5 Round Friday

5 Round Friday

THE EBB AND FLOW OF DISCIPLINE

It’s been quiet on The Black Toenail lately as other things have been needing my attention lately: new job, military duty, and household needs. It has kept me from the discipline of writing regularly, but sometimes that’s how it goes. Right? Seriously. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t found five things that might add to your disciplines. Check these out.

Chow  Organic PBFit Peanut Butter
This powder is crazy good and adds a quick 6 grams of protein and peanut butter flavor to… anything. Or add water to make peanut butter with 1/10th of the fat and calories. It’s a staple in our house.

Perspective  Disengaging the Lizard Brain, Common Sense with Dan Carlin
The focus of The Black Toenail is people, not politics. But there are times when they overlap enough that I need to comment on it. Dan Carlin offers a long history view while discussing history, foreign policy, and the current political climate. Open your mind.

Navigate  Theodolite
Back in the early days of surveying, circa 1571, there was a piece of gear that measured various axes using telescopes, seconds of arc, and lots of mathiness. In the 21st Century, you can now have this capability on your phone. As a navigation and documentation tool it’s a land nav dream. In a click you can capture info, plot a course, or triangulate your position. And it connects to your maps! It’s a bit of a learning curve, but worth every penny in the iPhone App Store (sorry Android users – not yet).

Medical  Duck Industries Duct Tape
Over Memorial Day we were in San Diego for the GORUCK HTL as Holly was pushing to complete it. Due to a series of unfortunate events, her feet blistered up like chicken skin over a campfire. By the time we were getting prepped for the 12 hour Challenge, her feet truly hurt. Medical tape wasn’t going to offer enough protection. But as any groundpounder knows, duct tape works great! Duck Industries has lots of patterns and prints to satisfy your girlish or badass sensibilities. Just beware once it’s time to recover.

Recovery  Body Health Perfect Aminos
Supplements. Most of us take something to augment our diets. Sometimes making us feel better. Sometimes making our pee expensive. Personally, I don’t like taking anything unless I know why I’m taking it and I can see or feel a difference. Essential amino acids have made a considerable difference in my recovery. Unlike Branched Chain Amino Acids (which only offer a select few amino acids), Body Health Perfect Aminos offer eight of the nine amino acids the body uses to rebuild… well, everything. Muscle, hormones, toenails, everything. Check out Ben Greenfield’s interview with Dr. David Minkoff for the science and backstory for more info.

Let me know your requests and suggestions. Which round is your favorite? What do you want to see more or less of? Let me know! Send a tweet to @getblacktoenail using #5roundfriday so I can find it.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

GET SOME!

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Weekly Weigh-in

Weekly Weigh-in

THERE IS NO FEELING LIKE LEAVING HOME

I’ve been traveling. Over the last 10 days, I fidgeted in a classroom chair for 30+ hours, been in and out of uniform, perverted my gut with Voodoo Donuts (Cock n’ Balls, to be precise), interviewed for a new job, driven 30+ hours, connected with friends and family, delighted my gut with taqueria favorites (Carne Asada burritos, to be precise), ran support crew for a 40 hour event, and honored those who died in uniform.

I witnessed incredible fortitude, met interesting, smart, and strong people, and spent time in the best places one can find on the west coast: Portland, Highways 5 and 101, and San Diego.

THERE IS NO FEELING LIKE COMING HOME

As I sit in the quiet of home, coffee in hand and creek trickling outside, I can finally reflect on how powerful the past 10 days has been. It’s been busy, I’ve been distracted, and I’ve been away from writing. I feel fat from indulging and being away from my go-to meals. I don’t even want to look at the scale. Still nursing this injury, I’ve been away from training too. Divorced from those practices for the past week-and-a-half, I’m ready to sink back into the routine.

Such is the ebb and flow of Life. Too often we stress out when we’re not training every day, keeping our routine, and operate out of our comfort zone. We worry that we’re getting fat with all this eating, that the kids are alright, or that work will be miserable when we get back. It’s too easy for fat kid fears to keep us from appreciating exactly where we are.

But relaxing amidst all that is key to getting the most out of the chaos. We must, in order to negotiate the muddy obstacles, grab new opportunities by the huevos, and feed the brain housing group. To feed the soul we have to let go of all that wobey and be in the moment. It’s a true leap of faith. More often than not, there will be no permanent damage. It’s all recoverable. Push yourself. Seize the damn day. Live every moment like the Devil himself is trying to steal it.

Because he is. Fuck him. This moment is yours.

For now, it’s time to cleanse the system, pull the diet back into focus, and after a few days of active recovery, jump back into the training schedule. Time to soak up the lessons learned, apply them,  get back after it, and enjoy the feeling of being home.

GET SOME!

Beware the Old Man

Beware the Old Man

FAMILY REUNIONS ALWAYS LEAVE A MARK

I’m still recovering from the events of New Orleans. I came home sick, injured, and out of whack from a weekend of indulgence, excitement, and poor life decisions. I fucked up as much as I found success. Only now can I sleep through the night without waking up to the pain. I know that sounds whiny, but facts are facts. This hurts.

Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.

Old warriors did not get old by accident; they got old by being wise, having the right knowledge, and being tough. Never underestimate an old man who has grown up in a rough profession or a rough environment.

