Take Flight — a Memorial Day Reflection

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Dedicated to those who are here who can hear for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their fellows, their country, and principles for which this nation must still stand.

In the darkest nights of the soul the fuel for your Phoenix bubbles and boils around your spirit. From the ashes of some future ignition, burn, and flight, win or lose, you will rise again and be better than ever before; more capable in some way, known or unknown, to break through and see done what must be done as the reason for your being here. The darkest nights are never so dark as the dawn is light.

As the Marines say “pain is weakness leaving the body,” so the dark nights of the soul are selfishness of the past leaving the spirit, to be ignited in future service to those in need. These flammable drops may provide fires with which to liberate captives, empathize with and put sinners back on their feet, melt barbed wire, and elevate our human race just a little more before you die. No earthly reward could be better than simply completing our purposes for being. Each of us is given such a purpose, known or unknown, yet accessible more purely through standing again and believing.

The big picture is in our hearts, the sky within, from a vista point that can consider all people, all events, and all that must come with the indomitable commitment of a dedicated, singular spirit behind humble eyes, trafficking in the divine energy of love for all.

No One Says You Have To…

Usually, no one says anything at all. They’re too preoccupied with their own lives to care too much about whether you are training or not. But someday, there may come a moment in time when everything slows down and you are in a situation. Not just any situation, but a big situation requiring that you be strong, fast, durable, fit, tough, coordinated, accurate, agile, and 100% committed.

So, just…

Strap on your helmet and your cycle shoes;

Slide into your road running shoes;

Tie-on your trail runners;

Pack your swim gear;

Wrap your hands;

Lay down your training mat;

Decide on the park with all the bars and props;

Remember that sprinting track;

Go to the mountain trail;

Hit the gym;

Arrive at the ropes course;

Turn the key, lock-up and go. Go out there, or in there, and find a new training experience this day.

Forget all the other times, forget you, forget them, forget it, forget whatever, and move-in-training with no catches, divisions, or hesitation, just the best form and flow of movement you can find.

It need not be perfect movement, but get moving, and work on improving each time you train until your weak is strong; slow is quick; quick is lightening fast; sluggish is sharp; hesitant is rhythmic; off-is-on; and you find within yourself ever-better performance each new evolution you train through.

Be patient and non-judgmental toward yourself. Simply let your analytic self see the objective, see the difference between what was done and the objective, and let your whole self get behind a new effort ever closer to, or right on the objective, getting better, closer, and ever more proficient.

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Each new flight is yours to navigate.

If you can do this once in training sessions during one day, you can do it every other training day the rest of your life, improving in some way, small, medium, or big. I’ll take any improvement I can get on any given day, and let the rest go until tomorrow.

Round 3 with the Versatile Round Timer

Three minutes can make a difference, fuel some inner heat, and force better breathing to keep on…

If you do this get cleared by your personal physician for it and get a tutorial on wrapping your hands. Have fun!

Note, the round timer has a clip on the back, suggesting it can accompany and time you at whatever kind of interval training effort you would like, except underwater:

IMG_2126and it says something really important for all of us, now matter who we are or what we’re training for. I took a close-up and made it the Header photo so you could read it!

Observing Cloud for Training Wisdom

1. Clouds change shape but keep moving, albeit sometimes very slowly. We can too. It is one of the qualities of adaptive training among crazy-busy pressures that would stress us into inactivity.

2. Clouds transport water, a resource to the lives of others. Training our bodies and minds builds physical courage that can support other acts of generous, giving courage.

3. An otherwise bright white cloud can have very dark, very water-dense little clouds nearby (see the banner). Suppose you are in one of those small, dark, water dense clouds. You’re likely to see all grey, all gloom, and feel all wet. Yes, until a beautiful, white sunlit cloud expands and engulfs you and you find that many of your problems were perceived right there within your own tiny individual cloud. You also realized how much water you have to give among others.

4. Clouds get out in the other elements, indeed, bring them together within themselves, contribute to them. So do we when we train, exercise, work, compete, and apply our physical training to something worthwhile.

5. Clouds make their own view by starting out light, rising, gathering, then supplying. A thunderstorm or snow storm is quite an exciting gathering, maybe even a competition, with lightening clashes, the refreshing ozone, and every gathered cloud a part in that great event. Gatherings of clouds bring out the best in each.

6. Clouds have training partners that truly inspire them with their energy, warmth, and mastery at conducting the weather as if it were a symphony orchestra: Mr. Sun and his band the Stars.

7. What shape will your training take today?

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Fri: Kite Adventure

high and far away...

high and far away…tree at left flies kite better than blogger; as did child Kite Master and a small dog.

art of kite flying exhibited by tree

art of kite flying exhibited by tree holding spool, kite in background obeying. A tree.

