Friday, October 30, 2009
8 handstand pushups
run 4 miles
I will be out of town again this weekend, so posts might be light until next week.
Inspired by the book Born to Run, I tried two different things on my run this morning. First, I left my watch at home. That may not seem like a big deal, but for someone as analytical as I am, who has built a lot of his exercise motivation around measuring and improving workout times, it was hard to do.
But I ended up having my best run in over a month. I felt more relaxed, my running form was better and I actually had fun.
The second thing I did was wear different shoes. My left hip has been bugging me a lot the last month or so. Every time I go on a run, by the end my hip is so tight I have trouble finishing. Then I spend the rest of the day stretching my hip out.
But this section of Born to Run got me thinking:
Dr. Marti, in The American Journal of Sports Medicine in 1989 found that the most common variable among running casualties wasn't training surface, running speed, weekly mileage, or "competitive training motivation." It wasn't even body weight, or a history of previous injury: it was the price of the shoe. Runners in shoe that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less than $40.
A follow up report in 1991 in Medicine in Sports & Exercise found that "Wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (e.g. more cushioning, pronation correction) are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes (costing less than $40).
I have worn Mizuno Wave Rider running shoes for years. After I put 300-400 miles on a pair, I go out and buy a new pair. The book got me thinking, I bought a new pair about a month ago, exactly when my hip starting hurting. So I broke out an old pairs of shoes that had supposedly "lost their cushioning" and off I went.
Want to guess what happened? No pain in my hip. Zero. Could it have been for another reason? Maybe. I did take a few days off, but I had done that before during the last month. Either way, I'm not complaining. Hopefully my hip will stay pain free with the old shoes. And on the bright side, I will save money on running shoes.
Picture of the Day
Thursday, October 29, 2009
7 handstand pushups
100 burpees 7:28
8 handstand pushups
row 10,000 meters (4) 41:18.8
Well, I'm back in town for a couple of days before I am off again this weekend. My travel schedule calms down after that, so posts will be much more frequent next week.
While on my trip I read a great book called Born to Run.
If you only read one fitness oriented book this year, make it this one. The quote above is from the inside cover, and it gives you a good feel for what the book is like - it really makes you think. Not only is it a great story, but it challenges a lot of conventional wisdom regarding modern day fitness.
In fact, there is so much material in the book, I will probably devote a few posts in the upcoming days to excerpts from the book. The short version of the story is the author was told that running causes far too many injuries and he couldn't run any more. By the end of the book, he runs a 50 mile ultramarathon in the desert.
Instead of listening to the doctors, he sought out a modern day tribe of athletes, called the Tarahumara Indians. The Tarahumara live in the Copper Canyons in Mexico. Here is a description from the book jacket:
"For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic Marathoner while matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence."
Throughout the book the author weaves tales of the Tarahumara with unique stories of American runners and discussions with scientists that explain why human beings are built to be much more athletic and eat much better than we do today. Plus at the end there is a great story about a 50 mile desert ultrarun that gets set up between the Tarahumara and some elite American ultrarunners.
One of the key takeways for me was how much attitude and character play a role in health and success. A consistent theme was the most successful runners are the happiest. They just enjoy exercise, and they don't worry about time or periodization programs or interval training. They just do what feels good.
A lot of the book is summed up by the following picture. This is a picture of Scott Jurek, considered the best ultrarunner in the world and Arnulfo Silvano, the fastest Tarahumara runner of his era. I won't spoil the ending of the book by saying who won the race, but let's say they were very competitive in a 50 mile race in 100 degree heat in the Mexican desert on a route that included over 6000 feet of elevation change.
Look at them both - they're smiling.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
7 handstand pushups
run 6 miles 45:47
I will be traveling on the east coast for a few days, with basically no computer access and probably little gym access. So you won't see any posts until later in the week.
Below is a great blog post from a triathlete trainer about managing your off season program. I like the approach described in this post, which is summed up as "Exercise as much as you want in the off season, only don’t create a plan. Don’t even think ahead. Just do what you feel like doing every day." The key is that you do something.
Usually when I get burnt out, my approach gets too random. I quit what I was doing (running would be a good example) and go to something completely different, but still at a high intensity. So then I burn out on that, and move on to the next thing.
As a result, I never consistently improve from one season to the next. This winter I will focus on maintaining my emphasis on rowing, running and bodyweight work, but keep the intensity low so I can recover and be in a good position when I need to ramp things up for next year.
