In Never Let Go, Dan John shares a story about meeting with a famous discus thrower (I can't remember the guys name right now, and am too lazy to step over to my bookshelf and look it up. Sorry.) who advised him "when things go wrong, and they will go wrong, simplify" (or words to that effect).
That quote has been rattling around in my head a lot lately, and while I think it probably has a lot of implications for martial arts, and self-defense (what is self-defense but things going really wrong?), I've been particularly thinking about it in regards to my own physical fitness. Which, lately, has gone to pot. Not like, awful, terrible, I can't move, but I'm heavier than I was, not quite as durable, still pretty strong, but generally, just not where I want to be.
A large part of that is due to the fact that my life for the last few months has been completely lunatic. I was combining a temp job at my alma mater with teaching multiple private lessons, group classes, doing some test prep tutoring for the Summit Educational Group, and, well, living my life (spending time with my wife, the dog, friends, etc). The net result of all of this is that my schedule has been extremely erratic, and my physical training inconsistent at best. Looking back at my workout log, I realized that the only thing I've consistently managed to do each week is hit my deadlift day. Not shockingly, the only thing that's improved in recent months is my deadlift.
Now, while my temp job is over, I'm still juggling a lot of tutoring responsibilities, plus my teaching, my business, and so on. I'm attempting to solidify my schedule into something more regular, but it isn't easy by any stretch.
One of the other ideas that Dan John talks about in Never Let Go is the idea that we all have limited quantities of free will/mental energy. Which lead me to realize that part of the problem I've run into is that I've been trying to juggle a bunch of different ideas about physical training on top of everything else I'm juggling, and it ends up being too much to keep track of. I'm not making progress because I've made things too damn complicated to think about.
The final piece that clicked into this most recent line of thought was the idea of the 30-day challenge. My friend Chris first introduced me to it, and there's a useful talk about it here.The basic idea is to try something new for 30 days, and see how it goes.
In this case, I've decided to spend 30 days using (mostly) the "program minimum" from Pavel's original Russian Kettlebell Challenge.
For those not familiar, the program in a nutshell is: snatches and bent presses with a kettlebell, two to three times a week. Sets, reps, and all that are up to you.
I'm diverging from the program in a couple of important ways.
First, I'm using a kettlestack set to 56 pounds, instead of the 10 pound dumbbell suggested in the book. Because I want to develop some strength, and the 56lb kettlestack actually makes me work a bit.
Second, I'm keeping my deadlift day, because, well, I like deadlifts. I can provide a host of other rationalizations, but when you get right down to it, that's the main one. Deadlifts are fun. I like to pick things up and put them down.
Of course, I'm continuing my teaching and skill training, which counts as physical exercise, but I've been doing that all along anyway.
I actually started this on Friday, but didn't get around posting until today. I will plan to keep this up until November 7th. If people are interested, I can post workout logs as I go.
Why the program minimum? Partly because I've never done it before, and I was always curious about how it works. If I do it, I can talk intelligently about it.
Why not the new program minimum from Enter the Kettlebell? Because I don't OWN Enter the Kettlebell, and I'm not buying it right now.
Why not Crossfit, Ross Enamait's stuff, Kevin Kearns' program, etc?
Because I really wanted something completely simple for the next 30 days. I wanted something that will let me clear my mind and focus on other more pressing projects, and this program is about as simple as you can get. It requires one piece of equipment, two exercises, and that's it. All of that other stuff is great, and I have no doubt that I will reintroduce it at some point, but this gives me an opportunity to clean the slate, mentally and physically. I can always add on after the 30 days are up, but I wanted to start super, super, simple.
And with that, I'm off to lift.