Thanksgiving Day

I just realized that I probably should have saved my last post’s title for today’s post, oh well.

Yesterday I did a workout that was so cool– I got to drag a parachute behind my kayak! Twenty second pieces going at about 1 mph– all out. Although this workout is a great sport specific strength exercise, the best part is it slows everything down and forces the paddler to focus on technique in a new level: drive from the legs, sit up straight, fully engage your core, keep the top hand pressure, take a solid pause, aggressive catch… etc. After our warm up we started with the parachute, then moved down to dragging two large whiffle balls on a bungee, dropped to one whiffle ball, and ended with just the bungee cord. The most helpful part of the workout for me yesterday was the single ball resistor, I was able to feel the glide while still going slow enough to focus on technique.

Now after workout something really funny happened– I fell in. I didn’t get bumped, pushed, shoved, anything as I was cooling down, one moment I felt a little unstable, the next moment I was in the water. The cold, not-so-clear water of the Oklahoma River. This was the first time I’d accidentally fallen in, without someone else’s involvement in… who knows? 3 years? When stuff like that happens, it generally means I was in need of a good humbling.

So today, I want to Thank God, for the chiding of the Holy Spirit, the way God brings his children back to him– sometimes in funny harmless ways like yesterday, and sometimes in much harder ways, but as Moses reminded us in Deuteronomy 8:5 “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.”

Thanksgiving!

After a high volume of workouts over the weekend we’ve finally entered Thanksgiving week. And I am excited for food! Props to the Puckett family here at the Oklahoma City kayak team for making us a home cooked meal Sunday! Will, Jared and I all had three huge plates of spagetti, a plate of fresh green beans and probably 8 slices of bread each, and we still had one full loaf, and 3 bags of spagetti to take home. Though after eating those heavenly home grown green beans it makes me wonder– what were those green things I was eating in the cafeteria?

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it back to the Northwest for Thanksgiving, but staying here has it’s benefits, not only financial. I’m looking forward to getting some great one-on-one work with Shaun. This will be real helpful in getting me ready for my training camp with the National Team guys in Chula Vista this December. I’m trying to make a big jump here but this camp will be a vital step in getting me on to next year’s National Team. So these days are critical.

And another benefit of staying in town is a friend gave me free tickets to Wednesday night’s Thunder game. YES!

Hello Heavy Lifting

Well, today’s workouts were brutal. By brutal I mean these workouts would have made Attila the Hun curl up in the fetal position and cry.

First off, through some miscommunication, Will, Jared, and I cheated ourselves out of half an hour of sleep this morning. Apparently you don’t need to leave at 5:30 am to get to the boathouse for a 6:30 am workout. Not sure exactly what we were trying to accomplish there but it didn’t work.

When we finally started the workout at 6:30 we found ourselves running six 500 meter sprints on a 5 minute turnaround, in 32 degree weather. The thing about 500 meter sprints is that they just seem so bloody long, especially when you’re breathing in huge gulps of freezing air. But they are also an amazing workout, and that’s why we do them. They’re really good for targeting that lactic endurance, and when doing it in the frigid cold conditions like this morning, it really helps you practice your mental toughness.

We thought this morning’s run was a pretty intense workout, but we were in for a surprise. After our one hour afternoon siesta, we headed off to lift weights at the boathouse. Turns out todays lifting session was strip lifting, meaning we put on as heavy a weight as we can lift for eight reps, then take off a little, do it again, and again, and again, and that’s one set, and then do four sets. We did five different exercises like that after warming up with a hundred pullups. Included in those five exercises were one of my all time favorite weight lifts– dead lifts. These are the meat and potatoes of heavy lifting, but they hurt like none other, and I have a picture to prove it…. Ice! The miracle cure for stiff muscles. Well time to head to bed. Thank you all for reading.

Ahh Dead Lifts, Love 'em and Hate 'em!

End of Tests –and the days since

Sorry about the long delay. College can be busy at times apparently.

