is going to be. But well deserved hate for Brian Adams. Because… bourbon.)

Next: Ice Bath Timer. Jarod (pretty sure that’s his spelling) is my co-worker Taylor’s boyfriend and a fellow coach among the running group and on a sweet 12k (which I proudly tracked on Strava, no link because I don’t know how) he mentioned being into Jocko, and David Goggins, and Tim Ferris, and probably a lot of the other heavy hitter influences in my life so I felt a kindred spirit.

Jarod also mentioned that his cold shower record was up to five minutes. And I had such an internal bro-moment like fuck, I’ve never timed it! but I’m sure I’m under 2 minutes so say nothing more.

Brethren,  I like my cold showers; and my hot, cold, hot, showers; and my hot baths; and for a while I getting into full ice bath submersion – easy and fun in the summer and when sun burned – and I always wanted to bring it back as an every-morning-first-thing kinda thing.

And now I can. And now I just did.

Barely got submerged. Got in up to my belly button, got out in brutal pain, got in up to my nips with my feet out the other end of the tub, got out in brutal pain, got in and slid down all the way to my neck with my knees and feet being completely out of the tub at the other end (it’s a small tub, as you gather) and called it a day. Insanely refreshed and awake. Maybe it’s not even the cold though, maybe it’s the insane fucking breathing. Anyway – 3 rounds of 12 seconds.

And to the physique stuff… My delts and my clavicular pectorals. Back in the game on those obscure little muscles. So I’m thinking a daily routine – therefore higher rep, lower weight – of two-plate hex press, classic pull overs, windmills, and of course incline dumbell press.

When I was unemployed I wanted to get to working out twice a day, one for the lagging physique spots and one for the overall full-body Spartan Race ready fitness. And now running has to factor into that too because I have every intention of running the marathon distance in May whether or not the marathon race is cancelled.

BTW PSA, this is the ultimate time to take up running – it’s solitary yet communal.

Plus:

  • It gets you sunlight and air
  • it’s trackable (meaning numbers matter and give you a sense of control and accomplishment)
  • It’s investigate-able (a word I’m making up to explain that you can read about it – and watch, and listen about it – and get better at it in the time you’re not doing it)
  • And it’s Fight Club-able (meaning it can blossom out into being the reason for everything – it can be the reason you eat what you eat, wear what you wear, sleep when you sleep)

Running brah, now’s the time.

I’d get you some shoes but the store’s closed.

Actually, joking aside, I can probably still help you choose the shoes you need, order them, return them if need be, exchange them and go from there. That would be a lot of fun for me and I hope it happens.

The Running Business In The Time Of Corona

The progress of how things went at work is thus: First we went to no two people on shift, then Run Clinics got cancelled, then Run Club, then store hours got cut to 11-6 each day, and that brings us to now.

I had my first shift of the pandemic era yesterday and boy was it interesting. I thought it would be a ghost town because that’s what my last shift before the changes was like but it was worse. Not a lack of customers but actually an abundance – of returns.

Biggest day of returns I’ve ever seen, over 700 dollars in returns, and I was feeling like it reflected on me personally and like I was going to get in trouble for it but that’s irrational. Like, this is just business and I just happen to be the guy behind the counter today none of this is my fault.

And then I got a call from someone high up who grilled me about it as if it was exactly my fault. Not only the returns at my store but ALL OF CALGARY. Why is Calgary down? He demanded, why are multiple Calgary stores in the negative?

And when I debriefed the returns I’d dealt with that day he said multiple times, every time, “And you couldn’t talk her out of it?”

Which really disappointed me. Returning things is an anxious thing for customers and they want to be reassured that it’s totally okay and an easy process and you build up a lot of goodwill by relieving that anxiety.

Everything the company puts out talks about doing it for the community and it’s about life long relationships – which I believe in and I believe the founder believes in – and here’s this dude being a capitalist shark just seeing numbers and pressuring me to be a high pressure salesman.

We’re out here talking about how people are going to pay their rent and a wealthy man wants me to be shitty about someone returning a pair of shoes.

But you know what? He’s dealing with an unprecedented economic emergency too and probably has people breathing down his neck for answers it can’t possibly be his responsibility to provide.

He called me back and said it wasn’t his intention to grill me – the closest to an apology you get from guys like that – and while I was saying that yeah, you did grill me and it’s unfair he was like sure, sure, sure, I got other calls.

And he probably forget all about me. He’s a powerful guy and he’s got a lot of difficult phone calls to get through meanwhile I’m stuck with this interaction on my mind for days.

I had six customers that day and they all went well. They left happy and I felt I’d done them a service and was happy with myself.

It was 4 returns, a pair of sunglasses, and a hydration pack. And everyone wanted to talk about what’s going on, with the store, with gyms, with schools and hospitals. One person, the girl who bought the hydration pack (I knew all my returns were woman but I just realized all the customers I had all day were woman, odd?) said we must be doing great, with the gyms being closed. When I told her I had two of the returns tell me the exact same with – that with the gym being closed they didn’t need their shoes anymore – she was like oh that’s an excuse and went on to talk about how running is keeping her sane and she couldn’t live without it.

