Can ninjas have fans? (a tale of over-training)

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

With a lot of humility, I can admit I went through a phase of spinning my wheels, frustration, and ultimately experiencing burn out. Only because I lacked the self-awareness to slow down so I could preserve my progress: as an athlete, a hyperactive know it all, a mediocre writer, or even aspiring ninja warrior.  For the uninitiated, burn out is a miserable experience that feels and looks like a dozen disorders rolled into one, but during that time projects I had taken on felt unimportant. Anything that was easy enough to complete before losing my minimal motivation would feel like or really was just fluff. Cleaning out an inbox was a daunting task. Deleting spam email was challenging for a growth-oriented, hyper-competitive guy that asks for feedback on how to hole punch a binder more efficiently. I find myself writing out this experience first to give myself a task that can offer me clear feedback so I can refine, course correct, and continue to level up. Second record what writing while in the throes of burn out looks like **spoiler alert** more terrible than it reads!

To best capture this I have to say for the last couple of weeks, I was semi-conscious of the fact that phoning it in at work, actually that would be too kind. Not putting any effort towards my most important goals that mattered. Currently, I’m still not sure to why, but I would pick some “weakness” to work out, bonus points for any internet article that hyperbolized “If you aren’t doing X you might as well smoke a carton a day and binge on cartons of ice cream.” It didn’t have to matter, of course. Except to feel like I was doing something and then I would shift my focus on the next new thing influencers wanted to promote. Thanks obsession with over-training and love of all things novel. This was the first signs of burn out I was ignoring. I also could be seen regularly: training during lunch and after work; running more miles far beyond any reasonable returns; asking for and taking on projects I could have delegated to someone else on my team; and can’t forget going to bed later and later each night to get negligible things done.

In hindsight, I desperately needed a week off and 56 hours of sleep. What I chose instead was two more weeks of jamming multiple cups of coffee like it was a #challenge, terrible sleep, irritability and downright exhaustion, even occasional nausea after even low intensity conditioning work. I hope it goes without saying, feeling weak is terrible, but notion of having to slow down quite literally drove me mad. Getting visibly upset that running a mile hurt and would be giddy for the days that were schedule to work yoga or my meditation practice. This is the terrible lack of awareness I was meaning. Pretty sure I would have kept doing scores of kettlebell swings, pull ups and box jumps until I had a full blown injury. What prevented a trip to MRI scan city was the fact that eventually an hour of ‘power’ yoga was too taxing and heavy bag work was actual torture on my joints.
This gave me some serious doubt staying in the ninja warrior challenge; since it would involve climbing, jumping, and well ninja-ing about while warrior one made my hips tremble.

I was ready to send ‘a please cancel my registration’ email. Until the person who first suggested trying out for the American Ninja Warrior competition said “I still believe you’ll do well.” We chatted for a bit about how friends were dropping out left and right; also I may have admitted I was suspect of my ability to finish the course, at my current level of training, let alone in any semblance of a competitive time. (As selfish as it sounds, but it’s hard to see the point in something if I can’t gain value from it.) The effect I didn’t expect though was after having a fellow cynical jerk (*reads friend*) authentically say that they believe you can hit your own ridiculous benchmark for success was more powerful than expected. It helped! Maybe just short lived dopamine hit, maybe but my brain just wanted a platitude. Bonus points for the bit of validation coming from someone I look up to who’s been crushing it. Strangely enough despite my aching joint and commitment to doggedly throwing my body into training, working and not sleeping I chose a different set of workouts for the day to shake off the rust and see where I stand. Prognosis: Time to skip some yoga, take midday nap and remember sometimes it takes a fan/friend to share that they believe in you.

My morning and evening work outs.
A lot of resistance cardio, mobility and functional movements:

Warm up
Jog 10min,
Scapula push ups/dip
KB swing w/ T-spine twist (35lbs)
Cardio
5rounds 3minute round of heavy bag work
(used medium resistance band to stay mindful of footwork)
2 x 15 Threaded lunges (70lbs)
2 x 2hand KB Swing (70lbs)
<Some technical convoluted CNS strength based exercise?>
130lbs X 12 (3sec hold) Single arm cable lat pull

Evening ‘s effort to work out things I hate :
Front squat 3×10 @155, 185, 205lbs.
DB Snatch 3×5 70, 90, 110lbs.
Weighted sit up 3×20 & mason twist.

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You want me to do what? A 16.4 story

The other night Cross Fit HQ posted 16.4 and rarely have I ever seen a work out that made so many athletes question their own mental and physical prowess at the thought of tackling the workout. For the record so far I haven’t attempted 16.4 but I did interview someone to give me some insight for any warriors that aren’t interested in following crossfit but still enjoy testing their limits:
13minute As many reps as possible –
55 Deadlift 225/155 lbs.
55 WallBall Shots 20/14 lbs
55 Calorie Row
55 Handstand Push-ups

The shear volume of 16.4 was plainly hard to conceive. After asking an elite athlete and a few bro-scientists the message was clear: you weren’t going to score beyond 220 reps w/o scaling and still having a plan; short of being some type of pure blooded freak beast.

From advice I did receive from a more experienced lifter made this suggestion to break up the workout
DLs: 10 – 10 – 10 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 5 – 5 – 4
The wall balls: 15 – 8 – 8 – 8 – 8 – 8
The row wasn’t bad only the time remaining after 55 cal of left the time around 12:50, leaving time for 2 HSPU.
This gave me a lot of insight on how to improve my training , and additionally is ever doing 55 deadlifts @225lbs. something important to my training.

Train like a ninja, better bring a friend

“When someone cares they make an effort, not excuses.” – every coach ever.

The other night while training with codename pixie, I remembered the only thing I could promise almost 10 weeks ago when she agreed to join my gym, “you won’t get shredded like some instagram model, but you will get stronger.”

In the passing weeks my prophecy has been fulfilled. But, then again the only way to fail my one simple measure of succeeding would be to just never show up. Something that I’m sad to say has happened a lot in the last dozen years spent training would be fighters and former athletes. (One day I would be excited to write more about the days of training with fighters that we seeking infamy and the mindset it requires.) Back to the topic of the day: The workout for this day was a first; where our different goals for training had some layover: She had a photo-shoot and me with my own super serious ninja training that can’t be neglected. Hah, or more accurately I was just excited that the pixie had been diligently training and finally has built up to working in with my workout.
Hopefully the WOD makes enough sense: Enter the pain cave and challenge yourself with things you hate… and add just a bit of complementary movements. Since I’m the person that writing the program and know I’d give up pizza before doing an entire work out of sled push/drags.
Warm up five minutes of jump rope and PVC pipe cleans
Row: 500meters; 350meters; 200meters
Dips: 21; 15; 9
Sled pushes 70lbs x 4
2 x 15 toes to bars
2 x 20 decline sit-ups
3 x 3 minute rounds of bag work
Stretch

In closing this was a much more fun workout than usual, mainly because having a friend catch up with your higher volume of training give you hope to keep pushing yourself. Also it helps to remember when bringing your friend along to train in your regularly scheduled crucibles address physical dysfunctions first (they maybe unaware of), then use all the sweet fitness gypsy methods to get them up to snuff before adding a bar or bounding drill to their workout. So, that looks a lot like working on mobility, unilateral(I.e. Lunge) and eventually bilateral(squat) exercises to learn how coordinated the person is. Of course we all want our friend to do pistols and handstand pushups, but apparently making sure their able to move in such dynamic ways
I strongly believe weight training should be used in these process for most clients that are looking to accomplish a goal. Because the caveman logic I use is get strong first; reap the rewards of being able is compared to that was