One of my very occasional part time jobs is to work as an event rigger. I get to walk on beams way above the ground use long ropes to pull cable and chain up to create a network of suspension points that are used to lift lighting trusses, etc for big stage shows. It was at such an stint of employment last Saturday night that i has a unique experience that involved a tin of sauteed asparagus and gave me hope for humanity.
My fellow fitness buff and neighbor Ryan and I were finished with the fun part of the job and waiting around to see what else had to be done when a crew member from the show brought out a few aluminum foil baking dishes full of leftover food from the catered meal the talent must have enjoyed. One had some sort of oily breaded fish, one had marbled roast beef, and one had the asparagus. There were also some half empty cases of soda, some cream filled wafer cookies, and a few bags of chips. It was after 2 am and everyone (there were about 8 of us standing around) was hungry. Most of the other guys, most of whom were not particularly healthy looking, had already opened sodas and were digging into the cookies. Ryan and i weren't interested in that stuff and the asparagus looked untouched. Yum.
Ryan acted first - he removed the celaphane cover from the asparagus tin and started to dig in. I followed his example and picked up a handful of spears with my fully filthy hands. What happened next was both unexpected and remarkable. The cookies were set aside and forgotten about. Everyone started eating asparagus. It was pretty crazy - i'd have wagered that most of these other guys may never have eaten asparagus - some of them may not even have been able to name it had i asked them what they were eating. But surprisingly, within minutes, all while sipping Dr. Pepper and talking about crystal meth, all of the asparagus got consumed (roughly 5 pounds i'd guess). We were almost fighting for it.
So this got me thinking - maybe we're so unhealthy as a society because we make easy choices - not necessarily because we don't want to be healthy. Maybe (thought experiment here) if all other things were equal and people had the same access to junk and good food, we'd be surprised at how many people would choose more good food. Of course this doesn't solve any problems because junk food is still the easiest to get (it comes in the biggest variety of packages), but it does, for some reason, make me feel somehow better about the health problems our world is facing.
The following report details Scott Jensen's effort in the Arrowhead 135 a few weeks ago. His determination was nothing short of heroic. He basically endured the worst of what i went through 3-4 times longer than I did, and with the additional issue of lack of water. Brutal. Nice work Scott!
First of all, I want to apologize for shouting. One of my friends noticed that when these blog posts appear on facebook, the subtitle "my effort to...." is in all caps. Oops. This is unfortunately a product of how the template i'm using interacts with FB. I might be able to fix it but I might not and have decided to just hope it isn't too offensive and move on - using my time on other potentially futile endeavors like writing grants, books, and trying to homeschool my kids.
Now the weakness part. I always hope my first workouts back after a big event are going to awesome and have me as fit as i was before the effort. But of course it never works out that way - i'm usually weaker well into the third week. This is still the second. In the end though it's cool because it helps me realize the capacity of my body, the real truth about how long it takes me to recover, and also that i'm really working at my edge.
Awesome day out there today - going to get the boys outside and drag em around the Iceman run course with a couple of other burly dads. Fun times.
When i throw my ideas about training out there in the world of ones and zeros I tend to get a lot of push back. I wonder if maybe my pitch is wrong.
I wonder if i would get better reception if i softened my criticism of conventional wisdom and focused on taking a more pragmatic approach.
For example, here, is a typical-dime-a-dozen-conventional wisdom-based article that showed up in the 'someone you might want to follow on twitter' section of my inbox this morning. If you read it, you will find a regurgitation of the base1-3, build 1, build 2, etc hierarchy that is currently enjoying its day in the sun at the top of the endurance training pyramid.
I wonder if the push back is because the instinctual reaction to my ideas for many is to assume i'm suggesting that this model is wrong - that it wouldn't yield good results - that all the coaches that were pushing it and all the 'science' (don't get me started here though) behind them is all just a bunch of garbage. And if i was suggesting that, i guess it would be pretty offensive (and a defensive reaction might even be called for).
What i'm really suggesting though is that for the vast majority of athletes, even some pretty ambitious ones, there's often a pretty big gap between training theory and training reality. And in the context of that reality (in my experience anyway), the strict adherence to my super-low-volume-high-intensity routine seems to allow for results and capabilities comparable to those enjoyed by the vast majority of that vast majority that are training based off of the conventional wisdom approach.
So i wonder if folks would find it as hard to swallow if i changed my tune and rather than arguing that my crazy approach to this whole endurance game was as sound as the conventional approach, instead argued that a consistent application of my crazy approach was as good as an inconsistent application of the tried and true program that most endurance athletes think is the only program out there - and that in reality, an inconsistent application of the latter is probably all they could ever hope for?
Ok, so as I wrote it i realized that, as true as it may be, the last sentence still sounds a bit offensive. It also begs at least two questions - 1) what percentage of folks who can inconsistently follow a conventional program would even care to save themselves hours a week by consistently doing less (but harder) work if they could still have the same results, and then, 2) of this group, what percentage even could? Hmmm.....
I'm always famished after a big race. I eat and eat and eat and eat. It is a happy time. But sometimes i overdo it and keep eating vast quantities well beyond the time it is actually beneficial for my body as it recovers from the effort.
In this case I ate for more than 5 days. I'm just guessing here, but i'd bet i have consumed 30,000 calories since finishing the race on tuesday night. It was a perfect storm really, three days of habituated recovery eating leading into my wife, Tammy's birthday (which entailed a friday night dinner at Red Lobster, courtesy of her in-laws on Saturday and then a huge, very rich chocolate cake on Sunday) and a superbowl party with all the regular attendees (veggies and spinach dip, scotch-a-roos, wings, chips and guacamole, etc). It was epic.
Last night, after the party and another piece of the chocolate cake, I had the worst stomach ache i can ever remember.
I can't pretend i'm still recovering anymore. It's a lie. I'm back at it on tuesday, starting to build back up towards my baseline for the 10 minute workouts and changing the weekend efforts to running in anticipation of the 50K trail ultra just 6 weeks away.