Garage Strength Notes, Day 8

October 13, 2011:

It was just Dane and me this morning. I arrived a bit after 8:30, a few minutes late because I was reading an article in the new issue of Time about Steve Jobs and did not want to rush. Dane was not there anyway. I walked into the open barn, failing when I tried to switch on the lights. Anton was barking somewhere in the distance. I found him in the little back office, sitting on a soft recliner in the dark. The ‘office’ is not quite an office, but is on the brink of perhaps resembling one. Same goes for the ‘bathroom.’ With a bit of imagination you can visualize the result, but both are a long way off from realization.

Anton followed me out of the dark office space. I walked across the Astroturf (which gave me a nice big blister on my big toe from pushing the ‘prowler’ back on Monday in my bare feet) to the little station on the opposite side of the barn, perhaps 50 or 60 feet away where Dane keeps his smart phone and iPod touch that is hooked into a set of computer speakers he apparently keeps plugged in all of the time so that when I browsed through his music and chose an artist and a song, the sound came out immediately and at a reasonable volume. Dane emerged from the adjacent farm house where his sister Kai and her husband Brant live, carrying two French presses full of coffee, which he would ostensibly be finishing on his own this morning as it was a training day for him. He ate a raw egg yolk by the side of the barn, discarding the shell in the bushes amongst the many others that had been given a similar fate (indeed once by myself).

I did a cardio routine today which involved a lot of jumping onto boxes, pulling the prowler across the turf and bouncing around the room in a series of burpee jumps that were quite difficult and not friendly to my lower back. I have incredibly tight hamstrings. The box jumps were actually really fun, each rep a little challenge to myself whether or not I could make it from a standstill onto the top. The stakes can be quite high. Dane recalled a story of a female fighter he trains who was having a sub-par day on the box, alternating jumps with sets of front squats in a nearby rack. She had completed the box jumps on the big box, which was not exactly a box at all but a metal frame platform, carpeted. But only just. After the next set of front squats Dane set up the smaller box. The woman was not amused (though I do not think Dane intended it to be funny), and promptly stationed herself back at the big box, where on the very first rep she missed the landing and crashed to the floor with a shin-bone bearing gash on her lower leg that ended up requiring sixteen stitches from smashing into the metal lip of the frame. On ‘max’ attempts now, Dane typically uses the wooden boxes (‘more forgiving’) and stacks stiff rubber pads on them to add height. Sometimes he will put a sweatshirt on the edge to prevent a similar accident.

The workout was a circuit, sort of. It should have been but we were too busy yapping between sets that I did not complete them in as quick succession as I should have. The series included the box jumps, prowler pull, kettlebell snatches, burpees, jumping lunges, more prowler, one-legged squats, more prowler, and box squats. We chatted about training. Last night on TV I saw by chance the ‘Crossfit Games,’ which incorporate a lot of the movements that Dane does in the barn, but branded as ‘Crossfit,’ a name that I gathered has something to do with Reebok (For Dane to become a ‘Crossfit’ gym, he would have to pay a $5,000.00 naming fee, plus take a $1,000.00 certification course, so that rich moms would pay to come to his “accredited” gym. He is actually more okay with the concept than I expected, especially the nutrition side of it which advocates the ‘Neanderthal diet,’ again a clever name for concepts that he has been preaching for years). I mentioned that the idea that they have an Olympic-style “games” for the Crossfit movements seems kind of silly because is not the point of Crossfit to get fit for a specific sport by incorporating full-body dynamic exercises into routines that focus on ‘useful strength’ rather than simply getting big and/or strong? Dane agreed, but because there is money in it, they will do it. He likened it to the Strongman competitions, which similarly seem to have pointless competitions simply for the sake of it. One of the Crossfit challenges was front-squatting 230 pounds for seven reps, riding a stationary bike for 700 meters and monkey barring back and forth on a 50-foot section of them. Do this once, then repeat two more times and go up against six other guys, the winner being the first one across the line. It was oddly entertaining to watch – these dudes are incredibly fit and look like statues, but more resemble triathletes in their lean builds than the typical running-back type you might see in the NFL – but I could not shake the fact that they ought to be transferring that fitness into something that more resembles an actual sport. And it is obviously a little bit about vanity too – most of the guys were clean-shaven all over to accentuate their abs, and quite obviously had gel in their hair despite the fact that this seemed to be a serious fitness competition. The event reminded me almost of a cross between a bodybuilding competition that is all about vanity, but where they actually have to use their bodies rather than just display them. I cannot decide if I would watch it again, but like I said, it was oddly enjoyable. I find it fun just to watch people doing cool things with their bodies, so I guess it qualifies.

After my routine, I followed Dane down onto the throwing circle where he would spend the next hour or so, alone and in the drizzle, practicing his technique and throwing simply for the sake of it. I asked him yesterday if he thinks he has another Olympic bid in him, and he answered almost nonchalantly and was non-committal. He immediately agreed with me when I suggested he was PRing because mentally he is in a happier place. I compared his throwing for the sake of it to someone heading to the driving range with a couple large buckets of golf balls, and Dane agreed with this as well. The act is almost meditative. I left with another dozen eggs and a gallon of raw milk.