Your Excuses are Invalid and How to Achieve Your Goals

5 06 2013

rounner

“Glory is fleeting, mediocrity lasts forever”
- The Rasta Jesus

I asked on Facebook the other day “what exercise to see being butchered the most?”
And the answers are coming in thick and fast, here are the most common so far:

  • Plank
  • Push Up
  • Squat
  • Deadlifts
  • Pull Ups
  • Cleans

Also getting a few people mention the Lunge and even the Punch!

So I guess I’ve a busy few days putting together some video footage for you.
I’ll get a few tutorials done covering the above list, much in the same vein as the tutorials I previously recorded covering the kettlebell lifts.

So that’s what’s coming up.

Today though I want to talk about getting your head right.

Everything say,everything you do, everything you’ve ever achieved and everything you are today and everything you’re going to be. It all starts and ends in your head.

And that means you need to gain control of your head.

There are a multitude of blogs and websites talking a vast amount of crap about self help, positive thinking, meditation, visualisation etcetera, etcetera.

Most of these sites are run my hyped up ego’s bent on emptying your wallet.

So here’s the Dave Hedges version.

Free of charge.

Workout what you want.
Workout why you want it.
Workout how you’ll get it.
Start.

End of.

Right now, I have a list of people working towards a list of training goals.
I’ve 8 guys on the Kettleheads GS Team working towards a Kettlebell competition.
I’ve a lad on the final approach to an Ironman triathlon.
I’ve a girl who desperately wants to get back to triathlon following injury.

And I’ve got Seb.

And because of Seb, all your excuses are invalid.

Seb managed to mess up his knee about badly as is possible and still be able to call it a knee.
As soon as he was somewhat mobile again, he asked me if he could come back training.
Seb is a BJJ player, last year he won a bronze medal in his category at the European championships. I look after is Strength & Conditioning needs.
When he asked to come in, I said yes.

We had a think and got him working. Mostly Pull Ups and Dip, with some pilates core work and seated battling ropes.
This went on, three days per week for a few months. After the first few days, I could see the changes in his personality, the damaged and depressed Seb was fading away in the face of this physical onslaught. The old Seb, the athlete, started to come back.

A while later he got rid of one crutch.

Then the other.

Then we sent him to our Physio, Andy Watson, who knows knees.

Pretty soon we got rid of the knee brace and upped his training from 3 to 5 days per week.

Seb now runs, he squats, he jumps and he even started skipping.

In January, he will compete again at the European Championships.

And only because he kept his head right.

He chose who to talk to and who to ignore. He knew the physio at the hospital wasn’t up to the job so he asked for my input. I sent him to Andy, who’s a no BS kind of guy.

Seb kept coming training, even though he was limited in what he could do. He threw his entire focus into what he COULD do not wallowing in what he couldn’t do.

He hung around the gym longer than needed, just so he could be around motivated people. Turned out, his presence and persistence is a huge motivating factor for the rest of my crew, they know their excuses are invalid when he’s around.

Seb took the time to get his head right. He found the people that would keep his head right. He did, and still does the work to ensure his head stays right.

This is why his injuries are making such good progress.

This is Seb a few weeks ago, remember only a few weeks previously he was wearing a massive knee brace, and before that was on crutches:

So what can we take from this story?

How about the following:

  • If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the motivation to get on with it. Seb said from the word go, that he wanted to be in the European champs, this is when he couldn’t even walk yet. This thought is what kept him working.
  • Surround yourself with people who will support you.
  • Set small goals and tick them off along the way.
    Seb went from two crutches, to one to none. He now doesn;t even wear the brace. Then we got him walking right and are working on regaining full ROM in the squat. Each is a step towards the greater goal.
  • Consistency is key.
    There will always be days where you don’t want to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Sometimes you just have to get on with it.
    This is where all the positive thinking bull shit falls down, you don’t have to be happy about doing your work, just remember what it is your working towards and dig your heels in and go for it.

Anything is possible.

Are you willing to work for it?

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.wg-fit.com





Ask Dave: I Gas Quickly When Drilling Power Punches, How Should I Train Them?

8 05 2013

This question was asked on Sunday at the end of the Basic Self Defence Skills workshop.

I know the asker well. He’s no spring chicken and a lifetime student of the martial arts, a guy who has attended several workshops I’ve either run or hosted on self defence and even attended Wild Geese Martial Arts classes on and off for several years. These days he trains mostly out of his garage.
He’s the kind of guy who has thought long and hard, who has tried and tested, and when he asks a question, he’ll see right through you if you attempt to feed him with bullshit.

