Are You With Me?

Stanley and Brad, in the Maw, gritting through.

Stanley and Brad, in the Maw, gritting through.

I wrote this a long time ago…it’s been almost 3 years since it was originally posted. But, the words ring clearly to this day.

I’m going to bleed today. I’m saying this without bravado. It’s a matter of fact. I’m going to bleed today.

Any type of deadlift always tears me up. I’ve got bruises, divots, and all sorts of scar tissue running up and down my shins. I know that every time I bring that bar up, it’s going to take a little piece of me with it.

Yet, no matter the pain, I go in for another pull. And another. And another. I’m not sure if non-CrossFitters understand the things we do and, honestly, I don’t expect them to. But, I hope they respect the fact that CrossFitters push their minds and bodies to the utmost limits of their capabilities.

This brings up the question of “Why?”. Why do CrossFitters push themselves to the brink? I won’t attempt to answer that for the masses; we all have our own reasons.

As for me, every pull that draws blood, every workout I grind through, and every sweat angel I leave reminds me of how far I’ve come…and how much farther I must go.

So, am I crazy?

Or, are you with me?

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Thirty Three

I’m 33 years old.  HOLY SHIT.  How the hell did that happen?  Thirty three..!!  

Life goes by way too fast.  I’m guilty of getting caught up in things that don’t matter…things I can’t control…things that are nothing but a colossal waste of time, energy, and…well…life!  

I’m reminded of my mortality every birthday that I celebrate.  My father died when he was young, only 39 years strong.  He was a heavy smoker and developed lung cancer; it was diagnosed very late.  Looking out the window of his room at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, down at the bustling streets below, he remarked to my aunt, “This is not where I belong.  I should be down there.  This isn’t where I should be.”

Two weeks later, he passed on.

I don’t know how much time I have left on Earth.  It could be until I’m 39.  It could be until I’m 109.  

It could be until I’m 33.

But, I’ll tell you what: every fucking day I’m alive, I make the most of it.  Do the same.  Stop and breathe life in during your “daily grind”.  There is beauty all around us; open your eyes, heart, and mind so you can appreciate it.  Find your happiness, find your passion.  Take pride in what you do.  Help others.  There truly is no better feeling than helping someone accomplish the impossible.  Be a positive force of energy; the world has enough negativity to deal with.  You are responsible for the energy you bring to situations.  Be constructive.  Be the force it needs to come to a peaceful conclusion for all. 

Thirty three.  

I’ll tell you what.  This is going to be the best year yet.

Let’s fuckin’ play.

Mike D

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“Are you always like this…running around the room..?”

Never stop smiling

No, I’m not always happy and energetic.  There are days when I wake up and lay in bed for an hour or two, frozen.  A million thoughts swirl around my head, much like autumn leaves on the ground carried by the wind.

I’ve heard people say, “You shouldn’t regret anything you do.”  This is foolish.  We are human.  We make mistakes.  To use this phrase as our life’s mantra is to deny our fallibility and escape responsibility for all we have done, both positive and negative.  To allow our regrets to paralyze us, however, is just as unforgivable.

So, I get out of bed.  I push on with my days and appreciate what I have and the people around me.  Invest in people; I’ve come to learn this through many situations over the past few years.  That’s what I strive to do everyday: invest in the people around me, make sure they’re safe and taken care of.  Having a little fun, hey, that’s pretty important too!

So, am I always happy?  No, not always.  But the people around me sure know how to put a smile on my face.

Let’s Fuckin’ Play,
Mike D

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Sunday Funday…and a Little Something More

Rain, cold, it doesn’t matter. Nomad Nation: throwing down hard, no matter what the conditions.

“Rainy” and “cold”.  Since May, these adjectives have been foreign to the people of Nomad Nation.  Welcome to autumns in New Jersey, everybody!

Though the crew was small, it was fierce.  The WOD consisted of only two parts:
Part 1
3 Person Team
600 meter buddy carry (two people run, one person is carried, rotate as needed)

Part 2
3 Person Team
2 people working at a time, 1 resting (rotate as desired)
300 air squats
300 sit ups
*3 burpees at the top of each minute*

Light.  Fast.  Dreadful.  Mission accomplished!

