LGN 46: Fight or Flight

Inside: More body image stuff; Those driven people;  What makes coaches coaches; Ranger Rd Park; Cravings; WTF?!  Bizarre, terrifying human behavior and you

This is really long.  There’s some troubling stuff in this entry so I’m giving you fair warning.  I think it’s called a TRIGGER WARNING.

Face, Brain and Heart Eaters and Auto-Disembowelers

What the hell is going on?  The news often makes you wonder what in the world is wrong with people and society.  In an age where even taboos are becoming  passé — have you noticed the increasing incest and rape jokes/gags on shows like Family Guy? — this latest round is off the charts.

  • A man in the process of eating another man’s face shot dead by police.
  • A man arrested after killing someone, dismembering the body and eating the victim’s brains and heart.
  • A man who, in front of police, stabbed himself repeatedly and then threw chunks of his own intestines at them.

Apparently, there are some other freak-you-the-mess-out crimes but I don’t want to get myself grimy by searching for them or writing about them.  The incidents I mentioned are credited to drugs, mental issues and — I don’t know what else.  More drugs?

What does this have to do with fitness?  I’m not trying to be a fear-monger here.  Just some recent thoughts about all this madness.  In fact, don’t read this right now.  Go out and enjoy yourself.

Still here?

Ok.  Ask yourself this.  Do you think you could fend off someone who is on a drug-induced psychotic frenzy?  Someone who isn’t stopped even after being shot once?

A friend of mine was accosted while riding his bike a while ago.  Just some random dude with a stick or something ran up to him and attacked him.  It wasn’t a very good attack, thank goodness.

For me, there have been two times (both in New York City).  Once, a homeless-looking man raised a stick like he was going to hit me.  It was in the air near my head.  Another time, a woman who was staring at me maliciously — of course, I assumed she must have been looking at someone else — approached me and started hitting me with her purse.  Both times, it was in crowded places in broad daylight with lots of people around:  Washington Square Park and the Apple Store plaza on 5th near Central Park (during one of those semi-impromptu Tuesday afternoon concerts –this one was Sting).

It wasn’t anything serious, but you never know.  Who knows what the voices in their heads were telling them at the time.

There was one time in Adams Morgan when a car full of dudes drove by and yelled curses at me.  It was on a dark, relatively empty side street.  I don’t know what they expected me to do.  Yell back so they’d have a reason to get out and kick the snot out of me, I assume.

I had a friend who was touched inappropriately in Adams Morgan.  When she told the guy to F off and turned around to walk away, he hit her in the back of the head.  The police were right there, pretty much, and arrested him.  His buddies were trying to stick up for him because in their eyes, apparently, he hadn’t done anything wrong.

Predators

There are a lot of predators out there.  There are a lot of stressors in our society and culture and people seem to be going off the deep end in more dramatic ways.  I worry about some of my female friends sometimes.  Too many men don’t take rejection well.  Well, too many men and women.  Too many people are getting desperate for one reason or another.  We live in a soft society, which is mostly a good thing.

Here’s the thing about predators, though.  By the time they attack they’re already geared up to kick ass.  Their adrenaline is pumping.  They’re set on taking care of business.  They’ve got a plan.  (I knew someone who would take PCP before going out to beat up people because while he was high on it he didn’t feel pain.)

You, on the other hand, are walking down the street, minding your own business, texting on your iPhone, listening to LMFAO and Facebooking about the bagel you just ate.  Or jogging in spandex with no pockets and nothing but ear buds to defend yourself with.

By the time you’ve registered what’s actually happening and that, yes, this is really happening, you’ve already got a gun or knife pointed at your throat.  Or you’ve already been punched in the face.  Or grabbed from behind.  Or you realize you’re surrounded.  Or you realize that your iPhone has been snatched out of your hands and the dude that did it has already jumped off the metro car and the doors are closing.  Or your ass has already been grabbed.

That’s the nature of living in a society that’s mostly civilized and pretty cool with lots of freedoms.  We don’t walk around ready to chop someone’s arm off if they offend our sense of honor.  We aren’t living in the extra-judiciary wild west.  Yet.  Thank goodness.

