Wake Up Call- Focus On What You “Can” Do Versus “Can’t” Do

  • Sumo

Get off your ass and focus on what you can do versus what you can’t do.   There I said it!   What right do I have talking to you like this?  I’m not, actually I wrote this one for myself.  But, you might find it useful to read and apply.   The truth is that most of us are operating on about 1/2 of our capacity at any given time.   So what’s my story?  Simple,  12 days ago I had the top of my right leg bone sawed off and the hip ball

The unhappy me.  I was bummed to be 43 years old, and limited to almost no movement for months due to a total hip replacement.   The good news....I have to have the other one replaced too.  My wake up call would be to focus on what I could do versus couldn't do.

The unhappy me. I was bummed to be 43 years old, and limited to almost no movement for months due to a total hip replacement. The good news….I have to have the other one replaced too (NOT!). My wake up call would be to focus on what I could do versus couldn’t do.

replaced by a guy hammering (literally with a hammer) a long rod down the center of my bone with a nice new ball joint on it.  Then he dremeled a couple “golf ball” sized piles of bone spur material off my socket before fitting a new cup (I believe hammered in as well).   Yes, at 43 years of age I have a brand new right hip, having gone through a total hip replacement.   Everyone asks how this is possible given my age.  I guess the 18 billion hard leg kicks on a heavy bag or maybe the several hundred miles humping a pack in the Marine Corps had something to do with it.   And here’s the kicker….in around 6 weeks after the first, I have to get the left one done!!

How’s that for limiting!?  These are the months that in the past I would have spent dryfirng and practicing movement exercises and going through all of the preparation steps needed to get ready for the upcoming shooting season.  But not this year.   So I found myself sitting around feeling sorry for myself  since I am not even supposed to put more than 50% of my weight on the leg, constantly numbed by pain pills, and downright irritable because I am not supposed to drive (sorry to those helping me out!).  And then it hit me!  Instead of sitting around like a baby and thinking about what I couldn’t do, maybe I should focus on what I could.   Can I order supplies for next year?  Check!  Can I finally get all my guns in a good state of clean (lol!) and repair? Check!  Can I begin to train??  Actually, check!!  How?  Read on to find out.

The revelation hit me when I had a memory of how I used to train for the steel challenge when I could not get to the stages themselves.  I shot them in my mind!  For those of you that do not know what the Steel Challenge is, it is also known as the World

Years ago I used a great visualization tool and "shot" the steel challenge stages in my mind each night before bed.   The tool helped me win the production title that year.

Years ago I used a great visualization tool and “shot” the steel challenge stages in my mind each night before bed. The tool helped me win the production title that year.

Speed Shooting Championship, and is made up of 8 stages of 4 plates and a stop plate shot last.  The key to winning the match is to know exactly where to go fast, as well as where the shots require more precision.  In my opinion, it is the most balanced match of speed and precision there it.   So how did I practice the stages in my mind, and why?  Simply because once I knew how to shoot the stages properly (match tactics), repeating them in my mind was easy and could be done anywhere.   Visualization is a big key in how the top shooting athletes do what they do.  It requires a detailed mental video that encompasses everything you plan to do on the stage.  “See yourself do it before you do it”  is what I tell my students.   The year I won the production division title at the match, I practiced several times per week on the actual stages at the range (with a combination of dry fire and live fire runs), and each night ran the stages several times in my head before I fell asleep.  I “saw” myself shoot the whole match in my mind, and shot each stage exactly like I wanted myself to perform at the real match.   I sped up where I wanted myself to speed up, and slowed down on danger targets that might catch me in the match.   The cool thing is that this type of practice is equally as important as the real practice, meaning that simply running a performance in the mind is as valuable as actually shooting!  So, I had to ask myself, can I run my practice sessions in my mind?   Sure!  Why not.  Now don’t get me wrong, it is not a complete replacement for shooting, but it is surely a method of keeping my skills honed while I can run and gun at the range.

So what else can I do?   A bunch.  Here is the list I came up with, all directly related to my goals next year:

  • Work on grip strength
    • Note: Actually I am cleared for all upper body exercises as long as I watch my right hip/leg, so I plan to come out of this as strong or stronger with my upper body than I began.  
  • Begin my vision training program to get my visual skills up to speed and ready for the new year. (the one found in YCHTP)
  • Use dry fire to improve my manipulation skills.  This training area is wide open for me to use.  Most of the below list is related to competitive skills, but the same concepts could be applied to defensive skills.  Some of the items on my list:
    • Trigger manipulation and speed using a SIRT trainer or revolver
    • Table pick up and loads
    • Shotgun reloads
    • Statice draws, and reloads with any of my handguns
    • etc.
  • Visualize practice sessions of shooting stages or drills that I will use in the coming year.  Remember, the brain does not know the difference!