Fast forward to Monday October 8.  I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working out at Drew University with George Rodriguez, Artie Falgione, Brian O’Neill, and other guests!  Manolo Rolon, Damien, and Ashley Rodriguez joined in the festivities this time around.  Our workout consisted of the following:

Hang squat snatches + 3 OHS
4×3 at 65% of 1RM squat snatch (do 3 OHS at the conclusion of each set)

Hang squat cleans + 3 FS
4×3 at 65% of 1RM squat clean (do 3 OHS at the conclusion of each set)

Wendler Deadlifts, Week 2 (Cycle 1)

Kettlebell swings, 2pd/1.5pd
Push ups

Look for updates on our WODs!  They’ll become a staple of Nomad Nation from now on.

New post coming tomorrow, an “editorial”, if you will.  This one will be called “No Gifts”.

Love y’allz,
Mike D

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Always Move Forward (thanks Jon Ralph)


Steve fights through burpees

I wrote this piece a while back.  I feel that it’s fitting to repost it here, in Nomad Nation.


“Everything is wrong.”

He paces back and forth, straining to focus his thoughts and energy on the task at hand, occasionally peering at the loaded bar on the floor.  This would be a new clean PR, but right now the weight of the world rests on his shoulders.  The challenges of life outside the box feel heavier than the barbell before him.  At this moment, this is the most impossible of situations.

“Go to that bad place…take everything you feel and go to that bad place.”

The gray out begins.  The music begins to fade, vision narrows, his heart drumming at a steady pace. The tumult of life transforms from a distraction into a fountain of inspiration.

He accepts it.  He embraces it.

Walking to the bar, he sets up and grips it tightly.  Everything wrong: the pain, the frustration, the “whys” and the “why nots” have come down to this moment.  This is his release.  This is his Thermopylae.


The bar scrapes his shins.  Blood.  He is alive.  Mid-thigh: acceleration point.  Pockets.


His shoulders come up, his body goes down.  Elbows snap to attention.


In an instant, life makes sense again.

Pain.  Joy.  Competition.  Camaraderie.  Accomplishment.

What drives you during your WODs?

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Friday August 10, 2012: Labwork

Even those that seem the most confident harbour strains of self-doubt. Defy the negative self-talk. Defy your demons and conquer them.

Sometimes, the best therapy is a quiet gym, a barbell, and good music.

Late evening, at CrossFit Hoboken.  Working in the back room, getting stronger, driving demons from my heart and mind, honing my craft.

A simple night of back squats, power cleans, and sumo deadlift high pulls.  There is something cleansing about hard work.

As a coach, it is through serving others that I receive some of my greatest satisfaction; it is a feeling of redemption, if you will. I also seek redemption through sweat, some pain, and a little blood.

“The job will not save you.”

I have learned this truth the hard way.  It will not save you.  But, it can provide some catharsis.  For this, and for you, I am thankful.

Love ya Nomads,
Mike D

Am I an innovator? Hardly. Few true innovators exist. The ones that self-label themselves are no more than narcissistic posers unwilling to recognize that greatness is built on the shoulders of giants.
Me, an innovator? Hardly. A work in progress, forever a student: this I shall always be.


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Tuesday August 7, 2012: In the Service of Others

Nomads left their mark at Hilltop School in Mendham this past Sunday


Yes.  Relay race.  Inspired by the Olympics, a relay race was the first part of Sunday’s Nomad WOD!  Here’s the goodness for ya:

Part 1
As many laps as possible in 10 minutes:
Partner relay race (300 meters)
Partner 1 runs while partner 2 rests

Part 2
Partner WOD:
200 double unders, each
Partner 1 jumps rope while partner 2 holds a plank
Partners switch places when snags occur
(10 minute timecap)

Part 3
5 rounds:
20 pull ups
30 push ups
40 sit ups
50 air squats
*Rest precisely 3 minutes between each round*

Once again a solid turnout and some new faces!  I was glad to see Megan and Ava join us for the first time, as well as Alan, Britt, and the indomitable Dr. Christopher Stepien!

Post-WOD, I overheard some peeps discussing why we put ourselves through such hard workouts; the notion of “getting high” came up.  Think about it.  It’s true!  Our workouts provide the endorphin release that we crave, that we need.

Coaches experience the same feeling by giving back to the athletes they dutifully serve.  It is through service that we experience this high.  There is a unique sense of joy in helping an athlete improve, stay healthy, get fitter, and accomplish things that at one point seemed impossible.  There is redemption in giving back.

Selfishness has no place in coaching.  The focal point should always be the athlete.  A true coach’s greatest accomplishments are never personal.  Rather, they are manifested in the accomplishments of the athletes and community they serve.

Nomads, I’m honored and humbled to serve you.

Love ya’s,
Mike D

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