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.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pain, pain go away

I thought I would get used to the pain associated with high intensity workouts but this doesn't seem to be happening.  It makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong - am I dehydrated?  Am I not eating enough? Is there something missing from my diet?

The 10 minutes or so following my last few sessions have been particularly difficult.  It seems silly to even be able to say this when a look back in my training journal finds the notation 'brutal' after almost every effort.   But it sure feels true, although i'll admit it is a challenge to rank the relative difficulty of workouts that are so frequent and where the aftermath is so severe but short lived.

On Sunday, for example--in the wake of my stepmill workout-- that aftermath included walking a lap around the indoor track.  The lap, about 1/12 of a mile, took nearly 10 minutes.  I spent that 10 minutes consumed by the pain lungs and legs. My mind could not escape the sensation or become distracted from it and was left whirling around in frantic circles trying to reason out a solution - something action or thought that would help dull it.  I tried lying down and putting my legs up the wall which made it worse (maybe the blood needs to circulate more quickly to restore some sort of PH balance in the tissues surrounding my muscle cells?  That is my most recent theory anyway). And despite the fact that I know from experience that there is no escaping the intense discomfort that results from these 7 minute bouts with exercise, the discomfort is so all encompassing that I am as of yet unable to keep from trying.

With further reflection I've realized that it is a rather unusual experience to be completely taken over by physical suffering at one moment and then a mere 15 minutes later feel absolutely no trace of it.  I can't think of any other routine painful circumstances in which this might is the case - any injury or trauma will cause 'lingering' pain or such for well beyond this time-frame, and/or yield to manual attempts to mitigate it to some degree (pressure, massage, position, etc).

It is like Mike Mentzer says (regarding the effects of true high intensity training) -
"Until you either experience it for yourself or watch someone else do it, you can’t possibly appreciate.”
In writing this I've realized that maybe I'm not missing anything at all - calories, nutrition, or hydration - but that, unfortunately perhaps, I'm just doing it right.  In which case, that forecast isn't looking too promising...

[Although i've posted it before, the only video that does justice to what 'a good' workout usually feels like to me is this video, which shows an ice climber getting something called the hot aches.]

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Too Much Information

This is just my opinion (as if anything on this site is anything else?!), but I feel that, at least for the average Johnny or Sheila hoping to get fit and/or pursue athletic ambitions, the athletic/health science industry is doing more harm than good.  The fact that at our fingertips rests such an immense wealth of information isn't always a good thing.  It makes us believe that there is a right answer.  And when we believe there is a right answer, we often feel compelled to find it and follow it.

The problem is though, that the right answers aren't always clear, aren't always easy to follow, and in the absence of our ability to follow this 'correct' course of action in it's entirety, we often opt to do nothing.

Look, I'm a scientist by training and I recognize the tremendous benefit the field provides.  But science, at least to the non-scientist, can be misleading.  It produces claims about benefits of one course of action over another that while perhaps technically true, can (and maybe should) pretty much be ignored.

Supplement X performs better than Supplement Y, and both are shown to provide benefits as compared to a control group that didn't take either.  Better go get supplement X, right?  Training regimen A produces a greater increase in VO2 max than regimen B, so looks like I need to go and change the way I'm training now too!  Well, not so fast.  In truth it is likely that while supplements X and Y do produce statistically significant differences in some measurable characteristic of health over the control group, it is very small difference. It might also be that you are not similar to the control group at all!  And if you don't actually know what statistical significance is in the first place, then maybe you should research that before you google any more Brand X's or Program B's.

It comes down, again in my opinion, to a bit of a need for external validation.  Sure, it's good to do research and learn about whatever you are interested in, but it is FAR more important to develop an intuition about your own body and mind--what works and what doesn't.  A genuine internal confidence in whatever you decide to do will pay the kind of dividends that can't be paid for, no matter how slick the sales marketing might be.

Eat good food and move regularly.  Spend time with people you care about and care about what you do with your time.  Now that's not too much information, is it?