He’s my kind of student!

So when he asked the question in the title, I had to turn the answer into a blog post, because, like most of Brians questions, if you haven’t thought about this yet, you will.

So, you’re training to hit with maximal power, yet you find yourself gassing early.

This is problematic, especially for those with a self defence / combatives mindset.
Training for combat sports is very much centred around conditioning, it’s about building up to and peaking for an event where there are a predetermined number of rounds with predetermined work and rest times. Your opponent will be matched as closely as possible to you in terms of weight and experience.
If you stand on the door, work in any field of security/law enforcement or hold down a full time job and have a family you train to protect any time, any where against anyone, it’s a little more tricky to prepare.

That isn’t to say the protocols used by the combat sports athletes aren’t useful to you, they are. They just may not be ideal. So lets look at how we can train with maximal efficiency in minimal time.

Rule 1: Train like a sprinter or Weightlifter

sprint absThis is a debate I’ve had ad-nauseum with several other coaches, but I will stick to my guns here.
I do not, never have, probably never will mix high level skill training with high level conditioning training.
This means that if you’re working to train that perfect punch, you need to prioritise the mechanics of the hips and shoulders as well as the alignment of the skeleton upon impact above all else.
Fatigue will reduce the ability to focus upon and develop quality.

So we take a look at the training undertaken by sprinters and 1 rep max weight lifters.

These guys spend a large part of their training time doing nothing at all, yet they are some of the most powerful people on the planet. Yes, their cardio may not be that of a UFC fighter, but in the combatives world, our job is to end a fight as soon as possible, we’re talking three to five seconds. The longer it goes on, the higher the stakes get.

So, train like them. Short bouts of incredible effort with plenty of rest.
If you’re building pure power into your strikes, do them in sets of 3-5reps. Treat each rep as a single unit rather than a set of 3 reps (think along the lines of rest-pause training), so do one, quick reset, do the next one until the set is done. Then take all the time you need before repeating.
Maybe set a timer, have the buzzer go off on the minute, even every 2 minutes. On the sound, bang out three to five perfect and powerful punches. This goes on until the impact, speed or movement quality begins to break down.

If your happy with the quality and are looking for the ability to hammer in a cluster of strikes, be that a simple repeat of that big right hand or even a more boxing style left right combination, then we do things slightly different.
Set your timer now for 10 seconds work with 1-2 minutes rest.
On the sound, launch into the heavy bag with everything you have. Make it swing away and use your strikes to keep it at that angle until the 10 seconds are up, then rest.

Perform several rounds of this, as many as you can while maintaining quality of work.

Rule 2: Keep You Conditioning Work Short and Sharp

Short, intense bouts of conditioning work are the order of the day here. Simplicity works best, don’t add anything complex to these workouts as you’re looking to improve your power output, power endurance and strengthen movement patterns.
Use whatever equipment you have at hand, but focus on developing hip extension, Core Stability (including the shoulder) and upper body strength.
Train the body as a unit, as a whole.

For this I advocate circuits, especially Power Circuits and / or complexes.
Keep these tight, 20 minutes or even less. Work hard, but maintain quality. If you’re training with and anyone-anytime mindset, you can’t afford injury or burn out. These workouts must support and improve your main training, not hinder it.

Here’s me doing a power circuit:

Rule 3: Every now and then, go fucking nuts!

One of the greatest assets a fighter can develop, any fighter whether their arena is the ring, the octagon, the pavement or the jungle is tenacity.
It’s the will to push and push. To work beyond their physical limitations.

For this I advocate that from time to time, it may be once per month, once per quarter or even once per year, but be sure to take on a challenge that pushes you way out of your comfort zone. Something that leaves you sick in the stomach just thinking about it. The kind of thing that keeps you awake at night.
See it through, no matter how much you want to pull out before hand or how much you want to quit doing it. See it through.

You can make yourself more accountable for these kind of events by using them as charity fundraisers, or you can simply do it for yourself.

It could be entering a competition, be it Kettlebell lifting, Power Lifting, amateur boxing. It could be a marathon or a mile of walking kettlebell swings.
The actual nature of the event is unimportant, it’s the physical, mental and emotional stress it instills that counts.

A training session may look like this (example only):

1: Power emphasis: Rear Cross 10 sets of 3L/R, full bore strikes.

