#UPEARLYTOTRAIN

I’m not a morning person. Not really a night owl either. More of a middle of the day person, my sweet spot is from 10-2. Growing up if I didn’t have to be up in the morning for anything (school, work, going somewhere) I would regularly sleep in till late morning (ok, on occasion early afternoon). I fondly recall the summer of between my sophomore and junior year of high school when I didn’t have a job sleeping in until 11 pretty much every day, even when I went to bed the night before by 11. When adulthood hit I obviously had to get up early, but before I had kids, I would sleep in until 10 or 11am if I didn’t have a reason to get up.

When I finally got serious about getting healthy and joined a gym I made the decision to go in the morning before work, even though it was VERY difficult at first waking up early to train. When I first started I there was always one or two days a week when I hit snooze on the alarm one too many times and missed my window to hit the gym before having to be in the office by 7:30-8:00am. I figured I was doing this for me and didn’t want to impact my family time in the evenings. These days I am much better at getting up early, even on the weekends, but I still struggle which is the reason for using two alarms, my regular alarm clock and the Sleep Cycle app on my phone.

My habit of going to the gym in the morning was validated yesterday. Because I had to take my kids to my in-laws for the day I was forced to go to the gym in the evening. I started at a new gym just over a year ago and I had never been there past noon. Normally when I go in the morning there are very few people and little competition for equipment. I knew it was going to be bad pulling in to the parking lot at 5pm, it was PACKED! Heading in I could tell it was going to be bad, walking up stairs to the gym floor confirmed what I was thinking. Wall to wall bros, young 20-somethings doing dumb bell curls in front of the mirror, teens sitting on equipment texting or on their phone, and groups of college aged kids spotting each other on 185# bench presses as far as the eye could see. Fortunately I was able to get my workout in and then some.

Yesterday was bench, there was one bench nobody was around, but it was loaded up with 185#. I wasn’t sure if anyone was using it, but I didn’t really care. You walk away from line-of-sight of a piece of equipment in a busy gym and it’s fair game for someone else to jump on. I quickly jumped on it, someone walked by and looked at me, maybe it was the previous user, he paused near the bench but didn’t say anything and kept moving on. I quickly did a few warm up sets using the 185# and some stretching right there at the bench. With Rage Against the Machine’s Bulls on Parade (Live Version) blasting in the headphones I got my sets in, 5×225, 1×245, 1×255, 15×175. Then I went over and did bent over rows using 185 as my 1RM. When I finished those a couple of young bros walked over to the rack thinking I was done. I decided to go right into a 5×5 set of squats at 225, they weren’t happy. They kept eyeing me even after I finished and moved on to some pull ups. Oh well, tough for them, when you are at a piece of equipment in the gym you own it until you are done your set. If they wanted to work in, maybe I would have let them, as long as they didn’t change the weight.

I’ll take my morning over evening workout any day of the week.

 

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One-hit Wonders

I’m so glad that I didn’t have today off and have a regular job. If I was home I’d would have been forced to watch that abysmal Red Sox matinee in Toronto. 1 hit? 1 HIT?!?! After Tuesday’s 14 run output I figured they would have struggled scoring runs, but I didn’t think it would carry over to today. Victorino got the lone hit. They faced the 2nd coming of Pedro in Marcus Stroman. I can’t believe I actually thought they had a chance this year to maybe come back and at least make it interesting.

My routine was disrupted this morning; I didn’t get up and hit the gym because I had to take my kids to my in-laws this morning since my wife was working. It didn’t make sense driving the 30 mile roundtrip journey then another 44 miles roundtrip for work. I have a meeting tonight near where I work so I brought my gear and will attempt to hit the gym at 5PM, workout, shower then to the meeting, grocery store to pick up a few items then home, hopefully in time to get the kids to bed. I’ve never been to the gym at night, should be interesting to see what type of characters are there at that time, I hope it isn’t too crowded, thought should make for a good post tomorrow.

 

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Humping it Day

Another good day throwing around heavy metal plates. I’m in my last week of doing the 1 Rep Max workout, my plan is to start a 5 day split of upper and lower body on Monday. I’m hoping the work I’ve put in pays off in that workout. My plan is to do 3 days of upper with 2 days of lower one week and switch it to 2 days upper and 3 lower the following week, rotating for probably 8 weeks. I’ll be doing big compound lifts that work large muscle groups, I’m not really big on isolation, though I may throw some arm work in, but keep it to barbell curls and close grip bench press/dips that also work other muscle groups.