These men have been around. They have done things, and experienced things, that you probably have never even thought about. They are tough, their minds are tough, and they have the knowledge, the skill, and the will to finish you off, if you force them to do so. A boy will fight you, but a older man will hurt you.

Bohdi Sanders, Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence

10:00PM. New Orleans. The GORUCK GRT Reunion Welcome Party was just getting underway when I came to the Casualty Carry lane. We paired up with folks of similar size & weight. First round, no rucks. No problem. Next round, with rucks. This added 70-80 pounds to the move. I got myself set, lifted him onto my shoulders, and my core just gave way. I dumped my teammate and crumpled to the ground under his 270+ pounds. Not accepting defeat, I setup to try it again. Nope. Same result – crumpled to the ground under my teammate again. Frustrated, hurting, and angry, I caught my breath and pushed through the section with another teammate and forged ahead through the next 10 hours.

Such is the way of testing the mettle of an old warrior. Turns out I strained my internal & external obliques, lats, and lumbar muscles pretty damn good. It’s been 10 days since the event and I’m nowhere near doing full sit-ups or get-ups without pain. Hell, sneezing is a significant emotional event. But I have been at this long enough to know injuries are just part of the game, and the smart Marine knows when to slow down, recover, nurse that injury back to health, and not to give up.

Healing and recovery are difficult concepts to execute well, especially when drive and A-type personalities get in the way. We get scared we will lose fitness, get fat, or not perform well if we’re not pushing hard every day. But Scott Howard, Krav Maga instructor and coffee collector, said it best…

When we work out, we make ourselves weaker. When we rest and recover, that’s where we make ourselves stronger.

Or as Bobby Maximus, Director of Training for Gym Jones, puts it in his essay There is No Such Thing As Overtraining

There is no such thing as overtraining, there is only under-recovery. Most people don’t put in enough time, effort, or train with enough intensity to put themselves in a state of overtraining. Most people simply don’t recover well enough.

FALLING PREY TO MONKEY BRAIN

Recovery takes discipline. It takes carving out as much time as we do for training, and often it’s the first part of our programming to fall prey to Monkey Brain, deadlines, and shuttling kids to soccer school/practice/parties. It’s the first part of the discipline we work so hard to build for training to get sacrificed on the altar of Life. As we get older, I think this just gets more and more difficult. Life gets bigger, responsibilities get heavier, and time gets more limited. That’s why so many people rest on the laurels they gained in High School, College, or pre-parenthood. Marathons, Triathlons, Wrestling, Baseball, Football, whatever. All things of the past once Life – and a comfy couch – get in the way. “I can’t” becomes the infection.

Which is why we need to beware of the old man in the young man’s profession. They haven’t let Life get in the way, settled on their laurels, or discarded the power of the lifestyle required to stay in the arena.

Maybe we need to BE that old man?

I will never be a black belt. I will never successfully compete against similarly ranked opponents half my age, I will never be great at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is an urgency to my training because I’m sure as shit not getting any younger, or more flexible. I’m certainly not getting any faster. And as I head down the highway on my Jiu Jitsu journey, the likelihood of the wheels coming off the car grows stronger every day.

A while back, one of my favorite writers – and yes, TV personality – built a whole episode around his addiction to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Anthony Bourdain directed his whole team to San Francisco just so he can train with Kurt Osiander at San Francisco’s Ralph Gracie Academy. In his Medium blog post, “Sweep the leg, Johnny!” Bourdain talks a lot about running out of time, the love of the challenge, and his “why.”

I do it because it’s hard. Because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And because it never ends. Every day presents me with a series of problems that I spend the rest of the day thinking about how I might solve — or at least chip away at. Next day same. And the day after that.

There is no way to continue to be in the ring, on the road, or under the bar, without solid recovery. Sanders, Maximus, and Bourdain all allude to it, if they don’t say it directly. While Bourdain doesn’t talk about his recovery plan much, it does seem to include artisanal cocktails, incredible food, connecting with people, and a creative outlet that feeds the rest of his soul.

WE CAN’T COME BACK THROUGH BEER AND CHEETOS

Recovery suffers from the stigma of not doing anything, especially when injured. Too often we feel pain and use it as an excuse to put our feet up, avoid more pain, and take “rest” as watching TV with beer and Cheetos. But there is so much we can do to recover from our training, as well as the knocks Life throws at us. Maximus spells it out completely – workouts, ice baths, yoga, stretching, foam rolling, etc. While most of us can’t afford the TV show style of recovery, we can build those concepts into our lives – live and eat well, connect with people, and be creative. We can always do SOMETHING. Even in the face of a strain, break, or falling off the wagon.

This is the only way we can remain in the arena to compete, build a team, get uncomfortable, get stronger, faster, smarter; and learn how to be the best we can be. This is the only way we can be that proverbial old man the rest of the world need to be aware of. As I recover from the GRT Reunion Tough, I’m learning that all of these lifestyle factors come into play and are critical to coming back stronger. But it takes considerable effort to overcome the mental obstacles and stigma to properly heal from this injury and not lose what I’ve built so far. We’ll see what I got to make it happen.

Do you have the discipline in you?

The ice bath is calling.

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