Saturday, March 28, 2009

Busy Week at Work

It has been a hectic work week. I guess that's a good thing--or will be, if all of these leads turn into paying clients.

I'll be back to more regular blogging soon. For now, a brief update. I had some good sparring on Sunday and decent training during the week. I spent the evening with some guys from the "fight club" by having dinner at the Terragusto Cafe. The food was quite good, but there was really too much served (I don't even remember how many courses there were--it was insane) and the price was a lot higher than I had expected--about a week's grocery bill for me. It's a good thing I don't eat like that regularly; if I did, I'd have to train 6 hours a day just to keep the extra weight off.

After dinner, we headed to St. Andrews gym to watch some of the preliminary bouts at the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament. A good time was seemingly had by all and it was fun to have a guys' night out with the new friends I'm training with on Sundays. It was also a nice break in the action of a really busy work week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sparring Improvement

Work has been nuts this week, but I'm still managing to fit in some training.  Sunday's "fight club" went well.  We had a smaller group than previous weeks, so we had the chance to do more rounds of drills.

I sparred 3 good rounds with Eric (not the Eric I have been sparring with during past weeks, let's call this one "Eric 2").  It was a tough sparring session.  He pushed hard and so did I.  We have similar styles--more aggressive, moving forward, and pressuring the opponent.

It was a good workout.  I got to practice some defense and I got my jab working well: two or three jabs in a row.  I'm polishing my footwork and moving better.  Let's see how it goes next Sunday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Update on Sunday's "Fight Club"

As I mentioned last week, I've attended the boxing group at my gym the last two Sundays. It's fun. It's all midlife guys who have about the same level of boxing experience. It has been informally called "fight club." The coach is Glen Freedman, the head boxing coach at East Bank Club. I first met Glen several years ago when I boxed in a charitable fund-raising event for the DuPage County Bar Association called the "Bar Bouts." Glen was in my opponent's corner, and we stayed in contact after that. It's good to see him at GoTime for an hour or two each week.

The workout was a pretty standard boxing training session. Here's how it goes.

During the first part, we do a warm-up and then practice several rounds on all the bags (heavy, speed, double-end, uppercut), jump rope, and do shadowboxing. I almost always do some easy stretching after I break a sweat; I want to remain flexible and avoid injuries. This first part is the least structured; there are about 12 guys training in the gym at these practices, so having some time to get into the routine on our own is helpful.

While all the individual work is happening, Glen calls each of us into the ring to work one round on the punch mitts with him. We get just one round of this, because of the number of guys present, but if a smaller group showed up on any particular day, I think Glen might do more rounds with that. I felt a lot better this week working with Glen. Since the time is limited, there's an added sense of urgency to stay focused and mentally present during the round, in order to squeeze the most benefit out of it.

My round went well. My "finisher" right, which had been a bit sluggish last week, flowed easily as I threw the combination: left jab-straight right-left hook-right cross. It was good to have some power on that last punch without sacrificing speed or accuracy on the first three.

The next part is contact sparring drills. Because we're practicing punches, we wear headgear and mouthpieces and 16 oz. gloves. We start by working on the basics, such as left jab (so far, there are no southpaws in the group), one-two, and so on. As round follows round, we work at more complex combinations, defense, adjusting stance and balance as needed, and counterpunching. This is very helpful to me because it is realistic and lets us practice the fundamentals a lot. (I don't think any athlete can ever spend too much time practicing the basics of his sport.) It's safe and fun, but the guys punch about as hard as they do in sparring, so using defense is an important part of the practice.

Next, we have sparring. The drills and sparring are at a fast pace and Glen keeps everyone moving. There's a lot of rotation, so everyone gets some experience practicing with all the other boxers. I like the quicker pace and it allows us to practice with more of the other boxers. For example, this Sunday, I sparred four rounds with three different guys and had the benefit of practicing with their different styles. What worked well with Mark didn't work so well with Eric, and my two rounds with Brian had plenty of challenges.

