Monthly Archives: October 2013

GoRuck Training Week Three

“Bring. It. On.” That was how I ended my account of Week Two, confident of my ability to just nail Week Three. What the hell is wrong with me? I thought Weeks One and Two were tough but Week Three has been a new ballgame.

Of course, often the worst part of a workout is not the actual physical part but the mind games your head plays with you before and during the workout. Day One was hard, no doubt about it but if I hadn’t kept reading over the plan the day before and dreading what was to come, it probably would’ve been at least a tad bit easier. Starting off with the two mile ruck with a 30-pound rucksack was no joke. I’m just amazed by how heavy 30 pounds seems when it’s on your back and how much heavier it was than the 20 pounds from the previous weeks. During the first quarter of a mile all I could think was how on earth I could keep that up for two miles. That and how had I ever made it through the army when the rucks were heavier and the rest of you was weighted down with additional gear like Kevlars, canteens, weapon, ammo, and the like.

But I had made it through so why was I so feeling so demoralized about this little bitty old ruck? I needed an attitude adjustment and quick. I had not started the day off well, as a “non-essential” employee I had been furloughed due to the government shutdown and was feeling a bit like someone had suckered punched me in the gut. Worried about my job and worried about the jobs of my team I thought getting out to the park and getting my workout on would be just the antidote. But my doom and gloom seemed to be seeping into my exercise instead of being exorcised.

This particular morning was spectacular outside. A bright and fresh day that seemed to be tailor made for spending outdoors. I was lucky to be out in the park and here I was whining to myself that it was hard. I knew that my biggest enemy right now was me. I do that sometimes, get in my own head and convince myself that I can’t do it (too weak, or too slow, or too unathletic, or too whatever). Not often but I’m ashamed of myself when it happens. And this shit was STOOPID. This was completely within my capabilities so I needed to get over myself and get going. One trick I use a lot is to be my own little cheerleader. I’ll tell myself, “You’ve gone a quarter of a mile, next thing you know it’ll be a half mile and that means you’re a quarter of the way done!” Once I hit that halfway point I know I’ve nailed it. The logic I use here is that I’ve already proven I could do that distance so no excuses in doing it again for the second half. This works with sets too. By the time I hit the third set in a five set grouping I’m more than halfway done. So two more sets is a piece of cake. Yup, piece of cake… It’s a bit silly but it’s gotten me through more runs than I can count.

My little mind games worked once again against the naysayer in my head that lives to tell me how I can’t accomplish something. I finished the ruck and hit the gym for the rest of the workout. There were two more rucks this week but I had already shown I could do it so they didn’t stress me out so much and I got them done. Distressingly slow and with some blisters but done nonetheless.

And you know what? As good as you feel after a hard workout, you feel even better after a hard workout that you were convinced you weren’t going to be able to finish. After getting Day One over with, my attitude improved and Day Two was amazing. It was long and my muscles were quivering when it was done but I crushed it (meaning finished and not even having to modify any of the exercises) and my confidence really soared in comparison with my grumblings the day before.

Another confidence booster was a bike ride I did for some cross-training (and to keep my bike skillz, such as they are, up). It wasn’t a particularly tough ride, I mainly wanted to get my legs stretched out and maybe pedal some of the soreness away. However, since every good ride has to include at least one hill (and since hills are pretty much unavoidable anywhere around my area) I got to tackle an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few months. This hill was pretty tough. It started out all “I’m not so bad, just a long gentle slope, you’ll be fine, I promise” and when you were thinking you were almost done it took a turn and got all “Hahahaha, sucker, climb this!” But here is where the mental game comes into play again. I knew this hill, and I knew I could do it. It would suck but there was no way in hell it was ever going to win. I owned this hill. Here’s the thing though. By “owning” this hill what I usually meant was I got up and over it and my heart, although threatening to, didn’t actually explode. This week was different. I can’t say I was in danger of being ticketed for speeding by the time I got to the top but I felt amazing. My legs were sore from the endless squats and lunges and whatnot of the GoRuck training but they were also strong. I had never felt so strong going up that hill. I was still struggling some (that end bit is just not nice, bad hill!) but my struggles weren’t as hard as they had been any other time I’ve hit that hill. It inspired me and further improved my attitude.

One significant difference I noticed this week was how my body has adapted to the workouts. I’m still a bit sore afterward but it’s much milder than it was the first week. Week Three is done and I now know better than to bellow “Bring it on, Week Four!” Instead I’ll offer a cautious and polite hello. “Nice to meet you Week Four, let’s be friends.”

Let the Games Begin

This is a very short piece I wrote in response to a challenge in which I had to use the words “goose,” “court,” and “computer.” I took the small liberty of using “geese” instead but figured that was close enough. It’s a silly piece that I had fun writing. 


