First Finisher https://www.firstfinisher.com Fitness is Your Freedom Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:40:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 https://www.firstfinisher.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/cropped-ASAS-1-32x32.png First Finisher https://www.firstfinisher.com 32 32 Wisconsin Football Standout Kyle Penniston Talks Transitioning to the Next Level https://www.firstfinisher.com/kyle-penniston/ https://www.firstfinisher.com/kyle-penniston/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:44:35 +0000 https://www.firstfinisher.com/?p=2687 Madison, Wisconsin—Wisconsin Football tight-end Kyle Penniston discusses his transition from high school football to Division 1 College Football madness. This redshirt freshman graduated from Mater Del in Orange, California ranked as a four-star recruit from ESPN.com, ranked No. 6 tight-end in the country by Rivals and selected to play in the notorious 2015 Under Armour […]

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Madison, Wisconsin—Wisconsin Football tight-end Kyle Penniston discusses his transition from high school football to Division 1 College Football madness.

This redshirt freshman graduated from Mater Del in Orange, California ranked as a four-star recruit from ESPN.com, ranked No. 6 tight-end in the country by Rivals and selected to play in the notorious 2015 Under Armour All-American Game.

His impressive high school accolades speak for themselves. Penniston was one of Paul Chryst’s top recruits for the 2015 class. After redshirting his 2015 season, Penniston made a killer debut his 2016 season by isolating a spot behind starter Troy Fumagalli.

With two touchdowns last season and a drive for consistent improvement, this 6’4” powerhouse is just getting started.

The transition from high school football to a faster, stronger and higher level is unexpected for any athlete. The playing field is different, the competition is better and you are no longer No. 1. No matter who you were in high school and what you accomplished in the past, you are thrown back to the bottom of the food chain.

Biggest Change Making the Jump to Elite Competition

“I think I put the same amount of time into training. But in high school you don’t have to focus in all the time. In college you have to be focused in all the time,” Penniston said.

Focus is vital in order to survive each rep in training—because each rep matters. The guy in front of you isn’t your friend, he is your competition. Without a hard-headed mindset, you will crumble right to the bottom.

Physical preparation is also a key element to perform at the highest level. In high school, Penniston explains that he only remembers doing the cold tubs after practice.

Now with Wisconsin’s top-notch facilities, he can do a variety of recovery modalities to get his body right—including NormaTec PULSE Leg Recovery System, hot to cold contrast baths, and wearing his compression tights.

The name is the game is ‘when’ and how much time you have to prepare your mind and body for that moment.

“It is important to take seven days to get ready for your next game,” Penniston said.

There’s no secret that when you feel good, ‘you play good.’ Every small meticulous detail of your preparation is taken into account the minute the whistle blows.

“If and when my time comes to train for the NFL, I want to train smarter,” Penniston said. “It is all about knowing your body well enough—how it is feeling and what to do with it to recover properly.”

Kyle Penniston might be a rising player in Wisconsin Football with an extensive amount of resources around him to get better, but at the end of the day, it is simply knowing when to train harder and when to rest.

“I remember I would workout 5-6 days in a row. You think you’re going to get bigger, faster and stronger but you need time off. You need to be smarter,” Penniston said.

 


How can you learn from Kyle Penniston?

( Additional commentary from First Finisher’s Andrew McDermot) 

Athletically, Penniston’s words are straight forward.

You simply can’t have your foot on the gas pedal at 100mph 365 days a year.

You’ll burn out your body and mind, resulting in the opposite outcome of what you were working so hard for.

But this same principle applies to your professional life as well.

We live in a socially connected world that gives us only slight glimpses into the world’s elite performers and successes.

You only see what everyone wants you to see.

As you’re constantly bombarded with Instagram pictures, tweets, and Facebook posts about “hustling” and “grinding”…

It can make you feel like what you’re doing is never enough.

A sense of guilt is always in the back of your mind unless your in the trenches all day everyday busting your ass practicing or learning new strategies to further your craft.

In today’s digital world it can feel like you’re being judged if you’re not posting constantly about how hard you’re working and proving how much time you’re clocking.

Now, the relentless pursuit of greatness, hustling, grinding are all essential qualities.

But today’s obsession with constant engagement makes us forget about how important  reflection, silence, and rest is.

Because just as Kyle Penniston needs time off from the gym and field to recover – to analyze his training progress – you need to take a step back to reflect upon your own progress.

In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues that work and rest are not enemies, instead work synergistically to provide you with optimal results.

“When we define ourselves by our work, by our dedication and effectiveness and willingness to go the extra mile,” he writes, “then it’s easy to see rest as the negation of all those things.”

