PUBLISH TO APPLE NEWS
It’s still January and overused catchphrases are still being tossed around in life both real and fake (i.e. social media).
No doubt you’ve heard or read something along the lines of, “This year is mine!”
Or, “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”
Or, “New year, new me.”
Regardless of your opinion of New Year’s resolutions (useless, with far better ways to pursue positive change, if you ask me), all of the quotes, promises and hashtags generally signal one thing: people are unhappy with their current state and they desire change.
Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with striving for new goals and chasing opportunity. We should all be living some degree outside of our comfort zone if we truly want to find success.
However, the majority of “resolutioners” often commit to goals related to working out, eating well and losing weight. There’s a reason new gym memberships peak in January with roughly eighty percent of those people quitting within five months.
Very often, the thing that underpins poor eating, lack of commitment to a reasonable fitness routine and a general healthy lifestyle is a lack of mental well-being. It’s not laziness or some weakness or infirmity of the character. It’s poor upkeep of the mental game.
This isn’t to say that everyone who drops out of a gym is suffering from depression, PTSD or some other pernicious psychopathology. Rather, it’s that they likely prioritized attempting to get their body right before they address getting their mind together. Good mental health doesn’t just exist in our brains. It’s made manifest in our behavior.
There are many ways to tend to mental wellness outside of therapy—though we should all give that a go at some point. Mental well-being is dynamic, meaning that it’s constantly changing, evolving and shifting.
This is both good news and bad news.
On the upside, it means that it is possible to address old habits, confront painful emotions and change thought patterns. On the downside, it requires work. You can’t just set it and forget it. It’s a process, not an end-state.
Our mind is one of the most underutilized and overlooked ‘muscle groups.’ And like any other muscle group, it can go haywire without proper attention and care. Our ability to generate effective mind-body connection, emotion regulation, sleep, impulse control, appetite, libido et al is intrinsic to how much attention we pay to our mental health.
The World Health Organization defines mental health, not just as the absence of a mental disorder but as a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
That’s a tall order but it’s not unreasonable. In fact, it is completely attainable for most people if they choose to accept their agency in life. The fact is, anything we don’t change (or make reasonable efforts to change), we are choosing.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll cover just how you might flex your mental and emotional muscles, how you can train yourself to prioritize your mental well-being and how you can exercise your spirit much in the same way you do your body.
If the last decade were the YOLO years, let the next ten be about self-care. Not in the devil may care, do whatever makes you happy for a moment-way. Rather, focus on doing it in a mindful, present-focused manner that generates lasting change and sustainable contentment. That’s the kind of resolution I can get behind.
Over the next few months, we are going to be tackling a wide range of issues related to mental well-being and sexuality. Between blog posts, there is the opportunity to ask anything related to those topics. Understandably, sometimes the questions are sensitive and the asker desires to remain anonymous. If that is the case, you can send a free, anonymous email from here.
For all you intel, tech wizards out there, I know this isn’t the MOST secure anonymous email generator but no one is tracing your IP address to see who sent the email asking a question related to sexual health. I promise.
Please send all questions to email@example.com
Meaghan Mobbs, M.A. is a West Point graduate, Afghanistan Veteran, and former Army Captain who is currently a Clinical Psychology pre-doctoral fellow at Columbia University, Teachers College where she researches and writes about modern day veteran issues. She headlines the Debrief on Psychology Today and her work appears in numerous publications. Mobbs is a President Trump appointee to the United States Military Academy Board of Visitors, George W. Bush Veteran Leader Scholar, Tillman Military Scholar, David O’Connor Fellow, and a Noble Argus and National Military Family Association Scholarship recipient.
SOFLETE Athlete, Dara Ching isn't just a lifting badass, she's also poised to graduate PT school this year, and brings a lot of useful human performance knowledge to the table. We thought the crew could benefit from some writeups on common trouble issues athletes might be experiencing and give you a better idea if you should seek professional care. Let's talk about the shoulder today:
Functional Anatomy of the Shoulder
Abduction: movement of the shoulder away from the midline of the body. Example: Extending your arm out to the side in order to put your jacket on.
Adduction: movement of the shoulder toward the midline of the body. Example: Holding a newspaper in place under your arm.
Flexion: movement of your arm from a resting position at your side to straight above your head. Example: Reaching for the doorknob to open a door.
Extension: movement of your arm from a resting position at your side to behind you. Example: Reaching behind the driver’s seat in the car.
Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy
Tendon injuries can develop in any tendon of the body. In this case, rotator cuff tendinopathy can arise from the tendons of the subscapularis, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and/or teres minor. Athletes with a rotator cuff tendinopathy will present with gradual onset of pain in the shoulder. They may present with tenderness or swelling around the affected tendon. Athletes may have a constant dull achy pain and weakness with certain movements.
Tendon: tough connective tissue fibers that connect muscle to bone.
Tendinitis: Inflammation of a tendon.
Tendonosis: Chronic condition of a tendon involving wearing of the tendon’s collagen from overuse.
Tendinopathy: Disease of a tendon.
Signs and symptoms:
- Constant pain in the area where the rotator cuff tendons attach
- Night pain, especially when lying on the painful shoulder.
- Pain followed by minimal activity
- Tender, redness, warm to touch, or swollen on the affected tendon
- Weakness with reaching overhead, behind your back, or lifting.
- Decreased arm movements
- Excessive loading of the tendon or general wear and tear of the tendon. For example, repetitive throwing or overhead movements that occur at work, sports, or daily activities.
- Muscle imbalance of the rotator cuff muscles
- Advanced aging
- Metabolic syndrome
- See your local physical therapist (PT) for active exercise therapy.
- Identify aggravating movements or activities that reproduce symptoms.1
- Reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling of the affected tendon.
- Modify or avoid movements that cause pain so tendon can rest.
- Strengthen specific rotator cuff muscles.
- Increase movement of arm in all direction if motion was lost.
Lewis J, McCreesh K, Roy J-S, Ginn K. Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy: Navigating the Diagnosis-Management Conundrum. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015;45(11):923-937. doi:10.2519/jospt.2015.5941.
Dara Ching is a competitive Olympic weightlifter and Crossfit athlete. She started competing in Olympic weightlifting in 2004, and since, has competed in numerous USAW National and American Open Championships. Dara has been competing in Crossfit competitions since 2011. She is a six time regional level Crossfit competitor. Dara is also a Navy Veteran, who served as a Naval Flight Officer. Currently, Dara is pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of St. Augustine for Health and Sciences, where she graduates in April.
The familiar smell of singed JP8 and stale grease lingers, stubborn and thick in the air. Beneath me, the aluminum floor bounces in perfect concert with the hum of prop engines. As the aircraft pitches, a ray of sunlight breaks through the rear port window, slowly tracing a warm searchlight across the interior skin of the aircraft. My left hand caresses the lower receiver, back and forth. Selector switch, bolt catch, magazine release, pivot pin. Pivot pin, magazine release, bolt catch, selector switch. A wry smile crosses my lips as I consider my dozenth-or-so trip to Iraq.
Or is it Afghanistan? I struggle in a moment of deep concentration. It is Afghanistan! I’m sure of it. I bury a nervous laugh and force my eyes closed to steal a few minutes of sleep. A moment later, my eyes snap back open. I forgot to pack winter gear! I don’t even have a jacket. What was I thinking? What month is it? What province am I going to? Even if it’s summer in the south, I should at least have a jacket!
And then my eyes actually open as I gasp for breath. My wife is next to me in bed, stirred awake by my squirming in the sheets and my unintelligible mumbling. “What was that one about?” she asks sympathetically as she touches my arm.
“Oh, nothing really. Just another dream about combat,” I mutter. I’d rather her believe that visions of hand grenades and final protective fires inspired the emotion than the soldier’s version of the dream of being on the school bus without pants, again. My wife has sacrificed a lot for our service. The least I can do is to make her feel like she’s sleeping next to a Knight of Valhalla instead of a scared kid.
It’s a white lie.
I do dream about combat. Once again, sopping arterial blood stains my buddy’s pants black as 7.62 snaps and hisses all around. Time neglects its purpose for a moment to admire the stillness of the night as the radio whispers, “At breach.” Glossy eyes look past me with pupils askew as a rising and falling chest forces rasping, futile breaths. A foot roosts atop a pile of rubble, naked and alone, seemingly proud to have finally struck out on its own. I try not to let moments past bother me too much, and these memories rarely trouble me awake. Combat followed me home, but my experience strengthened and sharpened me. As a father and a husband, I literally take nothing for granted. The violence of war taught me that every moment is a gift, and I never forget it.
That’s another white lie.
About a year ago, I took my kids to Walmart with a shopping list for my son’s third birthday party. I managed to check off all of the specified items on the list—ice, barbeque sauce, paper plates and napkins. I struggled through the implied items. What would the kids like for snacks? Which beer to choose for the adults? Do we want any more party favors or decorations? Easy questions, yet I could feel my heart kick into a higher gear.
I had a final item to check off the list—a birthday gift for my daughter to give my son. She was dancing and chirping and singing about Nerf guns and board games and stuffed animals. My hands tingled and shook as I grabbed a soccer ball from the shelf. I strained to make sense of the text on the package. I stared blankly at a jumble of fuzzy shapes and hieroglyphics. I couldn’t read the text on the box, so I anxiously tossed the ball into the cart and told my daughter it was time to go. Several years prior to that trip top Walmart, I made a pact with myself while jamming loose rounds into empty magazines in the midst of a heavy firefight. Wondering if the two remaining belts of 7.62 link would hold the enemy until nightfall, I said “If I make it out of this battle, I’ll never again sweat the small stuff.” It felt as much a prayer as a promise.
