Tag Archives: training

Mr. Euclid

First, thank you to everyone who has continued to offer their prayers for my family following the death of my dad two months ago.  They mean so much more than you know and I pray for each of you daily.

I want to tell you all that Dad’s been quite active lately, at least in my mind.  Over the past month especially he’s been showing up in my dreams.  As I told me wife today, the dreams make absolutely no sense on one level and more sense than anything I can think of on another.


Artist’s rendering of a shape

Last night I went to bed as normal.  At 4AM I awoke from the following dream.  My father and I were in a very ethereal setting.  I can actually still envision all of this.  It’s almost like we were on a cloud but it wasn’t that hokey.  We were looking at, really examining, an equilateral triangle that was simply floating in the air in front of us.  He was instructing me on the properties of the triangle.  His words made perfect sense to me and I never liked math.  Dad was an actuary with a savant’s knowledge of all things mathematical.  I distinctly remember him saying (in this dream) as he had many times when he tried teaching me geometry in high school “According to Mr. Euclid…” referencing the Greek father of geometry.  What are you getting at, Dad?  Triangles?  Really?  Is it the Trinity?  I already believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Remember?  You taught me the sign of the cross as a four year-old when you taught me my first prayers.  Were you trying to show me something else?  Are you popping into the dreams of other people too or is it just me?  This is so strange.


Hairy but solid

Another thing that’s going on (and I really don’t think the dreams are related) is that my Restless Leg Syndrome has intensified.  It’s now gotten to where the muscles in both legs cramp up about halfway through the night.  I get out of bed and, like this morning, leg down to see that my toes are curled and I have to physically unbend them.  It’s painful.  But, I’m getting it looked into.  This morning I’m going for an EMG/nerve conduction test.  I’ve had several of these done before.  Read about one of my experiences with it here.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my leg.  It may be the cause of great pain right now but at least it still makes my trainer jealous as all get out.  “Your calves seem to eat everything in sight” he told me.  Trainer?  My offer still stands.  I’ll happily trade you my calves for everything above your waist.  Then again he could just be messing with me…



I was just thinking about some diet and exercise related things this evening…

I mowed my lawn tonight.  So it turns out “trainer” is a pretty decent guy.  I think we already knew that. but tonight he confirmed it for me.  I am about to embark on a major business trip and needed to get the lawn mowed before I leave.  Unfortunately my mower decided this was the perfect time to quit on me.  I texted “trainer” and asked if I could borrow his.

My mom, in particular, used to say to me “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  She was good with pithy maxims like that.  She also used to call me by my dead brother’s name but who’s counting.  She did, however, reverse half of that statement when she also taught that we should always give of ourselves.  So I guess she didn’t really go back on her words so much considering that giving of ourselves is not lending if we don’t expect a return.  Now I’m confused.

Anyway, my friend the “trainer” texted back in the affirmative.  Now I am always mindful of a friend’s kindness.  If I ever need to catch a ride with someone even if he’s going to the same place already I fill up his car.  If I drop by for a visit I bring a bottle of wine.  I never want my mom to think she didn’t raise me right.  More to the point, it’s just the right thing to do since nothing is owed to me.  It’s my way of saying “Hey, you were incredibly kind and generous with your things.  It made my day easier.  I treated your mower better than my own.  Here’s a little something for your trouble.”

So I was thinking about the word incredible for some reason.  I think that’s because it’s how I would describe this 21 Day Fix program I’m on.  By the way, I’m closing in on 21 days and it’s going well, I think.  The incredible thing about the diet portion is that I finished this day with three proteins left!  That means that I, who ate well and was not hungry all day, should have eaten even more.  Incredible!

Then I was thinking about the exercise portion.  In 30 minutes each night for just shy of three weeks I’ve been able to dramatically reshape my appearance.  I’m not talking about massive gains in size or a total beach body just yet.  In fact I’m still leery of taking my shirt off at the beach this summer.  That could be because I have a perception of myself that might not match reality.  That’s another story.  But my waist has gotten smaller.  That’s a start.  Incredible, right?

Then there’s the “trainer” himself.  I thought this was kind of funny.  On Sunday I had a chance to meet two of his brothers.  The three of them along with Mrs. “trainer” and two of their kids had just completed one of those obstacle-laden mud races the day before.  Wouldn’t you know that, standing in their presence, I realized that I was in the kitchen of the “Incredibles”.  Seriously it’s like a family who live to one-up each other in the “I’m more shredded than you” game.  And I think that’s, honestly, incredible.  Truly.  I kind of wish I’d had brothers growing up who would have engaged in a little friendly competition and camaraderie to help each other reach our goals.  So I actually have seven brothers but none of them would have engaged in that kind of camaraderie with me.  Incredible, I know.

So thank you, “trainer”.  Thanks for the mower and allowing me to invite myself in for a glass of wine.  You know you were hoping I would anyway.  And thanks for the inspiration.  I’ve got a summer of travel ahead of me and I hope I won’t fall too far off the wagon.  If I do, maybe you guys could adopt me.

What I Didn’t Know I’d Been Looking For

Yesterday I had a conversation with my trainer. It began because I asked him if he could read my most recent post on running and give me his honest feedback. I wanted to know if he understood where I was coming from or if the whole thing sounded “whiney”. 

To my surprise and delight he obliged. I say that only because I’ve been a little distant with the guy at work the past few weeks. My apologies to him now. The reason is that I recognize he graciously agreed to take on the challenge that is me when I more or less forced myself into his training regimen. I’m always conscious of that fact and at times I feel the need to step back and give him his breathing room. I’m sure he doesn’t always want to have me pop into his classroom with endless questions about my abs. It kind of sucks because other then training we do have some things in common and I genuinely enjoy having a friend at work.

He read and then we sat down to discuss. 

“You’re not whining at all,” he said.  “I should have explained things more clearly to you and I totally understand you’re frustration and your sense of discouragement. It’s natural.”

This was a huge relief to me. Knowing that he got what I was saying was very important to me. There’s no sense in handing large portions of your day over to someone else’s direction and then not feeling like there’s trust. I’m glad we’re on the same page.


Even Charo meeded a little encouragement.

He went on to break down some stats for me about running including some personal anecdotes that I needed to hear. I still believe the man is gifted and I still think that’s a wonderful thing both for him and for me. He shouldn’t shy away from that label but wear it proudly. But I also believe that, even though it might take me longer and I might have to train twice as hard I can eventually get there. I learned them from our conversation. And I thank him for taking the time. 

Before I left he added one crucial thing. 

It was nothing about diet or the right shoes or push ups. 

“You’re doing phenomenal,” he said looking up from his desk. “I mean that.”

I’ll overlook his improper adverbial construct. My trainer, a man who looks like a statue, told me I was doing great. It’s almost as if he said “I’m proud of you.” That was huge. I think all I’ve been looking for all along was some kind of recognition. I wanted someone to notice the hard work and dedication. The fact that it’s him who noticed means the world to me. 

Look, as a teacher I’m used to not being recognized. Just a few nights ago I was really frustrated. Found myself praying “God, this might make sense if I even once knew that I had helped just one teenager come to a better understanding of You. I could take the fact that I missed out on the high paying jobs my friends all have or the feeling that I’m not respected for what I do; but to go so long without so much as a pat on the back? That’s tough. It’s more than I can deal with. Why did You ask this of me?”  The frustration about my fitness progress was just a sub-symptom of that I think. 

Do I still wish the trainer ever had a free evening to kill a bottle of wine because I love hanging with him? Perhaps if I told him how phenomenal he is at drinking…

By the way, last night, after that conversation I went and ran three of my best miles in a long time and tonight I jumped into a killer crossfit workout. A little encouragement goes a long way. 

A Novice Runner Explains Himself

We ordered Chinese food for dinner this evening.

The menu that came stapled to the bag said “Make sure order correct.  When driver leave, no refund.”

Thank you for that.  Glad I made sure my order was correct.

And like the following story, something must have been lost in translation.

Earlier today I ran.  Nothing spectacular about that.  I’ve been running for a few months.  We have a friend in town who happens to be a runner.  Here’s the thing.  He’s a runner like my trainer is a runner.  The both of them routinely post a pace of 7:30-ish min./mi.  What that means, to the unfamiliar, is that their average running covers one mile ever 7 and a half minutes.  They’ve both “complained” in the past within my hearing that they wish they could go faster and they really have to train harder for that to happen.

My pace, you ask?  I started running for the first time ever about seven months ago.  My pace was non-existent.  I couldn’t run more than a minute (if that) without stopping for a walk.  That kind of nullifies any pace off the bat.  But by the time I ran my one and only 5K in early December, my pace was around 8:50-9:00 (at least for the first mile to mile and a half).  I was happy.  Then I took a month and a half off.  Now it’s like I’ve started from square one even though I’ve been back at it for a month.

