For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Subway Chubway

On a couple hour return drive from visiting family over christmas i stopped at Subway restaurant with my boys.  With their brilliant marketing campaign they had earned a place in my subconsciousness for THE 'healthy' place to get fast food - or at least fastish food.  Now normally it takes a pretty extreme circumstance to shatter these notions that have worked their way into this level of our psyche - after all they were put there by years of subliminal associations and subtle, unchallenged suggestions (isn't modern advertising great?!).  But when i walked into that Subway and every single one of the three clerks and 10 lunch time patrons weighed more than me and my two sons (4 and 7) combined, the truth was too hard to ignore.  It's moments like that which leave me - typically an eternal optimist - a bit less than hopeful that we're gaining much traction at all in this national health epidemic of ours.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Facebook - Camp IV on a global scale

Yosemite's Camp 4 and the infamous Midnight Lightning boulder problem at it's center.
For a few people reading this the title of the post could stand alone.  For those that haven't experienced the wonder of Camp IV - i'll explain.

Camp IV is the name climbers give to the walk in tent camp-ground in Yosemite valley that they seem to populate almost exclusively.  If Yosemite Valley has somewhat of a mecca status in climbing culture then Camp IV is it's heart.  I've travelled there a number of times but only once after i had started to break into that upper echelon in climbing's hierarchy and become a bit of a climbing bad ass myself.

It was brutal.

Badasses of Camp 4
There were maybe 500+ climbers hanging out there.  Lots of new-bies or recreational climbers just doing standard routes*.  A bunch of aspiring big wall climbers with their sights set on the Nose or some other trade-route* up El Capitan, one of the most famous cliffs in the world.  But i was in the select group that had done the moderate standards and the trade routes.  I was eyeing the test pieces* - the climbs that define a climber as someone special - and i was actually able to start doing them.

So what was the problem?  Well, every night when i'd come back down in to Camp IV from one of these epic, climb of a lifetime efforts and want to rest and regale others with my exploits, i'd be faced with a dozen or more stories from others in the same boat as me.  All of camp IV seemed to be making ambitions plans for bold ascents and what had felt like a tremendous accomplishment as i'd been hiking down from the cliff hours before quickly felt less than noteworthy.

In later reflecting on this phenomenon i realized what was happening.  I was unconsciously adding all the accomplishments of dozens of gifted and driven climbers to a single resume and then mentally comparing my own resume to that of this "Pseuper-man**".  I always felt lame.

Now-a-days Facebook is my Camp IV.  My news feed is populated with pictures of beautiful places and stories of exciting adventures and epic training sessions.  As i scroll through it my psyche seems to automatically begin disparaging itself with the unconscious notion that i'm just not doing enough.  Before i know it i feel lame again - i'm not doing anything cool, not going anyplace awesome, and definitely not training/racing hard enough.  Why can't i be more like this Pseuper-man?

Of course i know he/she doesn't exist - but this conscious thought only has power when i hold it in my attention, and i've got no time for that.  When i was in Yosemite and I recognized what was going on i had to escape or i was going to get hurt or die trying to compete (or at least climbing was going to stop being fun). So my brother and i caught a bus out of the Valley to Merced and hung out with its small town people and walked around its small town streets for a couple of days until we felt like bad asses again.

The Rostrum, A Yosemite Valley test-piece.
It's getting close to that point again.  So I'm going to check the schedule for the next e-train out of FaceBook land to Grand Forks central to spend a bit of time hanging out with my small town friends, training at my small town YMCA, and sledding with my small boys at our small sled hill.

Don't worry, i'll be back, and i'm sure i'll tell you all about it on Facebook.

*For those not climbers, here is a fitness based comparison that will make some of the climbing terms more accessible - the standard routes in Yosemite are like running a marathon.  Climbing a trade-route is like qualifying for Boston - takes some dedication and talent - not just anyone can do it, but it is still a pretty big group.  The test pieces?  Now we're talking sub 3 Hr. marathon.  Yeah, there are still numbers in this group but they are getting smaller (for example less than 2% of marathoners run a sub 3 - and less than 1% of people run a marathon to begin with....)

**Neology in action.  If you use my word, just make sure to credit my brilliance and pay per use royalties.  Thanks.
A sub 3 hour marathoner.  Pretty elite!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cooperation takes time...

Cooperation doesn't always come easy - but with patience, persistence, and determination, it does come eventually.

I'm pleased to announce that it gastro-intestinal tract is finally cooperating with my rather absurd training schedule.  The past few times i've headed in to the gym to punish myself unrelentingly for 10 minutes my bowels have decided to kindly remind that everything goes better all around when they are empty - totally empty - at the outset of my efforts.  My brain stem has reflexively sent peristalsis waves (or whatever the process is) to my gut a few moments before I get on the treadmill or bike which delays the start of my workout a minute or two but also helps 'eliminate' (pun intended) problems during or after it - both of which had frequently occurred in the past.  Awesome.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eating issues

Yumm...... soggy cereal!
I'm pretty normal in that i'm the product of my past.  And when it comes to my current diet and the psychological way i view eating - i'm no exception.

My first memory regarding my views on eating is from the 80's - those 'save the children' commercials featuring skin and bones kids across the ocean.  I was moved.  I vowed never to take food for granted.

Fast forward to college.  I was lucky enough to be on an academic scholarship that included a stipend for room and board.  I was smart and thrifty so i moved into the cheapest place i could find with a bunch of guys and ate all the free food a college campus could offer.  When i wasn't eating free food i was buying groceries based on value in terms of maximizing calories per dollar.  I hardly ever ate out - money that could be spent on gas to climbing destinations or crucial pieces of (very expensive gear) could not be spent on such extravagances.  I became thrifty.

During those college years and the years following, I became a climbing bum.  I learned to scavenge.  I learned that licking out my bowl provided a few extra calories - something a body starved from 16 hours of straight climbing for the third day desperately needed.  I stopped wasting food - even scraps.

Now, over 15 years later - all of these elements still have a place in my life.  Thrift still allows me to follow my passions.  Appreciating food has led me to become more educated in how it supports my pursuits as a recreational endurance athlete.  And not wasting food - well that has been hard to shake.

Which only recently has become a problem - as the three half finished bowls of soggy cereal my two boys (yeah, i know, i should only give 'em each one bowl...) have left on the breakfast table stare me in the face, waiting to be dumped down the garbage disposal. Because, well, I am the garbage disposal.

Back when i was training 3 hours a week this wasn't as much of an issue.  But these days my reduced total calorie expenditure from exercise is little match for the fickle and fluctuating appetites of my growing boys and i seem to be putting on a few pounds.

Or maybe it's just winter, who knows.

Either way it's going to-----

Oops, sorry, going to have to cut it short - AJ just 'finished' lunch and three-quarters of a cheese quesadilla is calling my name.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bike workouts for MBF plan

During the 2010 AH135. Brings perspective
to my 10 minutes of weekly suffering....