And how does this post apply to you?  Simple, the same concept can be applied in your life, as the distractions are all the same.  You might not be dealing with a hip replacement, but you are likely using something as an excuse to do less than you can.   Start there.   Maybe it is your job and the hours you work that prevents you from going to the gym and getting in shape, or hitting the range.   Find a way to simplify the desired goal and take small bites at a time.   Here’s a fitness example:

Problem:  You work 12-14 hours a day in an office and take care of children when you are home.  You can not make it to the gym due to these hectic hours.

Solution:  Invest in some simple fitness equipment and work out while you do something else. For example if you invested in a TRX strap, pull up bar, and push up bars you could work almost every conceivable angle you need to build strength.   If you have stairs in your house, then you have a built-in cardio machine.   Your workout might look like this in the evening while cooking or taking care of your kids:

[Keep in mind this is a sample, not a professionally designed workout.  Consult your physician before attempting]

  • Monday: Push ups (using a wide, narrow, and medium grip)  alternating with Horizontal Pull ups (palms facing each other, palms facing up, palms facing down), maximum sets  (work through maximum sets of as many as you can do).  Do a set of wide push ups, check the pasta, do a set pull ups, stir the sauce, do a set of push ups, put the bread in the oven.   Make sure to get three sets of maximum effort with each exercise. You get the picture.
  • Tuesday: Cardio (intervals).   Run or walk briskly up and down those lovely stairs for 1 minute, check kids homework, another minute on the stairs, pack the lunches, another minute on the stairs, start diner, etc.   Repeat 15-20 times with no more than a couple of minutes rest between work sets.
  • Wednesday: Pike Push Ups (body forms a V and the pushing direction is up versus forward to work the shoulders), alternating with standard Pull-ups (alternate between hands forward grip and reverse grip).  Same concept, do your work set then accomplish a task that needs to get done during your rest sets.
  • Thursday: Cardio (long, keep the heart rate 130-150).  Yep, back up and down those stairs again, but this time done during your lunch break (at home or the office).   Skip the lunch and junk food with your co-workers and instead pack that healthy lunch and spend 1/2 of your lunch hour getting making your heart more healthy.   Win-win!
  • Friday: TRX curls and press downs using your body weight (they give you an exercise guide when you buy the TRX strap).

The point is that there are ways to improve, no matter what your limitations are.  Whether  you have a fitness, self-defense, competitive shooting, or completely separate goal, there is a way to reach it.  You simply have to commit to it and find a way.   Stop letting what you can’t do affect what you can do!

P.S. If you are in one of the states that is socked in with weather and want to download and watch some of the Defensive Handgun Drills for future use at the range, the Vimeo page is live!  Visit it here:  Vimeo/Defensive Handgun

Until Then – Train Hard!

Mike S. 

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11 Responses to Wake Up Call- Focus On What You “Can” Do Versus “Can’t” Do

  1. Joe B. says:

    A great read Mike.. I too am having physical issues at 40 with running and gunning defensive drills, and this article was the punch in the face I needed to get back in the fight and make adjustments to my health and training to accomplish my goals. Thank you Mike, for continuing to inspire us. I wish you well, and a speedy recovery.

  2. Snarky357 says:

    I accept that I am never going to be a triathlete, but I am active and usually don’t bitch about aches and pains. Last week I went to an orthopedic doc about some knee pain I’ve had since October, and found out at age 45 I will be needing a knee soon, the other probably a little later. I am under four years to go with the fire department, but the doc says surgery now will likely end my career. I figured you guys were indestructible! Anyway, I guess we’re in good company. Thanks for the motivation.

  3. Valcour says:

    Way to go, Mike! Thanks for sharing your revelation and renewed motivation. You are an excellent instructor, both with the sharing of your journey back to total wellness and with your books and videos. I own, use and practice your drills in the videos and the books. Visualization is a great addition to the training program as well. Thank you!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line, no excuses. Need this positivity in my life. 🙂

  5. Michele says:

    Hope your second surgery goes well also Mike. I’m one of those OR nurses by trade that helps the docs do all that pounding, sawing and metal work. I love it.

  6. Tim Schmaltz says:

    Had my left hip done 2 months ago.
    Hope you do as well as this 62 year old is doing.
    Sitting in Dr. office right now to get my knees shot with Cortizone. Then off to the range.
    Good luck.

  7. kevinprofitt says:

    I realize this article is a year old but I was watching the inaugural carry optics nationals on TV last night and heard you mention your hip replacement. I am a fairly new shooter who had planned to join my local clubs winter league this year but like you, it’s January and I’m recuperating from a total right hip replacement. I’m still in the sitting on my but and battling pain phase and like you, was feeling sorry for myself thinking that I would never be able to participate in something as movement intensive as USPSA. Watching you on that show however and reading this article has motivated me to get working. Thank you for the inspiration. My ride is here and I’m off to physical therapy right now.

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