“Work and rest are not polar opposites,” Pang writes.

When you want something so badly in life, it’s difficult to rest.

But when you do,  you’ll make some of your most important self discoveries.

Rest isn’t meant for meaningless procrastination time though. “If you want rest, you have to take it” Pang writes.

“You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take is seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.”

Use rest to make sure you’re not just running in circles, but actually making progress in your endeavors.

Then, when you dive back into “the grind” take what you’ve learned and put your  entire heart and soul into it.

Not only is this a much more sustainable way of living, it’s a a faster way to becoming the person you most want to be.

Whether you want to take your athletic pursuits to the next level, move up the corporate latter, or throw yourself into a new adventure outside your comfort zone, remember to take moments to rest your body and mind.

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Your Time Is Now – Tomorrow is Never Guaranteed https://www.firstfinisher.com/tomorrow-is-never-guaranteed/ https://www.firstfinisher.com/tomorrow-is-never-guaranteed/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 15:17:54 +0000 https://www.firstfinisher.com/?p=2652 Today is yet another cold, misty morning and your over-sized silk comforter still begs for your attention. Your eyelashes flutter up and down, debating when they should permanently stay open. Rain drops caress onto your window sill, giving you an additional excuse to linger there, pitying yourself. You are content in this moment, besides the nagging […]

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Today is yet another cold, misty morning and your over-sized silk comforter still begs for your attention.

Your eyelashes flutter up and down, debating when they should permanently stay open.

Rain drops caress onto your window sill, giving you an additional excuse to linger there, pitying yourself.

You are content in this moment, besides the nagging pit of guilt residing in your stomach.

Today’s accomplishments still lie on a naked white piece of paper. Empty, bare, and vacant.

I could give you many reasons that will motivate you to stretch your achy feet to the floor and become a better athlete.

I could give you a compelling speech why you should endure the gut wrenching pain, to feel the tsunami of lactic acid infiltrating your muscles, to be uncomfortable in your own skin.

The inspirational persuasive speeches could range across a horizon of topics —toughness, success, passion.

But only one is scientifically proven.

Only one definite re-occurrence will happen, despite the circumstances.

Others reasons are flawed; they aren’t sincere. You probably will become mentally tough—but there is no guarantee. Become physically stronger—but it’s a coin toss.

And you  might always want to do something different with your time. Eat. Sleep.

The choices are endless and unpredictable.

But what if I told you I knew an option that is reliable.

An ancient secret from years ago that has been concealed—untouched.

Only a select few know of it. Only top athletes and performers understand, and appreciate its worth.

Here it goes.

Time passes faster than quicksand. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Click To Tweet

Okay, I apologize for the satire. You already know this secret—we all know it.

But no one lives by it. No one has tattooed this ‘secret’ on their chest; swearing to embrace every day with open arms and not letting another wasteful second trickle out of their time box.

Time does not stand still. It does not slow down, and it does not wait for you to catch up. It keeps ticking.

Tick. Another year goes by. You’re 21 years old, gripping a leather diploma in your right hand.

Tock. You’re 55, reading the Sunday newspaper with a steaming coffee slowly piercing your left hand.

Time vanishes, dissolving quicker than you could imagine. You’re sinking in the quicksand of your life.

Now is the time to be present, to do the extra repetition, to add the extra weight.

Because tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is no formal contract with your scribbled signature.

There is no knowledge of the future, no regret of the past.

The only time is now.

Tomorrow is not here yet, and yesterday is only a memory.

Push yourself beyond what you think is possible and then some.

Use every bone, every muscle in your body—every inch of your being to better yourself.

One more rep.
One more set.
Another day, not another regret.

Give it everything today, before it’s too late.

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Can’t Find Your Confidence? It’s Time to get Back to the Basics https://www.firstfinisher.com/back-to-the-basics/ https://www.firstfinisher.com/back-to-the-basics/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 12:09:13 +0000 https://www.firstfinisher.com/?p=2644 One mistake. Another mistake. A series of mistakes. Mistimed runs, missed shots, and countless turnovers. ​ One bad touch repeats itself the whole game. One negative thought multiplies. One bad session turns into five unproductive sessions. All until I am left thinking, “I don’t belong here.” My confidence is shattered and a new player suddenly […]

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One mistake. Another mistake. A series of mistakes.

Mistimed runs, missed shots, and countless turnovers.

One bad touch repeats itself the whole game. One negative thought multiplies.

One bad session turns into five unproductive sessions.

All until I am left thinking, “I don’t belong here.”

My confidence is shattered and a new player suddenly steps into my being.