A few posts ago i laid out my minute by minute plan for my MBF swim workouts - here's what i'm doing on the bike.  Motivation on the bike is easy in the face of the Arrowhead135 - if i don't feel like really digging deep at the outset i just remind myself that if i can't bury myself for 10 minutes in the controlled atmosphere of the gym i'm not going to stand a chance for the 22.5 hours (or so) i'm planning to bury myself during the race.  I probably don't stand a chance anyway, but that is another matter.  Anyway, here are the details:

[Note, to avoid doing three short interval workouts back to back I start this week with the med. intervals and cycle through from there.  I'm mostly using a Precor stationary bike, a UBK 835 model from 2011 i think.  I control consistency between workouts by using levels and RPM data.  RI stands for rest interval, WI for work interval]
  • Workout 1 (med intervals) - 1:2 interval program for 10 minutes.  
    • Min 0 - 0:57, level 7, 90+ RPM
    • Min 0:57 - 2:51,  level 14, 90+ RPM
    • Min 2:51 - 3:48, level 4, 90+ RPM
    • Min 3:48 - 5:42, level 14, 90+ RPM.  When this becomes easy, I'll begin doing 30 second increments of the second WI at level 15.
    • Min 5:42 - 6:39, level 4 again
    • Min 6:39 - 8:32, level 14, 90+ RPM 
    • Min 8:32 - 9:31, level 4, 90+ RPM
    • Min 9:31-10:00, level 15, 90+ RPM
  • Workout 2 (single interval) - 10 minute distance trial, hill program.  I set the hill program so that it begins at level 7 and tops out at lvl 22.
    • Min 0-0:57 - level 7
    • Min 0:57 - 1:54 - level 12
    • Min 1:54 - 3:48 - level 16
    • Min 3:48 - 6:11 - level 20
    • Min 6:11 - 8:05 - level 22
    • Min 8:05 - 9:03 - level 20
    • Min 9:03 - 10:00 - level 16
  • Workout 3 (short intervals):  1:1 interval program for 10 minutes
    • Min 0-0:57 level 7 90+ RPM (warm up)
    • Min 0:57-1:54 level 15 90+ RPM
    • Min 1:54 - 2:51 lvl 4 90+ RPM
    • Min 2:51-3:48 lvl 15 90+ RPM
    • Min 3:48 - 4:45 lvl 4 again
    • Min 4:45 - 5:42 lvl 15, 90+
    • Min 5:42 - 6:39, lvl 4 90+
    • Min 6:39 - 7:36 lvl 15, 90+
    • Min 7:36 - 8:33 lvl 4, 90+
    • Min 8:33 - 9:31 lvl 15, 90+ ROM
    • Min 9:31-10:00 lvl 4 (warm down)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Unexplored Spaces

A recent WSJ article profiled new research that makes the following claims -
Opinion is nearly unanimous among cardiologists that endurance athletics significantly increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmia that is estimated to be the cause of one third of all strokes. "Chronic extreme exercise appears to cause excessive 'wear-and-tear' on the heart," the editorial says.
In some ways it's not surprising to me.  The research also tries to tie high intensity exercise to eventual health problems.  While any new research is bound to cause controversy, the authors seem pretty confident they are on to something.  Does it make sense?  I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the future so i'll wait for a bit before i weigh in.

Either way, it seems that what i'm doing occupies a sort of 'unexplored space'.  I do a few big events but don't chronically exercise like most endurance athletes.  I train super hard, but for extremely short durations.  When is the damage done?  If it is during times when you push the heart very briefly to extremes, then maybe i'm screwed, because i'm certainly doing more of that than just about anyone else.  But if it is when the heart works pretty hard for hours upon hour, then i'm going to live damn near forever, something that might make me pretty unique among the group of crazy folks that do ultra endurance events.  Maintainable Base Fitness!  Yeah baby!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dabbling in Crossfit (learning to listen)

I would have had a fantastically pleasant thanksgiving with family at my in-laws lake cabin in Minnesota - four days filled with hours of  food, game playing and conversation.  Would have, were it not for my evil brother in law and seven minutes of crossfit.

Yep, seven minutes.

You see, Tom - the brother in law - has been doing cross fit (CF) over the last year or so in an effort to get in better shape.  And as it turns out, cross-fitters don't take thanksgiving off.  The work out of the day, or WOD in CF terms for Nov. 22nd was 7 minutes of Burpees.

Tom came in from the garage declaring that he had managed 80, far short of his 100 burpee goal.  His pretty fit 10 year old son took up the challenge and managed 88.  Then the peer pressure started.

I started out strong, 20 in the first minute.  then 15 the next.  I paused to rest then realized that i wouldn't really be able to rest long enough to get anything back.  But i know how to push through things.  I know how to find the maximum pace i can sustain and just buck up and ignore the pain.  I know how to tell that central governor who's boss.

three and a half minutes in my triceps and shoulders were cramping and spasming.  I modified my form to minimize the use of my arms (yes, it is possible to do a burpee without really bending them, although it requires a fair bit of writhing) and kept plugging away - damn you central governor i'm not stopping!  I'm the charge and don't you forget it!  As expected the mental challenge diminished with the time remaining.  I was drenched in sweat.  My insides were squirrely.  One minute left - go go go! The governor always quiets down in the home stretch.

I managed 105 burpees.  I was proud of myself.  Looking at the reports from all the other CFers that had spent seven minutes of turkey day in an exercise of prostration, 105 seemed a pretty good score.  In fact, it is tantalizingly close to the 107.33 burpees in seven minutes that would be required to claim "off by 50 status" in this event (the record, as far as i can find, is 161 burpees) - not bad without any formal training.

The wake up call didn't come until two days later, on saturday morning.  I felt like someone had snuck into my room and punched me in the ribs all night.  My intercostal muscles were in agony - swollen and inflamed. My shoulders and triceps and upper pectorals were super tender to the touch.  It hurt everytime i moved.  It made me realize that with my new found power to exert control over my central governor comes great responsibility - i need to know when to use it - sometimes listening  might not be such a bad idea.

It's now monday and the pain is almost gone. Three days of debilitating pain might be a trade i'm willing to make for being able to push hard and finish well in an ultra marathon or 3 day adventure race.  I'm not so sure it is a fair trade for me for 7 minutes of burpees though.

That being said, it's never as bad the second time (is it?) and i do only have to beat my last attempt by 3 burpees.  So i guess i better start planning my next attempt.   truth be told - i've never been that fond of  listening anyway (:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

second helpings

Alison Kelly during END-TOMBED
During a fat bike ride yesterday with my to-be Arrowhead partner, Grant and another friend, Alison, i found myself treated to another generous helping of doubt - my second in as many weeks.

Back at home after the ride my wife, Tammy, commented that she wasn't sure that what i was doing (training one hour a week) was going to cut it this time.

I can't deny that i found myself asking some tough questions.

