I stepped into the trap this weekend. I overdosed on intensity. I blunted my spear.
Physical activity has always been a metaphor to me though.
A lens to focus on something larger: life…Generally.
Exercise taught me that effort matters.
That what I put out usually corresponds to what I get out.
Output informs outcome.
Sometimes output equals outcome and those days are the best — when we give everything and at the end of the day receive it all back.
Exercise taught me to focus. When we want to improve- on anything, we must concentrate. Concentration means exclusion- if it has been decided that the current performance or condition is unsatisfactory, we must first exclude. & do only what improves.
Ignore what distracts or degrades. Reject what opposes.
Focus means just that: making the subject crystal clear & blurring the periphery—or all the other shit that doesn't matter.
Exercise taught me honesty. When you are honest with yourself about your current condition & the requirements of your ambition it's easy to draw the line from point A to point B.
Walking that line becomes another story, but it makes it easy to sort “likes” from truth. Honest self assessment will let anyone know whether or not they have progressed. When you see how far you have made it, you can also see how far remains ahead of you. This process has personally helped me to understand how far I can go if I truly apply myself.
Exercise taught me economics. I learned to spend my effort wisely. I learned the difference between an investment and an expense. I learned to keep something in the bank just in case. I understand better than most the real cost of living beyond one’s means. I’ve over-drawn from this account several a time.
Intensity gets me high & It sure don't take much when it's dosed properly. It’s easy though- to mistake the high for the objective;
Getting high on intensity over and over because it feels so good, even if it’s not taking us closer to the goal.
The workout: Murph
1 mile run
1 mile run
*done wearing 30lb kit
High rep, body weight exercises. I was stoked.
Competitively, I used to be able to slang a 40ish’ minute Murph & then complete a laundry list of training immediately following.
I cruised through this one at close to 50 minutes flat & got straight back to work on the farm.
With rhabdo, intense physical exertion causes so much skeletal muscle damage that your muscles cells just die beyond repair; they break open and sluff off into your circulatory system & your kidneys choke on your muscle detritus to filter them out.
The next morning I woke up with intensely sore arms & couldn't come close to straightening them. I jokingly texted my old crossfit friends:
Guy who used to do pull ups competitively
can't remember the last time he did a pullup-
Completes 100 pullups wearing 30lb kit
can't understand why he can't straighten his arms.
I took a dip in the cold plunge & carried on with work on the farm.
That afternoon i peed coca-cola & i knew right then and there that i had spent more than i could afford.
Rhabdo exists in a medical netherworld, outside any specialist's particular domain. A sports medicine doctor could have told me if I had elevated risks, but it was too late for that. A renal specialist can treat a failing kidney, but it was too early for that. And ER docs stabilize — they aren’t trained to manage ongoing body chemistry.
So after wrangling sheep, I decided it'd probably be a good idea to get rehydrated & help my kidneys process all this waste.. I called the local IV drip joint and told em to prep a bag with “all the hydrating shit.”
The nurse noticed that I couldn't straighten my arms, but when my swollen biceps bent her needle when she went to stick me- that really caught her attention.
Now she needed labs to continue.
Her response, point blank- after seeing my CK levels- “oh my i didn't know CK levels could get that high.”
Creatine-Kinase (CK) is an enzyme inside muscle cells, so blood CK levels basically just show how much muscle damage you have going on.
Apparently, the acute kidney failure threshold is 5,000.
I got a high score of 8,000, but my kidneys were functioning just fine. So that was good.
They proceeded to administer my IV bag loaded with trace minerals & “all the hydrating shit.”
They advised me to go straight to the ER.
But you can't run a farm from a hospital bed-
So, I went back to the farm & finished my chores and hydrated with electrolytes & minerals.
I peed in bottles and monitored my progress.
My kidneys did what they are supposed to do.
Cold plunges did what they do for inflammation.
It's crazy how quickly & efficiently the body will readily repair itself when you fuel it properly and do all the other simple shit every other day.
Although this menagerie of sorts did put me in direct confrontation with my core philosophy of exercise making us better for day to day life…
& I grappled with that internal dilemma for all of 2 days of intense muscle soreness.
The backbone, and foundation of my own fitness approach is identical to homebodies.
consistent, persistent & often tedious effort
Our teeth grow with intensity.
They are hardened when we grit them, and we sharpen them in the heat of truly transformative efforts.
There is no point in honing unhardened teeth. No reason to sharpen the tip of your spear if you haven’t yet built its handle.
duration builds, intensity sharpens, and when intelligently combined the result is unbeatable.
So the most compelling takeaway of this was:
how easy it was to re-sharpen the blunted spear when it's made of good steel and properly forged.
I won't tell you how to interpret this, take what you will from it.
But, I think that our capacity to endure pain and struggle through difficult things in life
& come out the other side is one of the most fantastic things about being human.
I will always support anyone who dares to explore the limits of physical-potential. I think any effort spent chasing ones potential is never wasted.
Do so at your own risk & be sure to bring a meaningful souvenir back.
The trick or paradox of tapping your full potential is to dose it properly. (I think?)
…So you can live a hard, fulfilling & meaningful existence without triggering a premature expiration date.
Which is another thing I learned from exercise as sport:
We can be and do whatever we want as long as we can afford the price.
Everything costs something.
If you wanna go for broke.
Be prepared to pay for the experience…good & bad
The nature of life is all about balance-
& whether or not you enjoy the balance you have achieved
is solely up to you…just don't sell yourself short