I meant what I wrote in my last post
. But I've had a good day so far today, and it's got me thinking.
Blind faith has little to recommend it, but not nothing at all. We all depend on it sometimes, and those who claim to be purely and invariably rational are telling porkies. Moreover, there is one thing we can all do that has a demonstrable and significant effect: positive thinking.
Positive thinking isn't about lying to yourself. It is isn't about ignoring the downside. What it is about is making sure that one acknowledges the upside too. Having done so, focussing on that is usually more fruitful than worry and negativity. And if it doesn't quite create a self-fufilling prophecy, it does take you down the right road. Let me give you a concrete example.
I didn't wake up this morning. I woke up this afternoon. I couldn't get to sleep until about 4:30 in the morning, and having stirred briefly to use the bathroom, I emerged to face the day at 13:10.
There are two ways to address such a situation. One is to effectively write the day off as ruined, the other is to seize it. There are good cases to be made for each approach, but the point is that you HAVE to make a decision. I chose the latter.
I took myself off the gym, and decided to have a hardcore workout. I've been reading very persuasive material online that suggests we can train a lot harder in the gym than we think we can, and go for it every time. It comes from John Broz, a weightlifting coach who runs a gym in Las Vagas, Nevada
. His best argument - or at least the most accessible one - is that when manual workers start their careers they find it incredibly draining and difficult, but they can't be effete and decide that they are "overtrained" as they would be fired. Sure enough, they adapt, and while it might still be a tough job, it becomes eminently do-able. Spurred on by this, I hit the weights today.
I felt knackered as I approached the gym. At the squat rack, I contemplated calling it a day for squats after a few sets. And then I decided not to.
Consequently I had the very great pleasure of finding I could handle a weight that I thought borderline with ease. Buoyed up, I switched to partial deadlifts. They were going well, and I thought I'd do some with 160kg. I realised that in fact the bar was loaded with 180kg. I went for it any way. No problem at all.
Then I did some bench pressing. Man, I struggle with technique on this lift. But instead of quitting, I asked a trainer for advice. He came up with an idea that had never occured to me that revolutionised my technique and made the same weight seem half as heavy.
I was going to do some calf work, but my Achilles tendon on my left side felt weak, so I didn't. But I did do some forearm stuff instead. I was in the gym for at least an hour and a half, and I feel full of beans. In fact I was so alert that I came up with a quick witted response to an abusive drunk.
He ambled up to me holding a can of lager and wearing a shit-eating grin as I was walking to the Tube, and I side-stepped him as I presumed he was after money. Instead he wanted to have a pop. "You eat too many hamburgers, you do," he exclaimed. I countered thus: "You drink too much, you old soak. Get a fucking job." It wouldn't win any prizes, and is hardly my finest work, but it was pleasing. Even the drunkard laughed. All too often, one only thinks of the perfect response several hours later (although it is something that can be honed by doing stand-up comedy). But I was bright and bushy-eyed.
Why mention all this? It's not because I think you enjoy my articles on powerlifting. It is because, as dear old Henry Rollins makes clear, we can learn a great deal about life from pumping iron.
Basically, I got the balance just right. I pushed myself by being determined, but I didn't hurt myself by ignoring reality. And rather than giving up I took rational, well informed advice. That beat saying a prayer and hoping for the best.
I think that anyone and everyone can benefit from lifting weights. But even if you're a refusenik (in which case you are probably ignorant and misinformed) please take this little vignette as a life lesson.