Here's the post: Training and the Transition Period
Some quotes from the post:
In fact, let’s not even call what you’ll be doing in the Transition period “training.” Call it “exercise” instead. Training is focused and has a purpose. It’s far too serious for now. On the other hand, exercise is something you do because it feels good while it keeps your bathroom scales under control.
...It will soon be time to get started training again. You’ll know when the time is right because you won’t be able to stand going easy any longer and you’ll be constantly thinking about next year’s races.
Picture of the Day
I've decided my blog can use some more color. So I am going to start posting a "picture of the day". I have collected a bunch of training motivation pictures, and each day I will include one at the end of the day's post.
I usually try to have a consistent theme when I put quotes and topics together for each post, but most of the time in this case it will just be a random picture that I thought looked cool. If you have any photos you like, please pass them along to me.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Bob Glover, The Runner's Handbook
7 handstand pushups
2000 meter row intervals with 4 min. rest between each interval (8)
7:27.5, 7:42.3, 7:45.0
I saw a couple of friends of mine last night who reminded me how much of a wimp I have been lately.
Caesar is training for the California International Marathon in December. So he is running about 40 miles a week right now. However, he is also doing 4 days a week of high intensity weight lifting. And believe me, the dude is strong. 6 days a week training, sometimes twice in one day, and intense cardio and weight work. Pretty impressive.
My other friend Steve is a competitive cyclist. But he doesn't stop there, the guy does everything. So for his "rest month" from cycling, he is currently running 2 days a week, lifting 2 days a week and doing 90 minutes of bikram yoga (the sauna kind) 3 days a week. When he starts training again for cycling season, he will add 14-16 hours a week of cycling training.
And both these guys have full time jobs and small kids, so this isn't one of those "I am retired and have tons of time to kill" deals. These two guys are getting it done in the midst of jobs, kids and all the other stuff we all have to deal with.
The reason I started this blog was for stories like this. Sometimes you can get lonely if you are training primarily by yourself. Most of your friends are sleeping in when its dark and cold outside, and sometimes you can start thinking you are crazy to show up at the gym at 5:00 am or 8:00 pm to get a workout in. But you aren't alone. There are a lot of people out there that have similar drive and motivation. So when your alarm goes off tomorrow morning, remember that Caesar and Steve (and hopefully me) probably already finished their workout.
I love the following blog post. It is by a Norwegian guy who was proud to finally achieve a 440lb front squat. The best part -- he has been working for 9 1/2 years to get there. There is a video in the link if you want to check it out. Personally I don't get too fired up about powerlifting, but you have to give the guy credit for his consistency.
Just think if you focused for a decade - 10 full years - on one athletic pursuit. Running, cycling, pushups, pullups, weightlifting, whatever. Just think if you were dedicated enough to methodically and consistently work to improve your performance year in and year out for 10 years. You would be absolutely shocked at what you would be able to accomplish.
Ross Training 440lb Front Squat
A couple of quotes from the blog post (his english isn't perfect, so the grammer is a bit off):
I did not have a great starting point when I started lifting in summer 2000. But for the last 9 and a half years, I have been continously lifting, a lot of errors have been done on this journey, and there have been many obstacles and setbacks on the road. I never gave up. And that is the most important thing.
I will quote Leo Tolstoy: "Time and patience are the two greatest warriors".
Every day is a day closer to or further away from your goal.
You just have one life, so don't waste it, make something of it! :)
Two sentences: "Yes you can" and "Just do it!"
And to quote Ross: "I want the kid who believe he can fly!"
Anyway, to cut to the point. I have managed finally to do a 200kg/440lbs front squat. I've been chasing this for long, and it took far longer than I expected, but I finally got it.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post
9 handstand pushups
run 5 miles treadmill 39:04
Today's quote because is so true. As I am recovering from this summer's training, I realized I was not incorporating enough recovery workouts and sleep into my program. If I had let up after the last race in September I probably would have been okay, but I just kept pushing and my body pretty much shut down (I was ruining the blade).
The above quote also applies to injuries. I have always felt that injuries are no different than being lazy. If you are injured, you can't train. If you are lazy, you don't train. There are different reasons behind each, but the end result is the same, you aren't training. That is why I try to modify my training when I start to get aches and pains so the problem can heal before it gets out of hand.
Here is a blog post about how important sleep is in your training program:
The Serious Business of Sleep
somehow along the way, functioning on less sleep has become a point of pride, and a trait to be admired. You shake your head in awe at the guy who claims he runs just fine on five hours of sleep a night. He's a superhero, the model of efficiency, a Person Who Gets Things Done. I'm here to tell you, he is also sorely mistaken.