I was able to hit 355# on my deadlift using the trap bar. I felt like I could have gotten at least one more. I did 300×5, 335×1, 355×1, 225×15. I had to switch my military press because all of the racks were in use. I ended up using the Hammer Strength ISO lateral shoulder press machine. I loaded up 60 on each side and was able to do 10. I used that to determine my 1RM, which I tabbed at 100#. I did 80×5, 90×1, 95×1, 60×15 (those weights were per side of the machine). I followed that up with 6 sets of 110# hanging cleans that I took deep into a front squat. Did some core, weighted crunches using 20, 25, and 35 lbs plates with V-ups in between each weighted crunch set.

I watched the Red Sox last night, if only because that will probably be Jake Peavy’s last or 2nd to last start in a Red Sox uniform. I like Peavy, love his competitiveness and his drive. Yelling “COME ON, PEAVE!!!” to himself when a pitch or play doesn’t go his way hasn’t gotten old in my book. If you’ve been following the Red Sox this year you know Peavy was 1-9 coming into that game. He has the worse run support in the league, it’s under 3 runs per game. He has 11 games this season that are considered quality starts (6+ innings of work giving up 3 or fewer runs). He should have at least 5-7 wins. Not a great pitcher, but a solid #4 guy in the rotation.

Of course he has to pitch after that 14 run onslaught from Monday night. In all my time watching the Red Sox it is almost a given when they score double digit runs their offensive output will suffer in their next game. Knowing Peavy was pitching the next game I started pleading to my TV to hold up on the runs when they got to 8, begging them to save some for Tuesday. Of course my fears came to fruition last night, and it was a typical Jake Peavy start:

  • No Red Sox runs for several innings – Check. They scored their 1st run in the 7th off a David “Jamaica-Mon” Ortiz solo shot
  • A screwy play – Check. The Jay’s first run was on a play in front of the plate that he tried to field and couldn’t get his glove on allowing the runner at 3rd to score on a 30 foot ground ball.
  • The obligatory Peavy home run – Check. In 6th and Jose Reyes leads off with a home run. A check on the bullpen and no Sox reliever is up or even stretching. The Jays followed that up by a Cabrera ground rule double, then Peavy go Jose Bausista to fly out. The next batter, Navarro, hit a HR to deep right and just like that the score was 4-0. Peavy was able to get out of the inning without further damage.
  • Leaving him in just a bit too long – Check. He came out for the 7th (which I think was a mistake, but I think they were trying to showcase that he can pitch beyond the 6th) and he put a runner on and was pulled for Badenhop. Badenhop ended up giving up an RBI single.

From there it was pretty much done, Toronto scored two more runs, Drew hit a 2-run shot in the 9th, but it wasn’t enough.

Peavy will probably be traded before the end of the month, even if they manage to take the next two against Toronto and go into Tampa and take 2 of 3 from the Rays. De La Rosa and/or Workman can take his turns in the rotation. They may be able to include him in a package for a right-handed bat, preferably one that can play Left Field every day. Hopefully they can get back on their winning ways tonight. If they do they will have to it against R.A Dickey and his knuckleball. I hope that doesn’t screw up some of the hitter that have been heating up, especially the young ones like Holt, Bradley and Bogaerts.

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Plans of the Bearded Ones.

Are the Red Sox pulling the greatest baseball ruse of all time? Last year Boston won it all, this year they are on the verge of losing it all. From worst (2012) to first (2013) to worst(2014?). They had a fantastic season in 2013 pretty much winning wire-to-wire and were the World Series favorites from about August through the playoffs. They did it with a combination of skill and luck. The skill came from guys like Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes while getting great pitching performances from Lester, Lackey and Buchholz and a whole bunch of timely hitting. The luck came from the general lack of injuries to any of their starting players.