Banners fly proudly in the spring afternoon, furling and unfurling with the vagaries of the sweet May breeze. They sport heraldry identifying the noble participants in today’s court games. Three hissing geese represent the Duke of Stropshire; a wild boar for the Earl of Mann; a pair of dandelions held in the paw of a kitten (the origins of this crest long lost to history) stand for the Marquis de Finnes; these and numerous others signify the glory of the heroic peers of the realm who await the trumpet’s call to battle.

The Duke of Worthingham takes a pull on his inhaler. The sweet May breeze brings with it the pox of allergens, inflaming his already sensitive airways. “What is taking so long?” he wheezes to the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer.

The Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, or the Baron, or, as his little sister refers to him, “Poopy Pete,” taps away at his computer before answering. “The website is down.”

A collective groan rises into the air. The banners droop with dejection. The website holds the order of battle they need to commence today’s games.

“What are we going to do?” The whine in King Bartholomew’s voice is enough to set even the most loyal of his subjects on edge. God’s wounds, he is the king, he should be telling them what to do.

Brother Francis steps forward. He hitches his slipping brown bathrobe back up onto his shoulders. “Guys, it’s okay. I went on the website this morning and printed the order of battle out just to be on the safe side.” The noble warriors are ashamed that the monk thought to prepare for the battle while they were focusing on decrimping their tinfoil armor and practicing dipping their lances for the ladies they fervently hoped would be watching.

“Brother Francis shall be anointed Lord of the Laptop following today’s battle for his valiant and successful effort in saving, this day of our lord, the games of the court of King Bartholomew!” says the king himself, his volume rising as he stands during the last words of his proclamation.

“Huzzah! Huzzah!” The banners fly upright again and the nobles straighten their shoulders, tossing their capes flippantly back over their shoulders to free their arms for fighting.

“Brother Francis! Please begin,” says the king.

Brother Francis obliges. “First, roll a ten-sided die…”

GoRuck Training Week Two

I had made it through Week One. I was sore in many (so many) places but I felt good as well. Now it was on to Week Two of the 6 Week Plan from GoRuck. When I read what was in store for Week Two it didn’t seem so bad. Not easy, mind you, but not harder at least than Week One.

I was sort of right about that. Day 1 put me in my place right away. The very first exercise was Strict Pull-Ups. I can’t do pull-ups, strict or easygoing or otherwise. Once upon a time I could do a few pull-ups (I think my absolute max ever was a whopping three) but once upon a time I could also stay up drinking all night and then go to work all day. Can’t do that anymore either. At the gym I had been doing assisted pull-ups on a machine on occasion but obviously that wasn’t going to cut it here. These pull-ups were strict, they weren’t going to let me get away with that nonsense. So, as I did a few times in Week One, I had to modify this exercise to make it fit with reality. The number of pull-ups called for in the plan was “max reps.” In my case that was half a pull-up. Eek. But I am proud to say by the end of the five sets I had managed to get ¾ of the way up. I can sense a whole pull-up in my future, you just watch. To aid in my goal I installed a pull-up bar in my bedroom doorway and instituted a rule (originated by my friend who does pull-ups for fun) that I had to at least attempt a pull-up every time I walked into the room. So I started sleeping on the couch.

Varying sets of push-ups were also challenging for me. If I could do sets of 20 I would have passed my PT test. Now, my goal still is to do as many push-ups as the plan calls for but I’m not going to hate myself when I fall short of that goal. I will get there.

Unfortunately, I have started to have some problems with my right wrist. That was a worry of mine at the start and although it’s not too bad yet I will have to see how things go. The pain was most noticeable after doing a set of exercises that included weighted bear crawls and crab walks, both of which seem designed to inflame my skinny little pathetic child-sized wrist. One thing I’m doing to mitigate the stress on my feeble joint is modifying the Front Leaning Rests from the classic top-of-the-pushup stance to a more normal plank where I’m resting on my forearms. I don’t think my abs can tell the difference because it still sucks. If it gets worse maybe I’ll finally get around to going to an orthopedist and getting a final diagnosis/resolution of what the issue is. First, I’ll go back to my old standby and use a brace or maybe tape it up before doing those types of exercises.

The rucks haven’t been too bad. I haven’t rucked for over five years but the ache/soreness right between my shoulder blades came back to visit like it hadn’t ever been away. I’m not sure exactly how much I’ve been carrying. I stuffed as many hard-covered books as I could into my old black Jansport along with a couple of three-pound dumbbells I found under my couch. I think it’s about 20 pounds, the weight called for in the plan. When my GoRuck order comes in I’ll substitute a 20 filler bag for the books and the Bullet Ruck for my good old Jansport. It’s been a surprising trooper but it’s also earned a good retirement.

Time to get ready for Week Three. Week Three, which begins its description with the line “Things are starting to get real in this week.” Yikes. But whatever, I swear my delts are already getting bigger. Bring. It. On.

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