Monthly Archives: June 2009

Answers to this week’s “why”s

I have received a few “why” emails this week. They fall in two categories: “why have I not finished the Fast Food Fighter blog though 30 days is up?”, and “why am I not commenting on the current commotion in Iran?”

The answer to the Fast Food Fighter question is pretty straightforward. The filming and actual conduct of the McDonald’s experiment were complete on June 9, 2009 (with the final blood test) and I have all the imagery necessary for the last week of blog entries, but I have been busy with transitions in my personal life which have taken a huge amount of time and left Fast Food Fighter as a lower prioriy for now. The blog will be completed fairly soon. There is not that much left to write, really. The blog was never really a priority of its own; it was just interesting to get some public feedback on what I was doing. The documentary will be released when I have time to edit it all appropriately — a mammoth task by itself.

As far as Iran is concerned…
The media is naturally self-righteously indignant about the Iranian gag on information exchange but in the end the media plays little role in a place like Iran, or perhaps more accurately the Western press plays a far different role in a place like Iran than we (and the media itself) thinks it does. The reason I have not been commenting on the election or what is going on there is that there is simply very little geopolitical importance to what is happening right now. Outside of a complete takeover of the government and an actual annihilation of the Ayatollahs — two outcomes which are extremely unlikely — nothing significant is going to change. Iran has no qualms about strong-arming its own people and an unarmed population against a military apparatus which is designed specifically to act as a domestic guard force stands little chance of altering the balance of power. Simply put, too many people with too much power in Iran have a stake in seeing the general status quo maintained, despite Western popular views and mores. In fact, this is all in deliberate spite of Western views and mores. Iran is not the West nor does it desire to be. Iran has certain geopolitical imperatives to follow which will put it on a path to direct confrontation with the West at times, no matter who is in charge. There may be something interesting to say about these events later on, as a referential footnote, perhaps “Ah, and we all remember the time those politically charged people tried to raid the Iranian Ministry of Interior…” but nothing earth-shattering will likely come of this. It is important to remember that an Islamic state’s repression of its own people and suppression of the Western media and other social influences are hard-wired in and cannot be considered “news” in any case.

Iran is a deeply divided country when it comes to politics and it has historically always been a socially difficult to control region. These protests were fairly predictable as is the government’s attempt to keep a lid on information about them. Iran does not want to appear as divided as it actually is because that perception could undermine its position at a negotiating table with the Turks, Americans, Russians, Taliban, Saudis, etc. (the list is very long). The interesting thing to note is how much of a lid the government has been able to keep on things, not that there are things upon which a lid should be kept. This is naturally missed by the media because for some reason media workers and reporters tend to think that what they do and say matters and shapes events in some way. That is tantamaount to believing that news is news itself. Human history is defined specifically by conflict and those conflicts are predicted by specific conditions, conditions which are usually not very dramatic on their own and therefore usually never reported in the popular press (when there is even a press to report on things, that is). The typical self-appraisal of worth so common among the media often leads to gross misinterpretations of events and ironically acts to keep the public (and media actors themselves) blinded to or at least extremely confused as to the true nature of events. Conflicts are real whether the media is there to tell anyone about them or not and telling someone about an event is not the same thing as influencing that event.

All that being said, the unorganized and unarmed media thinks it is their right to know everything that is happening inside Iran right now. Coincidentally, the well organized and heavily-armed Iranian state security apparatus thinks it is not. Being denied access is putting the media world in a real fit right now and is inspiring all sorts of amazing stories, none of which can be confirmed. This amounts to publishing dramatic outcome headlines which support our greatest hopes and fears (both sell well) and support the media’s self-important “mission” (makes it sound like a religion… I’ll just leave this here…) based on hearsay at best. The funniest effect of this all is the “news is news itself” phenomenon turned on its head: the lack of news is the news right now, which reflects the senior correspondents’ and chief editors’ self-appraisal of importance.