The question is, once your brain catches up with reality in a scenario like those above, what are you prepared to do?  You have to think fast and/or act fast.  Once you realize, “Crap, I need to run away!”  Can you outrun someone?

Once your brain realizes, “I’m going to have to punch this dude in the throat and get some help.  There was a police car back around the corner.”  Do you have the strength to make a kick or punch count and then haul ass?

Does your appearance and bearing send the message to predators to move on?  Would your reaction to being probed for weakness cause a predator to think twice?

Honestly, I don’t know how that translates to training.  Training to be athletic — fast, strong, flexible, balanced, resilient — isn’t the same as training to unscrew someone’s head off their shoulders if they pose a physical threat.  Tighty righty, lefty loosey.  Strength training and conditioning isn’t necessarily going to train you how to function mentally well when your adrenalin is pumping through your system and you’ve got butterflies in your stomach and you’ve got the shakes.

It will, however, make you physically formidable.  Like, once your brain catches up in a threatening situation — who knows how any of us will react under extreme stress and danger until it happens — you will have the physical tools at your disposal to do what you need to do.

For example, now I know that I can climb a wall if I have to.  I can jump into water and keep my wits.  Vault over fences.  I can sprint like a motha even after I think I don’t have anything left in the tank.

My body responds to physical demands now in a way that it never has before.  I’m getting older so there’s a little more ramp-up than, say, ten years ago.  I still have a long way to go, of course.  I’m no fitness guru or physical specimen of note, but I’m working on it.

Just some things to think about.

Body Image

I don’t want to over-share, but after writing the last blog entry I’ve remembered some more things that fascinate me in retrospect.

  • I didn’t wear shorts from 7th grade through college.  Except for phys. ed when they gave us no choice.
  • I didn’t go swimming with friends.  Didn’t want to take my shirt off in front of people.
  • I dreaded those games where someone would say, “Okay.  Shirts vs. skins.”
  • I would wear jackets all day even in the Summer to conceal the shape of my body.  I forgot my jacket one day and one of the girls who everybody crushed on kept saying how cool I looked.  It boosted my confidence for a few weeks.
  • When I started joining in those pick-up soccer games on the courts I wore pants — even in a Mid-Atlantic August.  I knew I was being ridiculous when people pointed out that my swooshing corduroys were not the best choice for playing soccer.

I’m not claiming to understand what women go through — the external and internal pressure to look a certain way and to look good in whatever the latest fashion is regardless of one’s body type and proportions.  But it seems like very few people are satisfied with their physique.

Thin dudes who can do crazy amounts of gravity defying exercises — pull ups, push ups, chin ups, etc. — want to get bigger.  Stocky guys want to lean out to look more like the thin guys.  A lot of the women I talk to — well.   No matter how shapely and fit they are they always want more.  Or less, depending on how you look at it.  Well, not just women, obviously.  We’ve all got some ideal in our minds, whether it’s realistic or not.

The people who seem to have reached their optimal physique tend to have performance goals or optimal weight/strength goals, which seems less maddening.

Drive

I once asked Justin if he had ever been overweight.  I came in one Saturday morning to the Mental Toughness class to take photos and saw everyone in action, including Matt and Justin.  Coming down the steps it sounded like a blast furnace was cranking and it turned out to be Justin breathing and charging like a madman on an AirDyne bike trying to reach a certain mileage.  When the time was up, he got off the bike and the amount of burn he worked through must have been astronomical.  How the hell does he push himself so hard?  And why?

But no.  He said he’s never been overweight.  He’s always been athletic and competitive.  I would guess passionate, too, because — I mean, it’s one thing to kick yourself in the hindquarters for a workout.  But to do it as a lifestyle?  As a business?

I asked Matt how the heck he’s so fit.  He’s practically right out of college and is always right there with Justin, performance-wise.  He said he’s always been athletic.  Played football.  Worked on farms growing up.  He’s never been sedentary.

