Favourite Podcast Episodes of 2016

  Podcasts continue to be one of the best ways to consume knowledge from the great minds in the world of strength and conditioning, self-improvment, and anything really. A decade ago, you would have travelled all over the world for the opportunity to hear from the best in the business and to soak up their wisdom, now you get to stream great ideas right into your ears wherever you are, for free. The only problem now is keeping up with all the excellent content that is being put out there, as the number of good podcasts proliferate. There is a podcast for everyone.. They say that you can tell a lot about a person from their podcast feed (has anyone said that yet?), and you can see mine above. 2016 was a great year for them and here are some of my  favourite episodes. Putting the list together proved tricky enough, and was subject to me actually remembering the episodes that I have listened to (which might explain the slight bias towards episodes from the latter part of the year). There are certainly great podcasts that I don’t get around to listening to, time being finite and all that. However, in no particular order, the below episodes have all been impactful on my thinking, and I highly recommend them.   Health, Movement & Self-Improvement 1)  The Joe Rogan Experience #752 Mark Sisson I say it’s in no particular order, yet this was probably my top episode of 2016, with Joe Rogan himself saying that it was one of the most informative and interesting podcasts he has ever done (which is a pretty sound endorsement...

40-Day No Messing Challenge

If you had to get someone in the best shape possible in 40-days, what would you do? A friend recently put this to me and it got me thinking, and my thoughts have turned into the following article. It is a long read, but it covers all your bases, so take mini-stretching breaks as needed and plough on. Why 40 days? Not a great length of time to achieve much in life really, but it’s short enough to be a do-able and realistic goal, and long enough to see changes and motivate the transformer to go for another 40 days. One thing we know is there are no magic pills, and long-lasting results come from keeping the head down and making training and movement part of your way of life. People do, however, respond well to shorter time-frames, helping them to stay focused. Three essentials for success with a training program:   -a good plan -consistency -optimal recovery and regeneration (food, sleep, stress-management) So for the purpose of this experiment, we have 40 days to get into the best possible physical condition. First thing in this case is we don’t have any time for the biggest problem anybody faces in a successful transformation: Poor compliance. The process of creating and changing habits is probably the most difficult part of the puzzle, and one which deserves the greatest investment of your efforts to begin with. Start small and gradually build healthful habits into your life. But for now, we will assume that the superpower of our friend here is the ability to instantly engrain good habits, because for this to...

The paradox of trying less to achieve more

Have you ever had the feeling that the harder you chase something, the further out of your reach it becomes? We are told that to achieve something great in life, we need to obsessively and relentlessly  pursue our objective, sacrificing all else along the way. And that makes sense. Every day we hear inspirational success stories about athletes who have made it to the top, the endless hours in the gym when nobody else is watching, putting in the thousands of hours of deliberate, focused practice. Yes, there is no doubt about the physical effort and hardship required, pushing yourself past the physical limits, enduring more than what you thought was possible. As they say, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. But paradoxically, it seems that the more you depend on achieving your goal, the less likely you actually are of getting there. This seems to hold true whether in relation to sport, music, careers, or relationships. I have pondered over this for years, wondering if it a real phenomenon or mere illusion, as I chased my own hurling dreams. My brothers and I were hurling in nappies, I remember well my first training session in St Paul’s when I was 8. Hurling, like for many in Ireland, was woven into the fabric of our lives. We could name every player of ’89 All-Ireland team by nickname, and dreamed of Croke Park decked in Saffron. Every summer the stack of video cassettes in our house grew, as we recorded every All-Ireland championship game off the teilifís for repeated viewing, cursing the tall trees across the road for our grainy...
Getting started with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Getting started with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Ever since watching Kieran McGeeney roll around in Straight Blast Gym in that RTE Conor McGregor documentary a couple of years ago, I thought it would be good to try out Brazillian Jiu Jitsu . So last week, after a long time flirting with the idea, I finally took the leap and began BJJ.   I had a few different motivations for going. Firstly, It has been a long 5 years since my last hurling match, and ever since there has been a huge void in my life; the challenge of competition, sense of accomplishment, the physical suffering, the opportunity to test myself and find out what lies within. Even the frustration of failure, and the pain of losing. Sport gives us the opportunity to experience all these things, while most people amble along through life nice and cozy. Never getting the hands dirty in life, avoiding the need for physical and mental duress, or self-examination, not risking failure. Secondly, it is an excellent compliment to one’s movement practice. It promotes fluid movement and the connectedness of the whole body, with huge emphasis on the hips. It requires body awareness and full control of the joints and limbs. It demands the ability to explosively contract and coordinate the body while also the ability to relax. I’ve always thought Jiu Jitsu would be a complimentary form of training for hurling players, helping to develop a type of strength that you won’t get from lifting weights in the gym. And thirdly, of course, who doesn’t like the idea of being able to protect oneself somewhat from all the maniacs out there...
Antrim hurling continues its rapid decline towards extinction, who cares?

Antrim hurling continues its rapid decline towards extinction, who cares?

I had to turn off TG4 at half time, I couldn’t take any more punishment. But it was a familiar scene, another humiliating hammering for an Antrim team in the U21 All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final. Waterford 5-25, Antrim 1.5.  ‘We knew how bad our preparation was, this team was only pulled together in five weeks’, manager Ollie Bellew said afterwards. This remains one of the great mysteries of Antrim hurling for me, a proud hurling county. Why was the team pulled together in five weeks? It seems like every county in Ireland are aware that the All-Ireland hurling semi finals are held in August except for Antrim, where they are annually taken by surprise and pulling teams together after one training session. Last year before Antrim faced Wexford in the same fixture, manager Kevin Ryan disclosed that his team were in for a ‘massive hiding’ after they couldn’t get a panel together to even train in the weeks leading up to the game. Back in 2008, I sat on the bench as Derry beat us in the Ulster U21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final. We trained twice leading up to that game. So Antrim are continuing their tradition of hoping to defy the basic first principle of sports performance in their quest for All-Ireland glory: Preparation. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail You would think that they would make the most of the incredible opportunity to compete against one of the big teams in an All-Ireland semi-final by training really, really hard. But that would make too much sense. And for years we’ve had a County Board who for some bewildering reason thought...