If there is anything significant to come of the protests we will really know when Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei makes his next public statement about anything. Outside of that, everything is merely conjecture to such a degree that I do not want to play around there just yet. Conjecture is a large part of what I do, but supported conjecture can amount to hypothetical prediction whereas the current media frenzy is promoting highly mislead revolutionary daydream dialogue which is simply unhinged from geopolitical reality. People do eat that stuff up though, and as a mentally corruptive form of entertainment I suppose it has a value all its own.

In the end Iran is general non-news at the moment. No concrete positions can be derived from information available. The current social turmoil was predictable and when the dust settles we will most likely see Iran maintaining the stances it took before the election — but we knew that before the elections began. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Iran cannot give up its nuclear program without significant concessions from someone significant enough to give such concessions (such as the US)
  • Iran cannot give up its support for Hezbollah in light of its deep fiscal and political investments in that direction, and also because Hezbollah is Iran’s most effective (and currently only) foreign lever against a wide array of allies and enemies
  • Iran cannot suddenly grant Europe an energy alternative to Russia for many fundamental reasons
  • Iran cannot give up its stake in controlling political developments in Iraq
  • Iran is not about to allow a liberalization of the government through revolution — after all it was a revolution which brought the hardliners in power who are still there today
  • Iran will still maintain an interest in seeing the Taliban undermined in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Etc.

In the end none of Iran’s imperatives are going to change no matter who is in charge or how many protesters toss away their lives in an emotional frenzy whether there are cameras to see them or not or whether I speculate on dreamed up outcomes or not. Iran’s course is largely set.

A much more interesting — and far less reported — story is going on right now in the German banking industry and European economy, however. The European recession is fascinating and actually is of geopolitical importance over the mid-term. It is also entirely European-made and was going on for almost a year before the US subprime crisis locked up liquidity in the US market and exposed the mess that the European economy had become over years of mislead Continent-wide populist programming. There is a lot to write about but not many are doing it. Perhaps it is not violent enough to garner public attention… yet. This summer or next could get interesting as social unrest rises with the unemployment rate.

Day 23, Having way too much fun

It was Monday! Time to get myself cranked up again and in the gym for my 23rd day of the McDonald’s experiment.

Unfortunately I got a very slow start today due to a lot of issues which popped up out of nowhere. Exercising is something that I can fit into my normal living routine and schedule around my work. Working a normal 9-5 job it is not that difficult to run at 6 or 7 in the morning, eat, go to work, lift during the lunch hour, eat at my desk (or wherever — I’ve never had a boss who had a problem with that if I explained what I was doing and most importantly got him interested in it himself…) and go to box or roll after work is over and still have time to catch a TV show while I cook my dinner. Granted, that is a full day but its actually a lot more fun than spending the day procrastinating and avoiding any activities which might speak of personal motivation. That being said, videotaping everything you’re doing for a month does actually require a life-pause. This has turned out to be pretty fun in a childish sort of way, but it is extremely time consuming… and with that comes neglect of other areas of my life, which have popped up today and have interfered directly with the schedule I was hoping to follow.

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Feeling chipper around the final turn of the run

I felt a little bit tired but it was difficult to tell if it overtraining and just being worn out, McDonald’s finally sneaking up on me or if it was really just my mood because the morning sucked. Okinawa was experiencing a pretty nasty bout of Chinese factory smog today, too, and sometimes that makes me feel weird… but usually only after I run. Because of the way I felt I resolved to really try to hold myself back and run as slow as I felt comfortable with. It may sound weird to a non-runner but holding yourself back can feel worse than letting yourself go faster sometimes, and I usually have a problem with that so when I want to hold myself back I really have to focus on it.

I ran the same 4km route in 20:30 though I felt like I was going slow. In fact, I felt like I was running so slow that I would turn in a 24 or 25 minute time, but that just wasn’t the case today. That was a remarkable difference in the way I felt today, after two days of complete rest, over the way I felt on Friday where I was killing myself to get the exact same run time I did today. Actually, it was the exact same run time to the second, which is an unusual coincidence… but running about 15 times in 30 days with a time spread of a little less than 60 seconds gives you a pretty fair chance at having at least a few run times match.

