Why is Raven Like a Writing Desk?

Joes Barbell
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I really have no idea and I am sure the last thing you’d come to a Strength and Conditioning coach for is a deep dive into what Carroll was getting at with the Hatter’s famous riddle.      

Maybe a better question, one that I can handle, and as equally perplexing is…

“What can a Weightlifter learn from running?”  

I have always had the idea that everyone, including Weightlifters, old people and children, should have some kind of an urgent 5K in their back pocket.  As of late I have expanded that 5K idea to include longer trail runs.

I have expanding my thinking and conditioning efforts as of late for two reasons.

First, my wife tossed me into this Ragnar Team run/camp and I want to do well.  This is actually a really cool running event. For details see here!   

Second, I’ll be taking part in my first Elk Camp this September.  My assumption is the 18 mile, up and down, relay through Crystal Mountain in late August will help me ruck the rugged terrain of Western Washington in early September.

After testing the intermediate loop, which is 4.9 miles with 2816 feet of elevation gain,  I realized a few things.

My legs and lungs are strong enough to handle the run.

However, my mind and feet are weak to say the least.  

The fact is I like to hike and be outdoors but am not a seasoned trail runner.  When outdoors I like covering ground at a comfy and steady pace taking in the environment.  This idea of running uphill, against a clock, and against other people is for psychos. That said, I am on a team and want to contribute to the team doing well.    

 To account for my weakness I have made two major training adjustments.  

Adjustment 1 – Taking a step back from the barbell.  

As mentioned, after hitting a very tough portion of the relay I learned that my legs are strong enough to handle the literal ups and downs of the mountain.  However, I also learned that my feet, not to mention ankles, achilles, and calves really need work.

To account for these weakness I drastically dropped my traditional squatting loads and am currently working through, what I am calling a Naked Starting Strength protocol.

Yup, no lifting shoes, warps, belts, or bottoms.  I kid! My thought is a steady dose of 5’s will help me build some endurance while not losing to much absolute strength.  Also, working barefoot and with the body will force my lower extremities to right themselves.

In strength and conditioning circles 5’s fall into that magic place where the generalist can get a lot of bang for their buck.  For a masters Weightlifter who has focused on 1-3’s for the better part of 2 years they can be torture! See for yourself over at my instagram page!

To begin loading I calculated 50% of my current bests and have begun a slow and steady per session load increase. While loads were light I took the final set and went for max reps.          

It’s amazing how fun and addicting it has been to start fresh and see consistent and steady progress.  Each lifting session I simply add 1 Kilo to the previous effort. I will 100% will see this set up to a finish/failure, and most likely move to a Front Squat, Push Press, and conventional deads after I tap this progression out.

As a CrossFit athlete I would run this same setup at the beginning of every training season and it always established a nice base.  

The fact is over the last few years I have been so focused on Weightlifting that I have been ignoring the development of raw strength.     

Also, as I get older it’s nice to have a same, but different way of finding improvement.  It’s been a long time since I could say I hit a PR in either my snatch, clean and jerk, or back squat.  However, having never spent consistent time squatting or lifting barefoot, each workout I make my kilo increase I set a new 5 rep barefoot best on each my back squat, press, bench and deadlift.   

Whatever it take to stay motivated right!  

Adjustment 2 – Stepping up to running.  

I 100% think I have the fitness the to be an ok runner.  

What I lack is the mentality.  

I am finding that running for distance, at least in my limit experience, is all about managing boredom and not letting the voice in your head to let you stop, which it constantly wants me to do!   

To account for these factors in training I run with simple goals in mind, none of which you will see, are tied to specific performance or intensity parameters.   

Instead, the running goals are a loose framework to simply keep me motivated and trick me into enjoying a modality I have spent a lifetime avoiding.  

FIRST, each run I try and wake up a little earlier to do it.  

During the Ragnar event will have to run at strange times and my start time will be determined by the performance of my teammates.  The fact is there is no telling when I will have to run. To me, if I can get up inconveniently and get out the door I am training for the run. As of late my best out of bedtime is 5:00 am and my best out of door time is 5:17 am!  

Jocko is right, there is something about that pre 5 am wake up that is hard to conquer!  I’ll keep you posted but the week of the race I am shooting for a before 5 am wake up everyday!

The, SECOND, thing I make sure I do when I run is finish each run faster than I start.  I have a simple mechanism in place to ensure this. I have an alley behind my house. At the start of the run I walk/jog it, and, at the end of the run I sprint it.  

In between, we arrive at the THIRD and most important goal, ENJOY THE PACE.  

So far so good!  

To dates I have gone as far as 5 miles and as long as :45 minutes.  It’s truly been a slow, steady, and fun process.

Aside from getting up before 5 am the week of the race, I also plan on hitting each distance (8, 5, and 3 miles) to give myself a pace to chase on game day.  

At a glance here is what I have fallen into training wise the last few weeks.*    

Day 1 (Monday)


Back Squat 3×5

Press (alt Bench/Standing) 3×5

Sumo Deads 1×5

Auxiliary Superset


Day 2 (Tuesday)

Morning Run


Day 3 (Wednesday)


Back Squat 3×5

Press (alt Bench/Standing) 3×5

Sumo Deads 1×5

Auxiliary Superset


Day 4 (Thursday)

Morning Run


Day 5 (Friday)


Back Squat 3×5

Press (alt Bench/Standing) 3×5

Sumo Deads 1×5

Auxiliary Superset


Day 6 (Saturday)

Morning Run


Day 7 (Sunday)

Play with the Fam Bam!


* These are very broad strokes.  For warm ups, build ups, and specifics on the supersets please reach out.  

As you can see, ramping up my running also meant I had to limit my Weightlifting.  However, as you can see I tried to do it in a way to also support it in the long run.    

I don’t know what Carroll’s thoughts are on shit and bags buts its my experience you can only do so much.  This is often the biggest mistake I see folks make in their own training.

Please people, especially you 40 hour a work week parents, who still want to carve out a weekend here and there to remind yourself that you are awesome.  If you add something to your training without also adding something specific to promote recovery you’ve got to limit something else.

If I can shelve my total for a few weeks, you can trim something!     

This is actually a strong example of my general training rhythm.  I try to live as active and healthy a lifestyle as possible year round.  Within that lifestyle, activity, strength and eating real food are prioritized on a daily basis.

At varying points in the year I will modify my training to complete some event.  5 years ago those events were competing in the CrossFit games. Last year and years prior those events were USAW meets.  

Now, as my curiosity with hunting and the outdoors expand those events are including less to do with barbells and more to do with mountains.

So, what can a Weightlifter learn from running?  

Well, this one learned that he had an overreliance on lifting shoes, belts, and knee wraps to establish a total.  I really think the end result of trying something new,and taking a step back will result in a better total down the line.  

Only time will tell.

For now, I can say I am happy, healthy and getting a little stronger everyday.  

For tips, tricks, or to simply talk shit my DM, inbox and messenger are always open! You can also listen to me work these ideas out on my podcast, the Everyday Weightlifter with Co Host Phil Sabatini!  





Source: Joe’s Barbell

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