MDLP: The Road is Never Easy

The road is never an easy task nor an easy pill to swallow in the middle of a training cycle. I am fortunate enough to have the honor of being flown out to coach many of my lifters and it often times means spending anywhere between 20-30 weekends away from home. It just so happened that between the end of October and November 11th, Strongman nationals and IPL worlds would fall before and after my 6 day vacation to California. Long story short, I would spend a total of 18 days away from home with only one day in between to gather my things after landing from Missouri and head out to California and then Vegas. Still with me? Good, cause we are just warming up this Millennium Falcon.

I had made the choice earlier in the year  to coach these weekends because in the long run, that is why I am here. I wont lie to you, competing is a major part of my life and my very spirit but my calling and my truest passion is coaching. I have written and posted extensively on the hard line between coaching and competing and it never gets easier. So here we were, 5 weeks out from my first competition in 2 years, a heavy one at that, and I was sleeping on hotel spring beds, scrounging up local grocery store foods and handling some amazing athletes as they fought for their national and world athletic careers.

Lets take a moment here to allow me to clarify something. This is not a cry for help, a plea for sympathy nor a list of excuses. I am hard believer that there is a difference between an excuse and a reason and this is neither of them. This is the life I chose and this is the way I want to be remembered. I am no saint and certainly not a gifted athlete. Yes, I would certainly love to have 8 weeks of solitude on some long lost mountain where I could train, eat and sleep strongman but that is not real life. For many of us juggling the realities of real life work and stressors is an everyday thing. I do build a certain pride and self assurance by taken the path less traveled but by no means do I feel I am better than anyone. Dust your boots off, we are heading back on the road…

The trip to California would allow me 2 serious training days where I would be able to deadlift for reps on one day and then train events with my friends Liefia Ingalls and Chris Burke (2 great strongman athletes) at EcWc just outside Anaheim. I’ll admit I did not feel my best. I wasn’t firing on all pistons due to so much travel which kills my back and my general hydration and nutrition were less than stellar due to long hours at a convention we were participating in (Blizzcon cause Orc Shaman for life son!!). I was able to squeeze 6 deadlifts on a stiff squat bar but was cut short when I felt my back get tight. I experienced no pain but the last rep was less than stellar form and I called it.

3 days later my log and yoke went better than planned despite both events feeling as heavy as possible and I finished with a keg conditioning drill that almost brought up my breakfast. All in all it was a good day despite experiencing some bang ups I was not hoping for. I could go into detail about each lift but that isn’t the moral of this story. Life on the road and travel is hard, no matter what the reason is, during prep and being away from home is one of the most difficult tasks to tackle. Before I let this idea get me down or let it blur my vision of success, I often remind myself that the obstacle is the way. That experience on the battlefield of both sport and life have carried me this far and that doubts felt miles way from home are but small drops in the bucket of my athletic endeavors. That on my worst days both physically and or mentally, I was able to accomplish a good training day and lift what many will never attempt. The reality here is that training is as much a part of my life as coaching, breathing, eating and loving those close to me. It isn’t something that fades with time or when I am waking up in some shady motel across the nation. It is the guiding light, the beacon and reminder that there is still work left to be done and that no one wants to read the story of the warrior who had greatness merely dropped on his lap but instead, about the battle weary war hound who has to go above and beyond the trenches of life (both good and bad) and keep crawling forward. Dramatic? I know it is but when things aren’t going your way, your body hurts beyond belief and the closest thing to hugging your pup is a stale hotel pillow you have to reach into the depth of dramatized passion to pull you forward.

My lifters did well, my body has held and my courage is steadfast. For those of you out there pounding the pavement and getting your sky miles I hope this helps. We are always one obstacle away from proving our courage and our worth and legacy was written on the back of perseverance via the fires of adversity.

Never Stray from the Way

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Michael “MDLP” De La Pava is currently a competitive Strongman and owner of The Battle Axe Gym. Born in Miami, Florida into a Colombian household, Michael finished his schooling by attending Penn State University where he graduated with a Degree in Psychology. Having his roots in martial arts, he would go on to compete in various sports as a Muay Thai fighter, Powerlifter, and rugby player before committing himself fully to Strongman. During this time, he opened Miami’s first Strongman gym, The Battle Axe, where he currently coaches athletes from various disciplines including powerlifting, MMA fighters, Strongman, officers of multiple authorities and enlisted and active military operators. Competing in Strongman for over 6 years has given Michael the opportunity to rank as high as 15th in the nation (105kg), won Florida’s Strongest man (1st in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 in the 105kg class), lift and load a 420 pound Atlas stone, log press 335, pull 700, and most importantly, share the competitive battlefield with some of the best in the game. During this journey, Michael suffered what some would consider a potentially career-ending spine injury. It was at this time that Brian and Michael would begin working together to not only rehab his spine, allowing him to return to Strongman but also develop a new Strongman training program revolving around the 10/20 philosophy. Strongman and coaching have given Michael the opportunity to travel around the nation and the world to train, coach and be coached, as well as share ideas with various leaders in the strength community. Michael’s experience and network in strongman brings a welcome connection with the ever-growing sport of Strongman to the 10/20 team and PRS family.

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