...sleep deprivation will smuck up a whole host of bodily systems, and contributes (in part) to stress, inflammation, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. As one University of Chicago researcher puts it, "Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body... (and) we have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior."
...While diet plays a crucial role in body composition, sleep also plays a significant role... specifically, in fat loss. There are all kinds of studies relating sleep to insulin resistance, leptin levels and cortisol levels... all related to fat loss.
And just for fun, here is a guy doing some insane handstand stuff. The handstand pushups starting at 0:35 in the video are insane. I can't tell you how strong you have to be to do that. (click here if you can't see the video in the e-mail)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
8 handstand pushups
row 5000 meters 20:37.5
I woke up feeling more rested than I have in a couple of months. So I decided to do a little active recovery workout, just something light to get the blood flowing.
I mentioned a couple of days ago that my brother ran a marathon in 3:55. His is an interesting story that we can all learn from.
He trained his ass off for 3 months, doing a ton of high intensity tempo runs and putting in about 40-50 miles a week. His best training run included a 1:34 half marathon, so he felt with a good race, he might hit his Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:10. We figured worst case he would run a 3:20-3:25 if he blew up at the end.
Well, it didn't work out that way. He followed the 3:10 pacer (big marathons have certain people with a flag run a specific pace so you can just follow them the whole way without thinking too much). But the pacer started the first 3 miles very slow, and then ran a few 7 minute miles in a row. The too slow - too fast pace crushed my brother, and he was done (lesson #1, run your own race, not the pacer's)
Then to add insult to injury, his calves cramped up so bad that he had to walk the last 6 miles (took him 1:15 to walk those six miles). So while I think a 3:55 is impressive, he saw it as a big disappointment. He was pretty bummed after the race. I figured he might be done with running.
The moral of the story was the conversation I had with him the day after. I asked how his legs were feeling. He said they were a bit sore, and he was going to take a week or two off, and then get back to training. He said, "well, I learned a lot from that race, it would be a waste if I didn't put it to good use."
He fell off the horse, but the important stuff in life happens after you saddle back up. One of the challenges about running is you train for months for a race on a single day. If you have a bad day, there are no refunds. You could look at it like you wasted 3 months of hard work, or you can look at it as a small step in a long journey.
You learn more about someone when things are tough. Its easy to be a good person and have a good attitude when everything is going your way. You see what you are made of when you fail and have to pick yourself back up. Needless to say, I was really proud of how my brother handled his race disappointment.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Slept in until 6:00 am. (Did 9 handstand pushups though).
I am enjoying the start of my 2 week recovery period. I didn't realize how tired my body was until I started to take it easy. I will have to be smarter about incorporating rest and recovery periods into my program in the future (I know, I know, some of you have been telling me that for awhile, but I guess it took some time to sink in).
Here is an inspiring article about a 76 year old guy who is still running strong, doing Ironmans and marathons after he had open heart surgery.
Heart of a Champion
A couple of quotes from the article:
On January 9, 2008, Ed Wolfgram, M. D., ran the mile and a half from his home to Barnes- Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis. For the veteran of 60 marathons and 10 Ironman World Championships, it was nothing out of the ordinary. "I frequently run where I'm going when I'm running errands," he says. His "errand" on this particular day? Open-heart surgery. Just four hours after he laced up his running shoes, Dr. Wolfgram was on the operating table undergoing an aortic valve replacement.
...Dr. Wolfgram credits his fitness for making him healthier and happier at 76 than he was at 48. "I have a lot of fun doing this stuff ," he says. "I get to work full-time with energy. It doesn't do any good to be educated if you don't take care of your health. You can't put fitness in the bank. You have to maintain it."
And its been awhile since I have posted any Michael Jordan commercials. Here's another one (e-mail subscribers click here to see the video).
Saturday, October 17, 2009
7 handstand pushups
run 5 miles 39:10
My brother ran the Kansas City Marathon today and finished in 3:55. He beat his previous personal best by 23 minutes (almost a minute a mile). Great job Rick!
Another tough run for me - slow and tiring. After nearly every workout for the last week, I feel like this dude:
I think I am officially overtrained. A good sign that your body needs a break is your resting heart rate. A few months ago my resting heart rate was in the high 40's. Now it is in the mid 50's. Not a good thing.
I am going to take it easy for the next two weeks. More rest days and light workouts, though I will keep up the daily handstand pushups. I usually only publish blog posts if I do a workout, but I will break that rule the next couple of weeks so things don't get too stale here.