Coming into this season they were favored to make the playoffs again. They really only lost two players, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarod Saltalamacchia, while Ellsbury was considered hard to replace, they felt by adding AJ Pierzynski on a one year deal would give them better offense from the catcher position for the season and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr to replace Ellsbury’s defense and speed on the bases. When the season started, they got off to their normal slow start. Boston has never really been a strong spring team, like the Boston weather, it takes them a few weeks to warm up. By the end of April they were 13-14, not great, but considering the AL East was projected to be the weakest of the three AL Divisions, there wasn’t too much concern. They were pitching well and playing great defense. Bradley Jr was better in center than Ellsbury was. They had young guys in Boegarts, Bradley and Brock Holt. Holt, who debuted April 18th, promptly went on a 6 game hitting streak. The thought was once these guys got more comfortable in the Majors they would start hitting better.

April turned to May and the only thing heating up was the weather. They went 13-15 in May, while their pitching stayed strong for the most part their offense floundered. They scored 112 runs in March/April and 115 runs in May. Boston led the league in runs last year, but a HUGE margin. Last year they had a great April, going 18-8, but a .500 May. But they scored 275 runs over those two months. Their offense fell off in June, they only scored 83 runs in 28 games! The low point was a west coast road trip where they went 2-5. They started July poorly too, losing 6 of their first 7 games of the month. The scored all of 26 runs in those 7 games.

On the 9th they were coming off of back-to-back loses to the White Sox where they scored 3 runs total. They were losing that game at home going into the 9th. They has designated AJ Pierzynski for assignment earlier in the day and were starting a rookie catcher, Christian Vazquez, behind the plate. Nava pinch hit and doubled to center scoring Mookie Betts, another rookie shortstop/2nd baseman they had called up, to tie the game at 4. Then Brock Holt singled on a line drive plating Nava for the walk off win. The next night the game was tied going into the bottom of the 10th. This time Nava walked, Betts his a nice sacrifice bunt to move Nava up then Mike Carp hits a pinch hit single to score Nava for their 2nd walk off in as many games.

After those wins they have only lost one game. Their offense is startling to click, they have scored 82 runs (one fewer than in 28 games in June) in 16 games. Last night they went off for 14 runs, 18 hits, and 4 home runs, the most in any game this season.

Before the season started Jonny Gomes was asked about what will motivate/unify the team this year. He said it wouldn’t be the Boston Strong or the beards like last year. He said the team talked about it during the off season in e-mails and texts to each other, but he didn’t reveal what “it” was to the media. Maybe the “it” was tanking the 1st half of the season and then come roaring back in the second to make the playoffs. It’s a huge risk and I can’t imagine they would take it. I think it would tick off a lot of fans, but maybe it is a way to weed out the “pink hat” fair weather fans and do something to reward the fans that stick by the team through good and bad. Stranger things have happened.

Right now they need to win another 43 games to hit 90 wins. That means they need to go 43-20 the rest of the way, that’s winning at a .682 clip. They only bested that rate in April of last year. I don’t think they can do it, but if they come close at least the rest of the season will be as entertaining as the first half wasn’t.

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WAKE UP AND IT’S GO TIME

Great morning at the gym, even with waking up late. I have two alarms that I set, one is my regular alarm clock, which is set at 5:30, the other is the alarm on my Sleep Cycle app that will wake me up anywhere between 5 and 5:15 am. Most mornings I turn the regular alarm off before it goes off, this morning I hit snooze on it three times! before getting up. Not sure why I was so tired. I was in bed by 10:30 and asleep before 11.

I was able to get up and get out the door and to the gym by 6:30 so I still had my 45-60 minutes gym time intact. I was concerned when I got there about the quality of my routine. After a quick dynamic warm up and some warm up sets on the bench I got at it and was able to PR my bench. I hit 255# and not only did I do one rep, but I felt so strong I did a second rep. I ended up doing 225×5, 245×1, 255×2, 170×15. That’s the most I’ve ever benched in my life! This routine is paying off. I can’t wait until next week when I go back to a upper body/lower body 5 day split doing a 5×5 strength routine. I’m thinking that I should be able to do 5×5 of 235#.

On the barbell row I even increased the top end to 175 for one rep, went really slow on the lift and pressed my shoulder blades to really squeeze my lats. Felt really good. I finished it off with a 15 minute HIIT session on the treadmill.

The only down side was I walked out of the gym without my water bottle. I put it down in front of my locker to throw out a paper towel I had and completely forgot to pick it up when I left.

