By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
August 27, 2015
Well, yesterday was one of the best days of the year, and I didn't even know it would be such a great day until I woke up that morning. Apparently, August 26 was National Dog Day! Of course, I got into it, writing a heart felt oratory to the various dogs in my life that I have had the pleasure of being their so called “owner.” I guess my first real experience with dogs was when my father owned his first “big” dog named Texas, a black and tan German Shepherd. Despite his large size, he never jumped on or knocked down me and my older sister, who were both toddlers when my father had him. Unfortunately, some jerk ended up stealing Texas right from our back yard, most likely due to the fact German Shepherds were quite popular in the 70s. To this day my father never wanted to name another dog Texas, not even when we adopted a little black and tan pup named Wolfgang Von Blitzkrieg (yup, me and my sister were big nerds about naming him). I always assume my subconscious love for German Shepherds came from the love we received from the gentle giant as kids. While we had plenty of dogs and cats while growing up, it took a long time before I finally got my first dog way back in the 1980s. Jeremy was the fourth dog I had christened with that name, and he was the first pup I ever got to call my own. We had a lot of good times and tough times, like the point in his life where he suffered testicular cancer and could have died. Ultimately he died from bone cancer years later, and I was the one that had to make the decision to have him euthanized. It took a good 13 years before I even considered having another dog simply because the shock of having to put another living creature to death traumatized me. I had to help make the call again a couple years later when our magnificent dog Missy died from what was assumed to be antifreeze poisoning. The awesome blue and black speckled beauty that was a stout 85 pounds for much her life was a frail and blind 48 pound dog when she died. Carrying her into the veterinary clinic was one of the worst days of my life. Truthfully, I didn’t even want my current dog Rusty at first. He was obviously upset about being adopted by yours truly, for I took him off the hands of an elderly couple and he was not adjusting to life with me very quickly. He peed in the house a couple times before he figured out when I opened the back door was the time to go do his business. He eventually warmed up to me and became buddies with me when he noticed his underbelly wasn’t on fire. You see, he had some kind of allergy to the Kibble and Bits his previous owners were giving him, and with the change in diet and some medication, he wasn’t constantly scratching his belly. Eventually, the bare and irritated belly became normal colored. One could tell how bad the situation was for him when you realize his underbelly had no fur! He literally scratched it all off! Anyway, I added my other little dog Scarlett a year later, much to his chagrin. Scarlett loved sparring, and Rusty used to get the upper hand on her when he literally flipped her over. Scarlett always countered by dive bombing off the couch and landing on top of him.
It has been a fun and weird six years since I got Rusty, and needless to say, it has been a rather huge turn in my life. You see, before I ever got Rusty, I was literally a couch potato. I maybe walked the neighborhood every now and then, but when I got Rusty, I had to start walking him. You see. He was quite the chubby chihuahua, and so I felt a need to start using the river walk next to my house in order to slim him down a little. It was odd, for the riverwalk had been next to my house for a few years and I never once used it. What I am getting at is Rusty kind of compelled me to do a little bit of exercise rather than just sit on my rump all the time. One of the many reasons why I started to eat better and exercise was due to some rather morbid dreams I had. I imagined myself dying in my sleep, mostly likely before a long vacation or a three day weekend. My pups would become so hungry the would resort to eating me! Yup, this is the kind of stuff you think about when you are detoxing yourself off a nearly one pound a day habit of cheese. So far, I am still alive and I am still eating decent food. I had some good red quinoa and wild rice burritos for lunch and had some excellent lasagna Christa had made for me for a late dinner. Not to mention I ate plenty of salad at the steakhouse my parents went to when an old family friend named Duane Stevens was visiting. Yes, a vegan in a steakhouse. I sucked it up and hung out, merely because I value friendship above all else. Plus my parents were paying!