Here is some information about overtraining - Preventing Overtraining, When Less is More
Here are some quotes from the article:
Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body's ability to recover. Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. But without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.
Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in both physical and psychology symptoms of overtraining syndrome.
...There are several ways you can objectively measure some signs of overtraining. One is by documenting your heart rates over time. Track your aerobic heart rate at a specific exercise intensities and speed throughout your training and write it down. If your pace starts to slow, your resting heart rate increases and you experience other symptoms, you may heading into overtraining syndrome.
You can also track your resting heart rate each morning. Any marked increase from the norm may indicated that you aren't fully recovered.
...Research on overtraining syndrome shows rest is the primary treatment plan. Some new evidence indicating that low levels of exercise (active recovery) during the rest period will speed recovery. Moderate exercise has also been shown to increase immunity. Total recovery can take several weeks and includes proper nutrition and stress reduction.
Friday, October 16, 2009
8 handstand pushups
row 5000 meters 19:45
Fun with swiss balls
I went to a trainer for about 2 years, and he was big on core strength and stability exercises. He can do all kinds of crazy things on swiss balls, and he taught me a few of them. This is the most impressive one that I can do (e-mail subscribers click here so you can see the videos):
When you first try them, these swiss ball pushups seem like they are impossible. But after you work up to doing them, you realize they really aren't that difficult. When I did them all of the time I could do about 35. I know of one Consistency Wins reader who can do 50.
What you learn is that most people have weak stabilizer muscles. My grandpa was a farmer, and he always seemed stronger to me than people who lifted weights. That is because functional strength is more effective than weightlifting strength, because you are engaging many more muscles lifting a log than you are doing leg presses on a weight machine. That is why I am not a huge fan of gym weight machines.
It isn't hard to work up to doing these pushups. First, you have to make sure the swiss balls have a lot of air in them. Most of the ones at gyms are too soft. Start by putting your feet on a bench and your hands on a swiss ball and do pushups like I am in the video. After you get good at that, shove a swiss ball into the corner of a room so it won't move, put your feet on it and then do the pushups with both swiss balls. Finally, you will be able to progress to doing them with both swiss balls without any support. Your core muscles will be sore the first few times because you will be using them in ways that they aren't used to.
However, some people use poor judgment with swiss balls. This article is about a recent accident with a NBA basketball player on a swiss ball. He was bench pressing 90lb dumbells, using a swiss ball under his back instead of a bench. The ball burst, and he broke his wrist.
Sacramento Kings Swiss Ball Accident
And this is my favorite swiss ball video of all. I laughed out loud when I saw this:
Thursday, October 15, 2009
People (especially guys) tend to focus on chest exercises like bench press. But for muscular development and shoulder health, overhead presses (or handstand pushups) and pullups are much better. If your chest muscles get overdeveloped, you can develop bad posture and shoulder problems.
Handstand pushups can be intimidating to try at first, but like anything else, practice makes perfect. Here is a video of me doing handstand pushups (click here to see the video if it isn't in your e-mail feed):
I am only going to the top of my head, so for me this is effectively a 175 pound overhead press, but only half range. As you get stronger, the next progression is to look at the ground, and touch your nose to the ground. That gives you a few more inches in the range of motion. Finally, if you get blocks or parallel bars, you can work up to a full range of motion, like this:
The other difficult version is to do a handstand pushup to the floor, but with no support from the wall. This works your core and balance as much as your upper body strength. Like this:
If you would like to work up to doing handstand pushups, you can start by doing the progressive exercises detailed in the following link (things like v-pushups). Then you hold a handstand against a wall, then you put a phone book under your head so you have a small range of motion for the pushup until eventually you can do it all the way to the floor.
Handstand Pushup Tutorial
A key thing that people forget is to breathe while you are doing the pushups. People forget to breathe and they strain too much. Since blood is rushing to your head anyway, you can get a bunch of red splotches on your face. I have read of people screwing up their face so bad they get black eyes, but I have never seen it. If you just breathe regularly, you won't have a problem.
I like to keep things simple. A steady diet of handstand pushups, pullups and burpees will get you in better shape than 99% of Americans, all with no equipment and no expense. All it takes is consistency in training and patience.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
6 handstand pushups
row 500 meter intervals with 1 min. rest between each interval (8)
1:49.0, 1:52.0, 1:49.5, 1:50.5, 1:48, 1:50.4, 1:51.0, 1:50.1, 1:49.5, 1:46.5
total time 18:16.5
Another "just do something" workout.