After my run I really felt like going to the gym to lift but there just was no way I would be able to eat, lift, eat again, roll, box and then eat again and feel good about it so I stuck with my decision to call off lifting today so I could dedicate some time and focus to jiu-jutsu today.

Which reminds me… I failed to mention that jiu-jutsu is really my main sport and the reason I am so focused on boxing is because I suck at it. I am decent at rolling around on the ground though and have done it for a few years, though I haven’t had a chance to train with anyone worthwhile in a few years. The boxing gym I am going to is supposed to be bringing in a judo black belt and a jiu-jutsu black belt this month and I am extremely excited. It is difficult to explain the level of awareness you can gain by being exposed to people who are truly skilled and it is an invaluable experience to roll with some people who can skillfully ball you up in an instant instead of the typical opponent who simply wants to try to struggle and muscle his way through positions that he doesn’t yet fully understand.

I really could go on and on about that, but that’s not the point of this blog just now. I was very excited about the prospect of getting my gi back on and rolling with some skilled players.

I went to the gym thinking I would be doing ground work first and then moving to boxing, but instead there was an “MMA” class going on taught and populated largely with the sort of MMA folks I don’t agree much with who refuse to ever train a single skill set to perfection in isolation and instead suffer from the sloppiness that is typical of the amateur scene these days. I decided to move over to the boxing side of the gym and do my boxing routine first though that would wear me out a bit before stepping on a mat for the first time in a few years.

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Making myself more tired than I needed to be today with Ell

My boxing workout:

Jumprope, 2R
Knees (heavy bag), 2R
Light bag (movement), 1R
Front kick & move (heavy bag), 2R
Shadow, 3R
Heavy bag, 3R
Heavy mitts, 2R
Focus mitts, 2R

That adds up to a 17 round workout — a lot more than I had intended to do before moving over to the jiu-jutsu mats. I took so long over at the boxing area because I was waiting on the MMA group to finally disperse and the BJJ guys to pull their gis out. It took forever, so I just kept boxing because, well, why not?

Finally the jiu-jutsu folks came out and started getting ready. I wiped off and changed clothes. The jiu-jutsu guy I had heard about was supposed to be a black belt, but apparently that was an exaggeration or simply a rumor. The instructor turned out to be a purple belt named Leandro who had come in from Brazil specifically to teach groundwork at the gym, though he was not teaching in the MMA class for some reason.

You may expect that I was disappointed at not having a black belt to roll with, and I was in a way, but the fact is legitimate purple belts are serious fighters and many schools are run and serious jiu-jutsu groups are often run by purples. I haven’t had a chance to roll with a purple in a long time and I figured this would be a great opportunity anyway. That being said a black belt has a definite edge over a purple belt in skill, teaching ability, vision on the mat and most notably experience.

Sadly all of the other students were either beginners or were the sort of guys who thought they knew a lot because they have tapped out tiny people before. Strength is important (despite all the bullshit talk about “inner power” you hear from kung-fu movie experts), but if you are significantly bigger than your opponent it is easy to steamroll him if you both don’t know what you are doing and cover up your technical deficiencies. There wasn’t anybody stronger than me in the group but there sure were a lot of guys who seemed to want to find out how tired they could make me by squeezing, tugging and generally trying to overpower me strength instead of focusing on their skillsets and actually gaming their positions.

Leandro was going over two basic guard passes and a variation on the baseball choke today during the technique phase. I had never met Leandro or any of the other guys before so I kept my mouth shut and just looked for small differences between the way I do things and the way Leandro does. Watching him and then asking to be the test dummy for techniques showed me that Leandro was very smooth, moves extremely well and knows what he is doing. You can never really tell until you lock horns with someone sparring, but I was pretty sure from the contact I had with him drilling that he could beat me without too much trouble so I was getting really excited about sparring him, despite being pretty worn out already from boxing too long.

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Keeping to myself, listening to the other players

When we started sparring it became quickly obvious that nobody but Leandro knew what they were doing. I resisted the urge to lord over the other students by simply crushing them repeatedly and tried to get them thinking about what they were doing by talking them through the situations they were in and only tapping them out when they gave me a present (like an outstretched arm in mount). Some were responsive, some didn’t think they needed to take advice from another white belt — though I’ve been wearing mine for a few years.