"Why the hell am i doing this?" for starters.

Tammy would say i'm stubborn.  Which of course is true, but there's more too it than that.  Interestingly enough - all this doubt actually fuels my drive.  Not because I want to prove anyone wrong - but rather because it points to the fact that the outcome of this thing - my attempt to ride the Arrowhead 135 in one push and, with reasonable conditions, go under 24 hours - is highly uncertain if not downright improbable.

And at least for me, it is uncertainty that is compelling above all other things.  I know i can ride 135 miles through deep winter in the wilderness of minnesota if i prioritize it in a way that allows for more significant training.  It would't be a sure thing of course, but i'd bet that even if the conditions were so bad on a given year that only 20% of the bikers finished, I'd be among them.  Based on my 2010 performance on 3 hours a week i'm pretty sure i could go under 24 if i trained harder too.  My goal this time around, however, often just seems simply absurd.

And the beauty of it (for me anyway) is that it really might be just that.  I might not stand a chance.

So when Tammy suggested that maybe i should train more to make sure i could finish the race I just shook my head.

To which she replied - "but you don't even know if you can make it on such little training."


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Pain Cave vs. Suffer Mountain

Jason and Chelsey of team Yogaslackers have are busy.  They are running around the country teaching acroyoga workshops, trying to raise money for a charity as part of their participation in the Rickshaw Rally (a two week adventure across India) and planning their return to the hardest adventure race in the world next February, the Patagonian Expedition race, where they've finished just shy of the top spot (2nd and 3rd) in the last two editions.  Seeing as how the latter comes so quickly on the heels of all the former and considering that they really really want to be on the podium again this time around, one might naturally ask the question - how in the world are they going to train for that?

Well, because they are so busy they've asked me to sort of train them - to use my experience with preparing for long efforts with high intensity training to give them some workouts that will provide maximum payoff. They have so much experience with expedition length racing that they aren't worried about the mental side at all - but they do want to go into the race faster than they've ever been before.  I've agreed and have started giving them 10 minute workouts to do two or three times a week.  They are going to keep doing longer efforts as well, with the caveat that they have to limit their other activity if it prevents them from making progress in the 10 minute workouts on a weekly basis.

Suffer Mountain - always pretty from a distance

A real life pain cave
They are now on their second week and Jason has reported back that he already appreciates how much being inside is critical in making short, super intense efforts possible on a continual basis.  In thinking about this (i've written about it in passing before), i've decided to describe this phenomenon with another one of my famous analogies - the pain cave vs. suffer mountain.

For me, the pain cave is just that - a cave.  The deeper I go into the cave, the more distractions I take away, the greater the potential I have of finding that pain.  Being inside - out of the wind and rain, warmed by a nice fire in the middle of the cave - it is easier to go deeper.  If i've got 10 minutes to pour myself into a workout, and i want that workout to be performed at maximum physical intensity on a regular basis - i need those distractions removed.  Yeah, once in a while i can head out to the track or have an epic tire drag session through the park - but three times a week?  Not a chance.  My body and mind will respond to all the new variables - the temperature, the wind, etc - and that little man in charge - the central governor, will have a better argument as to why he can't let me push quite that hard - and i'll believe it.  But by eliminating as many of the variables as possible, I can focus more directly on the sensations that matter - my breathing, my heart rate, the lactic acid building in my muscles, and that little voice in my head that is always questioning whether i can keep doing what i'm doing. So when the goal is maximal physical effort - or as close as i can get - into the cave i go. 

Suffer Mountain - usually not so pretty up close
On the flip side is the suffering of long endurance events.  This, for me, is like climbing a mountain.  It is the mental challenge of 'getting through' the point where you've begun your monumental task - previously just considered while sipping coffee in front of a laptop in cozy armchair - and first properly recognize its actual scope.  Its the realization that the moment that is held in the mind - the end result - is the culmination of many hours of moments, many of which may entail much suffering.  At times the climbing may be fine and the sun shining - but if the mountain is really a mountain, it's virtually guaranteed that you'll won't make it up before the afternoon storms.  And if it's my kind of mountain, it'll take at least a night spent in 'less than ideal' conditions. 

I don't usually do events unless i know they are going to involve a good bit of time on suffer mountain.  Interestingly, i'm now doing all my training deep in the pain cave, from which the mountains aren't even visible.  But i have of course spent many days, weeks, or even months on suffer mountain's slopes, and my familiarity with them (hopefully) enables me to spend my time preparing for my next 'climb' more efficiently and focused, neanderthal style. 

Occasionally you even find caves on suffer mountain.  They are rarely warm or big enough to train in though..... Jason and Chelsey during our 2010 'too much fun' expedition.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Swim workouts for MBF one hour a week plan

Darren Miller during 2012 END-WET (27 mile river swim).  The event is my swim goal for 2013.  
Thought i'd provide some details about what exactly i'm doing in my one hour each week.  The earlier post laid out the basic form of my training schedule but left out the specifics.  I've also changed the schedule slightly - i'm still doing three 10 minute workouts a week (one swim, one bike, one run) but instead of having the longer weekend workout alternate between these three, i'm going to always make the longer workout a bike ride.  The apparent absurdity of trying to do the arrowhead135 in under 24 hours on what would have amounted to 1 hour of biking every 3 weeks finally got to me. It seems much more reasonable to make the attempt on what will now be 2 hours of biking every three weeks - don't you think?

But i'm getting ahead of myself - this post will focus on the three different 10 minute swim workouts that currently form my three week rotation.  I'll do one workout each monday afternoon, starting them over once i've hit em all, and always trying (but not always succeeding) to improve my performance from the identical workout three weeks prior.  After 12 weeks (4 cycles), i intend to change the interval schemes a bit to keep from stagnating. 
  • Workout 1 (short intervals):  Main set - 6 x 50 yards, @ 35 sec; leaving every 45 sec.  
    • Min 0-3:00 - 200 yd warm-up/cruising tempo
    • Min 3:00-3:30 - rest
    • Min 3:30-8:00 - Main set
    • Min 8:00 - 8:30 - rest
    • Min 8:30-10:00 - 100 yd warm down/cruising tempo
    • Total - 10 min, 600 yards
  • Workout 2 (med intervals): Main set - 3 x 200 yds, @ 2:30 - 2:35, leaving every 3:00 
    • Min 0-9 - main set
    • Min 9-10 - 50 yard warm down
    • Total - 10 min, 650 yards
  • Workout 3 (single interval):  Main set - 500 yard time trial
    • Min 0-1:30 - 100 yd warm up, cruising tempo
    • Min 1:30-2:30 rest
    • Min 2:30 - 9+ 500 yd time trial (usually takes between 6:30 - 6:40
    • Min 9:0-10:00 Warm down
    • Total - 10 min, 650 yards

Monday, November 5, 2012


My doppelganger facing his own doubt during END-TOMBED

I decided to finally break in the fat bike yesterday and went out to put in a lap of the END-TOMBED course with the guy i'll be riding the arrowhead with, Grant Mehring.  The trails were covered in 3-4 inches of wet and sloppy snow - slick mud underneath.  Made for interesting and challenging riding.