2: Speed / Power Endurance: Repeating Rear Cross (piston style) x 10sec burst x 5rounds L/R

3: General Fitness Power Circuit:
3A: Deadlift x 3-5
3B: Clean & Press x 6-8
3C: Seated Russian Twist x 6-8 L/R
3D: Anything goes bagwork x 30seconds
Repeat for either 3-5 rounds, adding weight to the deadlift each round, or do a 20 minute AMRAP with a set load.

4: Yoga type stretches to cool off.

If you don’t have time for this, separate it into two sessions, combatives specific in one session, circuit in the next.

If you train out of your garage, or even if you are training for general fitness but with a view to being able to protect your family if needs be, try this training template 2-3 days per week and see how you get on.

Regards

Dave
http://www.WG-Fit.com





The Unglamorous Truth to Smashing Your Goals

22 04 2013

“So, where are all the best downhills?” asked the young mountain biker.
“At the top of the best climbs!” replied the seasoned local.

And in that brief exchange overheard in a Mountain Bike shop and hang out in the English Lake District, you can learn everything you need to know about achieving your goals.

Modern society has developed around shortcuts.
We have perfected the microwave, the dishwasher, we drive to convenience stores, we drive THROUGH restaurants. We have 7 day detox’s, we can “get shredded” in 90 days we even have 6 second abs!

2256-second-abs-abdomenal-trainer-arm-hola-hoop-fitness-equipment-home-gym-sports-exerciser-1

Every piece of knowledge and information you could ever want or need is a few clicks away on the internet, and you have the internet at you disposal on that smart phone that’s never out of easy reach.

So are we more productive?
On average, no, we have every time saving, convenience device on offer, yet the only result we seem to have gotten out of this is a reduced attention span and the inability to so the herd graft to get the cool results.
The graft has been removed, technology does it now, in return we have instant gratification.

Which is hollow at best.

But if we really want to hit the best downhills, find the sweetest singletrack and gain the most satisfaction from our ride, we must first grind our way up the mountain.

If we really want that athletic physique, we need to eat real food and train with real resistance.

If we really want to be able to do that cool push up variation, you know, the one you saw on youtube, then first you need to master the basic push up.

You want to do more pull ups, DO MORE PULL UPS!

You want to emulate your sporting hero, don’t watch what they do in the arena or on the pitch, find out what they do day in, day out, week in, week out. See how methodical, boring and repetitive being truly great is.

So take the advice of the Lakeland mountain bike man and remember, the best downhills and found at the top of the best climbs.

Regards

Dave
http://www.wg-fit.com





Which Comes First, the Mind or the Muscle?

19 03 2013

Mental strength is an integral part of what we do here at WG-Fit.

Professor_xMaybe that’s the reason I enjoy working with the guys from the local Mental Health centre.
Much of the feed back I get from the guys I train talks about the non physical as much as they talk about strength gains and improved athleticism.

Right now I have a handful of guys all preparing for their first Kettlebell competition.
The competition involves an unbroken 5 minute set of lifts, the person with the most reps, wins. The other day the guys did their first ever 5 minute test set and to a man they noticed that most of the battle wasn’t with the weights, but it was in their own heads.

This is not unusual, many events are won and lost even before the athlete even arrives at the venue.

There’s a great boxing anecdote about a British boxer travelling from London to a fight in the north of England. He never showed for the fight, apparently getting of the train and turning for home about halfway there.
The story goes that he sent a message to his opponent that he lost the fight in Birmingham and got off the train in Manchester.

I guess the point I’m rambling towards us this, training the body is worthless unless you also train the mind.

In my youth I would fall apart at a Karate tournament, I was a great scrapper in the dojo, but as soon as I stepped on the mat my legs would fail me and my nerves would shatter.
That is until I realised that I was missing the most vital aspect of training, the mental aspect.

Mental strength is built by facing challenges that make you nervous, that make you not want to face them and then doing it anyway.
It’s the reason that every Special Forces regiment in the world will run you into the ground and then run you some more, they need to test your mental strength before building you physically.

And this is the key to true awesomeness.

The mind must come before the body.
You cannot truly become awesome if you first won’t go places mentally and physically that are seriously challenging.

Every do something that kept you up for several nights prior to the event?

Every sign up for something that made your stomach turn even just thinking about  it?

Ever see something through that you wanted to quit every step of the way?

No?

Then it’s about time you did.

Be it a marathon, an adventure race, a kettlebell comp, a power lifting meet or just some ridiculous challenge, it doesn’t matter. Just do it.