After a bit of watching Leandro asked me how long I’ve been doing this and if I wanted to spar with him. Of course I did! Smashing people can be fun, but it gets really boring if you’re not being legitimately challenged and the guys you are beating up aren’t interested in knowing where they are going wrong.

We decided on 5-minute rounds and to simply continue after tap-outs from similar positions. Leandro is a lot shorter than me and a good bit lighter weight so he got very low as he approached to avoid any takedown strong-man battles. I couldn’t figure out a way to get under him and he was very wary of letting my hands get near his feet so tripping was difficult. I started to go over the top and he let me, but instead of letting me smother him in a wrestling overgrip with him turtling he rolled into me (that was new) and nearly acquired butterfly guard before I scooted away. It was a really interesting and very mobile move and set the pace for the rest of our session. Leandro tapped me out several times and threatened me enough times with serious attacks that I was never able to really gain the initiative despite taking his back or turtling him several times. His defense was amazing and his transitiong between defenses and offenses and varying offenses was impressive. I am a highly mobile player but Leandro’s ability to maintain the top and transition around my escapes was able to generally either shut me down or put me in situations where I was likely to make a mistake in the scramble.

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Swimming out of (another) triangle attack from Leandro — he’s very smooth pulling me into those

We talked about where I was screwing up and what we each felt was preventing me from regaining a top position most of the time (the only time I was regaining top was during escapes from back attacks or triangle chokes). His back defense was so impressive to me that we started sparring strictly from back and resetting once either an escape or a tap-out was executed. This taught me a lot about the way Leandro thinks about back and was a wonderful learning experience for me, showing me how much I didn’t know about the back/rear-mount position.

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Leandro skillfully working his way out of my rear mount

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Getting a hook in to take his back — not that I will be able to finish an attack from here on this guy
On a side note, that belt might not look very white, but it is, I’ve just been wearing it a really long time

I know I’ve written too much already and I am getting a bit away from the point of this blog, so let’s just say that rolling with Leandro was a great experience and I had a ton of fun. In fact, I had way too much fun. I had arrived at the gym at 1700 today and I didn’t leave until 2230 (I boxed until around 1900 and rolled from 1900-2230… yikes!). I had consumed about 5 liters of water while there and hadn’t eaten anything. This was going to take a toll on me the next few days I knew, but in all honesty I didn’t want to stop rolling. Today reminded me of why I love working out, why I love jiu-jutsu and why I think competitive combat sports are some of the most consumingly real experiences we can have as humans.

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Talking through the holes in my game and the strengths in his

I went to stuff my face after rolling and while I was waiting on my food I could feel the absolute energy drain taking its toll on me. I felt a little bit shaky because I had done so much on only a single meal, but I was extremely happy to have had the experiences I had this evening.

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I totally deserved an ice cream today…

Hezbollah – Squeezed on all sides

I wrote a little over a year ago about Hezbollah’s potential to free itself from Tehran’s control and become a slightly more autonomous agent. While the financial, logistical and material backing that Iran provides cannot be easily replaced, Hezbollah (or rather some leadership elements within) may have been satisfied to take less of the king’s money to do less of the king’s work, so to speak. Hezbollah is not without alternative, though lesser, means of supporting itself or hiring itself out.

All that talk of an independent Hezbollah seems to be out the window now, however. At the time I wrote the last article on it Imad Mughniyeh had only been dead for a few months and the fallout of his assassination was impossible for me to see at the time. I counted the possibility of an Israeli or Damascene assassination as very high (particularly Damascus, as car bombs are highly irregular and difficult for the Israelis to execute considering it would entirely burn whatever humint bridges involved agents would have built) did not associate his death with the factional movements within Hezbollah itself or the control game that goes on among Lebaneze regionalists, internal power factions and Tehran. This was a man with many prices on his head and his death was a predictable outcome of the life he had chosen to lead.