The 10.7 mile lap - which was done in under 54 minutes by the fastest 'fat biker' during the race - took us a little over an hour**, albeit under much tougher conditions.  I wasn't so much worried about the time as i was by how easily Grant passed me or pulled ahead on the open sections of the course, and by the unexpected fatigue i experienced in my triceps and arms.  Ouch.  And that was only an hour.  If my arms begin cramping and my triceps misfiring, i may not be able to control my bike very well a quarter of the way into the race I'm training for, the Arrowhead 135. 

It will be interesting to see what the Arrowhead brings in terms of bodily destruction, and whether i'm able to cope with it and keep moving forward at a reasonable enough speed to meet the 24 hour mark.  But i've decided to maintain my confidence in the project and push away any and all doubts about my ability to succeed at the given task.  Because while i'm experienced enough to know that confidence is not a sufficient condition for success, I'm also experienced enough to know that it is a necessary one. 

**for those keeping track and wondering, hey - how can you ride for over an hour if you're only working out an hour each week?! Occasionally i will work out less than an hour on one week and slide the difference to the next week, allowing for a longer workout.  I've done this from the beginning (way back in 3 Hrs a week days) and plan to continue to do it with this new ultra-low volume schedule - my current plan is to do 60 minutes on week 1, 30 minutes on week 2, then 90 minutes on week on week 3, before repeating. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The men's health dilemma (a problem of equilibrium)

I'm thinking about sending a pitch to Men's Health magazine about some of my ideas and was checking out their online magazine.  They have lots of awesome pictures of really fit, smolderingly handsome dudes right below catchy titles like "learn the training secrets for going harder and longer."

First of all, there are no secrets.  Our culture has painted a picture for us in that we are led to believe that those images represent not only an attainable state (some of us may be able to get kinda close so this isn't an outright lie) but also a maintainable one. While this picture may not represent reality - the images sure are inspiring!

But is inspiration enough?  After all, most of us not only want to get there, we want to STAY there.  Inspiration is a short term motivator for most - encouraging us to start the journey from where we are to where we think we want to be.  And this journey is such a necessary first step, most folks never stop to think what will happen once they arrive and instead actually assume that just getting there is going to be the hard part.  

Wanna look these guys?  If you're you're like most people reading men's health - it'll take lots of work and dedication but you might be able to kinda close - at least a lot closer than when you started.  Just buy one of those $100+ workout programs,  Insanity, P90X, or whatever else comes next. You know, the programs that claim to be revolutionary but are really just a repackaging** (see below) of the well known and easy to guarantee wisdom of "work your ass off and you will get fitter" (in full HD and explained by superhunks, of course).  And if you follow one of these programs, or any program that requires consistent hard work - you'll change and get fit (ripped, huge, faster, stronger, sexy, chiseled, capable, develop stamina, etc etc).

Staying that way is another matter.  Our modern lives rarely require the level of activity that leads to fitness being a state of stable equilibrium.  Maintaining Fitness - particularly a high levels of fitness - is like putting that stack of those P90X DVD's on your head and keeping them there.  As soon as you get tired of all that focus and attention, down it goes.  Sure, you can pick it up again and put it back up there - but then you're right back to devoting a fair bit of your attention to the task of finding this balance.  It is easier of course if you have a lifestyle that supports fitness (like the 63 year old Lindsay Gauld, a bike courier who recently won my 12 hour bike race against top athletes 30 years younger), but lets face it, precious few of us can make this claim.

For those of us with more sedentary occupations, it is never going to be easy - and the loftier your aspirations, the higher that stack on your head becomes.  Now if you're waiting for me to explain how i've solved these problems you're going to keep waiting.  I'm not.  Fitness, particularly the level of fitness that is peddled in our media and magazines, represents an unstable equilibrium.  That's just the way it is and barring a paradigm shift (either internally or externally produced) it is gonna stay that way.  This is why the diet/exercise/fitness industry is and will remain a multi-billion dollar market.  All we talk about, focus on, and spend money on is how to get that little blue ball to the top of that fitness hill - never mind keeping it there - which is the real challenge.

**Yeah Baby!  The "insanity" of 1929...Charles Atlas's "Personal Training In The Art Of Building A Dynamic Life!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Looking back...

I came across this story a few days ago - my recounting of a trip from back in 2009.  It is LONG and a great way to kill a massive amount of time - but for those interested, it give a pretty detailed (and engaging, at least in my opinion, but then i wrote it...) look into some of my background and the sort of stuff i credit for having given me the mental abilities that are now allowing me to continue to do really big/long things with low volume training.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Official One Hour a Week MBF plan (Part 1: Overview)

I've gone through a complete cycle of my 1 hour a week program and think it is fantastic, so i've decided to share it.  I'll do it in pieces so as not to overwhelm.

The general formula is to do four workouts a week, cycling between swimming, biking and running (triathlon order).  The first three workouts each week (on M/W/F for me) are 10 minutes long. The weekend workout is 30 minutes long.  The Monday workout is short intervals, the Wed. workout is medium intervals, and the Friday workout is a single interval/time trial effort.  The weekend workout is a longer, race pace effort.  The entire schedule will repeat itself every three weeks and will look like this:

Week 1:
  • Mon - swim, 10 minutes, short intervals
  • Wed - bike, 10 min, med intervals
  • Fri - Run, 10 min, single interval
  • Sat/Sun - swim, 30 minutes, race pace
Week 2:
  • Mon - bike, 10 min, short intervals
  • Wed - Run, 10 min, med intervals
  • Fri - Swim, 10 min, single interval
  • Sat - Bike, 30 min, race pace/time trial  - doing this workout on friday allows a day of rest before next lower body workout.
Week 3: 
  • Mon - run, 10 min, short intervals
  • Wed - swim, 10 min, med intervals
  • Fri - Bike, 10 min, single interval
  • Sun - Run, 30 min, single interval - doing this on sunday allows a day of rest since previous lower body workout
My present plan is to repeat this scheme 3-4 times (for 9-12 weeks total) which is about the length of time I usually put between my events/efforts.  I'll do the same workouts each time for a specific discipline/interval combination - so for example, right now every time my 10 minute short interval swim comes around during this 9-12 weeks i'm warming up and then doing 8 x 50 yds on 35 sec or under, leaving every 50 sec.  Doing the same workout is crucial as it allows me to have good data on my improvement and make sure i am striving to work just as hard or harder than previous sessions. If i get tired of a particular workout, i may change at the beginning of a new 9-12 week period but will make sure to keep it consistent during the period itself.  

As i mentioned in my last post, i'll eventually hit a plateau of sorts and should be able to identify it pretty specifically.  This is actually a good thing in a sense - it will help me have a goal to 'climb back up to' after each endurance event so i'll know when i'm ready to go destroy myself again. 