In doing so you will face Demons within yourself that will make you want to break down and cry. Will make you want to run home for a hug. Will make you want to stay in the comfort and warmth of your bed.

max-payne-gallery-header
And in beating these Demons into submission and completing the task regardless  you will become awesome.

Many gyms, Personal Trainers and websites try to sell you on weight loss and 6 pack abs.

Fuck that, appearance means nothing.

Performance is everything. And you’ll only perform if your mind is right.

Each of these women competed in the last Olympics.

Each of these women competed in the last Olympics.

Regards

Dave
http://www.wg-fit.com





How To Get Your Head Right For An Epic Performance

7 01 2013

Mental preparationA common question that comes up at WG-Fit is about mindset and mental focus.
This isn’t really surprising given the amount of guys that train with me with the specific intention of improving athletic performance, be it in their chosen martial art, GAA or Rugby.
All events where getting hurt is a very real danger, a danger which is significantly increased if the head isn’t in the game.

Coming from a traditional martial arts background myself, I’ve always been taught that mental focus is the primary attribute for a martial artist to achieve. Only when this is accomplished will martial skill really begin to flourish.

And if you think about it, it makes sense.

Most martial arts are designed for life or death encounters or high level sporting encounters where you will get hurt. Mental focus is of absolute importance and self doubt is more dangerous than any enemy.
It’s small wonder then that meditative practices are integral to the martial arts training and lifestyle.

As is visualisation.

Visualisation

This isn’t just limited to the traditional arts either. Visualisation in particular is becoming more commonly used in the MMA circles and in other high level sporting events.

A great example is that of the bob sled in the winter Olympics.
If you haven;t seen it, you must have seen the movie Cool Runnings.

Checkout the bath scene at 55seconds into the trailer.
Derice, as the driver is constantly going over the track in his head, in another scene he’s studying photo’s of each turn and mimicking the movement through it. End result, in his mind he has completed hundreds of successful runs in the sled, which results in and actual physical performance that matches it.

Bobsled kata

Bobsled kata

This isn’t just movie hokum.
It’s a common tactic used by all the bob sled / luge athletes as to run the track over and over is time consuming, dangerous and costly. The drivers train in their heads, much like a martial artists performs a kata or a golfer does a few mock putts before actually lining up on the ball.

Visualisation is a very powerful tool in your tool box.
This is how Jack Parker used to tell us when we were young, up coming Karate-Ka:

“Any time your not doing anything, think about your karate, run the kata through in your head. It doesn’t matter where, do it on the bus, do it on the toilet, any time you have a few minutes to yourself.”

And that’s the key. Frequent repetition. The mind won’t fatigue like the body will, so we can practice a lift or a spot kick or an osoto gari over and over without tiring, like we would if we were doing it for real. Yet we are still activating the neural pathways, we are still feeling the emotion, we are still getting a positive training result.

But what about the nerves?

Breath Control

How do way stay calm enough to carry out the mental and physical training?

This is where breath control comes into play.

Breath Control is a central feature in many martial arts

Breath Control is a central feature in many martial arts

The Asian Martial arts put forward the following theory:

As the breath falls under both conscious AND unconscious control, we can use it as a bridge or a gateway to consciously control our unconscious functions.

What does that mean?

Well.

We breath unconsciously most of the time, it is a reflexive action. We continue to breath while we sleep at night, we even continue to breath when our opponent lands a successful knockout punch.

Yet we also have conscious control over our breath. We can choose to speed it up, slow it down and even stop it (for a short while).

The Martial Artists realised that through breath control we could also alter our state of mind, which scientists have measured with CAT scanners of a Buddhist monk, and even our heart rate. Yes, competent meditators have consciously stopped and restarted their heartbeat.

I don’t recommend you try that, but it shows what is potentially possible.

I use a few breathing/meditative practices that are extremely simple and very effective. I also use a few that are far more in depth than can be explained in a mere blog post, techniques that fall under the banner of Chi Gung as taught to me by Mark Rasmus.

Of the simple methods there are two I recommend.
The first is the 100 method and is a common night time ritual for me and one I recommend to many of my athletes, especially on the run up to a major event.

It goes like this:

Every time you exhale, count. Simple eh?
The aim is to count to 100. However, a more realistic aim is to repeatedly count to ten.
Count each exhale in your head until you reach your target number, then repeat.

