On Pain and Suffering (the good kind)

January 27, 2012 Comments Off

When I first got the bug up my ass to quit killing myself slowly with the couch, and actually try to get in some kind of shape, I was not motivated by the standard new years resolution, but by the impending doom of MY 40TH BIRTHDAY! It was good motivation.

I had been demotivated from working out so many times in the past, usually because I never saw any results, or I got hurt. Needless to say, this sucked. So I did the thing any OCD-enhanced individual would do, I started reading.

I buried myself in magazines, blogs, books – pretty much everything I could find about effective exercise. Doing some prep work turned out to be a good plan. Through one of my chains of reading I found out about Kettlebells, and the assorted books by Pavel Tsatsouline. In Enter The Kettlebell, There is an entire chapter entitled “It’s Your Fault”.

This was terribly enlightening. The whole section is the opposite of the usual bravado that you read in any fitness writing, and is an admonishment to pay attention and not get hurt. I really hadn’t read that anywhere else, as an explicit fitness topic, and it is one of the things that has kept me buying Pavel’s books.

After that, one of the online friends through the kettlebell forums summed it up better in a single phrase:

“Don’t move into Pain”

Of course, the difficulty in following that advice, is that as you push yourself harder towards a fitness goal, it hurts. You are moving heavier weights, testing your endurance, and frankly, hurting.

It is a fine line between pushing yourself through the hard work, and not injuring yourself. And if you are new at it, it can be a very fine line. For me, fine enough where I ended up almost damaging a tendon in my elbow before I realized that this wasn’t just part of my lifting, but something was wrong. It ended up costing me three months of physical therapy to recover, and probably another three months of starting from scratch.

That was fine. It gave me time to focus and see the difference between stopping before the pain, which is there to warn you about getting hurt, and ignoring the suffering that pushing yourself to the limits causes.

Really, we are actively seeking out that suffering, and trying to drive through it. That’s what makes us stronger – both physically and mentally.

When I did the Livestrong Ride two years ago, it was my first time doing an organized ride of that size. it was 45 miles, of flats, hills, city and back streets. It prepped myself and trained for the distance, but the race day was miserable. It started cold, then once we were part way into the race, started to rain. It was sticky, oily roadspray, with cold, biting winds. my hands froze on the handlebars, and I was sore all over. My lesson to myself as I was on the road was that I could tell that while I was sore, tired, and freezing, I wasn’t actually hurting or in Pain. I was just suffering through a crappy ride. It actually cleared just a bit as I made it to the finish line.

I had nothing left in the end. I could barely walk to the car until I warmed up, but I felt great. The sense of reward and accomplishment was indescribable.

After that experience, I would add an addendum to my earlier advice:

Don’t move into Pain, but feel free to punch Suffering right in the cock.

…and the 20KG does down.

June 26, 2010 Comments Off

I just hit one of my goals for the year. 100 snatches with the 20KG kettlebell in 5 minutes. I had a whole 2 seconds to spare. When I add this to the Livestrong ride on sunday this has need a pretty active week.

Earlier in the year, someone on the Dragondoor boards asked “fit for what?” when another poster asked “how do I become fit?”

It’s actually a great question. “Fitness” really only applies to what you personally want to do. At the time, my answer was to just be healthier. Then at the beginning of the year, I set a few goals, this being one of them. When I did the Red Hook ride earlier, I was really surprised at how my cycling ability was so much better despite not being on the bike for so long. (improvements in both leg strength from squats and VO2Max from snatches.)

So I’m adding to my goals doing the Livestrong ride again, for either the 75 or 100 mile distance. I have also mapped out a 104 mile loop to try locally. It goes around lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, Mercer Island, and Bellevue. I want to ride that.

If I can hit those I’ll see about doing STP in two years.

Fit for that.

Week of 6/20/10

Livestrong 45 Mile Ride

20KG + 16KG KB High Stop Military Press – 10 Minutes
16KG + 20KG KB Double Front Squat – 6 Minutes
20KG KB Clean and Press – 5 Minutes

5 Mile Bike Ride


16KG + 24KG KB See-Saw Press – 9 Minutes
20KG + 16KG KB Double Front Squat – 7 minutes
16KG + 24KG KB High Stop Military Press Press – 7 Minutes


20KG KB Fast Cadence Snatch – 5 minutes (100!)

Yellow Sky-ball Strikes!

June 23, 2010 Comments Off

Oh thank God we finally got a clear day. After the torrential crapstorm that has been plaguing us, I was getting ready for frogs and locusts. Of course, clear weather means big allergies, but that will die down after a few days so I will take it.

Looks lie we get a whole week of this nice sky madness. too bad we couldn’t get it when I was cycling for the Livestrong thing, but maybe if we get this for a few weeks I can start getting some longer rides in. I actually mapped out a full 100 mile route, it lops Lake washington, Mercer Island, and Lake Sammamish. It is a pretty sweet route, but I will need to work up to it.