Whatever the reason for his assassination it seems to have been a tidal trigger which was part of a string of high and low profile personality eliminations which has seen Hezbollah undergo a significant period of restructuring and refocus. Whereas two years ago Hezbollah was trying to use its militant street cred and loud voice within the Islamic world to (somewhat ironically) promote itself as a renewed hope for a Lebanese nationalist movement, it has since begun to look much more like the Iranian tool that it was originally sponsored to be.

Whatever changes are going on inside Hezbollah and whatever civil and political aspirations some factions had previously held, Hezbollah is definitely not something Iran is going to let go of anytime soon. It seems that Tehran is allowing (or compelling) Hezbollah to ride the very edge of losing popularity for appearing too much an Iranian tool of destruction, effectively squandering its considerable level of regional appeal gained at the expense of the pounding of the most recent Israeli-Hezbollah war.

Tehran doesn’t want a highly popular Hezbollah which has the popular support and power to become a real political force of its own, it wants to keep Hezbollah as a useful tool of Iranian foreign policy as Iran lacks the capacity to project force outside of its own borders. The shufflings and eliminations we saw begin a few years ago are culminating in this return to a more closely held tool of Iranian policy, despite the efforts of the Israelis, Egyptians and even Saudis to the contrary. This helps explain a lot of what has happened in the region lately which had previously appeared very unclear and confusing to me — particularly the Saudi interest in the group which had for the first time extended to operational interference and direct cooperation with the Syrians.

[In retrospect it is interesting to re-read misinterpretations of Mughniyeh’s elimination as a singular event which were written at the time of his death. It is useful to compare them to my current interpretation of his assassination as one small part of a larger trend which has seen Hezbollah pulled back into a tighter Iranian orbit after its flirtation with independence after its popular support swelled as a result of the 2006 war with Israel.]

Day 22, Resting up

Its the 22nd day of this McDonald’s experiment and I’m feeling fine. Just taking a rest day and trying to get charged up for Monday. I didn’t have much to eat today because I simply didn’t feel hungry. Yesterday was a rest day as well so I have a full 24 hours between me and any real work to suppress my appetite. Maybe “suppress” isn’t the right word… there is nothing to suppress. I simply do not need much food today so I am not very hungry.

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Noming a bacon potato pie at McDonald’s… never knew they had these things…

There is really nothing much to write for a rest day. The need for rest after a long course of exercise is obvious to anyone who has engaged in serious exercise — but most people have never done anything I would consider a serious routine, so I suppose most folks do not understand the dynamic between rest and output. You can usually put out a lot more than you think you can, and you usually need less rest than you think you do. That being said it is usually a good idea to err on the side of too much exercise than too little. Once you hit your limit you will know because things just won’t work right anymore. You’ll suddenly have a day where you feel off, or you will feel exhausted right out of the barrel, or your heart will race doing ordinary things or you will simply not have the energy or strength to push yourself. When this happens two days in a row you will know that you are not simply having an off day, you are exderiencing the effects of overtraining. Overtraining can creep up on you in very subtle ways, too, but usually for me it hits me all at once. These things simply mean that we have to stay in tune with our bodies and actively try to pay attention to what is going on and what we are feeling. It absolutely does not mean that we should be searching for excuses to not exercise or finding reasons to justify our laziness.

There is a fine line sometimes between “taking a rest day” and being lazy. That is why scheduled rest days are a good thing. Most importantly, however, more important than any single exercise-related idea ever conceived is having a good partner. I have had to be my own partner throughout this entire series so far and that is fine. But I have a long history of exercise and have learned enough about myself and how to acheive my goals that I can do this on my own. I would do much better with a partner, though. Partners make everything better, even if they are not at your level. Partners are what prevent you from making excuses, give you a social reason to not be late to the gym, help manage your time by the mere fact of being. I wish that I had a partner right now, but unfortunately that is just not the case for now. When this experiment ends, however, I will move back to a partner-assisted routine.

Day 21, Well deserved rest

Its day 21 of my McDonald’s experiment and I made it to the weekend without keeling over. Now I have a few rest days ahead that I feel are well deserved. I didn’t do much today but that was just fine. In fact, I did so little that this particular blog entry will not be much more than a place holder. I didn’t set my alarm and woke up when I felt like it, I ate amongst what seemed like a million screaming kids at McDonald’s, rented a movie and just relaxed today going to the park and feeling unpressured by anything.

