Archive for August, 2013

The Grind

Posted: August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized



The alarm on my phone startles me awake.  I swing my legs over and pry myself from underneath the covers.  Rolling out of bed at 4:35 never gets easy but the more I do it, the less it stings.

As I make my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth my knees crack and pop like old floorboards underfoot.  One foot in front of the other, just waiting for the blood to run a little faster through my body and warm up the joints.  It’s a familiar shuffle, one I have grown to accept as part of the deal.  I take heavy weights and balance them above my head four days a week.  What else could I expect?

Entering the kitchen I grab a bowl and pour the oats in.  Each oat like a grain of sand in an hourglass that reminds me time is short before I must leave.  90 seconds later I mix in some protein powder, stir and quickly eat.  Breakfast has evolved over the past nine months.  The current iteration is quick, nutritious and quiet enough not to wake my daughter (which is the most important criteria).  I collect my backpack and head out the door into the darkness.

The ride to the box normally takes only 15 minutes but seems even faster when the roads are barren.  Red turns to green as I inch closer to my destination.  Along the way, I play a series of songs that get me into the mood to train.  The playlist consists of bands like New Found Glory, Rise Against and Story of the Year.  Not everyone’s first choice for training music but these songs conjure up a certain imagery for me; imagery that takes me back to my days as an athlete.  The practice days that never seemed to end.  My teammates pushing me to be better, even when I wanted to stop.  Walking off the field drenched in sweat, knowing that our hard work would eventually lead to a championship. At night, piling into my 1990 Ford Bronco with the cab removed, heading off to the party du’jour and not coming home until 3AM. These songs were the sound track to some of the greatest days of my youth and when I hear them it is like I go back in time.  We were on top of the world.  The goal is the same.  The sport is different.

Glancing at the clock I see it reads 5:10 as I pull into the parking lot.  Like loyal drones, four other cars sit motionless beside me in anticipation of the pain they will soon endure.  Not long after me comes Mason and the lights soon bring the box to life.  Like good soldiers the CrossFitters file in and check-in on the computer.  I try to avoid them because I don’t want to get caught up in the small talk.  For me, every minute is precious because I have a hard out.

Actions become routines and stretching quickly leads into warm ups.  I reference the programming I have taped behind the platform, excited to see what is planned for me today.  It’s always variations of the same thing.  Some people would die of boredom and wonder how I do the same things over and over again.  I look at them and wonder why they enjoy breathing so hard.  Different strokes.  But none of that is important.  The only important thing now is the weight.

As the training session starts a familiar pain returns.  The tendonitis in my right knee is permanent now and the left knee is not far behind. Both elbows have mild tendonitis and my lower back is inflamed.  After each rep, my joints scream out to stop.  “Just go home” they say, “why put yourself through this?”  The answer is always the same.  Because I want to win.  Because third place isn’t good enough.  Because being average is not acceptable.  I have come to an agreement with my body:  If it gets worse I will (maybe) pull back.  Right now we are getting along just fine.


A competitor knows how this feels.  Once you have tasted victory you never lose that drive.  I sometimes tell myself that my competition days are over but deep down I know those are just lies to delay the inevitable.  It was just a matter of time before I found my next arena to compete.  No matter the mental and physical pain, you do what you have to in order to win.  It comes down to how bad you want it.

At 5:30 the War Room is a lonely, solitary place.  Sometimes I can literally see dust swirl around and my only companion is a rogue spider passing through to it’s next location.  Unlike the CrossFit classes, there is no one next to me cheering me on.  No one pushing me to go heavier and no coach to check my form.  There are days where I feel weak and don’t want to be there, days where going home would be much easier than staying.  In the end, I always stay.

Often times I have my headphones in.  Through the music I actually imagine my best friends and teammates there in the room with me.  They push me like they used to when we played together.  Back then you finished even if it killed you.  Back then if you weren’t good enough, someone was ready to step into your spot.  We never let each other fail.  Together we won many championships.  We were on top of the world.  I want to be there again.  The goal is the same.  The sport is different.


In the car on the way home I look at the clock again and it reads 6:45.  It occurs to me that none of my co-workers are even out of bed yet.  I have done more work and put in more effort before 7AM than they will all day, if not all week.

I have won the day before the day even starts, and that feels damn good.

I know i have talked about this in my posts before but here are some longer discussions about the topic.  The videos are from a YouTube channel called “Barbell Shrugged” which is a group of guys who are involved in the fitness community and focus their discussions mostly on CrossFit with some Weightlifting and Powerlifting thrown in here and there.  If you don’t already watch these guys, be sure you start.  Their interviews are really good.  Fair warning, they are long but for me they work perfect when I am in the office all morning and need something to listen to while doing work.  Enjoy: