Monday, August 11, 2008


Another Crossfit workout. If I said I couldn't believe how much I suck, it wouldn't be entirely true. I can believe it, sort of. If it were a competition with the others, I'd have been crushed. My goal was to finish. That's easy. I can do anything, given enough time. 10 minutes behind last? No worries. The skinny little women beat me. The fat women beat me. I can be philosophical about it, but it gives one pause.

It's so grueling that I take my shirt off during the first round. I'd much rather not. Cuz it's embarrassing. I look like I should be near the head of the pack, and I'm last. I look, look like a poseur. I feel like I have to apologize. It's odd.

It will take a few months for my cells to build up the necessary mitochondria. It will take a solid month or so to build up the mental toughness that's required for really productive training. But I'm at the point where I'm getting irritated. I expect much more of myself. Problem is, expectations have to be earned.

My son and I have discussed how much genetics is a factor in all this. Of course it's important. But genes are expressed by environmental stimulation, so the matter is not uncomplicated. As I see it, bones are determined. As I've been known to say, I can't help my bones. On the other hand, I have brothers who are pretty average. Same genes, different lifestyle. Same with my son. He has cousins, who have potential but no accomplishments. My conclusion is that it's not genetic. A propensity for leanness may be nice, if you don't eat right. How does that apply to me? I've eaten right for 30 years. Of course I look different.

Same with muscle mass. All through my 20s and 30s I didn't train anything. But I was active, took the stairs instead of the elevator, jumped fences and climbed trees. So I maintained my teenage musculature. Slimmed down a bit, but kept it, albeit untrained. Most active guys would look like me, in terms of muscle mass. It's just that it's covered with fat. The difference between being average and being ripped is in the thickness of your skin. Point is, lifestyle. All those pork rinds make your rind porky.

But fitness is earned. Interesting word, fitness. We throw it around a lot. I can run a long way, so I'm fit. I can lift a heavy weight, so I'm fit. But that's not what fitness is. The word isn't a mystery. We know what something is, when it is fit for a certain usage. We know the old phrase, survival of the fittest. Fittest, here, means absolute suitability to survive. It means ability to thrive. That's what the word fitness means. Ability over a broad range of challenges. We are required to do more than run a certain distance, or lift a heavy thing. Human physical survival requires more than such limited, such narrow and specific tasks. And in this sense, my very focused efforts over the past handful of years has not increased my overall fitness. Eye opener.

Well. A challenge, then. A specific challenge. It just requires enough effort over enough time to stop sucking so bad. That's doable.

Who would have believed it. I'm the fat kid.



chuck e. boy said...

You don't mention age as a factor.

Jack H said...

I won't let it be one.

At this point age is relevant only in that it's been so long since I was active the way a kid is active. Age slows recovery, not the training effect itself. CF is intense in the moment, but it isn't a huge long-term drain. I feel fine in half an hour.

Will C. said...

"And in this sense, my very focused efforts over the past handful of years has not increased my overall fitness."

I don't buy that for a second Jack. You are simply crossing over to a new discipline. Do you thing that your new mates could waltz right over to the BJJ dojo and grapple with the best of them? Could they even last a minute?...five?...finish a match without tapping out from exhaustion?
Stop selling yourself short.

Jack H said...

Key concept: OVERALL fitness. BJJ is a highly specific skill. I know there's no crossover effect by my poor performance here. Whereas with cf, it's a lack of skill, not conditioning, that would be the limiting factor. Same deal with running. I was in marathon shape when I started bjj, and I was wasted after 30 seconds of bjj. Highly specific training has only limited general application. That's my point. It's an apples/oranges thing. I'm doing oranges now.

You know, I called this one REALITY for a reason. You can't argue with results. The fact is that I am last, by a long way. It isn't about appearance, and it's not about some other, specific skill. You can play the piano beautifully, therefor you are fit? Doesn't work that way. Fitness is: "increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains."

Will C. said...

"Fitness is: "increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.""

Then why not try on an Erg and go to it. It has been found to produce the most "work" per unit time than any other athletic endeavor. I rowed 8 man shells (head and sprints) in college and can tell you it is pure pain. You are a cog in the machine.

I think however, it would bore Jack H. within a few days.

Jack H said...

Jack H is aware of rowing, and acknowledges that rowing is part of fitness. He calls it mono-structural movement. Running, rowing, jump rope, all these forms of locomotion. It's a great workout, and Jack H is now using it. But it's a specialty, alone. There's weights, which is moving any object, and there's gymnastics, which is any body weight movement. Three fundamental categories. Gotta to all of them. Life is not rowing. So says Jack H.