Walmart revealed that inner monologue to be neither prayer nor promise—it was just another white lie.
I recently returned from my actual dozenth-or-so deployment. I was so incredibly happy to see my wife and kids. I was so incredibly nervous to see my wife and kids. I imagined kissing my wife and hugging my kids and making a clean break from the insomnia. I wanted them to melt away the stress, but each night my sleepless eyes would search the empty corners of the bedroom ceiling.
The stress doesn’t feel post-traumatic. All of the battles past—the twisting streets of Fallujah, the endless poppy fields of Marjah, the bewildering aisles of Walmart—are past. I laugh about the feeling of true fear with the family and friends who mistakenly venerate my experiences. Over a few beers, I reminisce about adrenaline-fueled violence with buddies. If I’m not careful, the buried corners of my mind can fall in love with that perfect fold of earth, just big enough to swallow my body as rounds sing of menace overhead. A large part of me treasures these experiences. But I still wake in a cold sweat worried about whether I packed a winter jacket for an imagined deployment. I still fend off a panic attack on an easy Saturday morning at Walmart.
I forgave myself for that day in Walmart, mostly because I rationalized it. Too much coffee. Fluorescent lighting. The large open space juxtaposed with the canalizing aisles. Similarly, the futile rasping breaths and deep black arterial blood don’t burden me beyond fair reason. I did what I could at the time. I’ve rationalized it. I feel like I’m okay with the Ghost of Combat Past. His occasional nighttime visits come and go without theater. But the more I thought about Walmart, the more it seemed like a panic attack. Why would a veteran of multiple bouts of close combat suffer a panic attack in Walmart? Post-traumatic stress didn’t make sense, so I decided to lay the blame at the feet of the Ghost of Combat Future. I reasoned that the stress is actually pre-traumatic. The stress of firefights yet-to-come inspired the spiraling bout of anxiety in the toy section. I told myself that I perpetually live in deep contemplation of my next foray with combat.
My profession rewards this tendency. I envision worst-case-scenarios in ways that would impress Chicken Little and Cassandra. I dedicate serious mental bandwidth to the potential impacts of losing a helicopter to Taliban fire during infiltration. In elaborate detail, I imagine all of the one-in-a-million scenarios where ISIS attempts to overrun our position. I’ve rarely faced adversity that I did not consider. I’ve planned how to perform an emergency tracheotomy on my choking child, just in case. I suppose it makes me very effective in combat. But a romance with calamity does not prepare one to celebrate his son’s third birthday.
In my twenties, I stuffed all of the stress into that jar that rests somewhere between the spleen and the large intestine. It made sense at the time. The jar felt large and empty, and I foolishly believed my life after war would be stress-free. By my mid-to-late twenties, I would live my life in content reflection of my combat exploits. Somehow, my twenties came and went, but the wars remained.
My thirties saw some of my most intense and violent deployments. Combat hung around like an old high school teammate on your back porch, trying to relive state finals into the wee hours of the morning because he didn’t quite remember it right in the wee hours of last week’s recount. The story gets better with each retelling, but the fifth version was beyond sufficient. I started feeling pressure between my spleen and large intestine. It would often wake me up at night or cause discomfort on the drive home from work. The doctor prescribed some antacids. In retrospect, it probably was simple indigestion—caused by an overflowing jar. My thirties brought some serious stress into my life. I managed by hanging all of my anxiety on the next deployment. The worry had a place there, and it felt right.
I’m now in my forties. While I suspect a few deployments linger in my years to come, I realize that my last deployment will come—and go. I no longer believe that my anxiety will magically disappear upon my final return to American soil. It’s both liberating and terrifying.
No more white lies.
I can’t blame The Ghost of Combat Future for the stress. I still count The Ghost of Combat Past among my list of dear-old-friends. War may have fed the anxiety, but it didn’t create it.
To be honest, many of my first conscious memories involve scenes of apocalyptic decision. As early as I can remember, the yoke of the world felt heavy as the cosmos hung in the balance of my next move. The sentiment kept me dutifully on task and awkwardly on edge. War provided the perfect outlet to reconcile my drive and my discomfort. As a soldier caught in the endless cycle of deployments, I found meaning in the jar poking my spleen and large intestine. Since we are being honest, I indulged the jar. As a soldier in combat, it served me and my mates well.
But I am more than a soldier. My love of country, family, and friends inspired my service. I want to enjoy and honor them beyond my service. I’ve got more to give than my final deployment.
I started seeing a psychologist. I told her I wanted to learn to think differently. It’s not easy. One of the most important things she taught me was how to breathe. A slow and deep inhale into the belly, held for a few seconds, and then slowly exhausted. I try not to foster my anxiety. Breathing it out helps.
I also speak more openly with other vets. Some of them hide their jar elsewhere in the body, but my symptoms are not unique. My buddies served me well in combat. I hope to return the favor. It helps to know that you are not alone. You are never alone.
It’s 5:22 AM as I finish my coffee. The bus stop is exactly .8 miles away and the walk takes me just under 12 minutes. I double check my phone app. The bus will arrive at 5:40. I walk out the front door at 5:24, automatically touching the keys in my right pocket, my wallet in my rear pocket, and my phone in my left pocket—all there. I meticulously gear my morning routine to limit my time spent in transition, but lately I’ve been giving myself a few extra minutes.
As I head towards the bus, I deliberately walk a little slower. The crisp morning breeze stings my face as the setting moon casts scattered shadows through the trees. Some rare mornings, the whippoorwill still beckons in the pre-dawn darkness. Listening intently, I hear a critter rustling through the underbrush. It’s probably the chipmunk who lives beneath the fallen oak tree. I wonder whether he’s foraging for food or stirred awake by my presence. Passing the military crest of the path, I pause. The whippoorwill is silent, but a robin has started singing its morning ritual. I breathe. The late winter air carries a hint of spring pollen.
I want to Die Living. I figure I should start by learning to live—to truly live—between the deployments.
The history of humans is the history of war. People have always found a reason to fight others. Sometimes for a great cause, sometimes for almost nothing at all. The one constant is that people die. A fight to the death on the dusty ground of some field is bloody and violent. But when there is a piece of terrain that’s occupied by fighters from “the other side”, there’s ultimately only one way to take it and make it yours; the pointy end of the stick.
Killing isn’t easy. Yet it is. It’s hard to explain until you do it. Killing another person is a powerful moment. Depending on the circumstances, you may not realize this until later. Modern combat means it’s not always a face to face engagement. This doesn’t change anything. Killing is killing. Sometimes it just has to happen. It isn’t clean and it isn’t fair. It just is. Some people never realize this and this causes them a life of grief and pain. War will change you. There’s no way around that. It’s how you control that change that will define the rest of your life. You went to war. You killed people. They killed some of your friends. Again, it isn’t clean and it isn’t fair, but it is a part of war that will happen whether we want it to or not.
Do not “dehumanize” your enemy. I know what some books, or people with PhD behind their names may say but, don’t do it. They are humans. They are capable of thought and action. That guy facing you is as capable of good things as he may be capable of evil. He has emotions and may be afraid. He may also be one hard son of bitch. He was once a child and ran around playing the same games as you. You are facing a person; a person that can kill you as quickly as you can blink. Never give him that opportunity. It is far better for you to leave his body in the dirt than it is for you to be the one that dies. That’s war at the ground level. It doesn’t matter what led up to that millisecond. It doesn’t matter if you are assaulting a position or just standing around with host nation Soldiers at a range. You must be prepared when that unforgiving moment finds you. You must not falter, you must not fail. When it’s time to pull the trigger, pull the damn trigger.
Keep your senses sharp. You are never safe. Do not let this thought paralyze or consume you. Let it guide you. Look at any situation you are in and say to yourself, “I’m not safe right now”. Assess the situation and do whatever is necessary to make it safer. This principle applies as much at home as it does anywhere else in the world. The foxhole always needs improvement. In combat, there’s always work to be done. Seek it out. Help the men and women who are on your left and right. Just as killing in war is a historical fact, so is the bond amongst warriors. Protect each other. Do everything you can to ensure they get home to their loved ones.
In your soul know this isn’t always possible. Call it fate, fact, or just bad luck. People get hurt. People die. You will live with the memory of them forever etched on your heart. Death anniversaries of a good friend you may have held as he died will come every year. Social media will fill with their pictures. Other times of the year, it may be a dream or a song that reminds you of them. You may see a movie on your computer and remember watching it with them. Their number will remain in your phone and you’ll run across it looking for another. It’ll take your breath away. Your eyes will sting as you feel your heart beating through your chest. You will want to call or text them. To hear their voice. But they are gone. Regardless of how it happened, it happened, and there’s not a damn thing you can do to go back and change it.
Live for them. Do not sink into despair over what happened. Never harm yourself because you and I know damn well your friend wouldn’t want this. You’ll never convince me a lost friend would actually want harm to come to you and your family. Instead, live in their honor. Remember them. A person dies twice; once when they pass and again when their name is spoken for the final time. So never stop speaking their names. We all have a time. Every one of us will die. For some that time is a firefight, others may die in an explosion of fire and dirt, others still will die old and in their sleep. Death is traumatic and the experience will stay will you. It’s undeniable. It’s ok to be sad about this. It’s equally ok to think of your friend and smile at their memory while you remember a good time shared. Like the “you are never safe” mantra, the key is to not allow your memories to overwhelm or consume the life you are still living. Think about that. You are still living. There’s no guilt in that. It’s just a fact. In war, some people die and others live.
