Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Check your special shoes at the door and get your head right

I should have been finishing up dead-last in the group, looking like a pasty weakling.   At 195 lbs, minimal direct strongman training experience, only two months of regular leg training, and a pair of totally gripless Chuck Taylor shoes I shouldn't have been doing much to write home about with a 12,000 lbs truck pull.  This was my second time ever attempting one...

While my technique was as ugly as I am stunningly handsome, on my second pull I tugged out the second best time of the day out of the group.  I ended up beating one of my best buddies at the gym by two seconds.  With his extra 30 lbs of extra weight, more strongman training experience, and a brand new set of rock climbing shoes to that savvy strongmen competitors utilize on truck pulling he should have left buried me. 

Questions about what shoes to use with what kind of lifting and training seem to come up as often as Kardashians show up in the public consciousness.  Like the Kardashians, as far as I'm concerned, they pop up far, FAR too often.  This has to be part of a larger marketing conspiracy that exploded way back in the 1980's when Nike teamed up with Michael Jordon and created the illusion that somehow shoes were the key to peak athletic performance.  Strength training chicanery simply must have followed suit. 

I mostly train with Chuck Taylors for two key reasons:  they're cheap and they're what I have.  With my limited funds and my near-constant traveling, I'm forced into strength training minimalism largely by necessity.  That has drawbacks that I largely don't mind.  Just like growing up poor teaches you more about living life than growing up privileged, training with nothing will teach force someone to make more out of less. 

As we were all playing around with pulling a truck, many of the guys in the group struggled with driving with their legs because they were up too far on their toes.  I explained to everyone that they need to think of their feet like their hands and get a good grip on the ground by making sure that with each step by planting as much of their foot on the ground (balls and toes of the foot) with each step.

Ever heard of chip-coated pavement?  It's pretty much gravel with not enough tar to call it real asphalt.  In other words, it's a little loose.  That's what I was pushing this truck on.  Either I get my footing right or put my teeth into the bumper when I slip!
I learned this from pushing work trucks in lousy driveways...wearing my Chucks.  Push heavy weights on such an unforgivingly-loose surface with a shoe that has does you no favors will force you to plant your feet one way:  the right way.  What would rock climbing shoes have done to fix that? 
I'm not completely slamming specialized shoes, or anything else for that matter in aiding weight training.  Where I in a competition and I had the means to buy a special pair of shoe for every event to maximize my chances of winning, I'd certainly do it!

Your work-out gear doesn't make you strong.  It didn't make Michael Jordon one of the most legendary athletes of all time and it won't make you fantastically strong.  Your head and your body are responsible for that.  If you don't have those two things in check then the only thing that your shoes buy you is credit card debt.