Training Entry #1: The One with the Colds and the Christ Presence
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
When I arrived home from work this afternoon, I absolutely—and in no friggin' way—felt good. I had (and have as I write this) a cold. My body ached—not too bad, but plenty enough to be annoying—and my throat was sore enough that it was hard to swallow.
I walked through the kitchen, dropped my keys and my wallet on the counter, then headed straight to the bedroom. I took a 30 minute nap, but made sure I set the alarm on my phone so that I could call Puddin'—one of my workout partners—at 4:30, when he gets off work.
4:30 came, I woke, then dialed the big lug's number. "I don't feel good," he said upon answering.
"What do you mean you don't feel good?" I replied. "Thought you were over that funk a day or so ago."
"Guess I wasn't."
"Yeah, and now I think you've given it to me. I feel like crud."
"That's because you got the crud," he said, laughing. I didn't think it was funny.
"We training?" he asked. "I called Rusty"—(note: our other training partner)—"and he said he has to work until 7 or later, ain't no way he can make it."
I knew where Puddin' was heading. He thought—with both of us being sick—that maybe we should not train.
"You bet we're training," I said.
Here's the rule I follow: colds, you train; flu, you don't train. It's as simple as that.
And here's something else—a little something that anyone who lifts weights needs to know—often times you will be stronger on core exercises for low reps when you have a cold. This is one that I picked up from Bill Starr. Starr would often have his lifters train heavier when they had colds. And here's the other thing: He wouldn't have them train for a lot of reps or do much—if any—assistance work. Although a cold will make you slightly stronger for triples or doubles or singles (probably due to a heightened nervous system), it will make you weaker when you attempt to perform sets of multiple reps.
I planned to take a page out of Starr's book for this day.
I then explained to Puddin' the opinion of Bill Starr. He said okay, he was willing to give it a try.
Puddin' and I arrived at our gym—which we have affectionately nicknamed "The Wrecking Crew Gym"—about an hour later. A friend of mine owns a wrecking service. He has an absolutely enormous garage, and he recently agreed to let me store my home gym at his place. And it's a heck of a place to workout. Although I call it a home gym, I have just about everything you need: 1,300 pounds of free weights, squat rack, a Forza bench, deadlifting platform, plenty of dumbbells, a weight sled, and plenty of bands—like I said, just about everything you need.
We walked in, turned on the lights, cranked up the music—the latest "Daughtry" album being our current selection—then prepared to do some squats.
"Remember," I told Puddin, "we're training heavy, might even work up close to a one-rep max." (I have only recently returned to squatting heavy—after a far-too-long hiatus—so I was a little worried about how much I could handle.)
The first set—135 pounds—felt pretty good for a set of 5. The second set—225—didn't feel too bad either. The 3rd set was also 225 pounds for another set of 5.
The 4th and 5th sets were both 315 pounds for sets of 3 reps. And both of these really didn't feel as good as I was hoping. I was kind of having second-thoughts about Starr's theory, but I was about to discover if it was true or not.
For our 6th and 7th sets, we did 405 pounds for 2 singles. They felt okay—deep, butt-to-the-floor—but I wasn't so sure about going heavy. "What you think, Puddin'? Should we do a few sets with 450 or 475?"
"Nope, let's go ahead and hit 500. I got 500 in my head, and I plan on doing it."
We loaded the bar with 505 pounds. Our 8th set—a single—felt like hell for me, but I got it with plenty of depth and enough power that the bar moved with more acceleration than I had expected. We then followed it up with two more singles—make that sets 9 and 10—and each single felt stronger than the first (for both of us).
We followed this with one more set—set #11—with 405 pounds for 3 reps.
Maybe it was the combination of my cold, and all of the heavy training we had just done, but I was feeling good—and it was more than just the endorphins kicking in.
This was different.
Perhaps it's all the meditation that I've done over the years, but this was a very concentrative feeling that I could tap into—a Source that dwells within, and only seems to rise to the surface during intense prayer, or meditation, or a hard, heavy session like we were having.
Centered in my Source (I could tell that Puddin' felt a little different, as well; something almost palpable was in the air), we hit deadlifts next.
250 for 2 sets of 5 reps.
340 for 3 sets of 3 reps.
420 for 5 singles; 5 explosive, powerful singles.
And on about my 3rd single with 420, it hit me: this wasn't just some kensho (although it was that too), this was a Presence. It seemed to swirl around me, filling me with Divinity. It seemed to come from my heart-center—that place in the middle of my chest—but it was also beyond me, transcending me with its Other power.
I connected to It; It and I were one and the same. ("I and my Father are One.") Centered, standing as the Awareness of What Is, the next two singles that I performed were the strongest yet, so strong that it seemed as if I could have done twice as much weight. The bar was ripped from the ground. But it also seemed as if it wasn't me that was doing the lifting—it was Something Else—and I was simply its vessel.
Puddin' and I talked very little for the rest of the workout session. There was very little to say—Silence seemed the best answer, and all else seemed as if it would have been a blasphemy.
We were tired, spent, but also focused as ever. Finishing off the workout with bench presses, we did 135 for 2 sets of 7, 225 for 3 sets of 5, and then 275 for 3 sets of 3.
That was it.
We said very little to one another on the drive home, as well. Words would have seemed superfluous; the feeling I had—and I'm pretty sure my friend had it too, although his might have lacked the depth or the profundity of mine simply because he's not experienced in having these experiences—was almost preternatural.
I stared out the window of the truck. Other cars passed by. The city lights dazzled in the distance. And all was filled with the All. But it was an intimate All, a Presence that you could relate to, and that's when it seemed most fitting to say it was a Christ Presence.
I closed my eyes (Puddin' was driving), and prayed. It wasn't a prayer where I was asking anything, where I wanted anything—it was a prayer where I just wanted to be with the intimate Christ of All That Is.