Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010


If I am allowed to be paradoxical, I really do not want to make this about me. MPH is, and always has been, about our wonderful community. However, some of this was put out there last Saturday during the Kickoff, so I might as well make it official. Besides, everyone has a reason, and if it fails to give others a push, perhaps it will at least demonstrate that we are all working toward some better version of our current selves. What follows is just a story, and that purpose.

I have led an active lifestyle since my first soccer season at age seven. In 1994, at age 15, I began ascending the ranks of men’s soccer, and in 1998, I stepped inside my first gym. During the past 16 years, I have collected a brief list of injuries, including tendonitis in both shoulders, two broken feet, a fracture in both my L4 and L5 vertebrae, a displaced disk at the S1 joint in my lumbar, and an internal laceration of my abdominal wall. While these created short-term pauses in training and athletics, and while some proffer lingering reminders, one particular injury’s mark remains potent to this day. In 1998, during my freshman year at the University of Maryland, I broke my right tibia and fibula playing soccer. From September of that year through July of 1999, four surgeries were performed to repair the damage. At least two of these surgeries produced more harm than good, and everything from the knee down in my right leg has ailed since. For example, I can rarely run more than one mile (often less) without remarkable discomfort during the days, sometimes weeks, that follow.

CrossFit has been my fitness conduit for the past six years. I would never consider another model to achieve greater states of fitness and functionality, and as MPH further expands into the arenas of endurance sport, powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting this year, CrossFit and its principles will form the foundation for success in these individual disciplines. We began as, and remain, a CrossFit-only facility. General physical preparedness and sport are complementary, and accomplishments within the former are vital to success in all physical endeavors.

As an athlete, however, competing in CrossFit only marginally interests me, at least today. Anyone who has worked-out with me can attest to the seriousness with which I consider competing against myself. There is never anyone in the room that I am interested in trampling as much as, well, me. Combine this attitude with a need to conquer the running dilemma, and endurance sport seems a possible, logical progression.

Nothing great comes without equally great sacrifice, and it is difficult to imagine a bigger battle against the self than endurance sport (it could easily be argued, and proven, that CrossFit competitions are tests of endurance and stamina). It has intrigued me for years, particularly since it requires such unnatural demands on the body. It seems the lessons learned here are those to be taken across one’s life, not at all dissimilar to those we face at MPH every day: there is no one to overcome but yourself, and you will find out what you are made of.

However, as I said before, running is an omnipresent hurdle, and it is a difficulty that I will address by attempting the Marine Corps Marathon this October—my first such distance. This is an event that has also appealed to me for many years, and when registration comes around in April, I hope to gather a team of MPH athletes to complete this event alongside me.

Personally, I am prepared to suffer like never before, and to push until I have absolutely nothing left. It’s strange, but I have never felt so emotionally ready to work, and this starts in training, which has already begun. MPH will power this process and CrossFit Endurance will support it.

I am aiming to complete both events with my strength, power and work capacity intact, and I will maintain Paleo nutrition parameters throughout. Through CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance, in particular, the greater endurance community is learning that endless, injury-inducing, strength-sucking, muscle-wasting hours and miles of training are not necessary in order to be competitive at such events. My training for this entire process should require little more than six hours each week. In addition, they are learning that running is a skill, and our running clinic this Spring will attest to this realization.

If the Marine Corps Marathon interests you, please let me know in the coming weeks. Already, Mike S., Caitlin F., Stuart W., Neil A., Christine S., Hassan D. and Jeff W. have expressed a desire to train for this event—training that necessitates approximately two to three runs each week of short and middle distances. This work will not begin until April (at the earliest), if not June.

Often, you can hear me touting the benefits of addressing weaknesses, taking them head-on in order to make them strengths. In a manner of speaking, it is time to put my money where my mouth is. As our community endeavors toward participation and skill in all sports and athletic disciplines, let this be our first success.

Rest today.

–John