(Mental note: I need to move more when sparring with Brian. I could easily see him and me standing toe to toe and trading huge bombs. There is definitely a time and place for that, but I'm trying to avoid developing bad habits, or, as the case may be with my willingness to get into a slugfest, to avoid sliding back into old bad habits.) The pace and power were perfect, too; no one is trying to take anyone's head off, but the guys do push each other and encourage one another to improve. There's a camaraderie--even a team spirit--in this intense, most individual of sports. For example, Eric commented that my jab was working a lot better this week, so it was good to see some of that ring rust falling off.

After sparring, we do some abs work. It's a straightforward routine, but beneficial, and you can work at your own pace in an encouraging environment. The medicine ball gets to play a part, and I always feel especially alive when I get that lactic acid burn as I push myself to do yet one more crunch.

Finally, we finish strong with "30s"--three rounds of punching the heavy bag as hard and as fast as we can for 30 seconds, while a partner holds the bag. Then we switch with our partner and he punches for 30 seconds while we hold the bag. That goes on until all the guys have done their three speed rounds. Final stretching and cool down is on our own.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Visiting Some Boxing Blogs in the 'Hood

There are lots of blogs online; who can keep up with them all?  Even with my best efforts and (what I think is) my skillful use of my RSS reader/aggregator, I know I can't read everything I want.  Nevertheless, here are a few posts by my fellow boxer-bloggers that I've enjoyed, and I hope you will like them, too.

First, the tenacious Marc reports that he is back in training "again...again."  Way to go, Marc!  Keep up the fine work.

Next, the author of Toe to Toe (sorry, I don't know his name and couldn't find it on the blog) has a bout coming up on March 20, 2009.  Please join me in wishing him much success.

Last, Jonathan Moreland continues his process of Earning a Nickname and recounts the highlights of his recent bout.  Congratulations, Jonathan, and good show of sportsmanship in the match.

I'll have an update about my own training soon, maybe even later today.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Back to Blogging; Busy Weekend; Training Hard and Enjoying It

February was quite a month. I've been away from the blog, mostly because I have been busy with work. It's an interesting challenge to balance all of these activities, but I am definitely learning a lot from it. Although I haven't posted any training updates, my training continues and is going fairly well. It could always be going better, of course, but I'm a perfectionist, so my attitude is permanently oriented toward improvement.

Here's a recap of what has been going on lately, in work, life, and boxing.
  • In my defiant approach to the economic recession, I have been hustling to get some new clients. I have two new prospects and one to contact tomorrow. I am not being naive, but if the basic laws of chemistry and physics still apply, matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Thus, in the aggregate, there is no less matter or energy in the universe today than there was a year or two ago, so we haven't truly "lost" anything. The matter and energy may have changed into different forms, but they still exist. As a practical matter, this means that the opportunities are still available, but we will have to be more persistent and imaginative as we look for them.
  • Life continues to send its nonstop series of ups and downs. I'm enjoying my new neighborhood--and am confident I'll enjoy it even more once spring arrives with some consistently warmer weather.
  • I helped my good buddy Mark move his home over the weekend. He's in the same building, but has moved to an apartment two floors above his former unit. I'm thrilled for him. He's still relatively new to Chicago, so I am glad he's getting settled comfortably in his new place. Mark is one hell of a great guy and a really good friend. Unfortunately, he recently lost his cat, Fritz, so it's a difficult time for him.
  • Training got an added boost on Sunday. It was my first time attending the Sunday "fight club" (also known as "Small Group Boxing") at my gym. I was there in a group of about 12 guys and Glen, the trainer, who runs the 2 pm Sunday gathering. It was a great time and I look forward to attending the practices regularly. In addition to the shadowboxing, work on the bags, abs training, punching-and-defense drills, and work on the punch mitts with Glen, I got in some good sparring, too. (Thanks to Jim and Eric for pushing me hard and making me work!) It was a blast. Since all of the boxers are midlife guys--basically late 30s to late 50s in age--the group might offer some good business networking opportunities, too, as well as the chance to make some new friends. After all, some of my closest friends are guys I have punched in the face. I'm hoping my buddy Mark will attend some Sundays.
That's the update for now. I'm planning to get more content on this blog, including links to various articles I've found interesting. For now, thanks for reading, and stay strong!