I’ve been so frustrated because I’m impatient.  But it’s not just that.  I’m the kind of guy who likes data.  I like to have personal experience (my own or that of others) to go by.  I find it helps tremendously to know what other people before me have gone through so I have some kind of guide.  Plus, I like to know what to expect.

At the same time I feel like I haven’t been explaining myself very well.

In the past my trainer has almost angrily told me not to compare myself with him, that I need to take stock of the fact that I couldn’t run before and now I can and not to worry about it.  OK, I can see that.

Today, my friend seemed modestly shocked that I apologized to him after our run for making him demean himself by running at my pace.  Look, I ran my best today and we covered three miles but I was a wreck afterward and he was still pretty fresh, not a drop of sweat.  I could not breathe.  It cannot be easy to go that slowly when you’re normally much faster and I truly appreciated it.  Did I mention that this was his fourth 3-mile run in four days?

So here’s what I’m trying to say them.

I know every person is different.  I know I’ll find my own stride, no pun intended.  I get that I am not you and you are not me.  What I’m looking for is someone who’s done this before, anyone, to tell me a few things.  First, was it ever hard for you too?  Did you feel in your first few months of running like you just couldn’t do it?  Get discouraged like I do?  And when did the breakthrough occur?  How did you go from running 10 minute miles to 7 and a half?  How long did that take?  If I keep doing what I’m doing (three runs a week) and keep pushing myself can I hope to see a better time in three months?  Six?

But I don’t want to hear “You’ll get better when you get better.”

And I feel like even my magnificent trainer who’s done a lot to help me get started and tries his best to motivate me from time to time maybe doesn’t get my frustration with myself.  I’ve said it before, but I really believe he’s some kind of super-human.  I asked him one time about how he got into running.  I hoped he would share a similar story to mine.  I thought he’d say something about how it was hard for him and he struggled for over a year to get to a good pace.  What he said, however, was that it was really tough for him… The first time he ran, he ran three miles and it was hard.  But he stuck with it and did a half-marathon within four months.  Great.  The first time I ran I barely made it a quarter-mile and completed a 5K within four months at an embarrassing time.

I promise I’m not complaining.  Honestly, I’m happy that I can run.  I couldn’t do this before.  I am happy.  And I am noticing some physical results too.  Seems that my waist is getting a bit smaller.  That’s good news because I can see that inside a month and it motivates me to keep at it.  But I’d love to know that I’m not completely alone in this, that I’m not a runner to be pitied.  Then again maybe I need to find some runner-friends who are just normal guys like me.  Still, I want to know I’m going to succeed at this eventually and maybe to have a clue as to when that eventually will be.  If someone said to me “Honestly, you’re not going to do much better,” I’d be cool with that because I’d at least know that I hit my personal best.

I just don’t think I have yet…

The Spartan Mudder

First, I am currently watching a movie called Sharknado 3.  I knew in my gut that this would be worse than anything I could imagine.  However I was not prepared for just how awful this movie is.  Mark Cuban just threw a hand grenade into the mouth of a flying, living shark.  In the White House.  Because he’s the president.

My trainer has taken to a unique new training method.  As mentioned in an earlier post he has recently directed me toward a series of online training manuals designed to help me further reach my goal of getting jacked and thus looking slightly less like an armadillo with a tire around his waist.  One of these training plans is geared toward me eventually running a Spartan Race.  The other is designed for those running the more exhilarating Tough Mudder race.  He (trainer) has run several of the latter.  Truthfully I don’t believe he actually thinks I can run a Mudder.  I say that because I know I’m not a runner, not much of one anyone.  In the past month I’ve resumer my running endeavor.  My pace has actually gotten worse.  Someone mentioned that I needed to train differently if I want to run faster.  If I knew how, I would.  That being said, I mentally remind myself every single time I lace up my shoes that I just have to push through, accept the heumiliation of not really being able to complete the 3 or 4 mile run without walking here and there, and forcing myself not to look at the clock.  I’ve been told I won’t see results until I’ve been doing this about 2 years so I’m trying not to look for any.  In that regard I’m really just running because I committed to do it and I’d probably still look like an armadillo in 2 years either way.  But enough about the running.

