I think it's apropos that I write my first blog post as I close out a de-load week. The days I don't train are bereft of the enthusiasm and hopefulness I find myself brimming with while lifting. Of course, I do find myself more grounded. I have accepted that these "low" points are a requirement for me to slough off my weariness like a snake sheds its skin. It shouldn't be a surprise that I feel a gut wrenching yearning to put pen to paper, to replace the gravitational pull bewitching me to the axle bar and atlas stones.
If it's not already painfully apparent, I am not a fan of de-load weeks. I wish it was possible to just continue to lift, like I could do in my twenties, or even throughout most of my thirties. The difference now is that I have both the time and the determination to focus on strength goals. Scratch that. I've always had the time. Strength training was just never a top priority for me. Admittedly, I don't regret my previous top priorities: completing my PhD and focusing on my career. But now, I find myself far outside of desire. Desire has ignited, burned, and been replaced by pure white-hot NEED.
I have always had an affinity for physical training, but never in a sport that was considered "normal." I guess that's still true. Similarly to Eddie Hall I started with swimming. I didn't stick with it, not competitively, and moved on to track and field. I found some solace in track, but I never, I repeat, NEVER, became comfortable running. Don't get me wrong, I wanted running to be my thing. I ran in the Army 10k, was on the running team for my company while I was stationed in Monterey, CA, and scheduled my weekends around the road and trail races that littered the coast surrounding Savannah, GA. But I was never fast, and running always felt like a chore.
I shouldn't complain. I was in great shape, and running kept my fitness level up to an acceptable standard when I decided to rejoin civilian life and the world of dance. Yes, it's been a long, strange, winding road. When I graduated high school I was dead-set on an elusive goal. I was going to be a professional dancer. Immediately after high school I was training in ballet, jazz, tap, and whatever martial art I could afford/beg my way into class. Other than martial arts I thought that road ended when I joined the military shortly after 9/11. But I found myself back on the Marley floor and returning to the dojo when I chose not to reenlist.
I think my parents enrolled me in Tae Kwon Do when I was 6 or 7. I remember being at the back of a class of adults and feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I lasted one session. I remember telling my parents I didn't want to do it anymore. At the same time I would never forget that anxious and overwhelming energy I felt that day, and I would continue to seek it out, regardless of my comfort level or my injuries.
I'll make this part short. I got hit. A lot. In fact, I still pride myself on being able to take a hit and bounce back. However, a broken nose, fractured orbital, and more than a few concussions was enough for me to permanently hang up the gloves, so to speak. I still train, but I train in contact martial arts that REQUIRE safety gear. But no matter the martial art, I never quite found my calm. However, what the martial arts did for me was wrench me away from my comfort zone at a young age and make it possible to identify my place of calm. It only took a couple decades for me to discover what I like to call my external pulse.
The human heart is amazing. The human heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through your body each day. And because I am both a nerd and a strongman I want to put that into a singular perspective. A single gallon of blood weighs almost 9 lbs. So, let's do the math. Conservatively, 2,000 gallons of blood, if stored in one container, would weigh over 16,000 lbs. That's over 7 tons. You know what weighs 7 tons? An African bush elephant. Your heart pumps 100,000 some-odd-times a day to pump the equivalent weight of an African bush elephant through your circulatory system. Every. Single. Day. Granted we are talking about the same 1.5 gallons of blood that is contained in the closed loop (hopefully) that is your circulatory system, but you get the point. Think about that next time you check your pulse. Which brings me to my point. Your internal pulse. My internal pulse. Both are constant and unwavering. It may have taken me a few decades to find it, but lifting, specifically the sport of Strongman, is my external pulse.
My primary intent when I decided to start writing this blog was to keep me accountable through my training. Secondarily, it was to motivate other like-minded, and like-aged, strength athletes. What I wasn't bargaining for was the focus and peace I would find in writing this blog. Sometimes through the mania, you have to find a place where your pulse is strong, your determination unwavering, and your path forward is certain.
Strength and honor, friends. Strength and honor.