Friday we finished the last of our testing with a max pull ups test, and max bench press and bench pull test with 80lbs. These test didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, only 31 pull ups and 67 reps on press and 66 on pull, but I’ll tell you, that’s a great workout! I was so swollen afterward! Talk about lactic acid! haha I love that stuff.

The weekend went by too fast as always but that just meant we were able to start training again, and now we’re entering a strength phase. Over the last few months we’ve been working on fitness, high reps, lots of kilometers, and tons of running, but finally we get a chance to pump some serious iron and that has got me excited. Time for high protein diets, weight gains, and amped testosterone!

I’ve been watching a lot of basketball lately and tonight as I watched the Thunder manhandle the Rockets, I found something to apply to kayaking. I have noticed over the last few games that the good players, the ones that make their shots, all have a noticeable pause right before they release the ball. It struck me as I watched that that’s the same thing for us paddlers, just their shots are our strokes. For the stroke to be a good one there needs to be that solid pause, time to focus, “set up,” gather your strength, before you pound down for the catch. Basically the thing I took away from it was the deep focus of the athlete, if I could maintain that focus for each stroke I would be getting 100% every time. That’s the goal.

Today we were supposed to paddle in the afternoon and our workout was going to be a resistor workout where we pull a parachute (aka sea anchor) in our kayaks =). But sadly there was a severe weather advisory and we weren’t able to do it. Postponed till tomorrow.

Oh, cool random fact for you all, the other day I talked to my RA and convinced him to buy a punching bag for my dorm hall, now we’ll have something to do when we’re frustrated. I’m so excited about this, it’s going to be great. Well it’s getting late so I had better crash.

Testing Week

This week Shaun got back from Scotland! Yay! Now we can get some technical coaching on the water again! But first we’re doing a week of testing after the last few weeks of conditioning.

Monday we did a nice light 40 minute run in the morning and then tested Maximum bench press and bench pull in the afternoon. I was a little unsure of how my results would be since we hadn’t lifted heavy for two weeks and the heavy lifting we did before that was only once a week. So I wasn’t too surprised that my bench press had gone down by 5 kg, but what was surprising, my bench pull went up by 5 kg (not exactly sure why).

The bench pull was exciting. For those of you who don’t know what the bench pull– aka chest supported row is, it’s where you lie on your chest on an elevated bench, grab the weight bar under you and pull it up and touch the bench.  I attempted my max once and missed touching the bench by an inch. After a 3 minutes I tried again. It is very uncommon to make a max after failing to attempt it the first time, but I knew I could do it. I shook my arms out, took a drink of water, and got my head in the game. Hopping back on the bench, I took a deep breath–then pulled the bar to the bench.

On the water yesterday we did a 2k Time Trial. The conditions were poor with a 20mph wind coming from the south west, (a diagonal left headwind), but despite the wind, I felt good on the water. I focused on a heavy pick up each 500m and in the last 1000m I made sure that my catch was solid and technique strong especially at each 250. I think my technique fell apart a little in the last 250, but I finished hard. I found out afterward that I pulled an 8:23 with a 4:12 split at the 1000. Shaun was expecting around an 8:30 so I am real happy with this time.

This afternoon we have an hour steady paddle, tomorrow we test our 4km running Time Trial, and Friday we have max reps for pull ups, bench press, and bench pull. At the end of the week I should have a pretty good idea of where I’m at.

But coming up is some even more exciting training, we’re soon entering a heavy lifting phase!

News Break!

John’s Coming Home!

I know it’s only been a couple days since my last post, but I’ve got to mention some great news that’s come up. First and foremost, John Napier is currently in route home from Afghanistan. For those of you who don’t know who John is, here’s a quick bio: 2010 Olympic Team member, driver of USA Bobsled #2, ranked high in the top 10 Bobsled drivers in the world last year, Gold medal at the 2009 World Cup 4 man Bobsled in his home town of Lake Placid, NY. He is also a member of the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program and is a true American Soldier, which is why he was in Afghanistan. But most important is what’s been done for him, he’s been saved by Jesus. And because of that he represent’s Christ where ever he goes and lives and races for Him.

