The White Man Jump Challenge continues. I'm now one week into the Advanced Phase of the Strength Shoe training program and the net gain to my vertical leap is currently at just over two inches.
I know. It seems like a rather modest gain for almost two and a half months worth of three-days-a-week workouts. But it's a gain nonetheless. And I have to tell you, even though I'm only jumping a couple inches higher, the training has improved my game in ways that I didn't originally anticipate. I haven't measured my foot speed, but I can tell you that my first step is faster and I'm breaking to the hoop with greater force and authority. Some of that is psychological -- I've become more aggressive off the dribble to test the results of my training -- but some of it is physical as well. I'm getting by and around people easier than I was. I'm finishing stronger.
The funny thing is, my game had been regressing for some time without me realizing it. That is, I had been shooting from distance more and more and driving less and less. Naturally, I had been making excuses for the change in style -- the lane was too clogged, the floor was too dusty, my defender was just going to foul me anyway, etc. -- but in reality I had lost a step and simply had no idea. I wasn't really choosing not to drive. I couldn't. Not as often or as easily, anyway. But now I'm getting that quickness back. I have to admit, that has me pretty juiced up. (Conversely, realizing my physical skills had been deteriorating without notice was somewhat alarming. I definitely had an "Oh my God I've become Antoine Walker!" moment. And let me tell you, that's a terrible moment to have.)
There are, however, some downsides I should probably mention. Technically speaking, I'm overtraining. The program suggests at least a full day (24 hours) of rest between each workout, but I've been lifting, running, biking and/or playing basketball on my "off days" (except Friday). I can't help it; I just don't want to give those things up. The side-effect is that my legs are sore and tired pretty much all the time. I've tried to address this by hydrating, eating right (most of the time), hitting the hot tub at my gym, bathing with Epsom salts, rigorous stretching, self-massage...I've even gotten a handful of actual massages from a professional masseuse (no happy endings, though, so don't ask). These measures help, to be sure, but not so much so that I can feel totally recovered without taking a couple days off from any kind of intense physical activity. This has introduced a rather interesting paradox: I feel both great AND like crap at the same time. Weird, huh?
There's another downside to the overtraining: Based on everything I've read, it's likely retarding my overall progress. It's possible, even probable, that I might have gained even more than two inches of increased leaping ability had I strictly adhered to the program's rest guidelines. But what can I do? I'm not going to stop living my life and pursuing my other goals just so I can jump higher. Maybe the pros have recovery secretes I haven't heard of. Who knows.