Except this is a shy, timid player. Someone I’m not.

My memory of the player I was once is now blurry, vague and indistinguishable.

All these questions and new uncertainties begin to infiltrate my mind.

Why was I recruited?

What am I good at?

Do my teammates have faith in me?

This feeling leads me to a gloomy, ominous place filled with somber darkness.

With this mental state, I’m hesitant to be proactive in my movements.

I become hopeless in my mindset. I put my head down and I fear everything that’s going wrong, but never think of what could potentially go right.

If you’re any type of athlete or competitor, you too have been in this position before.

But your finger shouldn’t be pointed at your coaches, your parents or your teammates. This is your responsibility.

It’s your mind, your thoughts and your negativity dwelling on each mistake.

Many will say this state of mind isn’t healthy, but I would argue to the contrary.

This negativity can actually be somewhat productive in the development of an athlete. It shapes your mental infrastructure to overcome adversity. It tests your love for the game; what are you willing to go through to keep playing?

Is this feeling worth it?

The biggest test of character is your response to a loss of self-confidence.

If you have never experienced losing self-confidence, you don’t possess the mental toughness needed to weather through the worst storms yet to come.

When you’re in a drought, the only way to survive is to replenish your self-esteem.

You can’t focus on doing every tiny, incremental thing right. Go back to the basics and do you what you do well.

If you’re quick, be quicker. If you’re strong, be tenacious. If you’re a great teammate, show your energy and voice your positivity.

You have to start back at square one. You have to go back to where it all begin; to what got you recruited, to what first caught your coach’s eye,and to what brought you here to the next level.

Because you are here.

You are at the next level and you deserve to be here. It’s no coincidence that you have made it this far. People might have doubted you, people might have
put the odds against you; but you have already exceeded expectations of your family, friends and old coaches.

You have already made a lasting impression.

The only person you can do this for now is yourself and nobody else.

Counteract the distorted self-deprecation. Forget every single mistake you previously made.

Go back and remember the countless times you struck the ball the proper way, made three-pointers look effortless or threw the game-winning touchdown.

Reminisce on the feeling of goose bumps running along your arm; remember the feeling of euphoria.

The post-game showers that leave you with a rush of relief, a content smile draped across your face and a longing for this feeling to never end.

It starts with one positive catalyst—that quickly dominoes. With each domino you knock over, you lose one fear.

You’re no longer scared and you’ve regained the belief you once had in yourself.

The courage you once had.  And most of all, you regained the assurance in your ability that you do, indeed, deserve to be here.

That is confidence. This is your time.

Don’t let your own mind take that away from you.

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The Zone: Where You Discover How to Live https://www.firstfinisher.com/the-zone-where-you-discover-how-to-live/ https://www.firstfinisher.com/the-zone-where-you-discover-how-to-live/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:07:34 +0000 https://www.firstfinisher.com/?p=2632 I would be lying if I said soccer didn’t change my life. I’ve been playing for the past 15 years. 15 years of sacrifice, sweat, blood, and of course—many inevitable tears. But why have I continued for so long? Everyone continues on for different reasons. Some people choose to keep playing for the love of the game. Some […]

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I would be lying if I said soccer didn’t change my life.

I’ve been playing for the past 15 years. 15 years of sacrifice, sweat, blood, and of course—many inevitable tears.

But why have I continued for so long?

Everyone continues on for different reasons.

Some people choose to keep playing for the love of the game.

Some thrive on the feeling of accomplishment, challenge, and perseverance.

All those are justifiable reasons to dedicate such a large portion of your childhood to a competitive sport that could or couldn’t potentially take you to the next level—but my reasoning is a little different than the others.

It’s something called “The Zone.”

An addictive feeling  that overwhelms your being when you are completely invested in something you love.

You allow your flustered mind to mentally escape from reality.

Your focus is narrowly driven for x amount of minutes—and for those x amount of minutes, nothing else in the world matters.

You could be heartbroken, sad, angry, or upset—but in that minute, and in that moment, you have one goal: to win.

Your mindset shifts from school deadlines and relationship problems to solving tactical problems on the field and wondering when your legs will mold into bricks.

The emotions eating away at your heart are not of the last heartbreak, but of the devastation you endured the last time you lost to this team.

And now its time for sweet revenge, and there’s nothing that could hinder your chance at success.

I thrive on this control in my life. I crave the endorphins flourishing through my veins.

For 90 minutes, my only obligation is to have the right mindset and a clear mind.

But here is what they don’t put in that pretty, well decorated pamphlet that advertises division one college soccer.

