Adrenaline Complex

Simplifying Solutions

Competitive ‘sophistication’ (rather, complication masked as sophistication)
is harmful, as compared to the practitioner’s craving for optimal simplicity.
~Nassim Taleb

It is vain to do with more
what can be done with less.
~William of Occam

ockham's-razorThe Sophists got a lot of unwanted attention from Plato. Scholarly studs prancing around ancient Greece, charging money to impart their knowledge, and much like modern day salespeople, politicians & lawyers, spinning their knowledge to make happy the hearts of the highest bidder.

Today we might call them Hucksters, Shysters, or maybe even Con-men, but back then, they were called Sophists. Somewhere in between, their name got lumped in with something the ruffians, rubes & commoners were conditioned to crave, Sophistication. What started as a simple idea became a complex notion, and if we’re not careful, we’ll suffer the complexities, confusions & cranial conflagrations of those collusions.

Every book from our fitness library, every magazine glossed with half naked torsos, every other post we find online tries to sell us the promise of some spectacular miracle workout or wonder supplement. Minimal time, maximal investment. If the program didn’t work, we didn’t try hard enough, or we gave up the day before all of our problems would have been solved. It’s always our fault.

The best & brightest lies are always some tweak of actual truth. That is what made the Sophists so successful, and that is why our consumer-culture continues to thrive. If enough coal is packed together, we’ll always be inclined to believe that there could be a diamond in the center. Unfortunately, there is just enough truth embedded in that belief to make it authentic & understandable. Fortunately, even the rarest compression of coal is absolutely worthless without a buyer.

Those nuggets of truth hinted at, alluded to & ambiguously referenced are meaningless without action. The workouts we’re served are needlessly sophisticated exactly because they’re intended to mislead, deceive & disappoint. Consumer culture thrives on the notion that if at first you don’t succeed, buy something else.

If we’re going to get stronger, if we’re going to inherit the power we were born to wield, our first & broadest step is to learn to do more with less. Minimalist mentality.

Isolation exercises tell us that we’re not as good as the next person. Forget strength, your arms must be as big as X in order to look strong. Your run was a sweet gesture, but it wasn’t as fast as Y.  Etcetera, etcetera . . .

Is that our motivation, inspiration, encouragement?

Whatever method we choose is just a tool, and a tool is only good as how we understand & use it. No tool is as complex as our own bodies, and no tool will help us simplify sophisticated processes as our Mind-Body connection. What are we doing and why are we doing it?

A barbell seems to be a simple tool, but it still has a lot of moving parts, a lot of links in the chain where something can & might go wrong. The singular nature of Kettlebells & dumbbells might seem even more simple, but poor movements can complexify our relationship with them and befuddle our results.

We tend to recommend the simpler movements for our workouts: the Deadlift, Squats, Kettlebell Swings, Pullups, Pushups, Loaded Carries, Running . . . the combinations of which can be as complicated or as simple as we wish. The movements themselves should be simple & fluid. If the effort to move well is greater than the force required to manipulate the load, we are doing it wrong.

Take time to learn the movements. The Deadlift looks simple, but a movement out of alignment can bring the body to a crashing & rehabilitory halt. Same for Squats, Swings, even Running.

Full-body movements, gestures & immersions give us the most result for our efforts, and no matter how we attempt to slice otherwise, are the simplest approaches to developing strength and realizing power. The trick is to not be tricked by the presence & promise of shiny objects. All of our potential comes from inside of us, through dedication, discipline & determination. No matter what tools we choose to use, the method of our success doesn’t get any more simple than that.

Stay strong, get stronger,
~Lee

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Alter We Go

Alter We GoHere’s a perfectly lovely example of adapting what is useful . . . CrossFit has a benchmark WOD (workout of the day) affectionately known as Fran, which consists of the deceptively simple movements, Thrusters & Pullups. Three total sets of each exercise for 45 total reps. 21-15-9 are well-known numbers, beloved & despised simultaneously. 21 Thrusters, 21 Pullups, 15 of each, then 9 of each.