The wind was right Friday for the Kite Master to show herself.

Effortlessly handling the loyal dog-kite, she flew it on the swing; dancing twirls; and even tied it to her dog who also flew it flawlessly.

Dad crashed it three times.

Once, the wind was too strong, even for the Kite Master, pulling the spool and string from her hands.

The spool rose and fell, flying at about 15 knots in an easterly direction. Dad sprinted after it. It crossed a street. Then the kite pulled the spool high and stuck it firmly into the crook of a branch about 25 feet above the driveway of a home where no one was home. The tree flew the kite flawlessly, never losing it, never crashing it.

Using an extension rod fetched from home, I whacked the spool loose from the tree. Fail: could not wrap the string around the extension. Off went the spool again, dipping low, but moving at a clip across another street. I got a break. The kite pulled the string over a garage roof. The spool hung within my reach for about five seconds as I chased it down. As I reached for it, the kite jumped and the spool lifted steadily out of my reach, skittered across the roof and launched off the other side of this house into the adjoining yard on the next block.

Another sprint to locate it. There was the kite, flying true, bobbing and weaving and using all the string. But I could not see where the string was on the ground. Finally we saw the little shrub in a back yard that was now flying the kite. Flawlessly.

After knocking and ringing, there was no one home. We finally seized the spool, and walked the kite home. On the way, the Kite Master handed me the spool. I crashed the kite into a yard. We spent ten more minutes extricating the string and kite from a small spruce tree.

We were all smiling ear-to-ear. It was a kite adventure to remember. And it was a running kite adventure, with sprint intervals, timing, and of course, learning from the Kite Master.

If you’ve read the book “Farm Your Training Day: An American Dream of Sustainable Personal Fitness”…

..and you believe it will help others bridge gaps to a self-led, dauntless, consistent training life within their busy-tiring schedules…

Then please feel free to rate and review the book at one of the following venues!

Amazon

iTunes (iBookstore app download)

Barnes & Noble

Lulu.com

 

The Contact Points of Functional Strength

Traditional weight lifting and even what are deemed functional training exercises do not do justice to hand strength as do manual labor or labor with tools. But not everyone has enough work projects with tools to make a difference for their hand strength.

Yet nearly everyone faces the following daily or weekly:

(1) Packaged goods, wrapped foods, and sealed containers;

(2) Fresh produce needing washing, peeling, processing;

(3) Goods that come shipped in boxes;

(4) And the old Charles Atlas standby, frequent yellow paged directories dumped on the doorstep from competing publishers.

With each of the above, most of us resort to tools, kitchen tools, or office tools to cut, unzip, peel, pry, snap, peel open, or otherwise process an item we must unpack or prepare. Because we have internet, many just throw the printed directories into recycling.

Yet here is food for thought: where safe and possible, can you devise a method to use your thoroughly washed, cleaned, and healthy hands to accomplish these tasks?

Think of all of the varied pulling, prying, separating, tearing, breaking, and other force- intensive functions you face with tools every week, and try to face them with your bare hands instead.

Use your mind and dexterity to unpack or process these products in a safe, controlled way that doesn’t send the contents flying all over the room or get you hurt. This often requires more thought, force, and functional strength to do under control. And this is why we normally resort to quick-draw tools without thinking.

Therein lies an adaptive training opportunity with our bare hands. Now add to that the use of hand tools in construction and yard projects, and this can amount to significant strength training for your points of contact with the material world: your hands.

Here’s to training mindfully and safely!

WARNINGS: Beware of some hard plastic encasements on hard goods in which the plastic becomes sharp on edges when pulled apart or cut away. DO NOT DO THIS ON ITEMS THAT COULD SHATTER, BREAK INTO SHARP PIECES, OR OTHERWISE CUT OR EMIT DANGEROUS CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. USE common sense to avoid uncommon injury.

The Story of an FEIAA Meeting and Book Signing

What a privilege to sit down and talk with Federal Executive Institute alumni and friends last night. These professionals brought up a host of great topics. We talked gluten freedom, how eating, drinking, and sleeping are self-trainable behaviors, and how intelligent attunement can benefit us in every dimension of physical action as well as perception. These civilian and military public servants, technical, and knowledge workers spoke in ways revealing their high accomplishment, and by their intelligence had found the many packaged fitness offerings in the marketplace unfulfilling or unsustainable. We also discussed the texture of real life: traumas, shadows, and challenges in daily life. Being with intelligent people can be a good time, but being with intelligent, feeling people is the best of times, and that is what last night’s gathering was like.

We talked nuts and bolts: Muscle, Mileage, Mobility, Midsection/Core, Mountains’ Meaning, and more. Everyone in attendance had been athletic in their lives whether they considered themselves so or not, and I made sure to point this out first of all. We must be clear about our identities, that we are among other wonderful truths, mind-body entities capable of athleticism in physical sport, art, and work. Yes, the basic adaptive physical training pathways can expand to intellectual and for some, spiritual athleticism.

