I stir but I know its not time to rise, I also know why I stir at this time, the early hours of the morning. I stir because I know what awaits me at 6am, its an old friend, someone whom I have known since the InnerFight brand was born and someone who has tested me over the years, made me honest and delivered hard facts.
In a few hours from now I will face COD, one of the original workouts in the InnerFight manual, a workout that was inspired by a good friend who’s input into InnerFight has been sensational since its inception. At the time COD was constructed it was in fact nameless, it was just a series of exercises put together with a 500m row on the end. The name would be born at a later stage.
I manage to fall back to sleep only to be woken a few hours later by my alarm clock. I sit on the side of the bed knowing today that there will only be a few of us at InnerFight HQ “The Chamber”, the absentees have legitimate reasons and will be missed. Today I am almost happy that the numbers are low, some part of me wishes that I was going to be the only one there, I want it to be intimate, I want it to be more personal, I want to take my InnerFight by the jugular and by 7am have a feeling of ecstasy.
Purposely I had set the alarm 5 minutes earlier than usual so that I arrive at the chamber 10 minutes before it opens. I do this as I seek aloneness; I want to create nerves for myself as they often deliver quite a special performance. Something is different today, in that I opt for silence in the car journey opposed to a few chosen songs that normally inspire, excite and prepare me for what’s to come. I refuse to even put the radio on to distract me. The silence cultivates the nerves in a positive way that’s hard to put into words.
The clang as the bolt of the chamber door is unlocked tells me the time has come, two more disciples have arrived but we exchange few words, they know as well as I do what today’s training is and it leaves us all near speechless, and that’s before we have started.
We are straight into it. COD begins with 150 skips, you then have to complete 10 squats, 10 dumbbell throws, 10 lateral box jumps and 20 hand steps before the 500 meter row. The exercises take under 2 minutes to complete but the intensity shoots the heart rate up like mercury rising on a blistering hot day. That’s one round, the program demands three.
One must always have a target time for the 500 meter row or the purpose of the COD is no more. Today mine is an average of 1:25 for the 3 rounds, this is a feat I have not accomplished before but am determined to do today.
Not even informing the 2 other disciples I start my skips, they know by the silence that my only focus is the COD. Before I know it I am on the Concept2. My pace is fine as I sit on 1:24, my game plan in simple, 5 sets of 10 strokes, counting back from 10 each time. I am lucky enough to normally have one of the disciples that has been with us for years counting for me and coaching me through but today he can not make it, this fires me even more to deliver the results solo. As I finish the first round I suddenly realize how valuable he is because I am 0.2 seconds off my target of 1:25 finishing with a 1:26:1. My goal was that each of the rows must finish 1:25:….. I have failed at the first hurdle due to incorrect counting of the last 10 pulls, I vouch to row the next 2 rounds at sub 1:25:5 in order to ensure I reach my goal of a 1:25…… average.
As I complete my first round one of the disciples hits the Concept 2 and begins his first 500 meters, he knows his goal and therefore his pace. I count down for him on he finishes his first round 3 seconds faster than he set out to. A great start.
The rest period is over all too fast and I am into my second round, and sooner than I could believe possible I am back into my sets of 10 on the rower. This time I need focus to ensure my goal for the day is achieved. I leave nothing to chance and keep my eyes firmly focused on the display screen to ensure I finish with a 1:25:4. I am back in the game and on target to reach my goal.
The sensation but pure agony of having only 1 round left vibrates around my body. As another disciple completes the second round and gasps for air I catch the back of his InnerFight singlet and read so clearly the words that have become a mantra for the InnerFight brand “Show No Weakness”. I have 1 choice, to start my third and final round. Of course I have not recovered from the first two, of course my legs are heavy and tingling but this game is a 3 round game and I have a goal to achieve and an InnerFight battle to be won. I know in my heart that actually my legs have a lot more to give, its just my mind that believes otherwise. With this knowledge I pledge to myself that this will be my best round of the day, illogically really as the intensity that I have delivered in the first two rounds has left me in a state that would assume otherwise.
The skipping passes, as do the squats, its only when I reach the dumbbell throws that I sense a strange feeling in my legs, this worsens when I get to the lateral box jumps which I feel I execute with bare coordination. For some reason my hand step ups are a relief to start as a focus on the core, as the late teens approach the burn on my shoulders deepen and the final 500 meter row pounds around my head.
I know my target and I know what I have to do to reach it, knowing is one thing but the doing is the killer blow that my InnerFight has to stand up to. My initial 250 meters are perfect, I’m ahead of the game averaging 1:24 / 500m. I have been here before and I yearn for the zone of partial blackout like a junkie needs another hit. I know by now that there are only 25 strokes remaining and if I sit on this speed my goal will be achieved, I am almost enjoying the ride if that is anywhere near possible. It is during these last 25 strokes that something strange starts to happen, something I don’t think I have felt before, the middle section of my legs start to lose feeling, although delivering the work rate that I am demanding they are fighting back with a tingling sensation which deepens to a totally numbness as I have 100 meters to go.
At this stage I essentially have two options. The first is one that many a man who have been here before have quite humanely taken and that is to acknowledge the pain, believe that its not safe to continue to slow the pulls down, still finishing in a respective time. The choice does not lie well with me, I relinquished authority to my InnerFight when I sat on the side of the bed in darkness this morning. I have chosen a different path, I continue to demand the 1:25 finish and with deep gasps during the several final strokes I manage to deliver my best time of the day with a 1:25:2.
Although the sound system of the chamber continues to bellow out, for me I’m numb and silent, there is no one near me, it’s me and my InnerFight. I struggle to get enough oxygen to the essential parts of my body that are demanding it most. Loosening the foot straps I try and elevate myself from the machine but can’t on first attempt. I have to pause although in doing so I remember the lack of feeling I am experiencing in my legs. After a brief pause I rise from the machine and stumble to what I think is the nearest point of relief, it turns out to be a point that provides little relief at all. I try to lie down; this lasts for less than ten seconds, as the discomfort is so great. I cannot find a position that sets free the numbness and allows me to return to normal. Seeing another disciple approach the Concept 2 for his final row gives me a solution, support him to take my mind off my own suffering. It’s a temporary release for the 1 minute 39 seconds that it takes him to complete his final round and then his cry’s of pain remind me of what’s happening in my own body.
Its over, these are two words that ring around my cranium and finally bring liberation. With this liberation my mind casts back to the name of the workout that we have just done. COD. “The COD”. I think back to what those 3 letters mean and then it all makes sense when I recall them standing for “Circuit of Death.” How incredibly fitting, how apt, how ultimately InnerFight.
Walking away from the scene of the COD with my comrade slowly getting to his feet as he cry’s out: “Show No Weakness” I turn around, look him straight in the eye as we both nod and acknowledge that the place we have just been is very special, a place where incredible things happen and a place where I know for sure I want to return to, its not easy to get there, but when you are there the level of achievement is raised so high that it would be difficult to achieve if you were unable to look your subconscious and your InnerFight right between the eye balls and say: “I’m going to achieve greatness no matter what you have got to say and all along I will show you no weakness at all”
It has been a good day at the Chamber and as I drive away I lay down the challenge to myself to make everyday like that. I know I may not set a personal best everyday of the week but I know very well that there is no harm in trying.