When it’s your time to go to war, know that others are proud of you. Be a warrior we can be proud of. Kill those that need killing. Protect those that need protecting. Do not lose yourself in the experience. You are a human. You are the best of America. You are a fighter as capable of great deeds on the battlefield as showing an act of kindness to a small child waving on the side of the road. Harden your soul but allow a place for the good. Savor the friendships. Enjoy the goodness of the day. Fight through the bad days with a merciless spirit that can only be found in heart of someone willing to face evil. You have chosen to enter that breach the same as many before you. War was there waiting for me on the winds of time and now it has found you. Go and do what must be done. When it’s over, live a life worth living. Show goodness to others. You’ve seen the bad, now spread the good. Build up those around you. At the end of your life those relationships are all you have. Nothing else matters.
Jim Thompson was born in a small town in Mississippi. He recently retired after 29 years of military service; 26 of which was Active Duty Infantry and Special Forces.
Tyler Giles is a friend of mine, a dedicated lifter, an ultra-marathon runner, and an international mergers and acquisitions attorney. We met in law school at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida before he transferred to the University of Georgia. Unlike me, he was a stand-out at FSU Law. Like me and the people I gravitated to, he was a bit older. He was smarter than most of us. He was way more jacked than the average law student. He was certainly more tattooed.
I started chatting with Tyler pretty early on and we realized we liked a lot of the same music, were both from north Georgia (me from Athens, him from Stone Mountain), were both into fitness and the outdoors, and were both in the military. We stayed in touch after he transferred and since then have managed to support one another in our respective ultra-running efforts. As an example of what a great dude he is (and how cool his wife Jennifer is), in 2017, Tyler and Jen ran the Raccoon Mountain Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee on a Saturday morning, drove to Lake Martin, Alabama after they finished, and met me in the middle of the woods at midnight to pace me for the last 50 miles of the Lake Martin 100 miler. They each ran a second marathon in 24 hours then hopped in the car and drove back to Atlanta.
Tyler grew up like most of us in North Georgia in the 70s and 80s; playing in the woods, fishing and swimming, and riding dirt bikes. Less typically in SEC football obsessed Georgia, he was a gymnast until he was 17. He says the body awareness and control he learned in gymnastics helped with judo when he started that college, and certainly make workouts on the rings a little easier now. He credits being a gymnast in the Southeast with making him comfortable living outside conventional societal norms. Now he’s a Mergers & Acquisitions attorney, negotiating and documenting the purchase and sale of businesses around the world. Tyler has been very successful in his law career and is passionate about sharing that success with his fellow veterans, whether that’s offering advice or helping people locate jobs. I asked him to talk to me about it because I want to expose the SOFlete community to “regular people”, especially transitioned veterans, who are having great success in a (semi) normal job while still pursuing the ragged edge of life in order to Die Living.
Ironically, Tyler’s comfort with being outside society’s norms lead him to the Army before he found legal success. His own words probably do better justice to his story, so here’s our Q&A:
**Why did you join the Army? **
I had dropped out of college and was hanging out in the punk scene in Atlanta working in restaurants, getting in bar fights and pretty much trying to find some sort of edge where I truly felt alive. After a 3 AM right arm session my buddy and I decided we would join the Marine Corps the next morning. This was pre-9/11 and my buddy had previously been arrested for discharging a firearm in the city limits so the Marine Corps recruiter told him he would need a waiver. It was a flare, shot via shotgun in a deserted mall parking lot at night and he got nabbed by a mall cop, it’s still funny today. Not to be delayed by a waiver, we ended up at the Army recruiter next door who lied about his waiver and told me my AIT would be “like college with beer”. Imagine my surprise when the JFK Special Warfare Center representative showed up to scoop us up from basic training saying “basic was easy, welcome to hell”. Luckily, he was just fucking with us. But no lie, at the time I was scared shitless and truly wanted to murder my recruiter in equal measures.
**What did you do as a soldier? **
I initially enlisted as a Psychological Operations specialist and eventually commissioned as a Medical Service Corps officer because I thought it would be good for my civilian career. I held a number of different positions, all in the Reserves, but the PSYOP teams were the only place I really felt at home – probably because they were full of punk rock listening, fantasy sci-fi reading weirdos like me. Shouts out to Rob Bell, Chris Curran and Dom Pileri – who have all had more interesting careers than me and are all in some way responsible for anything good that I have accomplished so far.
**What was the best lesson you learned in the Army? **
The importance of discipline, teamwork, being on time, and knowing where the fuck you are.
**What was your favorite part? **
Being part of a tribe – you don’t get that in the corporate world, which really sucks. Also, some Ranger Instructor is probably going to kill me for giving away the secret, but the omelet station at Camp Merrill DFAC (where we drilled) serves the best omelet I have ever tasted.
**What was your least favorite part? **
Easy. Drill and ceremony and/or anything involving the words: “review”, “inventory”, “inspect” or “annual briefings”. Please someone freaking shoot me.
**So you went back to college. What was your path to law school? **
I got a Business Degree at Georgia State University and then my buddy Chris talked me into law school. We were on the same PSYOP team in the reserves and both needed one more year to finish our ROTC commissions, which we only started because our unit did not have money for Airborne school and ROTC did. I didn’t even know that the law degree was called a juris doctor when I started. I thought I was going to drop out after the first year. It turned out, much to my own surprise, I was actually good at it. Chris went on to do all kinds of cool shit in SOCOM and is now an Assistant US Attorney.
**What was your greatest lesson from the law school experience? **
You don’t know what you are capable of until you try; and sometimes you need someone else to recognize that potential and push you past your comfort zone. Be open to it.
**What was the best part of law school, aside from meeting me? **
Graduation and then paying off my student loans. I also met my wife on a study abroad in law school when we were studying European Union law in Brussels, Belgium. She is probably going to read this, so I definitely need to highlight that as a best moment as well.
**What three things would you tell prospective law students now? **
I think this advice probably applies to a number of areas in life:
One, take ownership of your career – if you do well in law school the structure wants to track you into big law, then put you on a team that has an opening. To beat this gravitational pull or steer into it correctly, you need to have an idea in advance of what area of law you want to practice. The only way to realistically do this is to intern or interview people that are practicing in those areas to see what their day to day lives are like and determine if that is what you want to do with your life. A lot of folks, myself included, start with an end state in mind like, “I want to make Wall Street money and do big deals” but they don’t do a ton of due diligence on what it is like to make the sausage. Do the diligence. Figure it out in advance, and make sure it is going to make you happy. Then take the plunge with confidence. Feel free to contact me. I will help you out or if it is not an area I practice in I will hook you up with someone that can.
Two, minimize debt. Go to the school that has the best ROI. There are a number of reasons for this. Law schools are expensive. Most associate salaries are lockstep. So easy math: all things being equal, if you have the same salary and less debt than another associate, then you are making more money than they are. Also, the faster you pay off that debt, the more intellectual freedom you have. Trust me – at some point in your legal career you will decide it sucks. Better not to have an anchor of debt tying you to it.
Three, relationships matter. Pay attention to the people you meet along the way. Law school is going to push you to be competitive. The first year is notoriously competitive as a result of the straight curve. Further, the practice of law is endemically adversarial. As a result, junior attorneys and law students underestimate the importance of relationships both for their careers and in creating a sustainable lifestyle.
Four, have fun. Shit gets real after you graduate.
Lawyers are not known for being particularly physically fit, or even physical, how do you maintain your fitness level in a time compressed, high pressure environment?
I run and lift religiously. I generally run four days a week and lift three. I have always been engaged in some type of sports, but it was not until the Army that I found running/cardio. Now I love running in the woods with a group of friends. I think that is something coded in our DNA that harkens back to hunter/gatherer times.
**How did you get into weight training? **
I was pretty small when I was a teenager. I was also a gymnast, which made you suspect in the South. My dad wanted me to get bigger so I would be a harder target for bullies, so he bought me a stack of Weider weights from Sears and conditioned my allowance on lifting weights three times a week. I started then and never stopped. Too bad I can’t get paid to lift weights now.
**How did you get into ultramarathoning? **
Peer pressure. Plain and simple. The Army got me into road running. You introduced me to trail running when we were in law school. About 12 years ago, one of my buddies from work talked me into signing up for the Pike’s Peak Half Marathon – which almost killed me. It starts at Manitou Springs and ends on the summit of Pike’s. I am pretty sure I was DFL. Some dude celebrating his 70th birthday clocked me by at least 45 minutes. I could hear the announcement that he had finished when I broke tree-line at Barr Camp. But the scenery and camaraderie hooked me. I was recovering with a large beer at a local bar afterwards and some folks suggested that if I liked Pike’s I should try running Rim to Rim on the Grand Canyon, so I knocked that out the next year. I don’t know what it is, but there is always a runner at the post-race party suggesting another race or run, and the miles keep piling up.
**How do you train for ultras? **
I am pretty unstructured about it – I am also a mid-packer. Due to the weightlifting I tend to carry more weight/size than your typical ultrarunner. So don’t follow my example if you want to podium. Success for me is to finish feeling relatively good. With that in mind, during the week I like to get two runs of 6-8 miles. Then on the weekend I go long. If I am training for a hundred, I will do back to back long runs (17-30 miles each) on Saturday and Sunday, and walk on the off days. I will also sign up for interim races on the path to the hundo. I hate hourly races but I think they are good training tools and allow you to test out new gear and nutrition.