On the sheer material side, a la Steve Martin in The Jerk, needing to hold onto some possessions on an anniversary date when I had once felt I’d lost everything, I brought some self-comforting props for my presentation. Rip’s Fire Engine 2 (TM) Plant Strong cereal (my strength), and Toblerone (TM) swiss chocolate (my weakness). They seemed like the props to bring at the time.

Along with a box of books and a gym bag with all I needed, I walked into Breckenridge Craft Colorado, home to craft beers and LoDo Denver venue-name dropping. You may remember our former mayor and now Governor Hickenlooper owned a restaurant in LoDo (Lower Downtown), where rough-hewn, red-brick mellow-looking pubs and brewers fill old warehouse buildings near lofts where nearly everyone walking around down there looks like they do Pilates during breakfast, Yoga during lunch, and feed intravenously through a liquid food bladder while running long distances through dinner.

Well, that may be an exaggeration but I’ll tell you what is not: most people living in downtown lofts are single, young, career starters enjoying urban life to the fullest, and throwing their pliable youthful bodies into one or two training modalities, sometimes not really bothering with long range thinking. They live close to their white collar work. They’re busy on various levels, but many don’t yet know the change that comes with rising in the ranks of responsibility, having a family, and having more and more people they are responsible for (at which time they often move out of the lofts). That doesn’t make them lesser or lazy, they just fill more of their time focusing on self-development than other-development because of their phase in life. Logic says juggling a one bean bag business is easier than juggling and adapting to three or more bean bags’ businesses…

Leading me to the course of our discussions last night: How do those with hairy schedules at work and home, extra-curriculars in the community, and little time to themselves make changes that temper for them a sound, powerful training life with consistency, excellence, and purpose? How do they overcome the crushing, conflicting, Hoi Polloi of Expectation-a-Legal living and not become unhealthy?

That is what Farm Your Training Day was written to begin answering. It contains many specific guidances on HOW, not just statements and restatements of a vague vision. I couldn’t convey all of it in one sitting and standing. What I could convey are some of the broad brush adaptive training principles and dimensions, and suggest that the fullness of these is in the book. This includes illustrations, guidances, sources, stories, and some visualizable details over 276 pages and 17 chapters without pictures.

All I can say is, after reading the book, which is not a Polly-Anna Manifesto by any stretch, and which takes a look at the mundane and dramatic obstacles to a consistent training life that would wear us down and make us unhealthy, I think people find not only bedrock to stand on within themselves, but a process of remolding their bedrock again and again from the interior life. Their training lives spring out of this aquifer of intelligent, planned and unplanned energy and movement within that connects with the world around them. The book maps forward, not ‘out.’ I say forward, because every reader is invited to be the pioneer who adds to this map, innovates, and improves the book by going into other principles and dimensions of adaptive training.

I know something of what there is and wrote a book about it, yet part of that is seeing that I do not know the limits of what is possible.

To My CrossFit Friends: Try Adaptive Training for the Long Haul

Adaptive training is sustainable, body-wise, and freer compared to many manifestations of CrossFit. CrossFit has gems to offer, but I believe they were borrowed gems. Those gems were adopted from elsewhere and combined in a “Box,” or a “crucible.” The toughest gems came from elite forces training, that is, combat training. Do or die training. Still, part of military training, even elite military training, is readiness. And readiness involves recovery, and non-injury. If you’re injured, you’re not ready. If you don’t recover properly, injury risk spikes.

For some that may have temporary appeal, especially to younger people. Yet younger people lack experience, and seldom see conflicts of interest in business models that target them. Young people often appear non-conformist…all at the same time in the same way. It is a vulnerable time. And some people are lonely. Lonely as hell. The comradeship they lack they may seek in an intense, physical, shared experience. For that reason, they are less likely to see those conflicts of interest lurking.

Let’s think outside the Box a bit. What is a healthy versus unhealthy gift of individual power to a culture or authority for mind-body training? Some CrossFit groups may dial-in a healthy balance in their approach, especially after recent controversy. On the other hand, there are the other reports:

Getting Fit Even If It Kills You

CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret

Idea Fit Discussion

Navy Times

How CrossFit Forges Elite Failure

And you can Google the rest of the negatives, of which there are many.

On the other hand, you will also find the positives and Google them too. Any CrossFit member or gym owner will be more than happy to tell you the positives. Yet others will say if you aren’t committed, they don’t want you. And I’d say you should be ready to respond with a laugh at that manipulation game. Just remember, not every useful wonder of chemistry is good to mix at the same time. You can get hurt or die from the ensuing explosion or gaseous poisoning. True it is also of training. Excesses are not consistent with durable endurance or sustainable fitness, and therefore excesses in training are not always consistent with readiness.