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Mmmm… Ice cream… Pretty much the culinary highpoint of the day

The most interesting thing about the whole day actually was how many people were at McDonald’s today. It was Saturday. The weather was amazing. There are a million things to do around here that are exciting and very fun when the weather is good and none of them involve McDonald’s. So why were so many people there today? It is interesting that the majority of the customers were Americans but the demographic of that area is largely Japanese. It is near a huge American air base, but there are a lot of things to do on and off the base that don’t involve going to McDonald’s. Anyway, in the end I suppose they go there because they like it… its just not the sort of place I am likely to go to on Saturday.

Speaking of that… Friday nights are also crowded at McDonald’s and the customers are usually American also. Maybe when they are drunk they stick with something that is familiar, and McDonald’s would be it around here. That kills me to think about though because an amazing variety of culinary treasures await anyone willing to ditch the invididually possessive nature of western restaraunt orders and take the time to learn how to read (granted, not an elementary task in Japanese). The food, drinks, and atmosphere are really great at the local 居酒屋 but I suppose that sort of thing is not what the younger American folks are into. For some reason Japanese people go out to drink together strictly to have fun — not to meet girls, get into fights or simply get wasted. You will almost never hear a Japanese guy ask his friends if they want to get fucked up over the weekend or go chase bitches at clubs… but its pretty common to hear between Americans talking about the weekend. I suppose its just a deep cultural difference that will not be bridged. As far as I am concerned, however, discovering new foods, places, people and drinks in the company of my friends is the fun part to me, so I’ll stick with that.

Day 20, Hitting the last day hard

I felt tired today before I even started but I knew it was the last day of the week so I was determined to not go too easy on myself. I was just worn out from the week full of events. I was still enjoying what I was doing, but I was getting pretty beaten up and definitely was starting to already look forward to the weekend of rest. I had bruised up legs, bruised up arms, aching knuckles, shin splints, the jumprope torture on my toes was starting to get really old and I was just generally feeling the effects of cardiovascular fatigue.

I headed out for a normal 4km run to start things off. I didn’t feel much like doing it, but I knew I should so I went ahead anyway. My run went well and I finished in exactly 20:30 without pushing myself so I wasn’t as bad off as I felt. My lower legs started acting up a little bit but walking around a little after the run stretched me out and cleared things up pretty quickly. It gave the dog a chance to chase me around — he’s got really short legs so me walking is about like him running…

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The dog chasing after me — slowly

I wound up getting to the gym to lift weights a little bit later than I had intended. I had also missed my shoulders workout that I had intended to do yesterday so I made today an arms and shoulders day. I combined my sets into a “super set” to get this done in a short time period… but there is nothing super about “super” sets at all. In my case where I am strictly looking for strength and could care little for “mass building” and absolutely nothing for “Xtreeem bUrn!!!11!” doing super sets works against me by increasing my lactic acid buildup and introducing cardio fatigue as a factor in my weight workout. Not exactly an optimum way to lift when placed in the middle of a day already full of running and boxing.

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Another funny shrug face

I combined barbell shrugs with preacher curls and wound up with this routine:

20 reps @ 80kgs [shrugs]
12 reps @ 20kgs [curls]
20 reps @ 80kgs [shrugs]
10 reps @ 30kgs [curls]
10 reps @ 130kgs [shrugs]
8 reps @ 35kgs [curls]
10 reps @ 130kgs [shrugs]
5 reps @ 40kgs [curls] (planned 6 but failed at 5)
20 reps @ 80kgs [shrugs]
12 reps @ 30kgs [curls]
20 reps @ 80kgs [shrugs]

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Yay… curls…

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Upright row doesn’t seem to produce as funny a face as shrugs…

I then combined upright rows with concentration curls and did this:

15 reps @ 25kgs [row]
10 reps @ 20kgs [curls]
12 reps @ 30kgs [row]
10 reps @ 20kgs [curls]
10 reps @ 35kgs [row]
10 reps @ 16kgs [curls]
8 reps @ 40kgs [row]
6 reps @ 45kgs [row]
12 reps @ 30kgs [row]

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Still not enjoying these, particularly when winded and tired

I then decided to do some overhead press, but having not taken any breaks but to change weights between all previous sets I was very tired and it finally got to me. I pushed a nice 12 reps at 30kgs out but I started feeling tired at only 40kgs and decided 50 and 60kgs was just going to have to wait for another time when I’m really focusing on weight lifting and not on boxing.