Finally, i'll mention once again that these workouts are brutal.  i'm not looking for a shortcut.  I have a great work ethic and a high degree of willpower.  I also am extremely ambitious, and am very much looking forward to this next year where i get to explore the limits of where this regimen can take me and when i'm sure to have lots of time out there walking that line.

Next up - details for the swim workouts.....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stoked on Noakes (Central Governor Theory)

Dr. Timothy Noakes
I find myself reinvigorated regarding the academic side of things after reading some papers (thanks for the links Aaron!) by Noakes and his students regarding the Central Governor theory (CGT). After reading the papers i did a bit of web browsing and found heaps of good stuff that is more accessible than an academic paper: - this has lots of good stuff, most of it pertains to the CGT (these guys were students of Noakes). It's even got some interesting stuff on cold weather training - just search 'cold physiology' and it should come up. - this is a great humorous piece summing up the theory and a perfect first introduction. - Here is another good summary on a wikipedia like (i mean really like) website dedicated to ultra running.

THIS LINK goes to podcast with Noakes that was on low(ish) volume IM triathlete and world renowned trainer Ben Greenfield’s site. It can be a bit hard to hear but a link to the transcript is also provided. It is worth mentioning in that it ties some of the CGT (central governor theory) stuff in with high intensity training, something the other pieces don't do.  

It's pretty fascinating reading all this stuff for me - it gives me another way to talk about and frame what i've known through personal experience for so long - the role of confidence and knowledge of suffering is absolutely key in performance. The models that overlook the role of the central governors and the complexity it presents are the ones that end up promoting traditional training methods and the 'body as machine' idea. Yeah, there is a machine, but it is directly influenced by (and influences) this very complicated and presently little understood network of connections and systems that make up what we call both the conscious and unconscious minds. 

All that mountaineering and climbing i did, that was practice overriding the central governor.  It wasn’t necessarily even conscious - i simply experienced had what Noakes calls the emotion of fatigue, but in situations such that it HAD to be managed in a progressive way (not through ending activity). And so i learned (unconsciously even) that this emotion did not describe my actual limits.  This has served me well, and is why even initial forays into ultra endurance efforts were often successful, despite a myriad of reasons why they shouldn’t have been.  

High intensity training is also important in that it continues to offer day to day dialogue with the CG himself, something traditional training hardly ever offers.  I routinely push myself past perceived boundaries, and as a result am able to, as one of the above posts analogizes (wow, is that really a word?) slightly edge up the ‘rev limiter’ on this engine of mine, getting more performance out of what i have.  

If fitness is judged by actual performance, then this (or a similar method) has got to be the most efficient way of going about things - after all, if I can do an IM in under 12 hours by training one hour a week (i’m convinced I can...and might be half the battle), it pretty much shoots to hell conventional wisdom and is a strong case study in favor of the CGT.  

In addition, regarding my recent blog, it seems that it is perhaps also the best way to actually approach ones MBF.  Traditional training will not effectively work to move up that rev limiter, which once a reasonable level of fitness is achieved, is a significant limiting physical performance. Think of it this way - physiological research has already shown (tabata and HIIT training studies) that VO2 max and other physiological fitness indicators show similar increases for very low volume HIIT training and more moderate intensity training (traditional endurance training) at medium volumes (4-8 hours a week).  So physiologically, i can train less and harder and get the same improvement of my engine.  However, traditional training typically DOES NOT typically provide an environment (outside of races themselves) where one gets to address the CG aspect of the model, or have any hope of edging up that rev limiter.  

Yep, i could probably do long runs where i push hard at the end and get a similar dialogue going with the CG - but if i’m after economy - then the least amount of time required to both improve fitness to a reasonable level (get a decent engine) and start that dialogue will likely be something similar to what i’m doing.  Add to this the idea that I'm looking for something i can keep up indefinitely and you've and you’ve got MBF.  

I could probably improve my engine a bit more by upping the hours a bit, and keeping intensity highish.  But i doubt i could have many more than the 2-3 (at minimum) conversations i seem to be having with the governor these days.  This method should work for others too - HIIT has been shown effective and safe for ‘untrained’ subjects, and certainly dedicated application, along with my prescription of a steady dose of big races (to make sure they get lots of face time with the man himself), should allow one to get both a big enough engine and to set that rev limiter high enough, thus enjoying a level of fitness previously thought reserved exclusively for those willing to spend a lot of time getting it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Maintainable Base Fitness (MBF) explained

I've decided to describe what i'm trying to achieve with the acronym MBF which stands for Maintainable Base Fitness.  MBF describes the maximum fitness an individual can achieve using a training schedule that is maintainable indefinitely.  No periodization.  No offseason.  No peaks and valleys.  Any MBF is bound to be pretty low volume - most people keeping track of their training over a period of years would find that even something considered very low volume (in the ultra endurance world) such as 6 hours a week is not sustainable in the long term.  Traditional IM training?  forget about it. 

The idea of what MBF  means is of course open to variation and interpretation.  Different people might look at developing an MBF  for a  period of a single year, several years, or be aiming at a decades long approach, which I am the most interested in exploring.  My journey started some years ago with three hours of weekly training.  But over time i found that even three hours produced psychological stress in my life that i don't want to sustain indefinitely.  When i reduced the load to two hours it still led to some minor mental and motivational issues.  So now i've settled in to one hour a week and so far so good. 

Of course i have big ambitions, and part of what it means for something to be maintainable for me is that it must enable me to challenge those ambitions occasionally.  In other words, it's still gotta get me through that IronMan, that four day adventure race, and allow me to feel age group competitive (which for me is finishing roughly in the top third) in pretty much any event. 

I know many people read this and think that i'm crazy and should settle for less, or perhaps more correctly, that reality will force me to do so.  But i don't want to, and apparently, at least based upon what i've been able to accomplish on 3 or 2 hours a week, reality must be sleeping on the job. 

But the question remains as to whether my MBF on only one hour a week will actually be sufficient given my ambitions.  i'm pretty confident though, and not without reason - i feel as fit, or nearly so, as when i was putting in three times as much time, and succeeding at really big things. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I'm up there, somewhere, getting really near the top...
I'm still working pretty darn hard these days.  During the last of my 50 yd sprints in the pool yesterday I had to grit my teeth, close my eyes, and charge through the pain haze that comes on when the body starts to refuse to respond to coordinated and sustained effort.  It was awesome.  At least it was until i looked back in my training records and pulled off the same feat 4 weeks ago, only a couple days after my 7+ hour effort at the Swamp Donkey Adventure race.

Am i closing in on my potential based on the limits of my training?  Am I, shudder at the thought, coming to the top of a plateau - or more concretely, THE plateau?

I'll wait another month before make any unequivocal statements, but i suspect that this is indeed the case.