In related news, my wife went out of town for a business trip a few days ago.  When Daddy is home alone with the kids (and our Jack Russell Terrier), I insist they sleep in my bed.  If I’m the only adult in the house I just like having them with me.  I think it’s more for my sake than theirs.  Last night around 3AM a thunderstorm rolled through.  Normally this wouldn’t present any problems because the three of us sleep very soundly.  But when this storm moved in I knew it.  That’s because the dog is apparently afraid of storms.  My little pup came tearing into my room, leapt onto my bed, stood on my chest, and began lapping my face while yelping and whimpering in my ear.  I tried to calm him down, even let him in the yard thinking I had forgotten his walk before bed.  But 3 more episodes of this and I gave up trying to get any sleep.  At one point my daughter looked at her brother and said “Why are you licking my face?”  No sweetheart, it’s the dog.  What a night…

So you see I’m caught up now.  And now I’ll catch up on that sleep.

Reaction to “Shred This” – Insights on Getting Shredded with a Trainer

My post yesterday about the kettlebell drew more readers than I’ve had in a long while.  Included in those readers was a man I affectionately dubbed “TP” in that post.  He called me up and thanked me for what I had written.  “Only thing is,” he said, “My wife said I’m a complete jerk.”  So, Mrs. TP, if you’re reading this, please know that your husband is (normally) far from a jerk.  In fact, as I’ve stated, I’m very grateful for his help and motivation.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a personal trainer and I’m thus far pleased with the results.  Granted, I did have to practically abduct the trainer and force him to train me against his will.  Don’t worry.  When I’ve reached 4% body fat, I will destroy the negatives.

Speaking of 4% bf, I want to mention some other facts about TP.  Did you know he first appeared on these pages as a character called “Zippy“?  Truth.  Follow the link, you’ll see.  So, TP knows me well enough.  He knows that I have some insecurity about reaching my fitness goals and I tease him about it by ridiculing him for his “beastliness”.  One thing he detests is when I try to make a comparison.  There are probably a few reasons for this.  As I said in my last post, comparisons with him are dumb because he’ll always come out on top.  He has been doing this a lot longer.  That’s one of the reasons I hired him.  There I go again…  It’s one of the reasons I coerced him with blackmail to train me.  I absolutely trust that he’s done all the work and figured out how to get in great shape.  If he could do it for himself, he ought to be able to do it for others, right?  Did not Abe Vigoda do the same thing for Barney Miller?

I play the piano.  I play it quite well.  Been playing since I was 4 years-old.  If I were to “train” another on how to play, I know it would take several years for that person to reach a point where he or she could play like I can.  But even with the passage of time, there’s something that person would have to have that I cannot give.  He would have to have talent.  So, TP, listen up…  When I tease him for being “superman”, it’s a complement, truly.  Not everyone has been blessed by God with physical abilities.  I try not to make the comparison as though I’ll ever reach the same stature as him.  I just like to imagine reaching that kind of a goal.  Case in point: I’m currently running a 9:30-10:00 minute pace.  It’s kind of humiliating only because I WANT to do better.  I don’t know if I CAN do better but I want to try.  If I were to ask TP “TP, how long did it take you to go from 10:00 to your current 7:30?” he’d likely respond “3 weeks.”  And that’s cool.  It’s actually funny.  And it’s a gift from God that one should not shy away from.  If I were to ask that same question in a British accent, it would be even funnier.

A thought…

When I was 4 years-old and being tossed from a burning building, setting me up for a broken body as an adult, there was a child, barely a year and a half old living across the continent.  That child was going to grow up to meet me one day and offer incredible training advice that would finally help me get my broken body back in shape.  See, it is a gift and I’m thankful for it.

So, TP, will I run as fast as you?  Doubtful.  I’d like to and I don’t think I’ll stop trying.  Your time is a benchmark for me, nothing more.  In our training session the other day, he showed me a stretch and said “This one’s great because while you’re stretching you can admire your lats.”  He’s a comedian.  I don’t have lats.  I’d like to and I don’t think I’ll stop trying.  The thing is, I know I’ve made progress.  Am I at his 4% fat levels?  Far from it.  I’ve never properly checked but I’m sure it’s way up there.  Is it coming down?  You bet.  Am I the only one who sees that?  Maybe.  What’s important is that he has seen, I hope, that after these past four months, I’m serious, dedicated, and willing to do whatever he suggests.  I’m doing things I’ve never done before like running and using a kettlebell and not just once or twice.  I like how I feel and I sort of like how I’m shaping up.  Can he get me to 4%?  That’s kind of up to him.  See how I did that there?  Clever, huh?  I just placed the burden all on his shoulders.  What?  They’re bigger than mine anyway.

Getting shredded, that’s the goal.  We’ll continue to monitor the situation like a hostage crisis.  Until then, this is my cheat day, per TP’s instructions and I may have already tapped into a big bottle of wine and a very large, unhealthy pizza topped with… enriched flour.