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Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Year of Strength (Reflections on 2012, planning for 2013 and beyond)

I've been thinking about a lot of this for a while. This is just me getting thoughts on paper.

2012 was a big year. My son was born. That event alone is enough to reshape someone's life. Being a parent is an experience that at some point defies description. If you've been there, you get it. If you haven't, no amount of explaining entirely conveys it. I have experienced depths of emotion I never knew I had, high and low. It has made me more conscious of, well, everything.

One of the things I've started becoming more conscious of was the idea of longevity. Some of this is born out of Dan John's works, but I think some of that is just fortunate resonance. If I had read Dan John's stuff five years ago, I don't think I'd have gotten it the way I do now.

Years ago, I read this article by Ross Enamait; I thought I understood it, but on reflection, I really didn't. While I accepted that being a coach meant I was on a different path than the fighters I worked with, or even the students who I trained, I kept training like I would be fighting. Even when it seemed unlikely that I would fight again, I kept training like I might. I sparred regularly. I worked on improving my fight game. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this, but I wasn't really training any differently than any of my fighters.

This year, that changed. Heavy sparring went from being exhilarating to being a chore. A chore that left me feeling like crap the day afterwards, for the record. I could chalk some of that up to sleep deprivation, but the reality is that I just wasn't enjoying it anymore. Rory writes about how whitewater kayak went from being an adrenaline rush to being a cold, wet, miserable experience. Sparring was turning into something similar for me.

I found myself loving coaching more and more, but wanting to do the things I was coaching less and less. This is more true for Muay Thai than the PDR, though I admit, I'm not as quick to throw on High Gear as I once was.

What I did find over the last six months was that strength training was becoming more and more of a passion for me. Not just doing it, but starting to try and understand it and be able to coach it. Earlier this year, wondering if I'd like to expand further into that field as a coach, I attended an HKC as a way of getting my feet wet. I liked it. A lot. Enough that I started exploring it further. It's fun new world, and I want to do more of it.

So I'm making 2013 a Year of Strength.

What does that mean?

It means that I'm looking to really build a strong foundation, not only of physical strength, but of knowledge about strength training (or "strength and conditioning", if you prefer).

In pursuit of this knowledge, I'm planning to attend at least a two certification courses. I'll be doing a StrongFirst Kettlebell cert in April: this is essentially an extension of the knowledge I got at the HKC. I liked what I learned there, and carrying on with it makes sense.

In the second half of the year,  I'm planning to do a level one CrossFit course. There is a great deal of synergy between CrossFit and the PDR/SPEAR System, and I really feel like I need to understand CrossFit on a better level to really appreciate that synergy.

I'd like to get in an NSCA-PT cert, as well, but that's a lot over the course of year. Before the baby, I'd have said easily done. Now, not so sure. And honestly, I'm not sure I need the extra piece of paper. I have the materials, and I may just read through them, learn them, and skip having the paper for right now.

Of course, I can read up on other stuff as well. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

I have in my head to try and explore the idea of "strength" from a philosophical and intellectual point of view as well, but I haven't really mapped out how I'd make that work. Or quite what it would mean.

How will this effect my training? Well, it depends. Obviously, I will be putting a lot of time in with strength work, especially in the four months leading up to the StrongFirst cert. That means reducing or altering the focus of some of my physical training. My Muay Thai will probably take the biggest hit there; I'm going to be focusing much more on coaching than on training myself, especially in the first few months of the year. My PDR training will probably not be quite as effected--I'm continuing to be heavily focused on that, and really want to keep things rolling with it. I'm looking at some other training avenues as well, but they won't be the big focus.

I'd like to do some organizing and simplifying of my life this year as well, in keeping with some of the minimalist ideas I've been exploring, but I don't have much of that clearly mapped out yet. The strength thing is it the big focus right now.

Looks to be an exciting year.


Shirokumasan said...

Thank you for your blog post. It's interesting to read your growth and how your perspective has changed. If strength and related training is something you are getting into, a great guy who is well respected and puts out great material is Elliott Hulse. He is doing quite well writing and producing videos on Youtube (aside from the gym he owns/runs and trains at, along with coaching athletes). He's a great reference.
Have an awesome 2013, Jake!
-John Ruman

Jake said...


Thanks for the feedback. Funny thing...I went to put up another post, and saw that I had a tag for Elliot Hulse. Apparently, I linked to an interview with him a while back...I'll have to look at his stuff more closely.

Hope all is well with you. Maybe one of these days when I'm back in the 'Cuse, we'll catch up!

Happy 2013!