It seems like the people who are most fit — Sara and Cristal, too — it’s a way of being.

They’re all physically active by default and passionate about it.

It takes the habit and social obligation of structured training to keep me moving.  Otherwise, left to my own devices my level of physical activity is sporadic and seasonal.  Seeing too many loved ones pass away recently due to poor physical condition and/or bad habits definitely had an impact on me.  That helps with the motivation.  Wanting to be a good example is even more motivation.  Making a lot of progress since I started at UA keeps me going and humbled because everybody there still kicks my butt.  They keep progressing, too.

I’ve been feeling weak lately.  I mean, I feel like I get tired a lot sooner than I should.  My muscles burn and keep burning longer than I think they should.  There are reasons for this (like mountain biking adding some fatigue) and I can probably prepare better for the training.  Make sure I’m hydrated, nutritioned, and supplemented properly.

Have to remember my truck-like metabolism.

Cravings

I was thinking about cramping ‘n junk.  During Tough Mudder when Justin was rolling out the cramp and massaging the knot out, he gave me one of his electrolyte gels.  I said it was nasty.

Actually, it was pretty good except to my taste buds at the time it was super duper sweet.  Cloyingly sweet.  Nastily sweet.

Same thing happens when I’m mountain biking.  I carry Gu and when I eat it, it’s incredibly sweet to me.  Like, too sweet to eat.

My understanding is that a lot of cravings are psychological.  But not all, I don’t think.  Example.  Juice companies do research to find what colors are most appealing to people when they’re thirsty.  Red is the go-to color.  Then other, bright, often primary colors.  Thinking back to pre-historic days when our biology was established, what foods are red or brightly colored and occur in nature?  Fruits, mainly.  What do fruits provide?  Water, sugars, vitamins, some minerals, some electrolytes, anti-oxidants (if that’s still a thing).

I’m thinking — I don’t know if it’s science or not — that my body is telling me that it’s not necessarily craving carbs at that point.  When sugar is disgusting to my palette.  It’s craving electrolytes.  Salty goodness.  Salt, potassium, magnesium, calcium.  Maybe.  I’ll have to experiment.

Running in Ranger Rd Park

Just so no one misses it.  Don’t hit me, Kathy.  Not the face!

Here’s one of my Summer goals.  To add the short trail in Ranger Rd Park (and maybe through Draper Dr Park) to the UA trot loop.  That’s for when I get up in the 2 – 3 mile range, though.  Strangely, I don’t quite feel that motivated after workouts.  Before I’m like, Yeh I’m gonna sprint down to 50 and back and down again!  After I’m like, Oh goodness.  Maybe I should just rest.

Click this link to see the map with gps trail.  I just wandered enough to find some of the subtle trail entrances right off of Rt. 50 and in the Skidoo’s parking lot.  I think there’s another entrance off of Stafford, but I didn’t have time to probe as much as I wanted.

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1605502&code=37b14064b59024da41dc0d61b894210f

I explored that the other day before a workout at UA.  I jogged a little bit just because I felt like it and walking was taking too long.  They have little exercise stations but, unfortunately, no monkey bars.  I did two half way decent chin ups.  And then instantly tweaked my shoulder trying to do a pull up.  No biggy but damn I’m heavy.  NOTE TO SELF:  Do jump pull ups/chin ups and lower slowly.

I have to be careful, though, with the running.  There’s definitely some knee twinges and shin soreness.  When I used to run on the treadmill a lot I was afraid that I may have micro-stress fractures.  That’s probably because I don’t fully understand what a shin splint is or what it feels like. Rolling out my lower legs with a tennis ball the other day, I found some unexpected soreness in a very specific muscle on both legs (where I highlighted them in light blue).  Interesting.

Anyway, I’m procrastinating.  I need to do something with my life this weekend.  I’m beginning to think that spending hours alone photo-stalking birds is probably not the best way for a bachelor to be spending so much time on a regular basis.

Have a good weekend, everyone.  We’ve got great weather for it and a zillion festivals, events and parks at our disposal.

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.

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