Monday Bacon: Iceberg


This morning, I was bringing some laundry downstairs and the top of my right foot caught on the carpeting of the stairs as I was going down. I instantly felt a deep pull in the knee and was able to jump up and free my foot to avoid damage. Uff. That was a close one. I gingerly walked around for a little bit and though there’s a bit of some “ghost” pain, I think it’s fine.

I instantly had visions of a torn knee; surgery; recovery; no training; no Iceland throwing; no training (again, I know but it’s that important to me) and a few other equally catastrophic things that would go wrong if I tore up my knee. Mainly, freedom of movement. That is worst case scenario. That’s why I train, to avoid that stuff. (Yes, I go to worst case scenario in an instant. Helpful eh?)

It occurred to me that this is kind of how I roll through life these days. If I do “X” now, how does that affect me tomorrow, or the accumulation of “X’s”, how does that affect me five days from now?? Basically I’m always looking at that Iceberg of OLD AGE and figuring how I can jump from surface to surface instead of falling in the water and getting creamed by the hugenormous chunk that’s lurking just below the water.

Nearly everything I do these days in the gym, on the practice field, and even in the kitchen has to address two equally important questions: how will I improve from this and how will I recover from this? Last year I followed Matt Vincent’s Training Lab almost to the letter and I came into the season feeling strong and great and was able to keep all my gym training in check using it. (I drove myself into the ground with too much unfocused throwing practices but hey, live and learn.) This year, I’m still following his program but have backed off on the volume of it. That way I can still reap the benefits of smart programming AND I can recover from it. Because I don’t care how genius a training program is, if you can’t recover from it, it’s just become your bodies worst nightmare.

This goes for throwing practices also. Last year I threw. And threw. And threw and threw. Each practice was sometimes the equivalent of an entire Games and it took until about mid July to feel like absolute crap. I never really did recover and it took until mid-September to finally start feeling right again (I’m sure all of the Whisky and Guinness in Scotland was a huge help with that.) My good numbers in the December weightlifting meet reflected a well rested Jules since November was basically a maintenance month. Live and learn.

This year? Every practice will be dialed in. Warm-up; drill; practice throws, and then a few “Games” throws where I turn it up. That’s it. Pack up and go home (or head to Leff’s


Lucky Town if I have friends.)

But even that is part of the recovery, food and beer. Duh. On Saturday we headed down to Rockford to practice with Clevenger and Dan Lucansky. The Bunchek’s came too and we had an amazing practice session. WOB and Caber. Those are on the list when I head to Rockford and ONLY those. My WOB is inconsistent and that’s unacceptable. My Caber is, well, the Caber and I’m still learning that one. Two things I can’t practice at home (practicing WOB without standards doesn’t work for me. They all go around 20′ and have perfect trajectory every time. Unfortunately that isn’t happening in the Games.)

I took as many toss’ with the 28# as I felt I could and then switched solely over to the 21#. Because I was getting tired, and I still had some practicing to do. When we finished with the WOB, we broke out the Sheaf for a little bit and I took about 4-5 throws and sat back down. Vic asked if that’s all I were going to do and I say, “yup, cuz if I do more, it dips into my Caber work and that’s why I came.” I have to say this, the look of absolute puzzlement on her face was pretty priceless. I could hear her brain asking, “how in the world would some sheaf toss’ affect Caber work.” I didn’t say anything and enjoyed the break.

Here’s cuz why. I equate one explosive throw with an olympic lifting rep and if you find me a serious lifter who knowingly would go into a weightlifting session planning on 40 reps or so I have some ocean front property (Iceberg free) in Iowa to sell you. Now, the stones and even (for me anyway) hammers will take a little less energy per throw but the WOB, Caber, Sheaf are explosive heavy and wear me down faster than the others. Because of this, I need to be very careful in how to approach those sessions. The 4-5 Sheaf toss’ weren’t in the plan so I’ll play a little bit but then shut it down. (No sheaf in Iceland means I save those for another day, later in the spring/early summer.) I’m assuming 26 year old’s will understand that in another 22 years but who knows. Lots of these throwers are already more efficient than I am and have better genetics. Maybe they’ll feel so much awesomer than me but if they don’t understand recovery, they won’t. So there!

I’ll do all that I can to avoid being mowed down by that Iceberg that is always looming ahead of me. Everything. Including possibly switching up my squat and pulling days to put off this ache in my knee from my near catastrophic stairs encounter this morning (I know, drama much?) As much as I’ll push things, I always want to look ahead to how I’ll be better, faster, stronger in the future and how the things I’m doing in the gym, on the field, and in the kitchen help me get there instead of here:


Cuz that sucks. I know too many people who are there already and have just decided to lay on that Ocean bottom and slowly rust to death. Not acceptable. Not me.

The wonderful thing about not having relationships with people whose negative energy suck joy from our lives, is that we don’t have relationships with people whose negative energy suck joy from our lives.


About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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