You will get distracted. Your mind will fire thoughts at you, very often your nervous demons will rear up at you in an attempt to drag you into a cycle of self doubt and adrenaline, potentially ruining your sleep patterns and reinforcing any doubts.
As soon as you realise this is happening, stop and restart your counting at number 1. Do this every time you become attached to a thought.

I liken this brain activity to a TV that is left on in the background. You may be sat reading your book or writing something, but the flashing screen and incessant noise seems to draw you in and before you know it your sat watching some nonsense rather than dealing with the task at hand.
The random thought flashing across your minds eye are just like this TV.
Over time, you’ll learn to ignore the thoughts and simple count your breaths. With enough practice, the thoughts seem to stop coming, as if the TV had been switched off.

This will allow you to relax yourself and hopefully get a good nights rest. It’s also a helpful tool to employ prior to your warm up, or even on the journey to the big event.

The second method is the 4-4-8 method commonly used in Yoga.
I like this for several reasons, one of which is that it has a positive training effect on your lungs and breathing mechanisms.
As a teenager I remember a younger member of the Karate class, a lad who struggled with his asthma.
Jack taught us all the 4-4-8 method and often practised it with us at the end of a class. This one lad recognised the value of it and ran with it.
A few months later Jack related a story to me after talking to the boys father.
They had recently been to the Doc to have his regular check up done and to monitor the asthma. During this check up the Doc takes a lung capacity test. The boys lung capacity had increased by around 33% or one third since his last check up several months earlier.
It turned out, the lad had implemented a daily practice of the 4-4-8 since first learning it and had never had an asthma attack since.

That alone is enough to lend worth to this method, never mind the calming effect it has on the mind.

Here’s how it goes:

inhale for the count of 4, hold it for the same count, exhale for the count of 8.
The numbers are arbitrary, but the pattern is important (dunno why, it just is), the pattern is always 1-1-2, the exhale is double the inhale and the hold.

As you progress, you can increase the numbers or simply count more slowly. Try it with a metronome to keep the count steady. Or if you’re out for a stroll, maybe walking the dog, count your steps (don’t do this near traffic or if it’s your first time experimenting)

Silly poses - optional

Silly poses – optional

Do you need to sit in a certain pose? No. just get comfortable
Do you need to omm and chant? No.
Do you need scented candles? No.
Does it have to be dark? No.
All you need is a period of time where no one will disturb you. Everything else is window dressing and/or mumbo jumbo.

So there you have it, a complete guide to mental fortitude and focus.

The roots of all this, as I’ve mentioned, come though the martial arts systems I’ve been exposed to, but they can be and should be applied to whatever your sport or training practice may be. I even used some of it to keep focused while writing this article!

I talk about breath control for performance during my bodyweight workshops, the next one of which will be in Galway in February, details can be found here

Routine

The last thing I like to add is routine, something familiar on the day.

We’ve all heard about players going through specific routines prior to an event, our own Worlds Strongest Man competitor, James Fennelly never leaves for an event without his lucky green socks.

355kg for 11 reps, gotta be the socks!

355kg for 11 reps, gotta be the socks!

With my guys I like them to use the same warm up routine every time they train. This routine then becomes a switch, a little island of familiarity before going out to perform. If we go through the routine of getting changed, then going through our standard warm up prior to anything new, it gives us a trigger to switch from day to day you to animal you.
Setting up triggers and “anchors” is big in NLP circles, having a prematch routine that is the same is you normal pretraining routine can be your anchor, your switch.

Regards

Dave
www.WG-Fit.com





How has Sport/Training/Exercise Helped You?

6 12 2012

On facebook the other day, my good friend and fellow coach Mick Kelly of Wexford Kettlebell Club posted this:

“There’s talk of a 5% cut in the governments sporting budget on Wednesday. Chances are there won’t be much notice passed on this latest cut. In recessionary times funding for sport seems very much a side issue. Politically sport doesn’t seem to matter very much to anyone, how many politicians do we here argue that this funding shouldn’t be cut. Yet sport plays a crucially important role in our society and has the potential to play an even greater one. Latest figures have government spending on obesity related issues costing 1.13 billion euro, 61% of Irish adults are overweight, we have the highest obesity rate among children in Europe. This is putting a massive strain on the health service and yet its obvious that even a moderate improvement in national physical fitness would reduce this strain on the health service. And what have the government been doing about this? Cutting the sports budget!! As the Federation of Irish sports put it ” further cuts in funding could have an impact that will not alone damage sport in the short term but will seriously compromise it way into the future. A lack of investment today will have its most damaging impact not today or tomorrow but ten years down the road”. Sport can make us a better healthier nation. It deserves respect instead of cutbacks. Because sport matters.”

