Me and my gold medal self

Ok blog, it’s time you and I got it together. Properly. Yes, I know you’ve been wondering what the hell I’ve been doing, how I could neglect you so, and what the hell could possibly be more important than hammering out regular missives to the world on your oh-so-user-friendly interface, but it’s ok – I’m here again now, to make amends and pat your head like of those undersized dogs.

Unfortunately, there’s this pesky little thing in my life called “work”. It keeps me warm at night in bed and my cupboards stocked up with chocolate and peanut butter, and, whilst I wish it wasn’t the thing that lets me indulge my love of badassery it really is (although I suppose in desperate times I could just resort to sleeping in a tent and scavenging squirrel). It’s been pretty busy recently, especially as I realised that I’m getting, like, rilly old, and that if I don’t start making some money I’m going to be living in rented accommodation and shopping at budget supermarkets for the rest of my life. Thus the decision was made to work my arse off. In reality this has basically meant cutting back on my social life, since training (which is also a part of my social life) is important to me, and also endeavouring to squander less time on the digital joy that is the internet (you can guess how that’s gone).
(Since a question I regularly get asked is “just what is it that you actually do?!” I will tell you now: I  am a freelance 2D and 3D CAD and graphic artist. I mostly freelance for other people – garden and landscape designers – doing both technical plans and sexy visuals, as well as project management and writing awesome technical documents. And Powerpoint. My Powerpoint skills are the shiznit. Although I’m trained as a designer myself, the freedom I get from freelancing rocks, and working for established designers means I get to work on some seriously cool projects, including project managing the design and build of an 8 x 12m garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this year – no mean feat as I, and the pillows that endure my sleepless nights, can tell you. As well as that I also teach other people to do graphics, on a one-to-one basis and at the college I actually graduated from. Although I whine about work cutting into my training and social time, I’m very lucky to have an awesome and rewarding job that I really enjoy.)
Anyhow, since I’ve not written about me (something I’ve historically tended not to do, but am starting to change my mind about) or my training in many many months, I wanted to do an update (also known as a “braindump”) so I can pick up more regular writing and not have to explain things I’m referring to as I go. 
That said, not much has changed. I still train only bodyweight, I’ve once again spent the winter in the gym getting stronger, and now that it’s spring I’ve added some running back. I had problems with my knee after Nuts Challenge (ITB syndrome) which kept me off running over winter, during which time I did shorter barefoot runs and a lot of strengthening and rehab work, but I think it’s mostly kicked now. Certainly yesterday’s 11km round Richmond, our first OCR team run of the year, doesn’t seem to have caused it any problems. I’ve also had an issue with my back, related I think to being a bit wonky after limping around with the knee injury (a big knot in the quadratus lumborum that I’m yet to get sorted) so I’ve sadly been off squats ‘n’ deads for ages. Hopefully that will get sorted soon!

The biggest change has been my introduction to Gold Medal Bodies, a company which I would probably (if pushed) would describe as a user-friendly version of Gymnastic Bodies. Wayyyyy more user friendly. Like gymnastics for dummies or really uncoordinated people. Just like me. And you. And anyone else who wants to do cool shit but struggles to understand how they’d even start going about it.
In November a friend shared a caption competition on Facebook. Being me, I typed the first thing that came to mind and low and behold, a week later I found out that I won!
The prize was a copy of their Parallettes 1 (P1) course – a three month online course focussing on the parallettes. In the new year I started it, integrating it into an already full training schedule, which has meant that rather than completing it in the allocated time, where it would be your main strength training regime, I have taken a rather leisurely pace. Not, I should say, that this is a problem – it basically forms the “pushing” side of my training, and I do pulling stuff, go climbing, running, a bit of parkour and all manner of other things on other days.
Whilst browsing the GMB site, which is an insane resource and actually overwhelming in the amount of information it contains, I came across something called The Alpha Posse. It’s a subscription service where you get access to online advice from the guys who run GMB, private forums, advice, exclusive content and advice. All for a mere $25 a month. For advice. Bargain! So I signed up the same day and, a few months later, paid up to become a lifetime member. 

And now the poor bastards have to put up with me asking questions forEVER! Muahahah!

I don’t want to give the impression that there’s a bunch of guys sitting behind screens telling you exactly what you’re supposed to be doing – that’s not the case at all. For me it’s like being a ball rolling along the road and occasionally someone gives me a prod to make sure I’m going the right way. For other people this prod might be to keep them moving, and for others it might be to push them over a rock or speedbump, but I’m very self-motivated and what attracted me was help in keeping on-track and not being like a kid with ADHD, a bag of HFCS and a serious case of fuckarounitis.
The main thing I’ve realised is the benefit of only focussing on one or two things at a time. In the past I’ve tried to do too much, and either over-trained and got injured, or just not made the progress I’d have liked. 
So I’ve spent the past few months focussing on ring muscle ups and developing my strength around the transition. The other day I repped two, although this is the latest video I have from about a month ago:
Yay. Lots of work to be done as I’m still very weak in some areas, but I’m happy with my progress.
I think I will write more about my next training goals here, for the sake of accountability, so anyone I train with knows what I’m focussing on (and doesn’t distract me with too many other cool and fun things I could do!) and also because I think people might find it interesting (me and my life, of course, being utterly fascinating in every way).
Anyhow, this coming month to six weeks:
  • I intend to step back from general strength training and focus on strengthening certain back muscles (rhomboids and mid-traps, in case you’re wondering) that are weak and that I feel need work in order to improve my posture and help in sorting out some pec impingement that comes if I spend too much time pushing things
  • Make my wrists and forearms stronger
  • Do some conditioning work for my shoulders with a view to working more seriously on handstands and human flag in the coming months
  • Do more work on my flexibility and mobility – mostly yoga, myofascial work and things involving my extravagant purchase of a few days ago – a broomstick costing a whopping £1.99.
More than the one or two goals I mentioned above, but I see the first two and the second two being able to fit together pretty neatly. I think I’m going to cut back on P1 to only practise the two exercises I find really hard, and to make it more of a practise, rather than a routine (“3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute 30 seconds rest” – I’m very precise!) for a while too, which will give me some more time and physical capability to do the above.
There’s also lots of writing I want to do here too, including more about the P1 course, some stuff on body image, diet and exercise (y’know, for a change) and a few bits on recent past and upcoming events in the UK street workout scene. If only I can apply the motivation and organisation that I apply to my training to the rest of my life, things round here would be a 24/7 party!

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