You won’t love every second of it. You will go insane at one point and you will question everything.

It’s a constant grind and you will hate it at times.

You’re naive if you think tears won’t come streaming down your face because you might not be good enough.

You might not be strong enough.

And you just might not be there yet.

Where is there?

“There” is when you can comfortably love every second playing this sport because you have clocked in your hours and survived the journey.

Now you are enjoying the aftermath of it all. You have done your role, checked “college soccer” off your bucket list.

15 years later, it’s your senior year and in three months it will all be over.

17 years of playing soccer. 17 years of it all—and in three months your senior season will be over.

You are just now loving everything that is thrown at you because in a blink of an eye, it will all be over.

Soon you will be a washed up athlete, gaining weight by just breathing and stressing about how you will pay next month’s rent.

“There” is sometimes hard to mentally grasp, but don’t ever underestimate the value of time.

The thought of time is hypothetical and abstract.

It can never be grasped as something concrete or tangible, but it is the realest feeling you will ever experience.

The passing of time and the memories you make each day will live with you forever.

At times years feel like days, months feel like hours, and hours feel like seconds.

Don’t let time deceive you into failing to live up to your potential, not embracing every opportunity, and most importantly—fool you into having regrets.

Indulge now.

Indulge in every workout, every game, and every moment you get to spend
with your teammates.

Crave to conquer the hard times, and relish in the moments of pure success, and never let the slightest bit of raw emotions take away from your love of the game.

I would be lying if I said soccer didn’t change my life. In two years my hours will be clocked, my jersey will be retired and my career will be left on paper.

15 years later—here I am, still playing for me.

But you aren’t me.

Write your own story and create your own reasons to transform your body, mind, and life.

Whatever sport you love, physical activity you crave, or anything that entices endorphins inside your body while draping a smile across your face, do it.

Immerse yourself in “The Zone” and embark on a new journey and take a risk before time takes away this extraordinary life from you.

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Never Regret Trying Your Best – Eternal Wisdom of Brett Favre https://www.firstfinisher.com/never-regret-trying-your-best/ https://www.firstfinisher.com/never-regret-trying-your-best/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 15:43:31 +0000 https://www.firstfinisher.com/?p=2617 I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and in our state the Green Bay Packers are religion. On football Sundays every city around turns into a ghost town while we all tune in to cheer on the Green and Gold. Growing up, my first memories of watching the Packers were of Quarterback, Brett Favre – […]

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I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and in our state the Green Bay Packers are religion. On football Sundays every city around turns into a ghost town while we all tune in to cheer on the Green and Gold.

Growing up, my first memories of watching the Packers were of Quarterback, Brett Favre – the gunslinger from Mississippi who played the game with an unmatched renegade and sometimes reckless style.

No matter if the team won or lost Brett Favre would always leave you wondering  “how the hell did he just do that?” and/or “why the hell did he just do that?”

Favre is not only one of the best players to ever play the game, but he was one of the most exciting and enjoyable to watch.

On Saturday, August 6th 2016 Brett Favre was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and secured his spot as a legend.

While accepting his induction, Favre gave one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard.

His speech was a lot like his career – unscripted, passionate, and you never knew when it was going to end.

It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me reflect on a lot of important things in my own life.

However, two stories Brett told resonated with me more than any of the others.

I want to share those with you, and hopefully inspire some reflection of your own life.

For about the first fifteen minutes of his speech, before even mentioning a word about his time in the NFL, the championships, the records, Favre talked exclusively about his family.

This  brings me to the first important lesson in Favre’s speech.

Family is everything.

I needed no reminder of this, but I think far too often some people do.

On the pursuit of greatness, scratching and clawing to get to get the top, and chasing enormous goals,people sometimes forget what’s most important in life.

And that’s the people we love and share the journey with.

Because the worst possible endgame I could imagine is achieving all your hopes and dreams and finding yourself standing on the top of the mountain alone.

When I first started my own career, I found myself with an opportunity of a lifetime, making more money than I knew what to do with, and the world at my fingertips.

I would constantly be told how lucky I was, life couldn’t get any better, that I was living in paradise.

And you know what, I was miserable, depressed, and hated every second of the day.

I was in a place I didn’t want to be, alone, and without purpose.

I tried everything in my power to climb out of this darkness, but nothing worked.

It wasn’t until I got back to my family, to a city I loved, with people who meant the world to me that I was able to begin to heal my wounds and find my purpose in life.

There’s much more to this story I’ll tell in the course of First Finisher.

But I believe without family, without the people you love and who love you, your endeavors in life will be empty.

When life hits you the hardest, you WILL fall without a team by your side.

