The Notebook - 20 May 2015

Today's installment of Wednesday Musings comes from the "big" boss man himself, Coach Nick! Please forgive his very long and telling breakdown of his favorite movie...

The Notebook - Nick Hurndon

Calm down. I know you all thought this was going to be an post on the Nicholas Sparks romance novel turned movie, "The Notebook," allegedly based on a true story, but likely embellished to make us all believe in romantic love. And just in case you want to see for yourself how romantic ridiculous the movie is, check out my favorite scene. I mean… this clip I stumbled across while casually perusing the Internet… (at about 1:47 it gets good).  The impossibility of this movie was highlighted here, and like any great film it divides people into two camps: those who absolutely love it, and those who have cold black hearts, are complete idiots, and whose opinions don't matter. Sure, it's an age old tale we've seen a million times: a summer romance between two people conventionally alienated by social class - complete with canoe rides, making out in the rain, a fuck ton of geese (or ducks), Ryan Gosling with a beard, letter writing, war, a 14-year separation, and a fiancé complicating things, and they still end up dying in the most romantic way possible (spoiler alert), holding hands and falling asleep together. Sorry, I need a moment...I think I have something in my eye…or allergies.... At least, that is what I'm told happens in the story, it's not like I've watched it nine times and have my own highlighted copy of the novel. That would be silly.

notebook comp

Anyway, this article is not about that notebook. This is about the notebook you bring to class every time you come to the gym. Some of you keep your notebook on your phone, others use a fancy journal, and some of you try and convince the coaches (and yourself) that you actually keep track of your workouts in your head, but that's just a lie. Regardless of how you track your workouts, there is a recurring theme I see when you allow me to peek inside your notebooks or when I ask a question such as, "What did you do last time we tested our back squat?" That theme is a lack of detail. Despite what you may think, there is a reason for keeping a workout journal. Assuming you are being honest with yourself, accurate with what you write down, and making an effort during your workouts, the notebook helps you make progress by feeding you accurate information about your performance and your potential; thus holding you accountable to yourself.

Here is what I typically see when looking at notebook entries for a given workout:

Back Squat 5x5: 100 lbs 3 rounds for time: (8:31) block run 10 pull ups 15 kettlebell swings

C'mon! Did you back squat 100 lbs for all five sets of five? What about your warm up sets, and did you struggle or fail at any point? And for the metcon: strict pull-ups? Did you use a band, and if so what color? What about your kettlebell weight? At the end of the day, any time you enter a workout in your notebook, ask yourself this question: "Am I willing to hang from a ferris wheel by one hand to get a date with my soul mate?" For those of you who don't have pull-ups yet, I hope the answer is no, but if it is yes, I applaud you for your romantic gesture and it will be noted in your obituary.  No, of course that's not the question we want to ask ourselves. [Because we all know we are willing to do anything for love; walk 500 miles and walk 500 more, give up the throne of Zamunda, listen to Peter Gabriel, show up at someone else's house and make them listen to Peter Gabriel and of course walk around holding hands like this:


Moving on, what we really want to ask ourselves is, "If I come back in seven years (you see what I did there?) and read this entry, will I understand exactly what I did for this workout?” If the answer is “no” or even “maybe,” then you need to add more detail.

Guidelines for The Notebook: -Write the workout down exactly as written on the blog or board

-Make note of any abnormalities (injuries, high stress, lack of sleep)

-Write down the weight, height, distance, modifications for any movement, exercise, or metcon

-Write down enough detail so that you can go back and look at a workout and know exactly what you did for each set and each rep

-Create a system that highlights important accomplishments (1RM, 3RM, PRs)

-Take a drink every time Noah picks up Allie and kisses her. You won't make it through the movie (not a real guideline, but a fun drinking game)

Now, given those guidelines, let's rewrite our Notebook entry:

Back Squat 5x5: 50 x 3 - 60 x 3 - 75 x 4 - 90 x 5 -[100 x 5 -100 x 5 -100 x 5 -100 x 4 - 100 x 4] Failed on last reps of set 4 and 5

3 rounds for time: (8:31) Block run 10 pull ups (did first 5 strict, kipped next 5 and used blue band for remaining) 15 KB swings (started with 35 lbs, went to 26 lbs after first round)

*Ate lunch at around 12pm today (fries, diet coke and snickers bar) and did not eat anything else before workout at 7pm

**6 weeks post knee surgery

***Forearms and back are shot from rowing Allie around a geese infested lake all day yesterday, also might have E. Coli

We can clearly see the difference between the first entry and the second. The first entry is great for a day or two when everything is fresh in your mind, but you'll soon forget about it. The second entry, now that is an entry that you won't forget after, say, 14 years. You will remember every small detail about it and may find yourself getting nostalgic as you casually look back through your notebook and reminisce about what you did on that day. Now, I'm not saying that this is the only way to keep a workout journal. This is just a better way than what you are doing now. If you don't like the way I'm telling you to take notes or if you think my opinion on The Notebook is wrong, then find another gym. I kid. There are a million resources on how to take notes and as many people willing to sell you some tool to make it easier. Rachel McAdams put a lot of effort into earning the role of Allie and it paid off; similarly, regardless of how you take notes or where you put them, at the end of the day, you'll get out of your notebook exactly what you put into it.

(True story, I watched The Notebook for the first time with a plane full of Marines while flying back to North Carolina from pre-combat training prior to my second deployment to Iraq, so if you don't think this book and movie are romantic, you're likely a terrorist.)