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I have been lifting consistently for over 2 decades. I have also been a vocracious reader throughout that time. In an active year I have achieved 200 training sessions and read 50 books. I am now closing in on having read 1,000 books throughout my lifetime. The process of finding this number was not easy, I had to go back to my childhood. As for training I have no idea how many sessions I’ve had, what I do know is that I have been under the bar often. Of all the books I’ve read and all the training sessions I have been involved in I have forgotten most of them. Some reps and some words books have stuck with me, yet most are gone. Today I am going to take a trip down memory lane for some reps I recall, and some words I recall. I take all credit for when my memory fails me.
First rep I will never forget is 2001, training with Jim Roney (then strength coach at University of Richmond). We were learning about bands, chains, and boards. We would read Louie Simmons articles then go experiment. The gym was a basement in the infamous Franklin St gym. The building was Virginia Commonwealth University’s original gym building, and it looked like an original gym building. It was dirty and I loved it. Now to the training, we were doing heavy board presses and decided to add bands. I can’t recall the weight, yet when I unracked it I remember one emotion, fear. I honestly don’t even recall if I got the rep or missed it. What I recall and learned is that fear is an amazing motivator. The first lesson here is fear is OK, and can be great when used sparingly.
The first words from a book that I will never forget are,“To do that would mean, not merely to be defeated, but to acknowledge defeat- and the difference between these two things is what keeps the world going.” (Upton Sinclair, The Jungle). I read The Jungle while on the beach one Christmas in St Simon’s Island Georgia. This is one of the books that haunted me. Sinclair’s writing style is amazing and how he can paint the picture of an immigrant family is top notch. This quote says so much about humanities struggle against any challenge we may face.
Rep #2 that I will touch on here is a rep that I missed. This was probably around 2003. My goal was to squat 500 for the first time in my life at 165 lbs weight class. I opened at 430 lbs, then went 465 for my second attempt. After this rep I was not confident, I was going to go to 490. Jim Wendler came over to the table and asked what my next attempt was, I said 490. He replied with, “What did you come here to do?” I said 500. He said, “Then go to 500, it won’t kill you.” Jim has always had a way with words. 500 did not kill me, yet I did miss, and I also came back and got it at my next meet. Again, this taught me to put my chips on the table, I also know many young lifters wouldn’t agree with this approach, but that is the beauty of life.
Francis Slakey provides the quote from our next book,“If you get to the end of your life and you have regrets that you could have done better, then you blew it.” Francis Slakey, To The Last Breath. I read this book about a decade ago. This book reminded that life is about the journey. I was lucky enough to share a few emails with Mr Slakey, and he truly lives through the growth that he had shown in this book.
The next rep I am going to write about shows how great the powerlifting community truly can be. I am going to guess that the year was probably 2004 or 2005. I was competing in Charleston, West Virginia. I don’t recall all my lifts, yet squat and bench went well (if my memory serves me). I moved to dead, I was opening at 505, I had pulled this many times. well, after a long day of lifting the first rep felt like a ton. I missed my first pull, then I went on to miss my second as well. I was preparing for my final attempt when some guy I never met said, “Hey man how’s the lifting going?” I said, I missed my first two deads. He looked at me and said, “Who do you think you are? You are not Ed Coan, you are not good enough to bomb out on deadlifts.” He then followed me around until my attempt all while screaming, the bar has 135 on it and you will lift 135. I have edited some of his words for the masses. I went and pulled my final attempt and he immediately took me to the hotel bar for a whiskey. To this day I have no clue who the guy is or why he cared so much for my lifts. This shows that we are one team and a rising tide lifts all boats.
My final book thought is from one of my favorite authors.“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.” Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food. Few humans have written about how food and culture come together as much as Micheal Pollan. I have been lucky enough to share a few meals with Micheal Pollan, and he is one of the wisest people I ever met. This quote reminds me of my good friend (and UF member) Ward. Ward really understands having a healthy relationship with food important for a lifetime of health.
There it is a few memories that hopefully have change your perspective.