Plateaus in training exist for a number of reasons - some can be broken through, some can't.  I think for many people the plateaus reached are more mental than physical - your body adapts to the stresses that you've been placing on it but the level of stress can be increased without increasing training volume if you can muster up the will power to consistently push harder.  And although there may be yet a degree or two more that i can turn up the intensity dial, i'm certainly working at or pretty near my maximum.

So there you go.  If my suspicions are correct i'm not going to get much faster swimming, and maybe running and biking aren't too far off.  So be it.  I feel like i'm in a pretty damn good place to be honest - that this plateau i'm approaching (or already standing on) is quite high enough to from which to challenge any of the surrounding peaks, which after all, is what i'm after.

As long as the plateau is close enough to the summit, there's really no reason to worry....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Karma and Pink Swimwear

I had to scramble to fit in my workout today - 4 x 150 yards on 1:55, leaving every 2:30.  After incorrectly looking at the pool hours and a longer than expected lunch meeting, my only recourse was a mad dash to the new Choice Health and Fitness center right after work.

Even though i was at the 3 lane dedicated lap swim pool right when it opened at 5:30 pm, there were already five people in it.  I had to share a lane with a guy wearing a striped pink speedo (yeah, the skimpy kind).  This cramped my style and threw off my mental game so much that i missed my goal paces by a mile (coming in between 2:00 and 2:05) - at least thats my excuse. It was the first workout in a while where i didn't show improvement.

To make matters worse, the pink bathing suit pretty much schooled me, even though i was sprinting and he had a pull buoy between his legs.  At least i hope that was a pull buoy.

The fact that all this happened the same day i wrote a post about what a bad ass I am is no coincidence. Karma is a bitch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Being a Bad Ass

Ok, first of all, I don't actually think I'm that much of a bad ass.  Not really.  I just think I've gotten lucky somehow and so now might appear as one.  I've certainly taken an unlikely path - from the world of serious climbing/mountaineering/adventure (where I was proficient but not at all a bad ass compared to many climbers/mountaineers/adventurers) to the world of endurance sports.  While success as a climber/mountaineer/adventurer does depend in some small part on physical abilities, it overwhelmingly depends on mental ones.  And so my formative years were spent, even unconsciously, 'training' these mental abilities.

Over the past 10 years my life has changed.  I live about as far from mountains as one can get in the USA.  I've got a family.  And as a result i've largely given up climbing and serious adventuring in favor of ultra endurance events which offer more security, require less of a time commitment, and are easier to manage logistically.

The journey has allowed me to realize a few things.  While ultra endurance events tend to be physically harder than most serious adventuring (in terms of pure physical output), the mental challenge they present is significantly less.  Additionally, i've learned that mental supervenes physical -  mental determination is required to access physical potential.  More of the former means more of the latter.  My success in completing and doing well in ultra endurance events on what is viewed as absurdly low training volume stems from my ability to access greater levels of my physical potential than most people (I wrote about this using my peanut butter analogy).

It is also interesting to note that although the physical potential i have to work with is diminished somewhat compared to what it might be with greater training volume, the gap between where I am and where I would be (or where others are) following a traditional higher volume training program (of say 10 hours a week) is not nearly as great as one would assume.  This is due to the fact that my now one hour a week of training is done almost exclusively at higher intensities and provides excellent 'return on investment' - the minutes in my training program provide, on average, greater physiological adaptations and thus a greater fitness gain (per minute) than average minutes in higher volume programs.

These two things - the fact that i can still develop my fitness potential to a reasonably high level through consistent application of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and the fact that i can access more of that potential in race situations because of my mental abilities - continues to enable me to do really 'hard'  things that, based on my training schedule, many people would think were impossible.

And I guess maybe that is pretty bad ass.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Loving what I do

ENDracing/GUP's Family Adventure Race, 2012

I really love what I do.  Not all of it of course, but the part that follows my passion.  It doesn't really even matter that i haven't figured out how to make a living from it even though it takes up most of my time and energy.  If i waited for this to happen i'd be waiting and not doing.*  Not my style.

So what do i do?  I'm passionate about adventure, and so share that passion in whatever way i can.  It's where i came from.  And as crazy as it sounds, living in Grand Forks North Dakota has taught me that adventure really is so much more about frame of mind than about mountains and wilderness.  Yeah, that stuff helps, and adds to it and all that - but it is not absolutely necessary.

This week I helped put on (although the lions share of the credit goes to Jim Grijalva) a family adventure race.  Watching kids from age 3 to 16 running, biking, and paddling and discovering adventure (many for the first time) in their own hometown was just amazing.

Putting on races is A LOT of work.  And the pay (at least the way we do it) is pretty lousy.  But truth be told - the fact that i get misty with emotion and joy as i think back to yesterday while writing this, as silly as that sounds - tells me that I'm doing the right thing.

And that i'm pretty lucky for it.

*I am fortunate to have this option - having a great wife and family that is pretty happy with a very modest lifestyle is really what makes it possible.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ben Greenfield, chronic cardio, and the BEST reason to train long

Ben Greenfield
I ran across an interesting piece written by IM triathlete and coach, Ben Greenfield.  It talks about the dangers of what he refers to as 'chronic cardio' - something prevalent among folks employing 'typical' training schemes to prepare for ultra endurance activities and events.

In it, he presents 10 (well 9 actually) principles that can be employed to reduce the typically extremely high training hours (20+ per week on average, according to the article) of IM athletes.  While Ben himself still trains roughly 10 hours a week, his ideas are all ones that I agree with whole heartedly, although I take them to a more extreme end.

While the entire article is worth reading, I found one of the reader comments and Ben's response to be of particular interest.  One of his readers, Kate, comments:
SUPER article! I provide strength coaching for a large number of endurance athletes & I agree-there are smarter ways to train than what many try as they prep for big-distance races. It’s fascinating to me that you recommend only 1 long run a week…and seriously shorter swims…have your athletes felt like, come the real-life moment of being in the race, they were prepared to handle the long distance despite not having gone that far in practice?
and Ben's reply:
Kate – mentally, the answer is NO. Athletes actually feel intimidated when they know their friends are running multiple times per week and doing long runs of 2-3 hours. That has been my biggest barrier as a coach – getting my athletes to TRUST that minimal training works.
But physically, the answer is YES, and once that first Ironman is under their belt and they see that they actually don’t need to train 20-30 hours a week to accomplish their goal, or beat the people who *are* training 20-30 hours a week, it’s a pretty cool switch to see flipped.
I think this is a great answer that applies to all ultra endurance events, not just Ironman.  In my opinion, the best reason to choose traditional, high volume training for endurance type events (particularly as an amateur athlete) is if you lack the confidence required to complete such event.  LONG training can provide some of that confidence.  But if you've already got that confidence, or can get it in another way (trusting your coach, for example, as Ben's clients will have to do), then I think the jury is no longer out: low volume, high intensity training can and does (if properly carried out - but that's another post entirely) provide an adequate physical base from which to take on even ultra endurance challenges.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Public Display of Committment

I'm all in - $200 and a public declaration of my intent.  The mind is a vast and wondrous thing that allows us to willingly revisit moments (even rather protracted ones) of great suffering.  Awesome. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Skid Marks

I'm trying to develop some consistency with my current approach - structuring my three a week 10  minute workouts so that each week i do a swim, bike, run and a short interval, medium interval, and single interval workout. 

