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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The other hat (race director)

This guy's definitely asking himself some questions..
As my profile mentions, i'm a part time race director.  I never really set out to be, but this can probably be said for many of the great journeys we make in our lives.  I started doing it because i was 'stuck' in Grand Forks, ND and wanted more people to talk to. Back then, almost no one up here understood the things that made me tick.  Most people still don't of course - but there are now enough folks out there that do so that  i don't feel so lonely.  i found that i liked doing it.

Directing races has allowed me to discover my long lost artist.  And it is an art - especially the kind of races i favor.  I get to weave together a course that like a painting, film, or book, is designed to evoke emotions.  I piece together the elements to take racers on a journeys where they will in turn experience triumph, heroism, despondency, anger, fear, joy, sadness and hope. 

My goal is always to leave racer with their own lessons learned - the course providing challenges that force them, at one point or another to look inward for at least a moment.  A good race for me is one in which i ask myself all the tough questions - "what the hell am i doing and why am i doing it?"  It's asked in the context of the race but the meaning, at least for me, always cuts deeper.  I aim to create races/experiences that help reveal these questions to racers.  I want participants to be moved. I also want them to be damn fun. Luckily, these two elements don't seem to be mutually exclusive.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Humble Pie

Mud is a key ingredient of Humble Pie
Yesterday i went for a bike ride with pending male champion of the Grand Forks Winter Series and triathlete extraordinaire, Sean Cooley.  I like to do silly things like that once in a while, particularly when i start to feel too big for my britches.  I did indeed get schooled as expected.  Although i still like to believe i could take him in a super long suffer-fest, i simply can't keep up in anything less.  Sean, however, being the nice guy that he is - slowed down and waited for me often.

Its nice to get a dose of perspective once in a while.  Thanks buddy.  In fact, it was such a great experience for me that it actually inspired me to write a poem:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

the pseudoscience dilemma

The idea of doing crazy hard stuff with a less time spent training isn't itself crazy. It is unorthodox though, and most of the 'evidence' that it can work is based on personal anecdotes or experiments, like mine.  This of course presents a problem that i call the pseudoscience dilemma.

Never heard of it?  Let me explain.

In another life (back before the turn of the century) i thought i was going to be a scientist.  I had just received my bachelors degree in physics but really wanted to study consciousness. So i found a private grad school (the california institute of human sciences) that sounded awesome.  The professors all had high degrees but were interested in exploring non-mainstream ideas - acupuncture for example - through the lens of the scientific method.  Crazy stuff has been well documented but less well studied, and i wanted to be part of the group that was trying to figure some of it out.

The problem was, as it turned out, not the professors, but everyone else.  Most of the students didn't have strong science backgrounds, but were attracted by the new-agey ideas and weren't particularly fond of thinking critically. They wanted magic.  After my motorcycle accident where i lost my spleen, one fellow student asked me if i had started regrowing it using the power of my mind yet.

Um, No, but thanks for the idea.

What attracted me to the ideas was wondering what was real and what wasn't, and how to figure that out.  What attracted most of the other students to the program was that they already thought this stuff was real.  And then there were the legions of salesmen (pick up any new age magazine and look at all the wonderful stuff you can buy that will turn-your-life-around for just three easy payments) selling modern day snake oil.

It's pretty reasonable to expect mainstream science to completely reject these 'pseudo-science' ideas, just based upon the intellectual (or ethical) nature of the majority of people who think they might in fact be true.  Throw the baby out with the bathwater.

A look at the current culture of low-volume training presents a similar picture.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cadence revisited

I was digging around trying to find info about cadence last week for someone i've just started training - something they could read that would explain the theory behind why higher cadence can lead to faster running.  I'd long ago adapted my own running to feel natural at around a cadence of 92, but several of the articles i found suggested that there might be a benefit of developing an even quicker turnover rate (around 200 steps per minute or a cadence of 100).