He’s right.

Sports are of huge importance. The focus shouldn’t just be on obesity and the associated financial costs, instead it should be on the quality of life.

Sports participation changes lives. It certainly changed mine. If I had never joined that karate club as a kid, my life would have been very different.
If I hadn’t acted on my instructors advice several years later: “Dave, you need to get strong” there would be no Wild Geese.

Joining Karate gave me confidence, self worth, motivation, it gave me a desire to keep pushing forwards, always trying to improve.
It taught me that mental focus leads to physical gains and vica versa.

This is a gift I endeavour to give back to those that come to me for training.
Many of my members tell me their own stories, how their lives have been adjusted for the better by participating in sports, be it martial arts, rugby, GAA, running or whatever.
Never have I heard a bad story unless it’s about a physical injury.

The psychological benefits of participating in a sport, training in an environment like WG-Fit or simply getting out and doing it solo are massive.

And we all know, or at least we should know, that when the head is right, all else has the potential to fall into place.

That hour spent sweating, grunting, struggling and pushing has the potential to realign the next 23 hours of the day into something awesome.
When people train hard they tend to eat better, sleep better, think clearer. They have more respect for themselves, which in turn leads to them having more respect for others. This in turn gets people to respect you more and before you know it you’re on an upwards spiral.

Over on the WG-Fit facebook page I’ve asked that people share their stories, I want to know how starting playing a sport or taking up training has affected the rest of your life, have you noticed a difference in your personal outlook, mental focus, mental clarity, productivity, exuberance and contentment.

You can use this link to get to the facebook post I’m talking about or you can simply drop me an email / comment right here:

What am I going to do with your stories?
I’m starting a research project on the effects of physical exercise on mental health in conjunction with the charity I work with. Your stories may help us out with this, we may also collate them into a document to the government to restore funding to sports and recreation.

We’ll also be using them along side the Get1Active project, which you read more about here.

Regards

Dave
http://www.wg-fit.com

 

 

 





Dare you Face the Beast?

19 10 2012

I’m currently enjoying the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougal.
It’s a book I’ve heard a lot about but never gotten around to reading. I’m now wondering why I waited so long!

A lot of the book as I read it and the way the author talks about running technique gets me a little nostalgic for the time I lived in the English Lake District and spent many a day out running the hills there.
I’ve always been an advocate of endurance. I know it’s a little out of vogue right now, everyone’s on an interval sprint buzz, or going on at length about the benefits of prowler pushes and tabata’s over long slow cardio. And you know what, in a lot of ways the arguments are right, for general conditioning short, intense sessions are great.
But training is a bigger picture than simply numbers on a log sheet.

There’s an X factor. One that has nothing to with a TV Karaoke competition.

This X factor is a mental attitude, it’s a mindset. And it’s often the very thing that’s missing in many peoples training and therefore, performance.
It’s the ability to endure discomfort for extended periods of time. It’s about actually embracing this discomfort and relishing it.
This quote from the book sums it up nicely:

“Strictly by accident, Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner’s arsenal: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore. Lisa Smith-Batchen, the amazingly sunny and pixie-tailed runner from Idaho who trained through blizzards to win a 6 day race in the Sahara, talks about exhaustion as a playful pet. “I love the Beast,” she says. “I actually look forward to the Beast showing up, because every time he does, I handle him better. I get him more under control.” Once the Beast arrives, Lisa knows what she has to deal with and can get down to work. And isn’t that the reason she’s running through the desert in the first place – to put her training to work? To have a friendly tussle with the Beast and show it who’s boss? You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.”

Doing battle with the Beast is possibly the most game changing thing an athlete can do. Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, you should still face the Beast.

Dare you face him down?

The Beast is you. It’s your reflection. It’s everything about you that makes you want to stop, to quit, to go home, to hide, to be anything other than awesome.

I’ve often referred to the Beast as the demons in your head. Different name but same idea. Most people lose because the demons have already won before the event even starts. The demons win because their unfamiliar or they’re used to getting their own way all the time. Until you willing face up to them, until you turn on them and refuse to back down, just as you’d tell you child to handle the bully at school, until that point you’ll always be a victim to them.

There are many ways to bring the beast out, to summon the demons.