So on your journey, whatever it is you hope to achieve, do it together with those you love, never take them for granted, and make every second count.

The other lesson I want to share from Favre came from something he said towards the end of speech.

“Don’t ever regret trying your best”.

When I watched the teary eyed Favre repeat this line a few times, these words cemented themselves in my soul.

Because there’s going to be times in life when you do everything in your power to succeed, yet you will fail.

There will be moments where murphy’s law keeps beating you down no matter how hard you try.

And there will be moments when you feel like giving up.

These moments will be the hardest of your life and make you feel worse than anything else you’ve ever experienced.

Times like these will either make you or destroy you, and a big part your ability to persevere comes from knowing you tried your best.

There’s an unbeatable feeling of power knowing you put your entire soul into something that matters to you.

When you half-ass your mission, fail to put in 100%, that’s not the will of a champion.

Champions pour their heart into every single second of every single day no matter how big or small the endeavor.

And knowing you did… builds a mindset of “I will not be denied”.

You may have setbacks and fall down, but you will always get back up and eventually you will succeed.

In the end your effort is the only thing in life you can 100% control.

Don’t ever forget Favre’s eternal words, never regret trying your best.

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If You Have A Body You Are An Athlete https://www.firstfinisher.com/if-you-have-a-body-you-are-an-athlete/ https://www.firstfinisher.com/if-you-have-a-body-you-are-an-athlete/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:04:54 +0000 https://www.firstfinisher.com/?p=2487 Over his career, legendary Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman, trained 31 Olympic athletes,51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions and 16 sub-4 minute milers. During his 24 years as coach at the University of Oregon, the Ducks track and field team had winning season every season but one, and won 4 national championships. But even […]

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Over his career, legendary Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman, trained 31 Olympic athletes,51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions and 16 sub-4 minute milers.

During his 24 years as coach at the University of Oregon, the Ducks track and field team had winning season every season but one, and won 4 national championships.

But even with this remarkable list of achievements coach Bowerman’s influence and excellence transcended sports.

Along with Phil Knight, Bowerman was one of the co-founders of Blue Ribbons Sports, or as you might know it today, NIKE.

His obsession for improving the function and efficiency of running shoes inspired the first products that set the young Oregon start-up on its way to world dominance.

Out of the endless sums of wisdom one can derive from Bowerman, one quote has always resonated with me above all the others.

When coach was talking about creating the best running shoes on earth to be used not only by his elite athletes but any regular runner who wanted to buy them, he said “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

For myself, these words encompass the importance of sports and competition in our lives.

I think far too often we associate the word athlete with a professional athlete.

If you’re reading this, I assume you practice, train, or compete in some type of sport whether it’s organized sports, weight lifting, CrossFit, tennis , golf – you name it.

Whatever it is, you are an athlete and for each of us being an athlete means something  different but equally as important.

Because in your given playing field, in your arena, you define who are.

Now, I’m not saying you are defined by the success you have in a sport or that the level of expertise you reach equates to to the level of achievement you reach in other aspects of your life.

Save that thinking and responsibility for the pros.

What I’m talking about is something much deeper than that.

Sports help you discover how much work you’re willing to put in, how much pain your willing  to take, and how far your body and mind are willing to go.

Being an athlete sets the tone for every other aspect of your life.

It exposes your heart and soul.

It magnifies the amount of blood,sweat, and tears you’re willing to put into your mission.

More so, being an athlete breeds a sense competition our society so desperately lacks these days.

And I don’t mean competition against someone else or another team.

No, I’m talking about the competition that matters the most, and that’s you.

Because for 99.99% of us there will always be someone else in the world who can lift more weight, who can bring in more sales, is better looking, makes more money, accomplishes a greater feat.

You see, what sports have taught me, and can teach anyone, is something essential to living a fulfilling life.

And that is, “we’re either growing or dying.” ( A quote from the other founder of NIKE, Phil Knight)

In sports, you’re either getting better or worse.

In your career you’re either creating more value or you’re not.

In your relationships you’re either building each other up or your tearing each other down.

At the most basic of human levels and whatever your purpose in this world is…you’re either making the world a better place or you’re not.

So the next time you walk into the arena think about that.

Are you growing or are you dying?Click To Tweet

Ask this question when you drive up to the office tomorrow morning, at dinner with your wife or husband, while you’re laying in bed at night wondering why the hell you’re on this planet.

My parting words to you are this:

Be proud of being an athlete.

Reflect on all the ways it’s improved your life and made you a better person.

For me, its one of the defining aspects of my own life and something I will never take for granted.

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