Depending on the discipline, i find myself fearing most one of the particular interval schemes.  In swimming the medium interval scheme is the toughest for me.  In biking,  it's the shortest intervals that cause the most dread.  Which leaves running.

Last week was the week for my single interval (kind of an oxymoron, right?) 10 minute run.  I decided that this would be a timed mile on the treadmill.  I find it easier to get myself to the point where i 'need to be' to maximize my efforts when i can just desperately try to hang on to an objectively controlled pace.  Since this would be the first week i was doing a single interval run, i got to pick where to start.

11 miles an hour, or just under a 5:30 per mile pace.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"I never win ANYTHING"

The title of the post now has to be added to the list of things i can't say anymore.  Not that i mind too much.  It was a tad bit awkward to do all that smack talk against the Canadians (all in good fun of course) and then go up there and inadvertently back it up.

Yep, we actually won (our division) at the sixth annual Swamp Donkey adventure race... probably the largest adventure race in North America this year in terms of the number of teams (113!) in attendance.  We were racing against nearly 45 teams in the three person coed category. 

Tammy and I after our first race together back in 2010
The best part though is that i got to do it on a team with my wife, tammy.  How cool is that? 

On that note, i learned a cemented a few lessons about racing with one's spouse during an adventure race.  Sure they may not apply to everyone, but i'd be shocked if they didn't apply to most:

1) If your partner is hurting and going slow, have them go slow in front of you.  You'll find that they go faster trying not to slow you down than they ever would trying to keep up.

2) Plan strategy before the race.  Think you'll go faster if you take all of your partner's weight?  Even if you're right, if you come to this conclusion and try to implement it once the starting gun has gone off it might not go smoothly.  I was adamant that this was a 'must do' for us weeks ahead of time and so all the discussions/arguments/ego issues were well out of the way by the time the race came around and it mattered.  By the way - it did matter, and it worked really well!

3) Hold hands at the starting line.  Even though i turned into a task master once we were underway, we went in to the race feeling connected and loving towards one another.  This meant that all things being equal, it was harder for the negative feelings that came up during our inevitable suffering to take root.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Swamp Donkey Adventure Race

Scene from 2011 Swamp Donkey where team ENDracing took 4th in the premiere category
Good race directors like to race.  I consider myself a good race director, maybe because i LOVE to race.  This weekend i'm headed up north of the border to Falcoln Lake, Manitoba, with my wonderful wife Tammy and good buddy Joel as one of 2 American teams challenging the 115 Canadian teams at what is probably the biggest (in terms of teams) adventure race in the country this year.

In preparation, our team got together a couple of times for training and decided to make a couple of videos to let those Canucks know what to expect. 

Training video 1

Training video 2

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Silver Bullets

Silver bullet #1

Silver Bullet #2
I waded into the fitness blog-o-sphere last night after i got an email letting me know i had a new twitter follower, Pete Cerqua (thanks for following Pete!).  Pete is author of a book called 90-second fitness and i had to check him out.  During my surf session i also ran across another 'fitness program' called the 20 second fitness solution.

Talk about doing more with less.... but is this kind of stuff for real?

Well yes and no.  But if you look into it, you're likely to only find the 'yes' part - in other words, you'll get lots of claims affirming that it works, or pointing to the science behind it.  Both of the above mentioned programs are best sellers, have made their 'creators' wealthy, and have obviously helped lots of people.  But there are a few issues that always pop up in my mind surrounding stuff like this that bear mentioning, and that i don't think are voiced often enough.

1)  Statistics (part 1). ANY program that claims to help people accomplish something that enough of them want to accomplish and is 'affordable' will have lots of users (assuming people know about it).  The fact of human nature is that many people want the silver bullet and are willing to pay in the hope of finding it.
2) Statistics (part 2).  ANY program that has many people trying it is going to be able to trot out what seems like an endless stream of success stories.  Crash diets and ridiculous exercise programs included. It is hard, if not impossible, to distinguish between a good program and a bad one based on success stories alone.
3) Consistent exercise and a sensible diet lead to good health.  Period.  ANY and ALL 'programs' that are sound and really work will be based on these ideas - differences in programs amount to variations on the theme.  Some variances may actually be 'important' of course - particularly for certain individuals who have limitations in one way or another.  It seems like a favorite perceived limitation of people is time, hence the popularity of programs that are marketed on the idea that they only take seconds.

Ok, now i'm going to get a little bit ornery.

I do believe (obviously) that truncated programs an work.  BUT.... they are f'ing hard.  In many ways they are much harder than more traditional programs - particularly for the majority of people (out of shape trying to get in shape) who are attracted to them.  I read so many quotes from reviews of the above programs written by self described out of shape people who were apparently delighted to learn they could get in shape in such little time.  Yep, you can.  But it will hurt.  A lot.  And it will hurt the next day, and the next.  Sure, you may only be doing two tabata sets (the 20 second fitness program involves having participants do one to three tabata sets a day - really 4-12 minutes rather than 20 seconds.... the 20 seconds refers to the length of the work intervals in the tabata set) a day - but how many people can do that?  more to the point, how many people will?  

Real truth in advertising might include something like the following description:

In order to successfully follow this program, you will need to have the mental tenacity to subject yourself to an excruciating amount of pain on a regular basis!  During the last 30 seconds of your wall sit, for example, it will feel as if someone is slowly dragging a razor blade along the top of your quivering thigh, parting the skin and making you bleed.  Don't worry, any scarring (emotional or otherwise) is most likely temporary and a necessary part of the program!  And remember... due to the truncated nature of our revolutionary approach, you will only have to endure this EXTREME discomfort three times a day, three days a week!  What are you waiting for?!

But there really is science supporting the efficacy of Tabata and other HIIT (high intensity interval training) schemes as an alternative to more time intensive training. the science, however, is based on clinical studies in which subjects actually meet the high intensity requirement.  Most of your average couch-potatoes-cum-fitness-converts that form the bread and butter for these companies don't have an actual experience with what high intensity means. And even though the literature of these and similar programs will mention (although they certainly don't emphasize) that you're going to be working hard - people typically will have no idea what will actually be required of them as they are typing in those credit card digits.

Here, in my opinion, is the bottom line.