 

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Monday, Monday

After my technology disaster this weekend I was happy to get back into the gym and pick up heavy things and put them back down again. Today was Deadlift and Military Press day. For my Deadlift I tried something different, using a Trap Bar. This is a trap bar:

I read an article about how this is actually a better way to deadlift, an judging from this morning I think it’s correct, at least for me. I felt more centered over the weight and was able to push through my heels better and didn’t feel like my lower back was on the verge of straining like it is when I’m lifting heavier weight. The article said you could also squat like this, just change from pushing off your heels to pushing off the balls of your feet. I tried a couple at 225# and I could feel it in my thighs and glutes so maybe it would work as well. I was able to load the same 335# I did last week and was able to lift that without issue, thinking I could do 355#, which I will try on Wednesday.

After that I was feeling good so I increased my weight on my Military Press, I did 100×5, 125×1, 135×1, 90×15. I’ll hold at that weight for this week.

I followed both of those up with 10 rounds of 5 strict pull ups and 10 Russian Kettlebell swings with no rest in between. I was pretty much a puddle on the floor after that.

Good way to start the week.

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Chains are Meant to be Broken

What is it with me and weekends? Last weekend, at the very start of my unbroken chain to build new habits, I got sick and didn’t even really start the chain as planned. I picked it up on Monday and was able to get back in the swing for all last week, building to one of my best workouts in months last Friday. Saturday morning I woke up early and decided that instead of wasting gas driving to the gym (30 miles round trip) I would run to my kids school and then do sprints on the soccer field with some body weight exercises thrown in. I was able to do that. I did 10 full field sprints with 30 second rest at each end then did a jumping jack, push up, squat combo. I did 1 of each on the first round, 2 of each on the second round, etc until I hit 10 each, then rested 2 minutes and came back down to 1 (10 of each, 9 of each, 8 of each, etc), then a light jog back home.

After showering, eating breakfast I sat down to read email and news. Open Chrome and am greeted with a Unable to Load Page error. Tried a few other sites and got the same. Rebooted the computer and reconnected to the wireless and it wouldn’t connect. Got up and rebooted the wireless router, still wouldn’t connect. Unplugged the wireless router and plug it back in, still nothing. Contemplated throwing the thing against the wall in frustration, decided against it. Time to troubleshoot I guess.

I hopped on another computer in the house and that one connected to the wireless. Now I’m thinking it is my laptop. Several reboots and reconnection attempts later I’m still not online. By this time I have other things to do so I figure I’ll leave it until after dinner when I can spend some time on it. After dinner the kids turned the TV on to watch a few episodes of Mythbusters on Netflix I get the “Dad, the Roku won’t connect and we don’t know what to do” yelling from the living room. More troubleshooting, this time I try to connect direct to a port on the wireless router and that connects so it looks like the wireless is not working. When I was going through the router configurations I noticed there is a firmware update available so I ran that. That loaded and my laptop saw that there was a connection available so I figured that the firmware update did the trick. No luck, it connected but wasn’t pushing any data through. So now I’m thinking it was the cable modem or the cable connection. I called the cable company, nope, everything looks good on their end. They did a reset on the modem and everything started working again if connected direct to the cable modem.

Yesterday, after another two hours in the morning of working on it I decide that wireless router is dead and I need a new one so down to Best Buy I go. They had a Linksys on sale that I picked up. At home I hooked it up and plug it in and…nothing. No lights on the front or the back of the router. I try a different outlet, still nothing. Great, after all of that I get a bad router. By this time I had a birthday party to take one of the kids to so the exchange would have to wait. On the way home I stopped at Best Buy to exchange it, only they didn’t have any of those in stock. After going around and around I was able to talk the manger to giving me the next model up for same sale price. So back home, but by then it was dinner so we ate, cleaned up and hung outside with some neighbors while the kids played out front. Finally, about 9PM last night I finally was able to get the router hooked up, this one worked out of the box and after about 30 minutes of configuring I was back online. By that time I was done for the night.

So not only did I miss one day of writing, but I missed two days. The chain was broken in a big way. This morning I got into work, one of the first things I usually do on Monday is read through some blogs. On one of the first one, I see this. After this weekend it was just what I needed. I beat myself up over missing two days of writing due to something that was out of my control. Going forward I’m modifying my chain. I’m going to still strive to write every day, but if I miss a day I’m not going to let it get to me.

This is Day whatever…

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