I am really looking forward to longer and longer rides. after the last three rides, 45 miles is in my comfort zone. I think a 65 mile ride may be next. I have been doing heavy squats to build up my legs for the hills. Really, You can go forever on a flat run, but you get destroyed by the hills.

In any case. I’m glad to see the sun.

Ride Captain Ride

June 20, 2010 Comments Off

Today was the big Livestong ride, and I thought it was great. I have never done an organized event like this and I was stunned at the level of organization that they had. I picked up my race packet for the 45 mile ride (they had various levels according to ability) on Saturday, and today i just had to show up and go. Each of the levels was organized into a section, so there was no confusion.

I met with Jeanette before the race and she gave me Chuck’s Livestrong Jersey to wear for the ride. I felt really honored to wear his jersey, since I was riding for him for the event. I had put four people down on my riding list. Chuck, who we lost a few years back, and Yulia’s mom, was well as my dad and Uncle, who are all survivors.

The ride started through downtown, past Chinatown and onto the express lanes of I-90. This went over the bridge and onto Mercer Island. From there we followed Island Crest way around the perimeter of the island. The hills were pretty tough, but not impossible. I was really glad to have a climbing gear on the bike. Frustratingly, I couldn’t get the front derailleur to engage my top gear. Our first rest stop was at the south end of the island.

Each rest stop (about every 10 miles) had a first aid station, bike repair, and food and drink. It was a pretty sweet setup. Throughout the ride we had support cars tracking everyone, and offering assistance as needed.

Up to this point the weather was clear. But after the first stop, things started to get cold. Within a few miles, the rain began to fall, and by the time we were across the bridge and into Bellevue, it was raining. Not too hard at first, but by the second rest stop in Newcastle Beach Park it was getting serious.

The rout went up to Newport Hills, then split, with the 75 and 100 milers heading out to Coal Creek, and us 45 milers going down to Renton. It was really starting to get wet. My hands were cold enough that I had trouble shifting gears, and had to start exercising them to get the blood flowing. AS we came around Gene Coulon Park, one rider slid and caught his tire in the railroad tracks. He took a nasty fall. By the time I got there they had an ambulance taking care of him, and had police warning other to be careful.

The third rest stop was at Renton Stadium. I had the mechanic look at my front derailleur, but he couldn’t see anything wrong, but it would work only sporadically for top gear. I chose to ignore it.

From there we went up Rainier avenue to Seward Park, then Up Lake washington Boulevard and up the switchbacks. It was cold. there was less rain but we were all soaked by that point. I went through the I-90 Bike tunnel to the final rest stop. From there it was straight through downtown back to Seattle Center.

Crossing the finish line with everyone cheering was great. Jeanette was there, and I just beat Yulia and company who were driving in to see me finish.

It was a great ride, with $800k raised in total. I will definitely be doing this next year.


June 17, 2010 Comments Off

Well I’m getting all set for the Livestrong ride on the 20th. I even bought a pair of shorts with more padding because I am old and tender now. But this will be a great ride. I have almost hit my fundraising target, and the weather looks like it will be ok.

I am getting ready to start on a different program once my vacation is over in July, it will be good to shift gears. This will be based on chains and complexes for reps instead of time. Should be fun.

Week of 5/23/10

20KG + 24KG KB See-saw Press – 4 Minutes
24KG KB Goblet Squat – 8 Minutes
24KG KB Braced Military Press – 6 Minutes

24KG Fast Cadence Snatch – 8 minutes
20KG + 16KG KB Double Push Press from Squat – 12 minutes

32 KG Jerk Practice

20KG + 16KG KB High Stop Military Press – 7 Minutes
Pistols – 3 minutes
32/24KG KB Braced Military Press – 8 Minutes


24KG KB Slow Snatch – 8 minutes
32KG KB Jerk – 6 minutes

Week of 5/30/10
7 Mile Walk


20KG + 24KG KB Double Clean & Press – 7 Minutes
16KG + 20KG KB Double Front Squat – 11 Minutes
16KG + 20KG KB High Stop Military Press – 4 Minutes

32KG KB Snatch – 8 minutes
24KG KB Viking Push Press – 7 minutes

20KG KB Clean and Press – 7 Minutes
24KG KB Goblet Squat – 9 minutes
12KG + 20KG KB See-saw Press – 11 Minutes

32KG KB Overspeed Swing – 6 minutes
20KG + 12KG KB Double Viking Push Press – 8 minutes

44 mile bike ride

Week of 6/06/10

20KG KB Military Press – 5 Minutes
16KG + 20KG KB Double Front Squat – 7 Minutes
16KG + 20KG KB High Stop Military Press – 7 Minutes



20KG + 24KG KB Double Clean and Press – 8 Minutes
20KG + 24KG KB Double Front Squat – 10 minutes
20KG KB Military Press – 6 Minutes



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