John’s been a huge blessing in my life. He has encouraged me to stay on track with my pursuit of elite athletics, and much more importantly my pursuit of the knowledge of the Gospel! For those of us who train for the Olympics, it  is really hard to stay focused on our goals as Olympic hopefuls because there is a part of every man that makes him want to be working, doing stuff, and living the “American dream,” so it takes a lot of work to stay true to what I believe is our calling– representing Christ before the World at the Olympic Games.

I want to publicly thank God for keeping my friend safe, and give tribute to what the Lord has done in his life.

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The second news flash is that I was invited to a National Team Training Camp with Head Coach Guy Wilding, at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California December 10-18. I’m excited for this opportunity and can not wait to get to paddle with these guys who hopefully soon, will be my teammates! But I am a little nervous about how I will compare and so will be working wicked hard this next month to be where I need to be. I have full confidence that Shaun’s coaching will be able to get me right in the mix with these guys. Now for the balancing act of school, training, and friends….

Great Week of Training

This last week has been awesome. The week before was really rough, i wasn’t getting enough sleep and the practices were just as hard, but his week I managed my time a little better and it sure paid off!

I’d say the best part of this week was my running, I finally had a couple runs that were enjoyable. I mentioned the first one in my last post, and the second one was just as good if not better! Yesterday I had a 55 minute run. I did it outside in the middle of the day so it was sunny and “warm” (60s), I die when i’m stuck on a tred-mil that long so I had to take to the roads. I ran all the way to downtown OKC and back, over 5 miles in total. I just really felt connected, I was able to push myself hard and i wasn’t slowing down. I focused on breathing deep into my lungs and keeping it steady and, the rest came together.

Thursday morning we also had an amazing weight lifting session. We got to the gym at 6:30. A couple of the guys had 8 am classes and they were a little worried about making it on time, so we POUNDED through the workout! No rest at all! It was wicked hard but really really fun.

Yesterday I got registered for my classes for next semester and i’m finally starting to work on my major, Psychology. I’m taking Intro to Psyc, Applications in Psyc, Intro to Criminal Justice, Critical Thinking, and Public Speaking. Should be a good semester. Unfortunately i’ll have a good number of 8 am classes– that’s going to hurt! That means practice will be at 6 am or more likely 5:30. Well if that’s what it takes to get the workout in. Fortunately my days will be well spread out. so it won’t be crazy. I’m contemplating adding another Gen Ed, but not sure if I should take more than 13 credits. I’m well set when it comes to credits so I don’t really need to load myself down, but the more I take now the better my next few years will be.

November Begins

Hello all and welcome to November. This is an exciting month for me. Why you might ask? Well of course because it is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month and that’s basically the highlight of my snack time every day. But also I’m really happy because I’m over half way done with this semester, in all of my classes we’ve started talking about the end of the semester projects and that has got me in a good mood.

I’m really pumped about training right now. Last week was hard to stay motivated because of some sleep deprivation— thank you teachers. In all fairness I can’t just blame classes, the hardest thing to do in college is get to bed early. No joke, harder than all the papers, tests, making friends, keeping friends, living broke, etc. And a big problem is that only a few people know what it actually takes to be an athlete. So those of us who actually want to reach for the next level of athletics are really working against the way everyone else lives.

But this week is good. New month, my coach comes back from vacation soon, I got some good sleep this weekend and I’m back up and running. Literally. I had a running workout this morning. 2x 4km time trial. That was very hard. Despite what I’ve thought at different points in my life, I’m not a good runner. My first piece was a lousy 18:11:93 with a North wind at 16 mph (that’s a diagonal head wind for half the time trial. Quite unsatisfied with that piece I thought about ways to drops some time on my next piece during my break. I came up with setting time goals for myself at the 1k 2k and 3k marks and that really help bring my time down to a 17:40:09 with the same wind.