**What has been your toughest race? **
Each race has its own challenges. Once you go above a 50K it has been my experience that something is definitely going to go wrong, and it is a question of what it is, how badly the wheels come off, and how you deal with it. This was the case the first time I went above 50K at the Pine Mountain 40 miler, which in actuality is a 46-mile race. First and foremost, my nutrition plan of a burger and 4 beers the night before the race was not one of my strongest choices. But what really got me was the chafing. It was so bad that I had to cut the lining out of my shorts at mile 19 (luckily an aid station worker had a knife, because I was contemplating using the battery spring in my headlamp). Then to make matters worse, around mile 35 really bad cramping set in. At 40 I could no longer run and had to walk/limp the last 6. I finished but could not shower without Vaseline for 3 days. Definitely a low point.
**What has been your favorite race? **
The Gorge Waterfall 50k in the Columbia River Gorge outside Portland is EPIC! It’s like running through Jurassic park. It culminates with running up and over Multnomah Falls. The scenery is absolutely mind blowing. If you are going to do one 50K this is the one. Recently I have been getting more into running in a non-race environment. Without the pressure of a stopwatch, you can take things slow and enjoy. As an added bonus, there are no lines for the latrines at the start. The year before last we did a circumnavigation of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainer. It is 97 miles and 27,000 feet of vertical gain. We split it into 3 days, covering around 33 miles a day. There is a ton of water and the trail is well marked, so you can run pretty light with just a sawyer filter (love these filters) and sandwiches (that’s right! Sandwiches, not gels or gu). My wife agreed to shuttle our gear between campsites, so we were able to eat like kings. This trail is not to be missed.
**Moving beyond law school to your profession, how did you arrive at Mergers and Acquisitions? **
It was serendipity. There was a need on the M&A team at the first firm I worked for, King & Spalding, and I somehow talked them into hiring me. I subsequently joined Equifax, America’s favorite company after Facebook, as their M&A counsel, where I got the opportunity to do a ton of deals in Latin America and India, which was an awesome experience. I currently lead the M&A team at FisherBroyles, which is a virtual law firm with around 250 attorneys all over the United States, so I get to work from home in a t-shirt and shorts. They don’t care that I have sleeves of tattoos and generally look nothing like a stereotypical corporate lawyer.
**What do you like about it? **
M&A is awesome in that it allows for a ton of creativity in structuring deals due to the law’s public policy in favor of “freedom of contract”. Did I mention working from a home in a t-shirt and shorts?
**What do you dislike about it? **
The hours can be brutal. M&A tends to be a sine waive. If you are on, you are 110% on. Most deals tend to involve large enough numbers that clients want things done as expeditiously as possible. This translates into cancelled vacations and all-nighters for the teams doing the deals. When you are off, you are hoping another deal comes in and trying not to freak out. My lowest point in practicing law was definitely as a second-year associate when I had to leave my buddies wedding in Alabama, which I was in, during the rehearsal dinner (sorry Max), drive back to Atlanta and pull an all-nighter to get a purchase agreement out Saturday morning. I also had my first five anniversary dinners at the office (sorry Jen). Embrace the suck.
**What do you think has been the secret to your success in the law? **
There are a ton of attorneys that have been more successful than me. That said, I think any success that I have had is a function of a problem-solving approach, a fire and forget mentality (i.e. taking complete ownership of projects), and a craftmanship ethos. The work needs to meet my personal standards, which tend to be higher than the clients, regardless of how large or small. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. I believe you are only as good as the points you put on the board on any given day. I don’t keep any of my degrees or awards on my office wall. I want to always be hungry, to make every single day a “good day”. I continuously improve my fighting position.
**What is your next adventure? **
My favorite question. Always forward. I have the Yeti 100 miler in September which I am super stoked about. Then I am focused on the Tuscobia Winter Ultra in December. You have to pull a sled for 80 miles for this one in arctic temperatures, so it is totally outside my comfort zone and whether or not I toe the line will largely be depend on my ability to get to Wisconsin and train enough to feel comfortable in the temps. I have also started long range shooting, so I am considering making a run at the Mammoth Sniper Challenge Tough Man in January. I just finished the build on my 6.5 Creedmor but need to seriously work on my marksmanship under time pressure before realistically considering doing it. I have been the one old school guy shooting .308 at the PRS matches this year and the wind has been killing me. Or maybe I just suck. I guess I can’t blame it on the gun anymore.
**What have I not asked that I should? **
What is on my record player right now. Answer? Mastodon “One More Round the Sun”.
**Any parting shots? **
Seriously, if anyone reading this is entertaining thoughts of law school, is currently in law school contemplating career choices, is a lawyer in a career malaise, or just wants to shoot the shit, please feel free to reach out to discuss, plan, commiserate etc. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text at (404) 513-7511. I am just a normal dude trying to make a living who fucks shit up as much as everybody else – if not more so.
The average person spends 12 hours per day sitting. Most people do not notice how often they sit throughout the day because we sit when we sit constantly for short amounts of time that tend to add up: while traveling, eating, working, studying, relaxing, reading, or waiting. Our posture when sitting can have major consequences on our backs if we don’t make a conscious effort to sit right.
Random facts about sitting that make you sound smart:
- When sitting, pressure falls onto the “sit bones” (ischial tuberosities). The pressure exerted on the buttocks is estimated to be as high as 85 to 100 psi.1 If we cross our legs that pressure nearly doubles.1
- When a person sits up right in a chair with proper support, approximately two thirds of a person’s body weight are distributed to the chairs seat, backrest, and armrest.1 Benches and stools that balance your body weight on a smaller surface increase pressure even more.1
- Your feet should touch the ground in such a way that they support one third of a person’s body weight or less to minimize leg discomfort when seated.
Research shows that sitting compresses the intervertebral disk in your spine more than standing. Essentially, standing puts lets compression on your spine than sitting, but if you are going to sit let’s talk about how to do it right.2 Slumped sitting, cross-legged sitting, and extension sitting caused significantly higher compressive loads in the L3/L4 and L4/L5 intervertebral joints than upright sitting.2 Research has suggested that increased disc pressure on the spine will over-load the spine and cause the discs to wear out more quickly.1
So, how to do you reduce the stress of sitting on your sit bones and spine?
1. Dropping the incline on backrest from vertical to 110∞ (angle between the backrest and seat) will reduce the amount of disc pressure on the spine.
2. Adjust the seat of the chair in a forward tilt. A forward tilted seat pan will allow the lumbar spine to maintain lordosis and reduce pressure on the discs. Most furniture these days are built for comfort and not health, so your butt may sink lower than your knees when you sit which can irritate your spine.
3. Do not slouch! Disc pressure is greatest when sitting in a slouched posture.
4. Sit with your legs supported on the ground. Keeping your feet supported while sitting will maintain lower body circulation and prevent the weight of dangling legs contributing to low back strain.
Jacobs K. Ergonomics For Therapists. 3rd ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
Mengjie Huang, Hajizadeh K, Gibson I, Taeyong Lee, Huang M, Lee T. Analysis of compressive load on intervertebral joint in standing and sitting postures. Technol Health Care. 2016;24(2):215-223. doi:10.3233/THC-151100
The top New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 are to eat healthier, get more exercise, save money, and focus on self-care. Only 8% of people making these resolutions are going to keep them. Every year another self-styled self-help guy will write a piece trying to sell you on a simple way to make sure you’re in the 8% this time. I guess this year, that's me.
I'll be your guide this iteration, but I hope to actually make a lasting impact. I’m writing in December, but don’t think of this as a New Year’s Resolution piece. This talk is a life vest for all resolutioners.
Resolutioners are passengers on a sinking ship who never bothered with learning how to swim. In the moment that water fills their lungs, their meager annual effort suddenly doesn’t seem like a sufficient preparation.
Here are 3 truths that will keep your head above water:
1. ACT NOW!
There is no better time for becoming the person you want to be than now. Waiting until Jan 1 or any other arbitrary date is setting yourself up for failure. Future you isn't going to magically acquire willpower and focus that present you can't muster.
Most people can identify what they want to change. This is important, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed or charge in with unsustainable energy and burn out quickly. Seeing the problem is key, don’t ignore it.
2. ESTABLISH REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
There is no easy way. Changing yourself and developing new ways of living is hard. Doing it without a plan and accountability is basically impossible.
Accept there will times you will want to quit, and start prioritizing what is important to you. Accept that you can’t have it all today. In fact, trying for immediate change is a certain way to ensure any small change is temporary. Ignore the numbers and focus on your long term goals.
3. PLANNING IS KEY
This isn’t all about your willpower. No one eats an elephant in one sitting. Unrealistic expectations and goals will leave you in a worse place than you started.
Develop a series of accomplishable phases in the pursuit of your established priorities. It really helps to find a road map from someone else who has succeeded before you.
Give The People What They Want
I’m lucky to work in a place where fitness, eating right (and well), and my hobbies all line up. I recognize that most people don’t have that going on. My work keeps me in shape, but most aren’t that lucky. That’s why the top things people want to change about themselves have a lot to do with how the outside world sees them in their clothes and how potential partners see them out of them.
I don’t say all this to imply you’ve never tried or are lazy. I understand that the thing that drives resolutions is a history of failed attempts. So, why is your body comp or performance not changing?