Military, sport, art, and work readiness is about fitness and conditioning, but training isn’t about getting injured, it is about proofing against it when the real thing trained for is going on. Studies in stress inoculation make it just as much about mindset, adaptive sleeping, recovery, and rewiring after traumatic experiences. The stresses are measured and periodized by time of exposure and response during training. Check out this summary of researched-supported points in the work of Lt. Col. David Grossman, specifically:

Section three describes the mental attitude necessary to be a warrior. The book goes into greater detail about stress inoculation and its importance to effective, realistic training. There are also some important training principles outlined.

Principle 1: Never “Kill” a Warrior in Training. Learners are expected to complete a scenario even if hit, stabbed or shot. As a trainer, tell them, “You’re not dead until I tell you you’re dead!” Don’t give up, always win.

Principle 2: Try to Never Send a Loser off Your Training Site. Have your participants go through a scenario as many times as necessary in order to have them succeed. Scenarios designed to make the trainee look foolish or fail just prove that the training designers are jerks.

Principle 3: As a Trainer, Never Talk Trash about Your Students. Don’t ridicule or try to tell funny stories about the last trainee who tried to complete your scenario. Your role as a trainer/leader is not only to pass along knowledge but also to inspire. You cannot do this when you are not respected. If criticism is to be given, give it in private. If praise is warranted, do so publicly.

I’m sure this could include: don’t give Rhapdo to your trainees. Don’t injure your troops in training so they are disabled for the real fight.

But are you training for combat? It is as much about mindset, and handling what your body does. Listen:

LTC David Grossman interview.

So to some extent CrossFit, run by those who are trained coaches, can achieve some of these training goals. Yet not everyone is training to be a warrior any more than every tool in a toolbox is a hammer. However, even military training leaves boot camp behind and graduates into a more sophisticated, measured, and periodized experience over time. It mixes individual control with leadership. Most individual civilians who are training for combat don’t have the rest of the training. They are not warriors per-se, but want to be ready for what this society teaches them to fear — which is about everything. Which begs the question: should training be motivated by fear? Or should training be inspired by the commitment to master fear?

For now, let’s discuss.

Adaptive Labor as Training: Aid to Martin Acres subdivision of Boulder

For two and a half hours this morning I had the opportunity to work on flood remediation efforts with some wonderful people volunteering with DonateBoulder.org. We worked in the Martin Acres subdivision.

For those who are medically cleared for this kind of work, I highly encourage volunteer physical labor for those who cannot do it themselves, or who are overwhelmed.

Among the training benefits are asymmetric muscle work, pulling, lifting, carrying, hacking, breaking, dragging, stacking, leveraging, maneuvering, prying, throwing, and tossing. Working with tools with your hands is a bonus, as hand tools benefit your connective tissues and fine motor muscles in ways merely lifting weights cannot.

The best thing about training this way is that you get to work with some special people: other volunteers. You get to help someone in difficult circumstances. And, you help free up another wave of volunteers for the next effort by knocking one out.

You may only have a morning to work, or a whole day. We all have different obligations and time sensitive items any given day. Yet if you put in what you can, and others do too, this expedites humane relief and mitigation of adverse health conditions.

The must have tools and qualities: (1) mask that filters out airborne dust, molds, and noxious building materials such as asbestos; (2) tools for pulling up baseboards and tearing out sodden drywall, i.e. crowbars, wood chisels, hammers, dustpans, shovels, brooms; (3) approved anti-mold and mildew spray product; (4) first aid kit; and (5) safety sense.

Volunteering, like group training, builds camaraderie, dispels loneliness, and strengthens community. Those intangible fringe benefits are as valuable as the physical mission and physical training benefit. Yet the training benefit also helps give the person helped a better feeling that someone is helping them, yet getting something out of it.

That is all true of course, so long as volunteers take the necessary safety precautions, such as an updated tetanus shot and the equipment listed above.

Updated: Remembering September Eleventh

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On September 11, 2001 a relatively small band of traveling criminals pushed history toward evil times. That so small a number could do this should inspire us that historic change in the positive can also take place because of the good works of a small number.

It is the truth. In this truth I believe many may find the purpose of their adaptive fitness lives. To prepare their bodies and minds for what they know, and for what they cannot predict, and so be ready to put in a sound response to the challenge of any given day.

It could be any ordinary day, to set in motion extraordinary change, or, to avert negative changes. Adaptive training goes beyond fitness to excellence in functional capability for the many who would improve their service to others wherever and however they serve the good of humankind.

Adaptive fitness expands the definition of athleticism to go beyond sports, games, and races and into whatever challenge may come.