It doesn’t have to be long distance running.
But it does have to be something that makes you want to stop. It must cause physical and psychological discomfort.

It could be several rounds of sparring against fresh opponents with no breaks or doing very high rep callisthenics or extended sets of a Kettlebell exercise. It could be running a certain aspect of your chosen sport over and over and over.

I’ve mentioned Tenacity a few times in the past. Usually after a training session with Mick Coup as he’s a huge proponent of it.
Tenacity is the about wanting to stop, knowing you can stop but choosing not to.

That sums up what battling you demons is all about, deciding not to quit.

It’s about attitude.

Regards

Dave
www.wg-fit.com





A Mile of Swings – Was it Worth It?

3 09 2012

This is just a quickie about the 1 Mile Walking Swing Challenge we ran last Saturday at Irishtown Stadium.

It’s only the second time we’ve run the challenge, and as far as we’re aware, it’s only the second time anyone has ever done a mile of swings. (please correct me if I’m wrong)

On the day, 9 of my most dedicated members joined me on the track to take on the mile.
All made me proud and all put in an awesome effort.
We were supported in no small way by Ireland’s Strongest Man, a man I’m proud to call a friend to Wild Geese, Mr James Fennelly. James brought with him his coach, former Olympic high jumper Adrian O’Dwyer.

What an honour to have these two incredible athletes at my side as we walked the track.

Of course Paul Cox, the head of Wild Geese Martial Arts was also present as was Dave G, our Thai coach and the man who steps in for me when I’m away.

The whole thing was to raise funds and awareness for the RehabCare HOPS centre, which is just around the corner from WG HQ. It’s a centre dedicated to Mental Health and helping those with illness back to health. I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with the guys in the centre for the last couple of years and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to use my skills to raise cash for them.
When the WG crew also get on board to help as well as friends from, not just around the country, but across the world (thanks Facebook for making this possible) also get involved it makes the whole event truly awesome.

So far we have raised over €4000, and more is coming in.
On our MyCharity page we have collected €1750 and we have approximately €2500 in cash donations, raffle ticket sales and more. The MyCharity page will remain open for another month so please keep the donations coming in.

This photo was uploaded to facebook after the event:

Yup, they’re my hands, thats real blood.

One comment on the photo was someone asking “Was it worth it?”

Here’s why it was worth it:

  • We raised over €4k and will most likely smash our €5k target in the next few weeks.
    This money will go directly to the guys that use the centre, every cent of it will directly benefit the guys. There will be new computers bought, day trips, courses and a whole range of opportunities open to them that they may not have had otherwise.
  • My physical effort, and that of the guys who took part with me, is only a tiny fraction of the struggle these guys face on a daily basis. My visible, physical injuries are nothing compared to their invisible injuries. In a week or two there will be no trace of the challenge left on my body, only this photo will stand as evidence, yet the guys will still have their issues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • My actions on the track helps to inspire the guys, it shows them that there are a few of us willing to help. Mental Health and indeed Mental Illness is extremely misunderstood and the topic is so often brushed under the carpet.
    If I can use my position as respected coach to raise awareness, if I can use my physical prowess and my mental strength to raise cash, raise awareness and also inspire. Then yes it is worth it.
  • As I went around the track I heard many of the guys from the centre cheering, shouting and chanting encouragement. I was never alone on the track. Many of the guys have issues with public displays, yet on the day, they come out of themselves, they really got behind something.
    Being enthusiastic about anything becomes a nightmare when you’re struggling with depression and low self esteem, yet on the day they all got excited and roared their hearts out in support.
  • If this small act inspires just one of them to put their mind to something greater, to push their own limits and boundaries, then that’s worth more than any amount of cash raised or skin lost.

So was it worth it?

Damn straight.

Here’s the MyCharity page link again: http://www.mycharity.ie/event/dave_hedgess_event
You have to the end of September to donate online, but you have every day of you your life to donate time or money in person.

On Saturday my guys made a difference.

Will you?

Dave
http://www.wg-fit.com





4 Tips To Ensure a Great Performance

29 08 2012

We’re on the countdown now.

Saturday is fast approaching and with it comes the 1 Mile Kettlebell Swing Challenge.

Last Saturday I was very lucky to witness 5 of my athletes take the platform at the Irish Kettlebell Lifting championships. One of whom had never been involved in competitive sport and another who is dealing with a chronic injury. Every one of them looked and behaved in a very professional manner and every one of them hit personal bests.