There are no silver bullets.  95% (or more) of people who think time is the reason they aren't able to stay in shape have just found it to be the latest hindrance, and will find a different obstacle in a truncated program.  Getting in shape for those not in shape - and then staying in shape - will continue to require something that no prescribed program gives you.  Something that if you do have, allows you to succeed with pretty much any program.  That something is WILL.  and as far as i know, its still not available in three easy payments of 39.99.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting some action

I was asked to write a guest blog by Eric Collard, a fitness coach and chi running teacher in Canada - thought i'd stick it on here as well!  You can click on the image below to see the entire post.....

Diving in to the murky waters of social media

I had a great discussion yesterday with a guy named Eric Collard from Canada who offered to help me try to increase my 'exposure' in terms of social media circles.  Thought I'd give it a try.  Have spent this morning trying to link and unlink things, creating a nice tangled web of connections between various social media platforms.

Essentially this is a 'test' post.... should appear on my newly established twitter account (yep, i may occasionally be tweeting.... who'd have thought) and on my facebook page.  Here goes nothing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


if he's like me, inside he's smiling!
I failed today.

That's a good thing, it means i overreached.

Today it was more mental than physical (at least that was my subjective experience of it).  I wasn't particularly motivated for my 30 minute run (damn 30 minutes just seems so long compared to the 10 minute sessions that make up my three a week workouts!) and so headed to the treadmill for some mechanized motivation and the no-slo-random-pro.

Turns out i'd gotten soft doing this workout on the woodway treadmills, where each segment of the program only lasted 10 seconds. keeping a fast pace up the hills always seemed doable.  Well, the woodways are gone from the Y and only some old precor machines remain.  for a 30 minute random program the segments lasted 1 minute and 4 seconds.

Now i don't let myself cherry-pick an easy looking random profile - i just get what i get.  Today it was 'back-loaded', the last six segments - six minutes and 24 seconds, were at either a three or four percent grade.  Damn.  But the program started out easy and so i attacked with relish.

5 minutes in i bumped the speed up to 8.6 mph (6:58 pace) for 10 minutes, then bumped it again to 9 mph (6:40 pace) for another 10 minutes.

I was pretty tired.  the smallish nylon-belt-simulated hills had begun to take their toll.  but i summoned up my gumption and yelled "once more into the breach my friends!" inside my head and pushed the increase speed button twice more.  I was running up a 4% grade at a 6:30 pace!

For another 30 seconds.

Then i was holding on to the console for dear life for the next 30.  I rallied.  30 more seconds, hands free before a desperate lunge for the bar kept me from being flung off the back.  I still had over 3 minutes left.  I contemplated having one more go at it.  Then i caved and slowed down to a 7:00 pace.  I let go.  i still couldn't manage more than half a minute without the support of my arms - my head just wasn't in it - i couldn't figure out how to override that little man in my head that told me it was quittin' time.

but i'm stubborn and so did what i could - i eeked out a compromise. he promised me i could take the last 100 right foot strikes on my own.  And sure enough, as soon as he signed that executive order, it didn't feel nearly so hard, and left me feeling like i could have pushed harder - maybe even finished the whole thing without slowing down or holding on.

But i didn't.  Today i failed.  but like i said, in a good way.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Boom Shakalaka Boom (26.74 seconds!)

Woo hoo!  My first step in reaching "off by 50" sprint status has successfully been completed.  Over lunch today, after a 150 yd warm-up, i knocked out a 50 yd short-course freestyle swim in 26.74 seconds.  The world record is 18:51 (i'd previously reported the American record that is a bit slower).  This means my goal was 27.76 seconds.  coming in a full second under means that even with potential timing errors, i made my goal!  Awesome! Here is a link to a video of the swim if it doesn't play above.  Thanks Beek for being the record keeper!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

time for a little shave

I decided to stop procrastinating and start getting after some of this Off by 50 nonsense.  Needed to see where i was at on the bike so i went out for a 10 mile time trial today - somewhat windy conditions - 15 mph or so with stronger gusts.  Started from a dead stop (to be fair) and did an out n back (also to be fair).  the first half was the easy half (i prefer it the other way around) and i pretty much died coming back into the wind, particularly when there were no shelter belts of trees to make it a little less blustery.  Total time was approx 27:55 or maybe just under - about one minute will need to be shaved off that time to make my target time and be within 50% of the fastest 10 miles ever ridden.  I almost think i can could do it on a calm day - may try to crack this nut yet this fall.
"i tasted my own blood" icon

Now tomorrow is my first attempt at swimming the 50 meter or yard (never sure how the pool at the university will be configured on any given day) distance.  My friend Beek will be my official time keeper - maybe he'll even video the attempt for me for posterity. Fingers crossed.

My ride today was may leave me less than 100% though, so we'll see.  Less than 10 minutes in i realized i need to add another option for the workout description choices on the 'two hours a week' workout tracking app - "i rode 10 miles and i tasted my own blood!"

Friday, September 7, 2012

Article in Breathe Mag!

The Breathe article is finally out (you'll have to click on 'preview' in the upper right of the site to see the most recent issue, V6 I3).  This is a great magazine, chock full of inspiring stories, race reports, and stunning photography.  You can even order single issues, digitally or hard-copy.  Go get yours.  If you live nearby i'll even sign it for you.  Years from now when i'm famous for being a visionary and bringing a new fitness paradigm to the masses you'll be able to say to all your friends that you were one of my first nine followers (yeah baby!  i have nine now!!!!) and so were clearly on the cutting edge of things.

And you'll have the signed copy to prove it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Feeling Great

"I was exhausted!" "I couldn't get up!" "I vomited in my mouth" "I was a bile factory!"
Icons that would be available in the two hours a week workout tracking app

I have a few FB friends whose workouts appear as updates courtesy of any number of 'workout tracking' apps such as Dailymile.  I know some people don't like seeing workouts posted on FB, but it really doesn't bother me - we're developing into a rather 'social media' based culture, so why fight it.

I do realize, however, after seeing "Mr. X ran 8.5 miles in one hour and felt great!" for the tenth time, that there might be a market in a new workout tracking app for the group of people (as small as it may be by comparison) following an approach similar to my two hours a week philosophy.

This version won't have any smiley face icons to click on to describe a persons workout experience.   it won't report that the person doing the training felt good, fine, blah, or even tired.  Tired is the starting point and so won't need to be mentioned.

This version will have icons of stick figures on their knees, or retching up bile.  It will report things like "Mr.
X did Tabata intervals on the bike and dry heaved (insert number here) times."  Or "Mr. X did a three mile tire drag run in half an hour and couldn't get off the ground for (insert number here) minutes."

Come on all you web developers - there's a (teeny teeny tiny) gold mine here, just waiting for you!

Note - in full disclosure, i must admit that i've never actually thrown up as the result of a workout, or even a race.  I have, however, been reduced to crawling.  In fact, most of my workouts end up somewhere between exhausted and crawling - with me stumbling around in somewhat of a stupor waiting for the pain to subside and wondering with a degree of desperation why it's taking so long for this to happen.  My buddy Joel though is another story, and regularly tastes his own digestive juices as as a result of his efforts.  One day Joel, one day...