Monday, May 20, 2013

The Frank Sinatra Template

Chairman of the Board

"But now the days grow short
Im in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
>from fine old kegs
>from the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year"
-Sung by Frank Sinatra, "When I Was Seventeen"

The idea I grasp from this song by Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, that he has reflected on his life and is careful to cherish the time and the season. 

The idea of enjoying the season, in parts of the country that have seasonal change is good. You can't put off time till summer arrives to work on your jogging or your tennis game. You have to adapt to changes in weather and environment. Growing up in Pittsburgh, there was the standard, Football in the Fall, Basketball/Wrestling in the Winter, Track in the Spring and Baseball in summer. It gave young athletes variety and exposure to a broad spectrum of physical disciplines. As far as supplemental training goes,.. the Fall and Winter weight training along with Mom's cooking build the size and strength. Then the Spring and Summer running, swimming, hiking, burned off the blubber. It was a pretty simple yet elegant system of checks and balances. 

The advantages of the system is that you are pursuing goals long enough to progress and get good, then you are shifting the emphasis to expand in another arena. Many great athletes practiced multiple disciplines. It gives younger athletes a mental break and is a natural way to avoid compensations that occur by adapting so strongly to one isolated activity. It's a possible way to avoid injury from over training or mental fatigue as well. 

Back in the 80's [and don't we all miss them?] Aerobics Bunny, Kathy Smith was asked about her personal training, aside from teaching aerobics. She said that she had three activities and depending on the time of year, she would weight train with a bit of running and yoga. Then she would run much more with a bit of yoga and weight training. Lastly if she felt beat up from running and weights, she'd focus on yoga but maintain some weight training and running at low levels. Once again, simple and elegant. It's something you could continue without pushing the envelope to much and still be very fit all the time. You don't drop any activity,.. you keep it in the mix, but prioritize other components. That way it's not like starting over again. 

How could you apply this to other people? Well if you are lifting, you could focus on the three power lifts, each for 4 months by minimizing the other two. If you are an MMA fighter with no competitions for a while, it can be cycles of stand up, clinch and ground. Speed skaters spend time on the bike, at least in the old days of speed skating, when the weather got hot. 

The idea is simple, savor your seasons and alter your emphasis. The change keeps you mentally fresh and physically fresh. Then when you finish your training log, like Ol' Blue Eyes, you can say it was a very good year. 

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