The two events are making me think about the mental side of performance and how we get ourselves right in order to perform on the day. Especially in something as mentally taxing as kettlebell sport and the Mile. These are strength/power/endurance events, they involve explosive lifting of a weight again and again and again. Every one who experiences kettlebell sports for the first time is blown away by the sheer intensity of it.

So how do we get our minds right?

How do we know that on the day we’ll be able to pull it out of the hat?

There is no one answer but here’s my take.

  1. Routine.
    When one of my guys begins preparing for a competition or event, we get them into a warm up routine and never change it unless absolutely necessary.
    This means that on the day they have this to hold onto. They may be in a strange location surrounded by strange people, but they have their routine to go through, something they’ve done so many times that they can do it with almost no thought processes.
    This routine acts as a switch, they are used to going through the sequence in preparation for training, they know as they warm up they need to mentally switch on.This rarely fails.
    On the other hand when an athlete does a different warm up to the one they’ve practised in the gym, very often their on stage performance suffers.
  2. Visualisation
    I heard a lecture from a top Irish Sports Psychologist recently and he talked at length about the power of visualisation. My first coach and mentor,  Jack Parker spoke about visualisation, in his own inimitable way, constantly as I was growing up in St Martins Junior Karate Club.
    Jack would tell us to practice at every opportunity. He even told that we could practice while sitting on the toilet by simply visualising ourselves going through the techniques.
    So with this in mind it helps an athlete to see themselves going through the event, close your eyes and really see it, feel it, experience it. In your minds eye, see it going right, see the tactics and feel the adrenalin. Do this enough and by the time you are actually performing, it’ll be like you’ve already done it a dozen times before.
  3. Preparation
    I’m of the “Always Ready” school of thought. This is because, as already mentioned, I grew in martial arts where there is no season. You may have competitions, gradings and other events happening at the drop of a hat and if you weren’t ready, you got hurt.
    To me a high level of GPP (general physical preparedness) is of vital importance. Can you perform on any given day? The answer should be yes. That way all you need for a big event is fine tuning.
    I believe that any athlete should be able to get out of bed on any day of the week and put in a good performance right there and then. If you can’t why not?
    Maintaining this level of GPP takes hard work and discipline on a near daily basis, but it also develops the kind of grit, determination and confidence to step up anytime, anywhere.
    It also means that when you enter into a pre competition training phase, it;s an easy transition and all the training really does is sharpen your skillset and raise the confidence even further.

There’s a lot more to success than just these three points, but these are things I’ve seen time and time again with myself, my peers and training partners as I grew up and now my clients/students as a coach.

We all have doubts, we all have demons clawing at our self belief and confidence. But we must refuse to feed them.
We have to accept that they’re there, but that’s all. Give them more than this and they grow in power. If we give our demons power we may let them take over, and that is bad.

As I said earlier, the Mile walk is on this weekend. Our online fundraising page is in operation and will remain so for a month after the event, please click on the image below to be taken to the page and join the list of supporters who have already donated to our cause.
Each time I see a new entry on the page I get a little more excited about the event, this leads to point number four.

4.  Motivation – Why are doing what you are doing. I always say that if you understand the Why, then the How becomes obvious. In this case the Why is a group of people that need funds to help their recovery from Mental illness. The How then is to do a madcap fundraiser and have you lot sponsor me.
Click this image to do so:

CLICK HERE TO ADD MOTIVATION





Wild Geese, Mental Health, RehabCare and Walking Kettlebell Swings – An Interview

26 08 2012

We are now less than a week away from the 1 Mile Walking Kettlebell Swing challenge to raise much needed funds for the charity I work closely with, Rehab Care, specifically their HOPS centre.
RehabCare HOPS is two minutes away from our studio in Westland Square. The centre deals with mental health. I’ve been working with the centre in an ever closer capacity over the last couple of years.
Some of the regulars in and out of Wild Geese may have met some of the Rehab guys in passing.

This video is an interview I gave recently. I was asked about our place, about mental health, about Rehab and about the challenge itself.

In the video i say I wasn’t sure what weight Id be swinging for the mile, I have since settled on 24kg’s. It’s gonna suck.
But this time I’ll not be alone, a handful of my guys will also be suffering with me as they attempt a mile of swings!

Please watch the video then follow the link below it to my fundraising page where you can donate to the cause.

My Charity page: http://www.mycharity.ie/event/dave_hedgess_event/

Regards

Dave
http://www.wg-fit.com

 

 








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