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RAAAR!!! Oh… nevermind… I’m tired…

Overhead press:

12 reps @ 30kgs
8 reps @ 40kgs
Tried to lift 60kgs but it just wasn’t going to happen today

I gave a last attempt at a tricep-engaging exercise but it simply wasn’t to be today. I called it quits after one ridiculous set that showed me I really just didn’t have it in me to do everything I wanted in the very short time I had.

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No, really… I’m too tired for this

Tricep overhead extensions:

10 reps @ 20kgs

I was just too burned out after my earlier sets to get anything real accomplished without a significant rest period. I needed time if I was going to continue my lifting workout and time is exactly what I didn’t have which is why I decided on doubling up my sets in the first place. I did a few sets of neck exercises in the little time I had left. After that it was time to head out to eat.

I only did 15 rounds of boxing today, but it felt pretty good even though I went in knowing I was tired before I ever even got there. The sparring brought a lot of defense work into play today and gave me a chance to really work on combos — in particular trying to sneak my hard kicks into the middle of my punching combos. The only bad thing about my boxing workout today was getting my toes beaten up by the jumprope (I couldn’t jump for anything today) and sparring exhausted is a pretty difficult thing to do for a beginner like me.

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Sparring: the only way to really get any better

Boxing:

Jumprope, 2R
Front kick (heavy bag), 2R
Knees (heavy bag), 2R
Shadow, 3R
Heavy bag, 2R
Sparring, 4R

I had a good time today but I was pretty happy to see it all over with, too. I needed rest and the weekends are the only time I seem to get any (and not always then, either).

Day 19, Longer run

My legs felt tired this morning but my heart didn’t so I felt like doing a longer run that involved less hills than my usual route. My normal run route involves some huge elevation changes and I didn’t want to have my hamstrings or quads get overworked and tighten up because that usually screws up my boxing workout later in the day.

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Coming back down the huge hill

I picked a route that is 2.8km one way and should have been relatively flat. I was totally wrong about that and I greatly underestimated the number of major intersections between my starting point and my turning point. This was a big mistake but all I could do was laugh at myself for having chosen such a bad route. It turns out this route is one very long hill, in fact it is so long and has enough curves that looking down the street it is difficult to perceive the incline because you can’t see the beginning or end of it. The intersections all involved huge delays and on my way up the hill I was stopped at every light for what seemed like forever. I did jumping-jacks (side-straddle hops) to pass the time at the lights, which turned out to be a bad idea because it really worked my already strained shins and calves over a little too much.

I wound up putting in a 5.6km run time of 31:01, which is significantly slower than any other run so far. That’s OK. I picked a bad route. I was delayed numerous times, traffic was horrible and the route which I picked for being flat turned out to be one incredibly long incline.

Sometimes I screw up like that. Its really not a big deal. I did get cardio training out of it and I did complete my run for the day, so it certainly wasn’t a waste. A bit frustrating but definitely not a waste. So now I learned something new about that route: its a hill.

My planned weight routine for the day was shoulders but I had run myself out of time and had to choose between lifting and boxing. In this particular case boxing is more important than lifting because getting better at fighting is my focus and that has little to do with being a musclehead.

I headed to the gym and Farrap had some new things planned for me. I went through my usual jumprope, shadow boxing, heavy bag routine but instead of mitts today Farrap had me practice evasion and blocking — from baseball bats. I figured he would be nice and try to work me into it slowly because those things hurt. I was wrong. In his mind I would most quickly learn to be quick if he swung them fast. He was correct, actually. On the ones I was supposed to block I managed to always have my guard up in time, but those were relatively slow. The ones he wanted me to evade he swung very fast and the fear of getting smacked in the leg really hard by a bat made me move a lot faster and I wound up never getting hit.