Maybe we don’t need or particularly care for the idea of Pullups today . . . no worries . . . we can insert anything we want & or need into this well established template. Do try this at home, in the park, or wherever you can focus on the feeling:

 

  • Thrusters & Kettlebell Swings– same # of sets, same rep scheme
  • Burpees & Cleans– same sets, same reps
  • Squats & High Jumps– same, same & wear your big kid underwear

 

The list can & should go on. Like anything that attracts us into action, it looks simple, but it certainly isn’t easy. Whichever combination you pick, revisit it once a week and see if you feel less wiped out that the week before. There are ways to make it tougher . . . a down & up 21-15-9-9-15-21 rep scheme is one way, but make sure you can finish the basic template before experimenting with anything more complicated.

Whatever you choose, whatever you do, enjoy it . . . this might be your only chance in this earthly form.

Congratulations to all Boston Marathoners

Boston StrongThe Boston Marathon started in 1897 and is the most highly coveted race covering 26.2 miles anywhere in the world today. I’d like to take just a minute to say ‘Congratulations!‘ to everyone participating in today’s race, to those who have ran before, and those of you who plan to run in coming years. Completing a Marathon is tough enough, but completing one with a fast enough time to qualify . . . yes, qualify, one does not simply fill out a piece of paper and await entry status, oh no, you’ve got to be fast & you’ve got to be good to qualify for this one, and maybe therein lies some of the appeal.

26.2 miles of hills & windings through Boston is appeal enough. When I think of Boston, I still think of the Mighty Might Bosstones, Dropkick Murphys, Sam Adams Brewing and all that fantastic Revolutionary history. Arguments have been made that if it had not been for Boston, our country would still be a scattered concoction of disgruntled colonies. Of course, history is more complex than that, but so are Marathons, so is running . . . and running is what motivates us, at least in part.

Running is really something we’re born to do. As babies, we want to move, and we want to do it fast. Back in those ‘good ol’ days’ there wasn’t all this thought, theory & blatant intellectualization into the process of what it took to run. We just did it, and for the most part, we did it well.

The years piled up in front of us and bullied us out of our natural tendencies with school, jobs, social expectations, and somewhere in the mix, we forgot how to run. Even worse, we lost the excitement for running.

Visit any library or bookstore and the volumes on form & how-to running are plentiful & myriad. It’s enough to make our heads swarm with the possibilities, but it’s also enough to discourage us from reconnecting with that instinctual urge to move fast & move well.

I’d like to be able to tell you to get out there and just run . . . keep doing it until you find that early sense of joy & freedom we all experienced, but with many of those chasmic years behind us, the divide is great, and unless we’ve done something about it, our habits keep us from getting any positive benefit from running . . . and enjoying the run, for far too many, is certainly out of the question.

There are several great running stores in & around Atlanta that offer a range of services to help us with our running, no matter how far removed from the innocence of speed & freedom of self-guided movement.

Team in Training also offers coaching, motivation, technique & strategies to get you running while raising money for an excellent cause . . . definitely worth checking out.

As overwhelming as the book selections can be, I’ve luckily encountered & devoured a few that either help with motivating you back onto your feet, or instructional in the ways of good form & technique.

Lists like these are difficult to compile, because no matter how good your intentions, you just know that you’re leaving out some good resource or another. This may well be the case here, but at least we have a starting point for where & possibly even how to start, and that’s usually better than what we had before. But, compiling & composing the perfect list (if such a thing had a chance of ever existing) isn’t the goal here . . . the goal is to celebrate runners & running, and maybe even encourage you to give it a try . . . who knows, you could soon be planning an adventure trip to Boston for your own legendary running of the Boston Marathon!

TheSpiritofLiberty

Run well, run often,
~Lee