It’s actually pretty simple, and it usually boils down to four things:
Diet- Most people are simply over consuming... it's that simple. Track your food, see what you’re eating. This doesn’t apply to you if you’re training consistently and not seeing changes; that’s likely because you’re starving yourself. Having a plan of what you NEED to take in and prepping meals for your hectic schedule instead of eating out is crucial.
Sporadic effort/Over training- Consistency is key here. You’re going to see and feel changes if you’re working out on a program four times a week. Most good programmers are going to factor in a day of active recovery and a rest day, so aiming for four to five days a week of “crushing it” is the target. If you don’t have a plan, you’re likely crushing yourself for five days and then limping around for four and scared to go back in and tackle it because of your delayed onset muscle soreness. Solid routine is the cornerstone of effect training.
Lack of proper recovery- This is crucial. Consistency is 100% dependent on the athlete staying healthy (here’s a feel good moment, we’re ALL athletes). Pre-workout warming up and post workout rehabilitative protocol should be programmed into your fitness regimen. Without it, you are more prone to injury and your follow on workouts will be hampered by unnecessary soreness and immobility.
Lack of accountability- Starting new things alone can be difficult. Surrounding yourself with a community of like minded people with similar goals is critical. It’s a lot harder to skip something when you are being watched.
A Totally Unbiased Solution
Here at SOFLETE, we have watched a lot of athletes try and fail. We have owned gyms and coached clients from all walks of life. While our specialty is the Special Operator, we don’t see our programs as being LESS valuable to every human on the planet. No matter your physical or mental state, our passion is helping you be stronger and more durable.
Our app is designed to be a one stop solution to your training needs. Our goal is to deliver performance like you’ve never seen. That performance should shape the way you view the pursuit of fitness in a supporting role for living your life, not as an antagonist. We put diet, work outs, recovery, and community in one location.
Our nutrition program is overseen by our in house RDN, and offers delicious options to keep fueling you at the right level for your desired goals.
Our training teams are geared to deliver the most adaptations possible with the lowest risk of injury. Not only is our methodology proven to see gains, it works in all the necessary protocols to stay healthy and focused. From our Basic team which focuses on strength building and movement development to prepare you for our more in depth training, to our Competitive Fitness team which will prep you to compete with the best in the World, our coaches are turning out the best programming in the business.
Even better, we offer a community of people that are actively engaged in improving themselves. This community is humorous and irreverent, but serious about their goals. Direct engagement with our coaches on facebook and through the app’s coaching feed answer any questions you might have, and our quarterly getaway adventures are a great way to put your new training to the test in the real world.
The Definition of Stupidity is Doing The Same Thing Over and Over, but Expecting a Different Result
Look, we aren't wizards. The most critical component to self-improvement is desire, and thing only person that can affect that is you. What we CAN offer is the absolute best fitness performance tools on the market.
Don’t sign up for another year of “this year will be different” using the same old tools. Come see the methodology that has kept countless Special Operators healthy and strong. Don't keep reading the scale and sighing, start tracking performance.
Or, maybe you are just better off showing up at Planet Fitness three times a week and treating yourself to the free pizza…
100 Miles?! I don’t even drive that far!
That is probably the most common response that ultra-runners get when discussing their sport with normal people. Running is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially when it’s all day, overnight, and into the next day. But I don’t get why, as Americans are dying younger, eating more garbage food (I’ve certainly contributed here), and lying to themselves about their desire to be fit relative to their desire to put in the work required, some Americans proudly proclaim themselves the equivalent of sentient compost.
There is good news though. More people are undertaking credible fitness efforts every day. In 2013, two million people completed a half-marathon. But that’s 2 million worldwide. Many Americans are less and less physically and mentally prepared for anything more challenging than a Homeowners’ Association meeting.
But not you. You’re here to Die Living. For you, that just might mean toeing the line at a race you not only won’t win but may not even finish. And that’s okay because as our Special Air Service friends say, “Who Dares, Wins.”
So let’s talk about how we regular mortals can run the distances other people proudly claim not to drive.
What are we even talking about?
An ultramarathon is any race over 26.2 miles and, as more and more people run marathons, they are growing in popularity. In 2004, there were almost four-hundred ultramarathon events nationwide. By 2014, that number more than doubled, to over eight-hundred. I ran my first ultra, the 2000 Guana River 50k, with thirteen other people. 50k, or 31.25 miles, is the most common ultra-distance. That’s a great accomplishment for anyone and there is no debate that finishing one makes you an ultra-marathoner.
But I’ve run a lot more since then, and since time and distance will warp your perspective I think it’s fair to call fifty miles the threshold distance for folks really looking for a next level event. The next typical distance is one-hundred kilometers or 62.5 miles.
The Holy Grail for mortal runners, of course, is the Hundred Miler. Though events even greater than that distance are becoming more widespread as more and more people hit that hundred-mile mark. There are road ultras, track ultras and trail ultras. Some people run treadmill ultras, but I would rather spend twenty-four hours driving knitting needles under my toenails.
You got this. But man, it’s gonna hurt.
Simply put, ultras are not your 5k charity run. If you want to do this it is going to take a lot of time and a lot of miles. Your family, if you have one, has to be on board and you have to be ready to adapt your training to them. You need to run early, run late and run overnight.
In ultra-running, at least in my experience, the time on the race clock is far less important than the time on your feet, as calculated by months and years of training and experience. Six months after I ran my first fifty miler, the relatively novice friendly JFK 50, I found myself stumbling down off a mountain, laying down on the side of a road and going to sleep, ending my Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile attempt at mile fifty-two. I just didn’t have the right store of training, education, and experience.
Can someone just decide to run a hundred miles, go out and do it? Of course. At my first successful hundred miler, the 2013 Graveyard 100, a West Point Cadet and member of the West Point marathon team showed up, having driven down the day before. He had on a pair of track shorts, a cotton hoodie and a ruck. Several hours later, he actually finished the distance (looking like an extra on The Walking Dead). But due to all the things he didn’t know meant he did not make the time cut-offs and was ultimately disqualified.
Experience and conditioning will generally beat strength in ultras. I recently ran a 100k and was chatting with a runner who was doing the hundred-mile option.
“How many is this for you?” I asked, already suspicious because he was dressed like he was headed to the gym to hit the elliptical.
“It’s my first running race of any kind, but I am a very determined individual!”
Neat. Got it. Good luck. The next and last time I saw him, he was at mile forty-five, standing on the side of a trail and mumbling incoherently into his cell phone. Ironically, my first hundred-mile effort featured a very similar conversation and a very similar result. Respect the distance and put in the work. That may mean a few years of racing and learning. Good things come to she who waits.
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
In any race over fifty miles, you’re probably going to run in the dark. I DNF’d (“did not finish”) at my first two hundred-mile attempts. One was simply too hard for my level of preparation (the aforementioned Massanutten 100). On my second, the Umstead 100, I was moving too slow to finish by the (generous) cut off and by nightfall, I had completely psyched myself out.
The truth is I was Evan Persperis’ poster boy for why endurance athletes quit.
The turning point that allowed me to finish the Graveyard 100 with a Belt Buckle (the traditional hundred-mile finisher’s award) was when I decided to train by running by myself, without music, and, once a week, to run from my daughter’s bedtime and until I needed to shower for work the next morning. The last thing I wanted to do after a day of work was to forego my warm bed, run six-to-eight hours, then work a full day. But for me, that replicated the same feeling I had in my DNFs when it got dark (and probably wet and cold) after I’d been running twelve hours and I had another twelve-to-eighteen hours of running to go.
By replicating the part of “The Suck” that had defeated me, I conditioned myself to overcome the whimper in my head that made me question the whole thing and head to the nearest bed.
Let’s talk about sex. And lube. And your feet.
More specifically, let’s talk about maintaining your sexy fun time gear and your feet.
As the great Northwestern Philosopher Sir Mix-A-Lot said, “I'm long and I'm strong and I'm down to get the friction on.” And much like Mix, you’re about to experience some serious friction on. You will sweat out all the salt in your body. It will dry in your compression shorts. The quads you are so proud of, assuming you like squats as much as the next SOFLETE adherent, will rub together for anywhere from twelve to thirty-six hours. It may rain. You may cross a river. Clouds of dust and dirt will settle on the fabric and work its way in.
But there are steps you can take to mitigate that facet of “The Suck.”
You might take some Agent Orange - in the form of Nair - to your downstairs forest. But if a Brazilian isn’t your thing, a little maintenance with the clippers followed by liberal application of Desitin Extra Strength should be. Actually, Desitin needs to happen whether you go baby smooth or not. Remember buy the purple tube and put it anywhere you would want your significant other to be interested. Armpits and nips too. Early and often.
Moving out of the fun zone; your feet will hate you when this is over. Some folks tape trouble spots with moleskin or duct tape before the start, whereas others lube their feet with Vaseline, Desitin, Squirrel Nut Butter. Some runners wear two pairs of socks or toe socks. All I do is cut my toenails short, make sure I have no ingrown nails (I actually recommend a pedicure three to five days out from a race), and buy high-quality compression socks. That’s it. With compression socks, there is little-to-no slippage. So even when your socks and feet are soaked, there’s no friction. Ergo, no blisters.
My most recent 100k saw none whatsoever. I did lose a nail though because I didn’t cut it back enough and it rubbed through my compression sock and into my shoe. That hurt for thirty-five miles and my $35 socks are useless now. Lesson learned.
Eat and run.
