Who Says You’re an Athlete?

Airman Rashard C. Lovelace lifts weights in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

Airman Rashard C. Lovelace lifts weights in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

I mean, REALLY?

Why do you think of yourself as an athlete? What makes you an athlete, and the guy next to you (perhaps it is me) not an athlete?

I am perplexed by this question. I do not know where one crosses the line, to actually become an athlete.

Many of my friends perform the same exact movements as I do in the gym. Yet they perceive themselves as bona fide athletes, while I simply see myself as a guy exercising with a barbell.

When I received my diploma at commencement, it was clear that I was a college graduate.

When I survived basic training and was given my stripes and sent off to my military assignment, I knew I was a Airman.

But what determines the who, what, when, why and how to becoming an athlete?

Was it when I signed up for my first CrossFit Competition, and my T-shirt explicitly said ATHLETE on my back?

athlete (noun) – a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill. – Dictionary

By that definition frisbee players might be athletes. Dart players might be athletes.

I did notice that the definition addressed proficiency, as well as simple participation. So I guess there is hope for me.

As I researched the topic, I concluded that being, or not being, an athlete is a mindset. When author, Steven Pressfield was asked how one knows when he is a writer, Pressfield replied, “You are when you say you are.”

Activity always follows identity. So claim the identity of writer, and act like a writer – You Write! Claim the identity of an athlete, and act like an athlete – You Train!

So in response to the title, “Who Says You’re an Athlete?”, the response is: “You say you are an athlete!” So act like one. Train, overcome resistance, perfect your skill, do the work!

Now that this post is done, I have concluded that I am indeed a writer, AND an athlete. Time to get off the soapbox, and onto the plyobox.



How NOT to start a Running Program

Just to the right of Lane 8, is the Breakdown Lane. That is where you will find me, along with the rest of the roadkill.

Just to the right of Lane 8, is the Breakdown Lane. That is where you will find me, along with the rest of the roadkill.

I have several blogpost drafts that are in limbo. They may be used eventually, or not.

I laid out a multi-part series on the subject of Sprinting.

My readers know that I typically detest running. But you may not know that I actually enjoy shuttle runs, and blasts of “speed” for short distances.

So I began studying the merits of sprinting. I view sprinting as the Tabata training of the running world. Short, intense, all out effort for a brief period, followed by a period of rest.

I outlined what I thought would be a fascinating assessment of incorporating sprinting into my weekly fitness routine, over a 12-week period.

I figured I would take weekly stats, and see how they improved over that period. This was going to be a cool series.

Among the key stats I would track are: Resting Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, Fasting Blood Sugar, Waist and Chest measurement and Weight. I would also measure my speeds on specified distances. I have also begun tracking my caloric intake and I’ve been paying more attention to my macronutrient ratios.

I decided to begin slowly. I would just do 40m sprints for the first few weeks, and work my way up to 100m over the 12-week period.

Though I was aware of the need to be cautious regarding distance, I wasn’t that prudent in regards to my output. Perhaps it would have been wise to go at 65-75% of my speed, instead of starting out at 95-100%. Not that that is fast in my case, but it is full exertion.

After plenty of warming up and stretching, I ran a few light 40m sprints. Then I figured I was good to go. I ran ten 40m Sprints, resting a minute or two between runs. I felt really good. I knew this was gonna be good stuff. I was really excited.

I was excited for how this would positively impact my fitness, and also for the fascinating subject matter for writing.

After I was finished, I walked a mile to cool down. As I drove home, I was quite pleased with myself.

The next morning I could barely walk. It wasn’t my calves, quads, hamstrings or glutes that were sore. It was my groin. My groin muscles were in a full scale revolt. That was Tuesday morning, a week ago. My initial plan was to do this sprinting plan on Monday and Thursday mornings. That would allow several days for recovery.

Thursday came and went. Friday came and went. Saturday I went to the track and even the warm-up was rough. I ran two slow, gimpy sprints and I knew I was toast. My groin muscles are fried.

I went home and got re-acquainted with a bag of frozen peas, that I applied to my inner thigh as I read, moving it from left to right, every fifteen minutes, to keep from adding frostbite to my woes.

By Monday I felt pretty good. I was wise enough to refrain from going to the track. But I did go to Barbell Club Monday night to work on Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Warm-up was fine. Then I did my second Snatch. Wow! That deep squat with a barbell got my attention as pain radiated from my crotch to the middle of my forehead.

“Hey Coach! I’m doing Power Snatches for the rest of this drill”. The Cleans and Jerks were fine, but I knew anything with a deep squat was going to have to wait a few weeks.

Over the past several evenings, when I was planning on studying Sprinting material on the web, I substituted research on groin pulls, groin tears, inguinal hernias, creative uses of kinesiology tape and other tangential issues.

With deference to my patient readers, let me put you on notice: I will NOT be doing a 12-week series on Groin Injuries.


You are what you eat! (…and Read!)

I still find myself loving the feel of a hard cover book in my hands.

I remember first hearing "You are what you eat!" back in the 60's or 70's. You know, back when I knew I had all the answers to life's big problems. I figured it came from some brilliant philosopher, like Groucho Marx, or John Lennon. This … [Continue reading]

Your Preparation for CF Open 16.1 Starts NOW!

The Rope Climb is still one of my goats. Time to stop thinking about it, and start doing something about it.

If you have followed my posts for the past two months, you have seen my wins and losses over the course of the 2015 CrossFit Open. Last year I had managed to knock off a couple Toes-to-Bar and a couple Double-Unders. Enough to get points on the … [Continue reading]

How Can You Deadlift With Your Mind?

I love to read. My kindle is filled with dozens of books. BUT there is still something about the tactile sensation of a hardcover book. It opens the mind, along with the cover.

Like many of my readers, I have just finished the personal challenge of doing the five week CrossFit Open 2015. Judging from the traffic on various internet forums, I am not the only one who's mind was totally pre-occupied with the weekly … [Continue reading]

CrossFit Open 15.5 – Post Mortem

We may have been last to perform 15.5 at our local box, but we were far from last on the Rx leaderboard.

Something strange happened last Thursday evening when Dave Castro announced 15.5. I smiled. For the record, I did not like 14.5, a Descending Ladder of Thrusters and Over-Bar-Burpees. In fact I thought I'd die doing that WOD. It took me about 35 … [Continue reading]

CrossFit Open 15.5 – My Strategy for Survival


Here we are. Five weeks have flown by. The last week of the 2015 Open season is here. These past five weeks have actually been a great deal of fun - unless you ventured onto any CrossFit forum on Facebook. In that case, it has been five weeks of … [Continue reading]

CrossFit Open 15.4 – Post Mortem

This place sure looks empty after everyone puts their barbell away.

As is my custom, during the CrossFit Open Season, I like to predict my score, or at least my strategy prior to the event. Then after I have been given a dose of reality, I follow-up with a Post-Mortem. Should I go Rx or Scaled? This event was a … [Continue reading]

My Personal Prediction for CrossFit Open 15.4

Photo Courtesy of Sharon Drummond - Flickr

When I gathered with friends to watch the announcement of the 15.4 workout, I was a bit confused. I knew I wasn't going to be subjected to Handstand Push-Ups (HSPU), but I thought Dave Castro said scaled would do Push-ups. Many of my buddies … [Continue reading]

Open 15.3 Post Mortem


This weekend tens of thousands of CrossFitters gathered in boxes throughout the world, to perform Open 15.3. This was perhaps the ugliest CrossFit Open WOD I have ever witnessed. And that was just on the internet forums! Facebook groups were … [Continue reading]