Hmmmm.  I wonder if i could do that?  I wonder if it would make a difference?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tips from an old friend

Mike Galoob - athletic jack of all trades
Mike Galoob was my room-mate at college.  For a year or more we shared a low rent pile-of-crap house 30 feet from the railroad tracks in Norman, Oklahoma, while attending the University.  We built a climbing gym in the attic and through a legendary halloween party (the only party i've ever really thrown) that took us weeks to clean up from and resulted in a gaping hole in our ceiling that we tried to cleverly disguise during the house inspection required to get our deposit back when we moved out (we didn't get it back).  During those years all we thought about was climbing - we climbed under bridges, on buildings, and up water-towers (for which we got arrested).  We'd drive round trip to Colorado on every long weekend, or make our own 'unofficial' long weekends by skipping class.  Mike was a tremendously gifted climber and talented athlete all around - gutsy, great stamina, and extremely confident.  The only thing he had going against him was really stinky feet (a small price to pay since we were all a pretty smelly bunch anyway).

I lost track of Mike for many years but thanks to the good side of facebook we've started to catch up.  What's interesting is that in some non-insignificant ways our lives have paralleled each other
- he's married to a rather athletic woman (like me) and has a pair of young kids (girls - mine are boys).  He's still climbing occasionally (but not nearly as much) but is more focused on racing/endurance sports, and is apparently pretty good at it.

He's been reading a posting some comments on here recently and yesterday sent me an email that had some great thoughts that bear passing on, stuff that seems so relevant that i'm surprised i hadn't really thought of it before:

Weight matters

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Horizon Lines

Team EMS in the middle of a horizon line during 2010 Untamed NE
When you're padding in swift-water a horizon line indicates an impending substantial increase in the river gradient.  In other words, things are about to get interesting.  Lots of proficient whitewater kayakers probably get excited when they first glimpse one, but since i'm a pack-rafter (and only a moderately proficient one) i tend to view them with a not quite equal mix of anticipation and fear.  And yeah, the inequality favors the fear.

Well, my river has just rounded a bend and sure enough, there's a horizon line ahead.  This one happens to be called the Untamed New England Adventure Race - a four day affair taking place in Maine this June.  The race sold out in record time and is apparently attracting some good international teams (which hasn't really happened in US racing since Primal Quest, 2006), including reigning national champions, team Thule.

There's a lot of river between here and there, and i'm sure to soon grow accustomed to the sight of that horizon line every time i look forward.  But i think it is pretty cool that even though i've paddled right over so many in my day, my heart still beats a little faster upon that first glimpse.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Basic training

As i've yet to firm up my next race or adventure i figured i'd spend a month or so testing out a basic fitness regimen i've been working on.  My goals are to be able to re-develop some reasonable level of climbing strength as well as swimming strength while maintaining my biking and running abilities.  I have a feeling i might have to sign up for and run an actual ironman sooner rather than later to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, but am going to hunt around to see if i can't find a magazine or company who might want to foot the bill for travel and race entry in exchange for an article or something - might take a while for this avenue to bear fruit though.  I'm not really in the position right now to put up a thousand bucks just to prove a point to - particularly when weighing this option against using the money for a week long escape for the whole family down to Joshua tree for some climbing...

Back to the training idea (sorry for the digression!) - here's the plan:
  • Tuesday - Climb/Lift [15/2.5]. After teaching my Yoga class i'll do 15 minutes of laps at the climbing wall (only 22 feet high, but better than nothing!), using big holds for a bit to warm up then increasingly smaller ones.  I'll be using an auto belay system so i can just climb up, let go and get lowered down and get 5 seconds rest.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Logical conclusions (back into the fray)

I've always really enjoyed logical arguments and I've had one playing out in my head the last few days and it seems pretty good to me - but i realize i'm far from infallible, and so i thought maybe i'd get some input from other folks as to whether my ideas are sound or not.... and if not, why not.  The BT (beginnertriathlete) crew is a pretty opinionated bunch and offered some good perspective to my ideas the first time i posted on their site, so i figured i'd give it another go.  to this end  i started a thread under their 'ironman training' forum (link here) with the below text.

A defense of ultra-low volume/high intensity training as a viable alternative to endurance training for individuals with requisite mental characteristics
  • Premise 1:  High intensity interval training produces the greatest physiological adaptive response of any type of exercise.