What I am getting at here is the idea of needing a reason to keep your butt in gear. For me, motivation can be killed almost as easily as the temperature goes up during the summertime in Arizona. On one hand, I should be beyond this point in my health journey. But let’s face it, everyone needs a little help from time to time. Well, fortunately, a couple things have come into play to help me reignite some passion in my running. First of all, the Ragnar Las Vegas team I am on is now down to 10 runners, which means my dream of crossing the finish line might come true, but this will happen out of necessity, not desire. So the weather be damned, meaning I have to go to Reid Park to get some good late night running in in order to get my body stamina back up. Fortunately, I haven’t lost too much in that department. Tuesday was the first time in two weeks I had actually run, which was a shocking revelation for me in regards to how far behind I had fallen. I mean, 15 days without a run? What the hell happened! Well, I opted to run on the worst possible night, which seems to be a typical issue for me. It was only 80 degrees, but the humidity was a ridiculous 78%. I think the worst percentage I had ever run in was 70%. Halfway through the run, my legs felt like jelly. Anyway, I did a pretty slow three mile run, barely clocking in at 10:17-a minute per mile, which is slow for me at Reid Park, weather not withstanding. I ultimately took another stab last night, finishing with a much better clip of 9:53 per minute while running the same distance. Fortunately the lack of humidity certainly helped. I also intend to take another run tonight. Now why am I doing this? Well, I have to get back into running shape, which is something two weeks off the grid can do to you. Personally, I am rather surprised I did so well the first two nights back on the run. In the past there were instances where I would be panting so hard, I often times wanted to punish myself for such a silly idea of trying to run a relatively long distance. This time I have a little more sense in my head, for I am doing three-mile increments as opposed to bulldozing my way into some inexplicable six or seven mile run.
REDEEMING MYSELF BY GETTING A FULL SET OF TRX PIKES IN!
LAST WEEK I COULD NOT DO A FULL SET!
Now the other reason why I have decided to ramp up the effort after a couple weeks of sloth is because I have become something of a “coach.” Basically, the term coach has kind of a bad connotation in the fitness world, for it usually it is equated people who are too cheap and lazy to become an actual certified personal trainer. I’m a bit more mellow on the subject, for if someone is willing to pay a “coach” for their work, then more power to them. As for me, I would prefer to work with a certified trainer. Maybe it was the fact I am a contractor’s son, and hated the idea of people hiring non-licensed contractors and handymen to do the work we should have been hired to do in the first place. Anyway, I am becoming something of a coach for another Parsons Training member named Jim Porter. Much like myself, he is a vegan and is looking to lose some weight off his frame. He has decided to try and lose eight pounds for the month of September, a lofty goal for anyone that isn’t trying cut weight for some kind of combat sport. My job will in essence be to help him stay on track and keep him focused on his goal. Now Jim may think I am doing this to help him stay on track, but in reality it to help me as well. Heck, I wouldn’t have run on Tuesday night if Jim hadn’t forced me to. Since I was telling him to do some cardio that night, he said he expected me to do some running, especially after I told him lazy I had become. It was a big mistake on my part to mention that, but oh well, I did the three miles regardless. As I was saying, the challenge will start September 1, which has always had a special significance for me. Two years ago I did my fastest time up Sabino Canyon. Last year I started my 600-mile goal after breaking a 400-mile goal that night. It’s only fitting that I start a crazy month where I will push not just myself in order to keep up with my fitness, but also help push someone else. Jim has a goal to lose eight pounds, so I guess I might try challenging myself with 10 pounds. Since I have to start elevating my running distance and prepare for the worst possible scenario, this challenge will rely more on how I can stay healthy and ready to go. Like I have mentioned many times before, running the riverwalk near my house will not be an easy task, for running at Reid Park will be too easy. But, I have to start training eventually!
I will say this, I was much better this week in the gym that I was last night. Rather than fall apart like Homer Simpson when he came across an all night gym, I was much stronger this week. Maybe it was the fact we didn’t do any German Volume Training, but it was still a pretty solid workout. Having not worked on it for a while, we focused on some front squats and power shrugs. Power shrugs are essentially a building block for doing heavier weight on hang cleans, which is the best lift for me right now. While I am stuck at 185 pounds on my hang clean, we were doing the shrugs at 250 pounds. The point being….get my body stronger while also teaching me to maintain some proper form at a heavier weight. Now I don’t intend to try hang cleaning 250 pounds any time soon, unless I have a real death wish in blowing out my shoulders, but it is a nice thought. Jon also had me do some more TRX pikes this week, and judge for yourself in the video…I think I did a bit better this week! I was also introduced to another new movement that looks easy, but is horrific in actuality. Basically, I was doing stepback lunges with the 45-pound bar over my head while utilizing a snatch grip. Now the main focus for me was not to drop the darn bar on my head, while also trying to keep my arms straight. I got to say, that was a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. But at least I didn’t clamor for the 22-pound bar.
So there you have it, the goal for the next four weeks in stone. Now I doubt I can make the 10-pound loss I might be striving for, but hey, I have surprised myself before. Either way, it is good to actually give yourself a reason to seek out a goal, for this has been lacking for me lately. Plus this will coincide nicely with my goal of hitting 230 pounds by November 6. With the temperature becoming a little more permissible and less like toxic fire death, I should be able to get back on my running game. For crying out loud, I need to. I’m way behind schedule!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.