I don't train to be better than you. I train to be better than me.

I don't train to be better than you. I train to be better than me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm back! (again)

So I rolled the Black Belt class last night at the ETC. Felt great to be back on the mats.

My rib is still a little sore, but I managed all the twisting and contortion required for De La Riva drills. It is amazing to me just how rusty and clumsy I felt, but I worked hard, and in the end i felt like I was picking up the motions and movements well. I was definitely worn out. I could barely stand through the end of class speech, and thought for a minute I was going to pass out while Prof. Eliot Marshall was wrapping up the class. I've got to rebuild my stamina for BJJ.

BJJ is a whole different sort of cardio than is required for my GORUCK , Tough Mudder, and Spartan Race events. It's a grapplers cardio, and it is being physically able to produce "bursts" of power over extended periods. It's hard as hell, and i think the best way to train it is Cross-Fit. I've got to start hitting my Murph workouts again.

Speaking of Spartan Race- I made it into their inspirational video for 2012

Check it out- I show up at 1:27 on the left of the screen

I hope all of you are well. I'm back, let's train!

Friday, September 21, 2012

F@#%!!! Injured again...

As posted previously, I was back into the swing of things- I hit class on Friday, Saturday, and then again Monday which was an excellent kick-off to my planned Mon /Wed/ Fri/ Sat schedule.

Monday night it happened. I was doing an up-down-out drill from the closed guard with a 2-stripe white belt and he compressed my rib cage hard enough that it popped my lowest rib on the left side.

Here I come to a quandary- I don't want to blame the kid that hurt me. He was just trying to learn Jiu Jitsu. Really, this injury was the result of flawed logic on my part. I figured I'd send myself down to the Intermediate classes for a while to shake off any mat rust from my prolonged summer hiatus. This turned out to be bad logic because what I had forgotten was that drilling with low level guys generally has a major negative side effect: They try really HARD. The belt around my waist is a target to them, and by "beating" me (by any and all means possible) they prove to themselves that they are tough guys. This means they clamp down on me with all their might, really force positions using muscle and limited technique, and generally try to hurt me. It's not as intentional as it sounds, but rolling with newer students tends to be pretty rough. What I need to be doing is practicing technique- and that only happens with the higher level dudes. Lesson learned, remember for when I return...

Let me tell you- a popped rib sucks BIG TIME as a BJJ injury. I can't do shit. I can't even drill since it hurts to sit up, and I risk perpetuating the injury if I just try to tough my way through it. It hurt to sit in my chair at work, it hurt to sleep at night- the only time it didn't seem to hurt was when I was running or swimming.

To treat the problem I have been using DoTerra Deep Blue rub along with a portable ultrasound. this along with a healthy dosage of ibuprofen has been getting me along for the past 2 weeks, and now it seems i may be ready to come back to the mat again for some drill work, and light rolling. I plan to head back to Easton on Monday to begin (again)

In the mean time- I'm rucking the Denver Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon on Saturday with some of my GORUCK Challenge peeps. I bought a nice new Isreali civilian model gas mask just for the occasion... should be fun.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Putting some Jiu Jitsu back into my Jiu Jitsu blog...

I've been pretty caught up in my endurance sports training lately, but I have still been training 3 times a week with Easton. I'll get back to blogging about it shortly.

I also have another Gi review in the works as I have received, and have been rolling in my new Prana Flow Gi.

More soon!


Monday, March 26, 2012

The quest for fitness, new challenges and swimming the ocean of doubt

My life of the past 4 years consists of challenging myself in one way or another. First was overcoming the fear of committing to parenthood. When Shannon became pregnant I recall a sense of elation, which was offset only slightly by a fear of the unknown. I have found that in many instances that when I embrace the challenge of the unknown that the best things happen. Being Lila’s Dad is certainly one of the greatest things that I have ever, or will ever do. It rewards me every day.
I feel much the same way about Jiu Jitsu. When I first stepped onto the mat I felt like a first time swimmer stepping into the pool. It was an environment I was unfamiliar, and a little uncomfortable with. After a little time, I found I could survive, and enjoy it. Now it is hard to imagine my life before BJJ, and even more difficult to imagine what it would be like without it. Jiu Jitsu is a sort of fellowship for me, and it’s study is something I look forward to, and think about every day.
I’ve often said that Jiu Jitsu gave me confidence. That confidence extends off the mat into my life. It drives me to put myself to the trial an everything I do. It has expanded my belief in my own abilities as an individual. Jiu Jitsu re-lit the athletic fire in my life. A fire that was long extinguished by the instant gratification of alcohol fueled adventure. Throughout my 20’s it seemed like the most interesting things happened with cold beverages, and drunken debauch. This takes a toll on the body, and it also takes a toll on the mind. When I hit my 30’s the adventures in drinking lost their luster. Recovery became rougher, and the same ole-same-ole became a bit depressing.
At my worst I was up to approx 220lbs, and looked old. I mean more than just grey hair- I felt old too. Fat in my face gave my eyes a sunken look. All my “best stories” took place in the past. The future was a boring subject to contemplate. That changed the first day I stepped onto the mat. I’ll be glad for that for the rest of my life.
After a year of training with Easton I began to look around for additional challenges. At that time I discovered Cyclocross. I also discovered Warrior Dash- which seemed a lot like Cyclocross on foot. I didn’t have money for a bike, but I could run so I decided to focus on Warrior Dash. About a week or so later my friend Kristi told me about Tough Mudder- which was like Warrior Dash, but triple the distance, with more difficult and more plentiful obstacles.
Last year when I committed to that first TM at Beaver Creek it was like I was standing on the shore of my island, looking across a vast ocean of doubt. It took all of my fiber to wade in and swim for what was then an unknown. This challenge intrigued me, and forced me to look within myself for strength- it challenged me more than just physically- it taunted my soul, and stirred me to action.
I’ve now run 2 Tough Mudder races in the past year, with a 3rd on the horizon in June. I finished in the top 5% of the field at my second race and qualified for the World Championships. Tough Mudder doesn’t scare me anymore. Worse, it doesn’t challenge me. What was once an abyss now seems like a walk in the park. I need something new, and it needs to be something that I can build upon.
Even after that first Tough Mudder I remember feeling empty when I thought I should feel rewarded. There was so much build up to it that when it was over I felt like there should be some sort of spiritual reward- something, but instead it was more of a “done, dusted” sort of reaction. I signed up for the second one on a whim. It was reasonably close to my parent’s house so it seemed convenient, and I thought at that time I would have a team to run with. Why not sign up? I trained pretty hard for the second one. I had it in my mind to qualify for the World’s Toughest Mudder, and I figured with the flatter TX landscape I would be faster, and I was. I accomplished the goal of qualification. Still empty.
I now think I understand the emptiness I feel.  Milton said of Alexander the Great- "When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."  Perhaps this is true. TM is supposed to be the most challenging adventure race series out there. They poke fun at the 5k races along the route (there is a sign 5k into the Tough Mudder that says “if this were Warrior Dash you’d be finished now”) Beaver Creek is arguably the hardest standard TM race in the country due to the elevation changes, but I beat it on my first time out. Worse was that I saw a lot of non-athletes beat it. Nothing says you really accomplished something by earning the finishers headband like seeing a woman wearing a finishers headband while smoking a cigarette at the bar… It kinda takes the wind out of your sails to see something like that. Of course, it’s not a “race” so really she could have very walked the damn thing and gone around obstacles and still “finished” I guess, but this is beside the point.  The point is I need something new to challenge me. Phil vs. What? Phil vs. Tough Mudder is done. I did that shit. I’m going to do it again too, but that isn’t an aspiration anymore. It’s the standard now. Right now I’m standing on the shore of this new island, looking across a vast ocean again- and this time I’m really (actually) going to swim for it. I’ve started training for an as yet to be determined triathlon, and after spending time in the pool I’ve just come to realize- I suck at swimming.
Challenge Accepted.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Fitness to Athlete a year in review