Besides, “why?” the most common question I get about ultra-running is whether I eat and sleep?
Yes and no.
I run way too slow to sleep but no one gets between me and junk food. And although I know Brooke West is correct in wanting us to treat our bodies like a temple, ultra-running is a license to treat it like a bus station for a day or so.
Races stake their reputations on the quality of their Aid Stations so volunteers generally have an insane spread of sugars (simple and complex), carbohydrates, fat and caffeine. But simultaneously, the clock is ticking. You do not want to sacrifice time to the comforts of an Aid Station, so grab it and go. Eat on the move. At my last race, I consumed two pieces of sausage pizza, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, six chocolate chip cookies, and a Coke between mile thirty-six and thirty-six-and-a-half. My mouth hurts for a day or two afterward from drinking hot soup, cramming mouthfuls of crunchy, salty, foods and candy.
Deal with it, pain is the price of glory.
Be cool to the locals.
Ultra-running is a self-sustaining sport. By that I mean the people who volunteer to tape your nasty feet, lance your mega-blisters, give you baby wipes for your chafed bum, or worst case, medevac you, are probably ultra-runners themselves. They are giving up a weekend to see you achieve your goal. No matter how tired you are, be cool. They will feed you, fix your gear or body, and fill your water bottles. They are ultra-angels. Treat them accordingly and say thank you. They will do the same for you when you are crewing their race.
Take the pain.
This article is already too long and there are ten million other things to tell you. But you need to discover some of it for yourself. One of the lessons only you can teach yourself is to, as Staff Sergeant Barnes said in Platoon, “Shut up and take the pain. TAKE THE PAIN!!!”
As I said at the outset, running ultras is going to hurt. But finishing feels amazing. One of the best hours in my life was spent eating freshly cooked pig by a fire after twenty-nine hours of climbing up and down mountains in Eastern Kentucky. You just have to decide whether the pain you feel now matters more than breaking through your limits forever. Now go forth and, as my buddy who’s a much better runner than I says, “suffer in silence.”
Every morning my dog Laurel and I go to the back door. Every time she quivers in anticipation of what a new day may bring to her yard. Opening the door is like racking the slide of a pistol. She coils; every muscle in her body taut with excitement. Opening the storm door is like squeezing that trigger. She springs forward, so fast, with so much force that I can’t even fully open the door before she inevitably cracks her head on the edge of the door, rattling the glass. It matters not. She charges into every new morning as if our yard is foreign territory to be subdued, rather than the same fenced in grass and shrubs she took by force yesterday. And in that, I find a lesson.
Where I see suburban sameness, a routine that funnels me into yet another day trapped in pursuit of yet another dollar that allows me the notion of freedom someday, she has freedom now. She lives fully in the moment. She charges into every day as if maybe today the fence and the shed and the azalea bush will reveal something altogether new and fascinating. And it often does, because she’s looking for it. Her eyes are open to possibility. Where my expectation is sameness and drudgery and routine, hers is that the hole in the fence, the one she pushes her head through every morning till I call her back, will one day expand and she’ll push through it and see what’s on the other side. To me the fence is a restraint. To her it’s opportunity.
What I take from all this is that a lot of the walls we put up, the limits under which we live, are simply artifice we create for ourselves. They exist, not because the limits we create are wholly genuine, but because they allow us to avoid the work required to exceed them. I have to do “this” job because this is all I am qualified for. I can’t do “that” because that’s for other, better people. I don’t know anything about “that” and I don’t have the time or money to learn. I’m scared of what might happen, or what I might learn about myself, if I dare greatly.
I’ll admit, in a world in which reality plays a significant part, that’s all true to an extent. My days of sub-six miles are decidedly behind me, but I have plenty of sub-sevens left. I’ll never finish in the top half of the field at an ultramarathon, but I’m totally satisfied by crossing the finish line before they start disassembling it (and even then). I thought a 300-pound deadlift was my upper limit, by following Laurel’s approach in the gym (and SOFLETE programming), I will get to 400 by this time next year. Most importantly for me, writing was something for other people to do and for me to read. Now I’ve been published and heard from people around the world who liked what I wrote. I actually get paid to do something I previously thought outside of my realm because I stopped seeing every fence as something to keep me inside and comfortable and started wondering what might be on the other side.
There are certainties in life. You will fail. You will succeed. You will survive both and then someday, you will die. Everything else is up to you and the meaning of all of it comes in how you lived the moments in between. Did you raise your nose to the breeze? Did you stick your head through the hole in the fence? Did you charge so hard into every morning that the door rattled?
Did you Die Living?
Nellie Bly was a writer, a reporter, and sometimes an inventor. But at her core, Nellie Bly was a seeker. She was a seeker of truth, of adventure and, most certainly, of a great story.
In the annals of history, Bly is most well-known for her intrepid and record-breaking trip around the world, one which took her seventy-two days (eight less than the eighty days it took Jules Verne’s fictional Phileas Fogg character that she was trying to emulate). And while her feat was worldwide news at the time, Nellie Bly can also be credited with inventing an entirely new style of investigative journalism that put the reporter at the center of their story.
Born Elizabeth Mary Jane Cochran near Pittsburgh in 1864, she began contributing to the Pittsburgh Dispatch under the pseudonym “Lonely Orphan Girl” when she was still just a teenager. Soon, she was contributing regular on topics that were light years ahead of their time, such as arguing for reform of divorce laws. The owner and editor of the paper offered her a full-time job under the condition that she write under a pen name, as was customary for women writers of the era. As Stephen Foster’s “Nelly Bly” was a popular song at the time, the editor suggested it for Cochran, though his misspelling as “Nellie” stuck with her for the rest of her life.
Bly continued her work with the Dispatch, focusing on the plight of the working woman in and around Pittsburgh, writing a series of investigative stories covering the conditions and lives of factory workers. The column was a hit though it caused enough discord that the factories began to complain to the paper, leading to Bly’s reassignment to the “women’s pages,” covering fashion, gardening and society. Dissatisfied with the work, Bly left for Mexico to work as a foreign correspondent, something virtually no woman had done before. She was only twenty-one years old.
Upon her return to Pittsburgh, the Dispatch once again assigned her to the “women’s pages,” leading Bly to leave the paper and her hometown for New York City. Soon, she talked her way into a position writing for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World by agreeing to go undercover to report a story on the conditions of brutality and neglect at New York’s Women’s Lunatic Asylum.
After ten days in the asylum, Bly was released (at the World’s behest) and wrote her account, eventually publishing it in book form, titled Ten Days in a Mad-House. The book was a sensation, leading to asylum reform and affording Bly national fame.
In 1888, Bly approached her editor with the idea that she undertake a trip around the world, attempting to recreate the fictional trip taken by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s massively popular Around the World in Eighty Days. Traveling with basically the clothes on her back, Bly circumnavigated the world by train, boat and car, sending dispatches back home via post and wire. After seventy-two days, Bly arrived back in Hoboken, from where she departed, to massive fanfare and international acclaim.
Later in life, Bly invented and filed patents for the novel milk can and the stackable garbage container under the name “Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman.” She reported on the Eastern Front during the First World War, at one point being arrested under suspicion of being a spy.
Nellie Bly died of pneumonia in April of 1922, aged 57, after having living a life that will long be regarded as legendary.
If you're reading this then somewhere in your journey to be a more awesome human you've touched the magic that is Olympic Weightlifting. Whether that be from seeing others do it or by having the movements integrated somewhere in your own programming, whether that be in SOFLETE, CrossFit, or a sport specific program that uses the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.
Weightlifting, also known as Olympic Weightlifting (because they do it in the Olympics) is actually a sport with refs and everything that goes with it. It consists of two movements: the Snatch and the “Clean and Jerk”. Both of these lifts test an athlete's technique when teamed with their strength, power, and speed as well as mobility and flexibility. In the sport lifters compete at meets and are given three attempts at each movement, with their highest two lifts being combined to give them their score, this is referred to as a Total. It's a little more complicated than that, but that gets you started.
Weightlifting has worked it's way into a large swath of the strength and conditioning world because it's movements are a great tool to develop explosive power, strength, mobility, and coordination. SOFLETE uses these movements for the same reasons as well as to elicit specific responses from different systems in developing a better Combat Athlete.
So...you want to be a better weightlifter?
To be a better weightlifter, the first thing you need to answer is why. Why do you want to be a better weightlifter? There are lots of great reasons to focus on getting better at the snatch and the clean and jerk. But your approach to them is as varied as the reasons why you'd want to.
The main body of people that say they want to get better are those who are doing the movements as part of a larger, more comprehensive program. In these programs the movements are programmed in interval training workouts and as part of a strength workout. They'll usually pop up in programming a few days or so a week and are put in there to illicit a response based on the athlete's abilities.
So let's break this down a tiny bit. And then let's do some expectation management.
First, in anything the intensity to volume ratio is going to affect the technique we use to execute any movement.
If I need to get from point A to point B in X time...Y number of times...and carrying a prescribed weight, those variables will dictate how I do it. Will I walk because I'm under a ton of weight and moving a long distance, or sprint because all the variables are less? Running and sprinting are very different, even though my goal is the same, Point A to point B.
This is very much the same in Weightlifting movements. The most efficient way for your body to snatch 50% of your max effort 30 times in a row as fast as possible is going to be very different from the most efficient way for you to achieve 100% of your max potential for a single lift. Aside from lifting the weight safely, the differences in the two techniques can be very large, and using one for the other will not have desirable results, especially using the light and fast technique when trying to achieve max potential.