Not getting hit doesn’t make it un-scary to have a stocky little Thai man swinging baseball bats at my legs and body, though.

day19-2000bats.jpg
Farrap trying to give me whelps on my legs

Boxing:

Jumprope, 2R
Knees (heavy bag), 2R
Front kick (heavy bag), 3R
Shadow, 3R
Bats/defense, 3R
Heavy bag, 2R

My boxing workout was not as intense today as I had thought it was going to be, but I certainly learned more about balance, reaction time and moving the right parts of me out of harm’s way while keeping my poise. It was a good lesson day.

Day 18, Lifting, technical stuff, and feeling tired

Today was a pretty simple and straightforward day. I had no run scheduled, my boxing workout was optional and all I really had to focus on was lifting weights. Today was scheduled to be a legs day so that was my focus. I missed my chest workout yesterday so I was hoping I would have enough energy to make it up today also since I was not committed to doing anything else physically.

I went to the gym. My legs felt a little tired from all the kicking and running over the last two days so I didn’t think I would have much strength for heavy lifts. My legs felt tight just walking around the gym and positively weak going up and down stairs not carrying anything so I figured today was going to be a very light lift day.

I was totally wrong. I didn’t go super heavy but I went a lot heavier than I have over the last two weeks whereas I thought I was so worn out that I would be having trouble with even light weight. I don’t really know where the energy (or motivation) came from, but I wound up doing my final squats at 130kgs for whatever reason and felt comfortable doing that without a spotter. I also went up a little more on straight-leg deadlift — my alternative because the hamstring machine is still broken.

I had wanted to get at least a little bit of a chest workout in today because I missed it yesterday, so I hopped on the bench after my hamstrings were done, but it was pointless. Even at 80kgs I felt unstable and weak, and I could only get 6 reps (instead of the normal 10) out of 90kgs and 100 was just a disaster. I was, at this point, incredibly tired feeling. It wasn’t as though my muscles were tired — my chest felt fine — but after a single press I felt shaky and had no energy. It was as if all the available energy in my blood was used up and it would take time to get anything back in there to use up.

day17-1700squats.jpg
This doesn’t really need a caption — but here’s one anyway

Squats:

12 reps @ 100kgs
10 reps @ 110kgs
8 reps @ 120kgs
6 reps @ 130kgs
12 reps @ 100kgs
10 reps @ 100kgs, 2 sets (close toes)
10 reps @ 100kgs, 2 sets (wide toes)

day17-1700straightlegdeadlift.jpg
A better representation of this exercise than I posted before — sorry for butt-centric nature of this pic…

Straight-leg deadlift:

12 reps @ 30kgs
10 reps @ 40kgs
8 reps @ 50kgs
6 reps @ 60kgs
12 reps @ 40kgs

day17-1700benchpress.jpg
A decent angle to obscure my weird benchpress face

Benchpress:

12 reps @ 80kgs
6 reps @ 90kgs
3 reps @ 100kgs

I was hungry so I headed to McDonald’s for some Big Macs and a double cheeseburger.At this point I am really bored of eating burgers and fries, but when I’m hungry enough I’ll eat it all with gusto because, hey, its food. I don’t really like it anymore, but food is food to ravenous man.

day18-1739meal.jpg
Hunger alone can convince me to continue eating the same thing over and over and over and…

I wound up not boxing today, which was OK because it was optional. I just never could shake that weird fatigue after the gym so I decided to give it a rest. My shin splits were just waiting to be aggravated by hopping around the mat (not to mention using a jumprope) and I just didn’t feel up for getting clobbered because I was too tired to be there in the first place.

After working over a bunch of technical issues related to this project it was already getting way larer than I realized and it was time to go in for an evening meal. I wound up heading to McDonald’s around midnight. I ate, headed back home for a shower and turned in. I had a run planned for the morning, as well as lifting and boxing so I needed to get to sleep pretty quick. It is amazing how much time you can eat up dealing with technical details.