"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Monday, 9 May 2016

Be Like Tom


I get a lot of what's generally called "incidental exercise". I can't stand getting out of bed and going for a jog just for the sake of it. But I get a lot of fitness through my day-to-day happenings. I do football umpiring, which requires two nights per week of training, and then I do multiple games on the weekend. I've taken up a martial art, which I do on every Wednesday I'm available. I'll sometimes go bike riding with my friend Mitchell. And on the weekend just passed, Mitch and I got together did a grueling 12km obstacle course called True Grit.

In true grit, competitors have to jog through a vinyard, pausing every once in a while to complete an obstacle, which can be as simple as monkey bars or a rope climb or as inventive as dragging tractor tires around a course or crawling through a mud-filled pipe.


Really, I have no right to be as fit as I am. With the amount of actual effort I put into getting fitter, I should struggle a lot more than I do. But my secret isn't in my physical fitness, it's all mental.

We had a mantra while doing the course this year - "Be like Tom". Tom being Australian footballer Tom Rockliff, current captain of the Brisbane Lions. Since the '90s, the captain of the Lions has been known for just being tough. It started with Jonathan Brown, a man who it was said could inspire the rest of his team to walk a bit taller when he was around. He'd put his body on the line all the time. Towards the end of his career he even crashed into a pack so hard the he crushed his cheekbone and had to have surgery. There was even a legend that went around that as a kid, Brown's dog bit him... So he bit the dog back. He was a tough cookie.


When Brown retired, Rockliff took over. Rockliff was tough in a different way. While Brown was all bash-and-crash and would make you scared of being tackled by him, Rockliff just has the drive and determination to play through anything. Early last year, Rockliff broke a rib during the first quarter of a game. We didn't know until he tweeted it after the game. He missed games after that, but he rushed back into the team after only two weeks, he was just that keen to play (and was that needed). In his return game, not only did he re-break the bone, he also managed to puncture his lung. This time, the viewers could see he was in a lot of pain. But still, he played out the whole game. It was inspiring.


That's my secret - Be like Tom. Like Tom, I've gotten injuries and kept pushing through it. At True Grit last year, when we were about two thirds of the way through the course, I managed to blow out both my calves within 100 meters of each other. We were just jogging along and - BANG! - my left calf snapped. I kept jogging. I just couldn't stand the idea of stopping. I was kind of limp-jogging when 100m later - BANG! - the other calf went. Still, I jogged. It was bloody painful, but I did. We got to the end of the course, where competitors would slide into the river to wash off all the mud they'd accumulated, and when I hit the cold water my legs cramped so badly that I cried out in pain and literally couldn't move them any more. I had to slowly paddle my way to the river bank using just my hands and try to keep my head above the water.

Another time, during a game of footy, a guy crashed into me so hard the my own rib dislocated. I couldn't play out the rest of the game, but I fully intended to go and play a game of mixed netball that I was due to play after that. Unfortunately (or fortunately according to some people), this was before I had my driver's license and I was relying on my parents to drive me places. My mum flat-out refused to take me to play another sport while I had a dislocated rib. I chucked a tantrum at that.

When I did the City-to-Bay fun run - Adelaide's biggest - a few years ago, I had never before run that distance in one go. Yet I finished all 12kms in 65 minutes - much slower than all the professional runners, but much faster than all the regular Joes. One time at Christmas, the boys in my extended family were ribbing each other on their respective levels of fitness. It turned into a bet to see who could run at an almost-sprint on my uncle's treadmill for five minutes straight. My uncle predicted the result. "Michael will be able to do it. Not because of his fitness, just because of his mental capacity. His sticking power." In the end, just to prove a point, I sprinted for six minutes instead of five.

So that's my secret, sticking power. I don't like giving up, because once you give up, you've given up forever. It's an attitude I noticed in Tom Rockliff as well. So that's why as Mitchell and I were wincing with each footfall on the sand dunes and staggering over balance beams and under nets, we kept jokingly shouting to each other "Be like Tom!" "Remember Tom!" "Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom!"


17 comments:

  1. Good gawd, Michael, you're tough enough to a Canadian hockey player! They're always persevering through injuries too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha I'm gritty, but not violent. I can take a lot of punishment, but I can't really dish it out :P

      Delete
  2. I'm tough, but not sure I could play through a broken rib.
    Enjoy being fit without actually exercising. When you get older, it becomes necessary. Trust me...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enough people have told me that for me to believe it. Shudder.

      Delete
  3. Damn, after reading this I want to go on my own 12k obstacle course. How inspiring. And yes, you nailed it. It's all mental. I'm not the strongest, or the fastest, or have the most endurance, but when I set my mind to a physical task I always get it done. Never dislocated a rib, though (you badass).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the worst injury I've had bar far :P

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  4. I have no idea who this guy is, just saying

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's okay, I figured not many teaders would. I've done my best to try to explain it.

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  5. You really know how to have a good time... and you also make my recent injuries look small in comparison.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    ReplyDelete
  6. Be like Tom. Okay. I'll try to keep that in mind next time I'm beating myself up.

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  7. Hey, if I ever get to Australia, I'd like to think that we could sit down for a cup of coffee and you'd be in ONE PIECE. So, Be Like Tom...Drink Java Like Cherdo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm more into tea, is that acceptable?

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    2. ToTEAlly acceptable. Living in the southern USA, drinking iced tea is sort of required. I'll even serve hot tea. See? I'm practically international.

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  8. Dude, your ability to push through pain like that is impressive. I've pushed through some pain (two kids) but I'm struggling just to run for 45 minutes straight.

    I've heard Chris Hemsworth is a lot like you, where he doesn't need to exercise. Hmmm... He's from Australia too...

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    Replies
    1. There is NO WAY a guy gets muscles that big without exercising. Even I do some sit-ups in the morning :P

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