But here's the thing: that's ok. If you are using these weightlifting movements as a tool to make you a better all-around combat athlete then let them be that. Focusing on them because you know someone else can do more than you and it's hurting your ego will only succeed in losing focus in other areas; if that's ok, then start deciding which areas you want to lose proficiency in so that you're better at a part of a sport you have no plans in competing in.
Which is fine. It's your life.
Let’s Start Making You a Better Weightlifter
If you do decide you want to get better at weightlifting just to get better then you'll still need to focus. "Supplementing" your current program won't do that program or your desire to improve justice.
The best way to achieve this small goal is to execute a short GPP program that is heavy on the Olympic lifts and their variations. A small "tweener" or in-between cycle can help reinforce better positions and make you learn a few lessons while not sacrificing overall or well rounded fitness for too long. Somewhere in the neighborhood of four to six weeks is what I'd recommend.
If you're this far it's because you really want to get better. And this is where I'll ask you why again: why? Weightlifting is hard. It hurts. It's unforgiving. It doesn't care how hard you're trying. And no one knows what it is. I think all that stuff is awesome. If we just became best friends, keep reading.
The question to ask yourself now is: am I going to compete? If the answer is no, change it to yes. If you knew someone that was on a baseball team and just went to batting cages and played pepper but never showed up to play games you'd think that guy was pretty silly, right? Yeah, he's developing some cool skills and is probably in decent shape compared to an average guy, but he's definitely not reaching his peak potential in anything as he hones the skills needed to perform on the field. All those skills take time to perfect. And all that specificity, time, and sacrifice will pay off nowhere except the baseball diamond. That's why no one practices baseball and never plays. Because that would be dumb. So yes, you need to compete. That should be your goal: whether it's in 12 weeks or 12 months, your goal is to go to a meet and get a total.
Now that you've come to this decision, you need someone to watch you. This comes in a few varieties. Basically: not good, better, and good.
Not good would be you and a friend training together with little to no background in it. I list this option only because I know lots of people are going to do it and I want to set them up as best I can. Lots of people get their start this way, but understand it has a short shelf life and it's far from ideal.
First, pick a program and stick to it. Don't tinker. This program should likely have videos attached to it, and if not then make YouTube your best friend. But again, be consistent. Pick one source for the duration of the program or you may encounter conflicting info. You're not that good yet, tinkering with programs or changing the basics in form to mimic a high level lifter will only produce inconsistency.
And second, side from safety, pick one maybe two cues or hitches a day to improve upon. Simple things like weight in mid-foot, full extension, flat feet. Not big ones like keeping the bar close or receive better. Remember that everything the bar does is a result of something you did or didn't do. So don't make cues centered around the bar does. If you concentrate on one thing a day, in a few weeks that list of cues or hitches will hopefully get shorter, and you'll start to get better. Don't try to fix it all every day and take note of your small progressions.
A better route would be to find a Barbell Club, any Barbell Club. Not all these clubs are created equal so this choice is where we talk about why. These Barbell Clubs are the ones located in CrossFit gyms and coached by CrossFit coaches with a couple of Weightlifting Seminars or certifications under their belt, but they've never been a competitive lifter themselves. Hopefully they'll still have a better foundation and some experience in movement and cuing.
This is where a lot of people start as well. This will have a shelf life dependent on how long you keep going. Once you go to a couple of meets and see legit Weightlifting coaches and their athletes, you'll be happy where you're at or you'll wonder what you're missing. Disclaimer: some of these CrossFit Barbell coaches are very credible and have a lot to offer.
The best option, when you've stuck with it awhile but your potential isn't being met with your current situation, or you just make good choices from the beginning, then it’s time to find a Weightlifting Coach. There are actually a number of very good articles out there on this subject, you can find them and compare to my advice.
Here are a few guidelines to finding a good weightlifting coach. In person is obviously better than online. But if online is your only option refer to these guidelines:
They have been a competitive weightlifter. And they've been to more than a couple of local meets. They don't have to have been great or competed at the international or even national levels, in fact don't look at this alone as some excellent lifters couldn't coach a fish to swim. They should however have been competitive for at least a year or two consecutively AS A LIFTER. You can't see indicators about how someone is reacting to cues and programming, meet jitters, home stressors unless you have experienced them as a lifter preparing for and competing in a weightlifting meet. No Certification, seminar, or mentor can teach that stuff.
Who coached them as a lifter? Ask yourself or them, did they learn the trade from an experienced lifter and coach, or from someone making it up as they go as well?
Look at their team. When do they meet as a team and is it going to work with your schedule? How many lifters do they have competing, and how are those lifters doing?
Do you get along? You don't need to like this person, but a little emotional intelligence and life experience are nice to have in a coach.
When you read a coach's bio online and one or more of these things isn't mentioned, consider them indicators that you can do better. The USA Weightlifting website has a full listing of Barbell clubs you can contact to find the best one for you.
Now you know a little more about the sport, and how to dip your toe in it. It is one of the most painful, frustrating, humbling sports in the world and will make you completely miserable sometimes.
I hope some of you find the zen and happiness in weightlifting that I have.
Jariko Denman is currently wandering the earth like Caine, from Kung Fu. His hope is to find his soulmate in a charming 69kg class olympic lifter. He is using the skills he acquired at Ranger Regiment to rescue kittens from trees and make better amateur olympic weight lifters. You might have seen him on TV, he's kind of a big deal.
Late season camping can be just as comfortable as any other time of the year with proper preparation and quality gear. Preplanning meals and fuel situations will go a long way in maintaining comfort throughout the trip. The benefit is keeping a camp close to nearly anywhere you choose to hunt or fish. The following are a few pics and tips from a mule deer hunt this fall.
We generally hunt by reaching good vantage points and using optics to scan the country for movement. Even though most activity takes place early and late in the day, with the rut approaching we were planning on sticking it out all day long.
Fresh snow on the ground and about 10 degrees Fahrenheit out. We hit the bottom and following the drainage out to camp. Early enough in the year that it was still a bit muddy, still easier than all the up and down taking a straight shot. Lightweight, floorless shelters have increased in popularity lately. The floorless design allows the user to run a stove safely, utilizing available wood to keep warm, dry clothing, and even cook if desired.
The final day we hunted that weekend was spent filling a couple doe tags. While the skies had brightened up a bit, wind chills were still only slightly above 0* at dawn. Even in that type of weather, the air inside the tent will warm considerably from the sun w/o a stove.
Late Season Tips
- Have food prepared ahead of time so it can be eaten or cooked as is when you pull it out of the package. Getting back to the tent after dark in the cold is bad enough, getting some food going is a quick way to settle in comfortably.
- Have a decent supply of firewood available, having to collect wood and get a fire going when you reach camp just plain sucks, make sure you have enough so you can get in and warmed up, eat, hang out for at least a while before needing to collect more.
- Wear the correct clothing. Nothing is best 100% of the time. Use what will benefit you for the activity at hand. Merino wool will keep you warm when wet and resist odor, however it takes some time to get it dried out if it does get wet. Synthetics will dry out very quickly but don’t have the good thermal properties when wet, they also do not resist odor well when out for even a few days at a time.
- Tight boots are cold boots. In rough terrain like the pictures above, it’s nice to have the stability of good, tight boots. When you stop to glass, sometimes for hours, it is a good idea to untie your boots and keep them very loose, the extra air space will keep your feet considerably warmer.
- In late season, puffy jackets are a must. Easy to stow away when packing, just as easy to pull out and layer up when stopped.
- Breathable rain gear will keep you drier from the inside out. It’s considerably more expensive, but allows body condensation to escape. All rain gear is an excellent windbreak when layering up.
- A single layer tent will collect condensation. It is one of the things you deal with. Running a stove inside the tent, not only warms it, but will remove the condensation fairly well in most situations.
- Leaving snow on your tent, instead of knocking it off will add to the insulation qualities of your shelter. Loose snow, grass, or dirt kicked around the bottom of the tent will reduce drafts.
- Keep a flame going inside your stove, letting it smolder out will probably fill the inside of your tent with smoke as you lose your draft. Hot coals will burn out ok.
- My own, anecdotal advice… "The cold makes you tough”.
I’ve been privileged to keep company with some very cool, very knowledgeable people during the course of my law enforcement career. However, during the latter part of 2008 I was lucky enough to work with what I consider to be the finest group of Border Patrol Agents assigned to a small unit on the busiest shift at the busiest station in the Southwest. As a relatively new Border Patrol Agent, I diligently worked to become proficient at every facet of the job, but I placed a particularly high value on knowledge and navigation of our Area of Operation (AOR). That, along with a solid work ethic, earned me a highly coveted slot in ATV training and an assignment to the Nogales Station All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) unit, working 4pm to midnight. What could be better than getting paid to ride around the beautiful southern Arizona desert on an ATV? Nothing, that’s what.
On a stormy evening towards the tail end of Arizona’s monsoon season we had just finished tracking a group of suspected illegal entrants who had tripped a sensor, only to find out that we had been beaten to the punch. A few hours of tracking led us to the conclusion that the group had loaded into a vehicle and was long gone. A light rain was falling as we trailered the ATV’s and found a secluded parking spot near the area in which we had just been beat to eat and water up. Being type-A personalities, we didn’t take losing that group very well and were discussing what we could have done better in the previous scenario. As we were planning the best route to backtrack the trail the smugglers had used, hoping to find some possible routes of interception for future groups using the same trail, the radio chirped. One of the infrared scope operators came across the net asking somewhat frantically whether we were still in the area. Our senior Agent, Jason, picked up the mic and calmly responded that we were. A second passed and the scope operator asked us to switch radio channels to a direct frequency. We did.
