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Iron on My Mind


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It’s showtime, animal lovers, and I’m up the doggone creek without a poodle. I spent the entire week editing and preparing the davedraper.com newsletters to be assembled into a book titled Iron on My Mind. The 60-some articles chosen for final publication needed review and upgrading to eliminate third-grade writing, dated material and incompatible details. Like going through one’s garbage and separating the recyclables -- glass, metal, plastics -- from the compost -- vegetable rinds, rotting fruit, coffee grounds -- and the useless indefinable trash, slop and goop. What a stinky mess.

Spare time was reserved for eating, training and restless sleep. What else is new? So here I am nose to the glowing screen and thumbs to the keyboard, cranking out drivel before nightfall: another newsletter deadline. I’m allowed to call it drivel cuz it’s my drivel. I’d rather others called it wisdom, truth, insight, poetry, literature, music to the ears or stylish prose. However, drivel will suffice; has a homey, down-to-earth and accurate ring to it, perfect crystal.

In case you didn’t notice, we are engaged in my usual strategy, pre-game chatter and bantering. I’m circling the field before making my play. I’ll start by determining the sport, shift deceptively, and go for some points on the scoreboard. I hope to win, but will settle for not losing badly.

Here’s a Flash from the Bomber Research Clinic: When thoroughly engrossed in a project, we depend more than ever on the correctness of our training -- that is, our eating and exercise time in the gym. Too busy to look forward or backward, we must be sure we’re on track and not wandering. One never knows where one will find himself when he pauses in his meandering and looks to the left and the right. Downhill is a common place; lost in the jungle, at the end of your rope or in a jam, Sam. Maintain your training with its practiced and trustworthy design and you will never be left stranded, found in a ditch or climbing a rock face to your once-safe ledge.

This week I was tempted to skip meals and a workout or two to make a wide place for my oversized project. I did not. Had I, I would not be able to write about the importance of training consistency, its support, protection and energizing assurance. I’d be somewhere in the vicinity of the dump south of town, recycling trash.

I’ll confess, though my training was not put on the back-burner, it was permitted an agreeable margin of leeway. I love a little margin in which to stray, an edge of space to slip and slide and do a jig. "Hey," I agreed with myself, "I’m within the four walls of the manufacturing plant while tasks at the front office are mounting. Very commendable. I don’t have to knock out muscles like I was on the assembly line." My attitude was generous: Do what you can, want and need, Bomber, and don’t push yourself. You’ve got the drivels.

This made perfect sense to me and I see you nodding in agreement. When offered generosity, one tends to give generously in return. (Actually, in real life when offered generosity, folks grab it and run like monkeys with their butts on fire.)

I treated the gym as a refuge and my training as a gift. I relaxed, settled into my workouts without pressure, allowed them to happen -- I relied on them -- and they happened very well. Take away the command, "Push yourself," and replace it with the permissive encouragement, "Don’t push yourself," and pushing yourself becomes the unspoken theme of your workout. I pushed here and there harder than ever without near the pain, discomfort or mental anguish, and left the gym with a grin.

The time and toil I spent perusing the material of years gone by was alive, vigorous and lighthearted. The editing project was labor intense, indeed, but not an awesome undertaking pitted with impatience, criticism and fatigued crankiness. Never once did I lose hope, humor or direction. Had I, the work would have suffered, surely been in vain. The unwavering workouts, certain as sunshine, lifted me up, enlivened and steadied me, and revived the meaning of the words accumulated over the recent years. I was being indoctrinated by my own indoctrination. Get this: I’m going to include deadlifts and squats in my training and try those awful supersets.

I’m going to get ripped.

The step back in my training was a step forward in disguise. Rather than pulverize myself as usual, I merely beat myself instead. The result, knees that were beginning to squeal hummed to the tune of lower reps, lower resistance and a kinder, more rhythmic pace. Best leg workout I had in a long time. I didn’t take the familiar problem to the drawing board for redesign; I didn’t think about it at all. Left to itself, it resolved itself. I call the phenomenon Innate Care (IC) or Internal Trust Absent Intellect (ITAI).

Another thing, some new guy in the gym said hi and I didn’t defend myself, attack him, call him a jerk, look away or at my shoes like a total social deviant. I said something intelligent, like hi. This is big, bombers.

When I had read all I could read about supersets and focus and blasting it whether you were injured or hallucinating or under attack by wild boar in Honduras, I went to the gym and trained with an energy that came from a hidden reserve, an enthusiasm that was released from a secret pressurized chamber and a inner knowing possibly retained in a heavily guarded, temperature-controlled underground storehouse, a bunker of sorts. Iron and steel weighed down my thoughts, muscles and might burdened my mind; surely the sight and pursuit of them would freak me out or reduce me to a blithering idiot.

The opposite was my experience. I thrived.

I’m encouraged, kids of my age, plus or minus 10 to 20 years. I occasionally and privately fear this iron and steel thing can be over-tiring as one gets older, that is to say, both boring and fatiguing. I wonder, will the hard work and determination age the practitioner rather than restore, revitalize and add strong years to his or her life? Does it cause wear and tear, deterioration and eventual suffering? In no way and not at all are my first impressions. Never and not come to mind. Get outta town and "way no" are additional, more emphatic responses. They pump us full of oxygen, adrenalin, atomic energy; they add new dimension, a sixth sense, an invisible barrier against slowing, aging, injury and ailment. They provide recreation, diversion, a dopey topic of conversation and, above all, hope.

I fly whenever I wish. Some days, when the winds are good, I fly without wings.

Draper the Bomber

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One of the most enjoyable and distracting ways to entertain yourself in the gym during an off-time is to change your workouts radically. Pick two or three big movements and a couple of active rest exercises and string them together, circling the gym floor six or eight or ten times until you're breathing hard and feeling full of it. Dave develops this further in his article on slumpbusters; here's a link where you'll find a handful of sample exercise combinations that will make your body sing.

If you need a little expansion on the above article, in particular to cover plateaus and overtraining, Dave's written about that, too.

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