I started Jiu Jitsu on Feb 1st 2010. I can't say for certain what my weight was on that day, but it was somewhere between 200-210 lbs. After the first year I was fluctuating between 200, and 195lbs. It was right about then that I learned about Tough Mudder, and decided to run the race in Colorado in June. I also decided I needed to really start taking better care of myself. I wanted to be more active, and enjoy my life more than i was going from the bed to work, to the couch then back to bed. Even training as I was, this was still pretty much my life. 

My first step was to see a doctor for a Physical- my first one in many years. He took bloodwork, and the results weren't too bad. he pronounced me to be in pretty decent shape for my age.

On Feb 23rd 2011 I went to visit the trainer at the gym located at my workplace. She did a wellness assessment where she measured my body fat%, my heart rate, did a measurement on my VO2 Max, and flexibility. I was justdged to be healthy enough for activity, but my VO2 Max was really low, and would need addressed as I prepared for that first Tough Mudder in June 2011.

After this I started jogging, building up to greater distances. I also started some crossfit, and continued to train Jiu Jitsu 3 times a week. For the first time in my life I started watching what I ate- reading labels on the foods I ate, placing weighted values on protein, carbs and fats. If the food didn't have a label where I could get the nutritional facts, then I didn't eat it anymore. Things like fast food from McDonalds- they offer nutritional info, but you have to go on the web to get it. I say that is "no label" they are hiding the facts from me, so now I never go there.
I tried to maintain a 1700 calorie a day intake (thats actually a lot when it's healthy, lean food), with a 2700 calorie per day burn (I often over shot)

I finished that first Tough Mudder in June, and went on to participate in Warrior Dash, and Rugged Maniac 5ks that same summer.

As you can tell by the date, I kicked this off exactly one year ago.

Wednesday (2/22) morning I went back and did a one year follow up wellness assessment with the trainer at work. I was fortunate in that the same trainer who did my original assessment conducted my one year benchmark.

Here are the changes in my fitness laid out in a chart I made for comparison 
Blood pressure is down 8pts
Weight is down 23lbs
body fat is nearly half- with the largest loss in the abdomen where weight loss is difficult for men over 30yrs old (I'm 36). I am now classed "Athlete" with 9% body fat.
VO2 Max is up 15 pts (still needs work)

The best part is that this is my life now. Going out and doing things that require a lot of physical effort, and eating well are part of my lifestyle.

As you know I ran a second Tough Mudder on Jan 28th in Edna TX. I finished in the top 5% of the field and was invited to participate in the Worlds Toughest Mudder championship event this December.

So my advice? If you want to be healthy, change the way you're living. Quit eating things you can't identify. Get out and move for at least 60 min every day. A year from today you will wish you had started now- so go do this for yourself!

Here is a before/after pic 

Black Belt Training February 2012

It's been awhile! Please forgive me, I've been distracted with training. I've taken on quite a bit this past month. My regular training schedule has been Monday nights from 7pm to 8:30pm with the black belt Gi group, the same hours on Wednesday nights. Saturdays I've been training the intermediate Gi class then sticking around for the Saturday no gi open mat. That is 5 hrs a week on the mats. Include with that the running- I'm running 5k 3 times a week on the track at the Rec, plus some light duty lifting (still figuring that out). All told I've been pretty busy keeping up with my schedule. I've learned a lot this past month. I'm surviving more during rolls with the higher belts (although still getting sub'd often) and I have adapted my game to include a lot of open guard, spider guard and yes even inverted guard. I am still favoring the bottom game, and I need to develop some top game to round things out.