“Hey guys, I have a large group of packers (Border Patrol slang for dudes carrying bundles of what is usually marijuana) heading towards the neighborhood at the top of the ridge in front of you guys”. This particular neighborhood is situated on a horse shoe shaped road that apexes due north and has two parallel streets that come off of an east/west aligned road. The road climbs up the ridge at a gradual and winding grade on the east side and then comes back down at a steep angle, on the west side of it.
“How many bodies do you have?” Jason asked. “About 20-25, almost all of them are packing,” replied the scope operator.
Some quick math on our parts indicated this could be about a 1,000 lb load (most packers carry 50 pound bundles of Mexican ditch weed). We immediately started to plan to intercept the group. However, the scope operator suddenly came back over the radio with an ominous “Standby”. This particular scope operator had a flair for being somewhat dramatic at times and would often play up the significance of what he was looking at to get an immediate response from Agents. After a few agonizing moments he said, “OK guys, I have three vehicles that just stopped right near the group and the mules are loading the dope.”
Jason was already in the driver’s seat. He fired up the Excursion and started pulling out while the rest of us were hastily slinging our rifles and prepping for the impending interdiction. According to the scope operator, the vehicles were all loaded with bundles and coming down the steep western side of the hill. We decided to ascend the hill on the same side with the truck and trailer to intercept them.
Let me be clear, there was no plan going into this. There was only four guys all talking at the same time offering what we should do, while rapidly ascending a steep hill in a beat up old Ford Excursion, towing a long, heavy trailer and four ATV’s on a dark evening in light rain. We were heading towards three vehicles loaded with dope and the unknown. Jason knew speed would be our friend in this scenario, so he acted by setting us on an intercept course with the vehicles.
We were ascending the hill with our lights off to gain a little bit of a surprise advantage. We saw the vehicles descending towards us and Jason gunned it to close the distance. I realized that the doors for the back were still locked and couldn’t unlock them without the driver hitting the button, so I started yelling “UNLOCK! UNLOCK! UNLOCK!” Jason said “What??? BLOCK THEM? OK?!?” That’s exactly what he did. He pulled the truck and trailer to block the width of the road just in front of the lead vehicle coming towards us. The rest of us in the truck just rolled with it, and took action.
I was on the passenger side in the backseat, before the truck was at a stop, I was out along with the guy riding shotgun. We raced to make contact with the first vehicle and heard tires spinning uselessly on wet pavement. All three of the vehicles were futilely trying to reverse up the slick pavement on that steep hill. My partner and I made contact with the first vehicle. While he was giving orders and covering me, I stowed my rifle, ripped open the driver’s door, and pulled the driver from the vehicle. While my partner and I were occupied with the first vehicle, two green flashes streaked past us up the hill towards the other two vehicles. I had no idea Jason and our other partner could move that fast, and up-hill too! They moved to interdict the next vehicle and cover the third. While I was cuffing the driver from the first vehicle, my partner did a quick sweep of the interior and then moved to assist Jason and our other partner.
It was over in a matter of seconds. We had three dudes in custody along with three vehicles with what would end up being mas o menos 1200 lbs of marijuana.
Once things had calmed down a bit, and we had gotten some back up to help us transport vehicles and suspects to the station, we did an after-action report amongst ourselves. It came with the stark realization that things could have gone completely, terribly, tragically wrong for us in a heartbeat. If any of the three delinquents we had in custody had the slightest bit of intestinal fortitude and commitment to the fight, they could have used their vehicle as a weapon. We would have been in a world of hurt. Any one of the four of us could have been run over at any point during our contact. We got lucky. It was a good thing that we weren’t facing hardened criminals, committed to the cause. We got the Junior Varsity team of smugglers that night. Violence of action and the fact that all three bad guys defaulted into the flight response won the day for us.
This particular situation reminded me of the George S. Patton quote, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Most situations like this one don’t afford you the luxury of making an initial plan or even a secondary one, you need to just act. Even then, things don’t always go as planned. Having a good group of dudes on your side that will stand shoulder to shoulder with you goes a long way to facilitate you attaining your goals or accomplishing a mission. Not to mention the myriad of other factors that will play a vital role in leading you towards a successful outcome. Factors such as: high standards in training, diligent physical and skill training, Standard Operating Procedures, Immediate Action Drills, and lessons learned from debriefing situations such as these. Timing on most things in life is hardly ever perfect or ideal. But, if you happen to find yourself in the right place at the right time with the right support structure but you don’t have a solid plan, take action anyway. Move towards that objective. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Get out there make big moves. Make big mistakes and learn from it all.
Live for today and above all, Die Living.
Mike Peugh is a father of 2 growing boys and a husband to an amazing wife of 12 years. He has been a police officer for over 10 years in South Florida and is currently a SWAT operator and Street Crimes Detective. He served in the Army as a Combat Engineer from 2003-2009 with 2 combat Deployments to Iraq.
“Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”
I think Eldridge hit the nail on the head. Most men in, general, especially in the military and first responder realm, have an inherent need to push their limits and the limits of their friends. We do that through adventure and battle, whether that battle is with the starter on your 1992 Chevy S-10 (RIP, #neverforget) or in an actual fight.
As a teenager and young adult that tendency created a semi-idiotic personal philosophy in me: If something was going to provide a good story at the end then it was worth doing. It was a risk vs. reward kind of life; a fine balance between permanent injury, a criminal record and coming away slightly bruised, looking over your shoulder, but with a great story for you or your friends to tell.
By my calculations, as a male, from the time you’re about 3 years old until late in the autumn of your life you’re inadvertently trying to kill yourself. Not in some kind of suicidal way, but in a natural selection way. You’re searching for Eldridge’s adventures and battles. Think about it. Before the age of three you’re basically just surviving. It’s around then that anyone with kids will tell you if you take your eye off them for a moment they’ll surely get into something that will probably maim them. Just the other day my seven year old son was climbing a tree and fell out. He thought it was fun so he did it again, only this time fell out on purpose.
Think about learning to ride a bike. You learned. Then you found out you can jump that bike. Before you knew it there was a giant hole in the yard to build a ramp. Eventually the ramps get larger and now you’re upping the stakes by jumping the hole. I’m sure you can think back to all the ridiculous things you’ve done growing up and insert your own example. Like going to the beach during a hurricane and finding a piece of nail riddled ply wood to “surf” on.
I’ve always sought adventure and secretly hoped for some hardship along the way. If you go on a hike in the woods and you see some nice stuff, that’s pretty cool. You can bore your friends and family with a slide show of blurry rocks and trees. But what if you broke your ankle and then had to crawl three miles to get help? That’s a badass story and one worth telling! There is something romantic about it. Now, I’m not wandering aimlessly through the woods looking to break myself. On the contrary, I generally go into the woods prepared and with great respect. I do wander through the woods hoping to stumble into some sort of adventure though, much like I do in life. It’s one of the main reasons I joined the Army during a time of war. I wasn’t looking to get killed, but I definitely wanted to experience some stuff. The Army partially quenched my thirst for adventure and definitely satisfied the longing for a real battle.
Once I separated from the military I was still seeking adventure and searching for the next battle. It was too expensive to get into race car driving and I wasn’t skilled enough to get into professional fighting so, like a lot of guys, I became a cop.
I think a certain amount of struggle is important, almost required. As I’m writing this I’m stuck in the woods huddled under my poncho, during a cold, tenacious rain storm, hoping the buck of a life time shows up. I could pack up shop and head back to camp and drink a couple beers. But who’s gonna wanna hear that story? Instead I’ll wait it out and maybe something amazing will happen that’ll be worth talking about. Even if it doesn’t, at least I can say I stuck it out when most others wouldn’t have and when I get back to camp and my buddies are warm and dry and I’m soaking wet, there’ll be something worthwhile to talk about. You see the struggle often leads to an adventure and vise versa. It enriches our lives with amazing memories and prepares us for when something terrible actually happens.
In today’s society it feels like we are pushed to live this neat little life that fits into some sort of box. It seems so vanilla. It’s especially hard to live that regular kind of life once you exit the military even if you cross over into the first responder field.
We have an innate desire to explore, not sit glued to our phones making sure we get our social media fix. I’m not saying you gotta climb Everest, but you might wanna consider a 5k or spend the night in the woods alone. With the exploration of your limits, you’ll tend to find yourself in some sort of personal battle. Whether it’s swapping a motor into a Jeep or in the middle of a car chase with an armed robbery culprit, you’re thrusting yourself into some kind of adventure. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Life is more about the journey, then the destination,” which is totally contradictory to today’s bubble wrapped life, even for the average Joe.
You’ve only got one life to live so you might as well live it. Get outside, go find your adventure. Take on an arduous task. Do something hard that most others aren’t willing to do. Learn something new, even if you don’t have anyone to teach you. Go create your own epic stories and Die Living.
- Mike Peugh
Alan Shebaro has been a close friend of ours for a long time, and we are happy to introduce him to those of you who don't know of him. His gym in Mckinney, Texas is a top tier Jiu Jitsu training facility, and he has written some great training advice for us before.
Over the next few months, we will be releasing more coaching videos with Alan and we will also be helping him promote Jiu Jitsu seminars. Be on the lookout for more chances to learn from a truly great teacher.