And she’s totally right. For people deep into running, it’s running that will get us through this. In times of oppressive anxiety running is freedom.

The impression I got from the people doing returns was one of deep anxiety. I think for some people – a lot of people – running is a middle class luxury sport and they feel guilty spending money on it in uncertain times. Imagine being a working mom out of work and while people are hoarding necessities at the grocery store you just bought new shoes. I can see the shoes would be an object of guilt.

And I’m sure that when this dies down and they need shoes again, it’s me they’ll think of.

The Break Through Mile

Running had felt so piss lately. I love running and when it feels bad, I feel bad.

I actually end up running more, too much in fact, when running sucks and that makes it suck more. It’s like being an alcoholic where you want to drink because you want to be happy but drinking makes you unhappy and you know it; still the only signal your brain gives you is the drink to be happy signal.

When I have a bad run the only thing I think will fix how I feel is a good run.

And it finally happened. I owe it to work, strava, and unexpected solitude.

So work because I went to went to my job as a running instructor today; Unexpected solitude no one showed up to run club; and Strava because even though no one showed up I figured I’d run anyway so people would see that I had run and I’d log this route that I’d been wanting to show off.

And with my worn out shoes, shin splints, piriformus syndrome, and unsatisfactory cardio (because it’s the start of the season and my expectations are set by the end of the last season) my running was piss. My legs hurt, my form sucked, my breathing sucked but why stop? I’m on the clock, have nothing better to do, and Strava is recording so fuck it.

And like I said, it finally happened that I broke through. Probably 3k into the 5k(ish) run my legs loosened up and I felt free – I got that running-fast-breathing-slow-meditative-feeling-the-music-connected-to-the-earth-and-the-sun-freedom-feeling that we chase.

Quite a relief.

Marathon Training Resumes!

Day 1. Oh its good to be back.

Over the off-season I mentioned a few times in my private life that I missed running and I was looking forward to coming back; I’d get the urge, for the joy of it all.

And now I’m back old friend. I got a junkie-like thrill walking up to the treadmill which makes sense, so many positive chemicals running through the body associated with the sights and feels of the treadmill (the treadmills at MRU and SAIT are different generations of the same machine which is great).

My form was odd at first, shaking off the cob webs, but it settled in; and my cardio was much the same – I knew I’d taken a hit but it’s still there.

Day 2 of the program is 45 minutes of non-running cardio so I’ll hit the treadclimber at home, day 3 is rest so that’s no problem, and I need to run 5 miles on day 4. Since I can’t afford to drop-in at the gym or a pass it’s going to get complicated but I might be able to borrow someone’s pass and/or use someone else’s treadmill. If the temperature is around zero I can still run outside too.

From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 10.3

Thou Shall RUN.

Running is the most important part of Spartan and often the most neglected.

Lots people hate running just because they’re bad at it but you know what? You’re probably pretty bad at sex too and it’s not stoppin’ ya. Or at least stopping you from trying.

 

I’m writing this on the fourth day of Fall which means that winter is upon us in Canada, and I’m headed indoors to my beloved treadmill.

This wraps up another 2 week segment of Spartan Training Videos. I like to leave big gaps between the segments so I’m not putting an overwhelming amount of ideas out there. Like, if someone says here’s 10 suggestions 5 might stick, if someone says here’s 50 none will stick.

So if and when I get another handful of ideas I’ll do this again in a while. Til then, Stay Strong Spartan and Leave No Doubt.

 

 

From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 8.3

Thou Shall Pull…

All the other motions that aren’t up.

If I had any foresight when I started this serious I wouldn’t have ended up with 10 things. I did everything excitedly off-the-top-of-my-head and then just had to live with it, like everything I do.

Pull ups and Pulling All The Other Directions are not that different, but in Spartan they will serve different purposes, like the difference between monkey bars and sled drags.

Plus it’s a good opportunity to move explosively and train the fast twitch muscle fibers.

 

From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 6.3

Thou Shall Grip.

And rather than just train the strongest part of your grip to be stronger, train the weaker parts of your grip SO THERE ARE NO WEAKER PARTS!!

 

Also, seriously, people have an unaware habit of hooking things in their fingers and letting gravity do the work – that’s poor grip strength and leads to forearm problems down the road.

Make sure to grip things by rolling them deep into your palm. Then play around with which fingers you can lift and for how long.

From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 3.3

Thou Shall Squat.

But I’m out of ideas for the squat right now so Thou Shall Swing The Kettlebell.

 

It’s also a matter of having a cool idea to share and then deciding where it sort of fits in. I learned these side stepping KB swings in Exercise Theory and it fit in with this idea I’ve been having of designing a work out for a too-light kettlebell.

With a dumbell movement you can always add more reps when you’ve gotten stronger and it feels light. With KB swings though, once it feels light you’re not actually deriving any benefits. So I was thinking about what a person could do now that they’ve outgrown their first one, when this move came up in class.

If you want to make a too-easy movement challenging again then adding instability is the easiest way. As a beginner the search for stability is your primary goal, always find the strongest safest way to move. As an intermediate though you can play with that.

It’s like any skill or discipline – first they tell you what you never, never, never do and a few years down the road they quietly tell you when to do it.