Thursday, May 31, 2012

August 2011 to May 2012: 10 Months of Training Strongman, Priorities and Goals

This is something all people do. From great historians to drug-addled street urchins, our recollections of the things that have happened to us are mangled, segmented and made to fit a coherent, linear narrative from which we create our self-identity.

I mention this because I keep trying to make everything simple in this way. For instance, it at first occurred to me to separate my journey into a B.S. and A.S. (Before Sobriety and After Sobriety) dichotomy. But in terms of my progression I cannot.

Looking back on previous training logs, I can’t disregard the significant steps I took to get where I am now… but I can’t be exactly proud of myself either. For the first eighteen months – from April 2010 to around August 2011 – I took two steps forward with training and one step back with the bottle every week. My gains were slow and painful. I was not committed, not driven, not confidant in what I was doing, and far from satisfied with the meagre gains that came from my home training routine. I have no one but myself to blame for this. I may have been an asshole to a few people whose advice and support I spurned in the wake of my self-destruction. To those people I am truly sorry.

This self-destruction gave rise to a self-realisation and reinvention, of a sort. I won the battle with the demon drink. I did it with a lot of help and, in the end, the rock solid knowledge that strength was more important to me than comfort. Sloth I was, I admit it, and I recognise the depths to which it lowered me as a person.

Diet and drinking are two subjects I cannot adequately separate. I quit drinking in late August 2011. I’d quit eating crap a little while earlier (whilst still drinking a bottle of vodka some afternoons if I felt like it – and even finding justification for it in my diet choices!). An important point to make about my nutrition in general is that by removing breads, pasta, cereal, and pretty much all kinds of grains from my diet – as well as the introduction of much more dairy, fruits, berries, nuts, and many and varied sources of meat – I created for myself a great, balanced approach with a staple amount of kila-calories per day from which to monitor my weight loss and strength levels. I perfected it by completely removing nasty influences like soy, artificial sweetener, processed meats, and alcohol. I’ve adjusted as needed, and still indulged in bunless burgers and bucket loads of ice cream and other sugary treats on weekends. I’ve so far lost approximately 10 kilos since January. I lost approximately 15 kilos over the previous year and half, when diet and drinking were still out of control.

Once I had this in place, in conjunction with all the other obstacles I was overcoming with the iron (and the great support from my peers and firm friends of SMWA and the Muscle Pit) the drink was exposed for what it had always been; a destructive concentration of kila-calories in the form of refined carbohydrates, robbing me of gains and poisoning my body.

So getting back to training, again I have to fumble for a distinction. Where do I draw the line between half-assery and dedication? Well it was August again (I think) when I started training specifically for Strongman events – and getting really, truly strong as a result. At first it was only a weekend thing, though not for long. The first time I picked up a pair of 105 kilo Farmer’s picks and walked the distance, I felt the CNS rush for days after. I had DOMs in my sternum. Not that that could be DOMs… I don’t really know what it was. Other than power.

So where am I now? I’m stronger than I ever thought I’d be. I’m healthier than I ever was ever (I smoked from 16 to 30) and I’m soon to be what I hesitate to describe as an athlete. No, actually, screw that. I am an athlete. It takes guts and determination to build the strength that allows me to walk with 350 kilos on my back. The strength required to raw squat 200 kilos for reps, and deadlift 240 kilos just as raw. If that’s not athletic, then all you cheer leaders and ice dancers can form a pyramid over my middle finger.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Recently I was cautioned by a friend who I’d told about my CNS collapse on the weekend. She suggested to me that I take it easy and try to not have that happen again. Her concern was genuine and appreciated, but it provoked something unintended; it helped me to lock into perspective just what I’m doing here.

Only strong is strong. Only the truly devoted get truly strong. Strong is what I now am, after 16 months of half-assery and 9-10 months of walking the true path. But I’ve still got a long journey ahead of me. In a little over a week I will compete against guys who are younger, fitter, and who have been training longer than me. And I will beat at least some of them, this year, and come back to beat more of them in 2013, at 33 years of age. And earn a national ranking. 

There is no question. This I will do.

Peace out.


  1. Good on you Abbadon! Awesome to hear about how far you've come, you should be so proud. You are an athlete.

    I see healthy living as very holistic: it should incorporate body, mind and soul. I push myself to work out in every sense - I educate my mind; work my body through exercise and nourish my soul with a balanced diet and doing things that make me happy.

    It is about the journey as much as it is about the destination. Celebrate your success and continue to achieve! :)

  2. Thanks for the good vibes Ginny! And thanks for stopping by.