40 years old and still struggling

from Strong at 40


40 years ago this morning my family grew by one. I don’t remember the mess that I was then, but I do remember a lot of the messes and mistakes I’ve made since then. While I haven’t figured out all the answers I think I’ve leanred a lot about achieving the impossible. And the secret to a productive life is to not make the same mistakes twice, surround yourself with great people, and never stop daring to dream.


I remember not so long ago in 1998 after I’d moved to California to officially enter the pool of Olympic hopefuls. I found refuge in a hostel for track athletes known as “the stable” living in a closet underneath the stairs referred to as the “bubble.” Essentially, the bubble was pergatory. There, you waited for spot to open in one of the 5 bedroom or for some other major life shift that pulled you away from the “stable” – i.e. you got a real job. Fortunately for me, I’ve never been one who enjoyed the stability of a “real job” so I continued to pursue my dreams for the next 15 years.


Anway, on this one occasion I was really struggling. I was broke. Lived in a closet underneath the stairs. Couldn’t find a job. It was one of the moments when I questioned myself, my commitment, my life. My father wrote me a letter via email – it was still a novelty back then – that I printed up and have kept it with me over the years since. He doesn’t remember writing the letter anymore, but that’s okay. It did its job and I’m in the place I am today because of that letter and so many other messages from him, my mom, my brother and sister, and other other friends and family. But this letter said one thing and he said it a different way than I’d ever heard before:


“…in case it matters, I believe you made the right choices for you. You opted for excellence at something at the cost of a wider range of competitences. By contrast, most never put their chips on the table. They mitigate the risk of failure by failing to commit fully to anything.”


Those were the right words at the time and I’m sharing them with you today, because without this message the next 17 years of my life might have turned out very differently. There are a lot of safe pathways forward in life, but the joys in life come from the challenges we have to overcome to achieve our own version of greatness. For me, most of my challenges have been directed at becoming the best in the world at one thing – throwing the shot put. The struggle to thrive and achieve is all we are guaranteed in life. Let me say that again a different way. You are not guaranteed success or failure, but you are guaranteed a struggle. Since I know I’m going to have a struggle anyway, I’ve always opted to set my goals real high or as my dad also says “Dream big and bet the ranch.” I think he meant that metaphorically speaking as he’s not a big gambler.


So this is my entry on the day I turn 40 and the pursuit of strong at 40 really begins. I’m not sure what challenges the next year will present, but I know there is a definitive start and a definitive end. What happens in between will be a struggle and the best part of this struggle is that when one ends the next one begins.


Today’s workout….

Well, I can tell you I was supposed to do something simply sinister-ish today, but work and life got in the way so I had to prioritize. I got a great throwing workout today. Very simple, but no lift.


Non-Reverse Stands: 5 throws; 16 to 17m
Reverse Stand: 5 throws; 17m
Half Turn: 3 throws; 18m
Full Throws: 8 throws; 20m


I took a lot of throws leading up to fulls today and I’m cramming my warm-up plus my throws into a 55 minutes of training. It’s not ideal, but I like throwing with little rest time. I can get into a much better rhythm. It’s not always possible to do this when I train with others, but today I was training by myself. It was fantastic. I finished with a 20.50+m throw that simply and somewhat unexpectedly exploded off my hand. For those of you that have worked with me in the circle, I passed through the power and worked the left side of the circle.

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