I am trying out some new technology for the blog today. I found a good running article about how slow your pace is supposed to be for training runs. This article makes me feel better as I am slacking my way through workouts lately.
The bottom line is you should run about 2 min/mile slower than your race pace when you do your training runs. So for me race pace is around 7 min/mile and I should run closer to 8:30 miles in training. I tend to push pretty hard in each workout (at least until lately), so this would be a good change of pace for me.
I scanned the article in a PDF, and used a new service that embeds it in the blog so you can read it. (I have no idea how this will work in the e-mail feed, so if you don't see anything, click here to be taken to the post on the main blog page.)
On another topic, for you rowers out there I found a neat set of rowing pace calculators.
You can calculate all kinds of target paces, VO2 max, etc. My favorite is at the bottom, where it predicts your times for various distances. So for me, my best 2000 meter time is 7:01, and the calculator predicts I should be able to row 5000 meters in 18:38.6. My actual best is 18:50.
That is typical for me with these calculators because my shorter distance speed is always better than predicted and my longer distance speed is always slower. That is because I don't have the appropriate aerobic base since I don't run 40 miles a week or row 40,000 meters a week at relatively slow pace. My focus on interval training is efficient, but doesn't help with the longer distances.
Here is the running article (you can click the fullscreen button at the top to make it bigger, then use the + button at the bottom of the page to zoom in so it is easier to read):
Running Times Take It Easy
5 handstand pushups
40 walking lunges with 40lb dumbells
seated leg press 25 x 200lbs
summit trainer 12 resistance 2.0 miles 24:26
5 handstand pushups
Motivation continues to be low. It seems darker each morning, and with this storm coming in, its even harder to get up in the morning. The thought of doing anything hard like 100 burpees makes me want to stay in bed, so the light workout train continues.
If I didn't have this blog and a bunch of stuff I wanted to share with everyone, I probably wouldn't have gotten up to work out this morning. So thanks again for reading.
I may take some more days off or just do lighter workouts for a couple of weeks until my motivation sparks back up. The only good news is my shoulder is responding well to the handstand pushups, so I will probably keep those up on a daily basis for awhile.
I did my cardio workout on a summit trainer this morning. It looks like this:
The key to this machine, and all cardio machines is the resistance level. A great workout on this machine is 1/4 mile intervals at a high resistance level (15-20). At that resistance, you can barely move the footpads and you have to push hard on the arm levers. After you go 1/4 mile as fast as you can (which won't be fast), then rest at a very low resistance for 2-3 minutes. Keep this up for 30 minutes and you will know you did something.
In my experience, people don't increase the resistance enough on cardio machines. You are far better off doing a workout on the summit trainer (or an elliptical, or bike, etc) at 12 resistance for 2 miles in 30 minutes than you are doing 5 resistance for 3 miles in 30 minutes. Give higher resistance a try and you will work your muscles harder, get more tired, and increase your metabolism.
Here is a great article from the New Yorker about the long term health impacts of playing football. It is a long article, but very well written, and it really makes you think. The short version is football might be fun to watch, but don't let your kids play it.
New Yorker - Offensive Play
Here's a short excerpt:
McKee got up and walked across the corridor, back to her office. “There’s one last thing,” she said. She pulled out a large photographic blowup of a brain-tissue sample. “This is a kid. I’m not allowed to talk about how he died. He was a good student. This is his brain. He’s eighteen years old. He played football. He’d been playing football for a couple of years.” She pointed to a series of dark spots on the image, where the stain had marked the presence of something abnormal. “He’s got all this tau. This is frontal and this is insular. Very close to insular. Those same vulnerable regions.” This was a teen-ager, and already his brain showed the kind of decay that is usually associated with old age. “This is completely inappropriate,” she said. “You don’t see tau like this in an eighteen-year-old. You don’t see tau like this in a fifty-year-old.”
McKee is a longtime football fan. She is from Wisconsin. She had two statuettes of Brett Favre, the former Green Bay Packers quarterback, on her bookshelf. On the wall was a picture of a robust young man. It was McKee’s son—nineteen years old, six feet three. If he had a chance to join the N.F.L., I asked her, what would she advise him? “I’d say, ‘Don’t. Not if you want to have a life after football.’ ”
And on a completely off topic item, here is a link to a post with some very cool pictures from our solar system.
Big Picture - Fantastic Photos of our Solar System
A couple of samples:
Monday, October 12, 2009
5 handstand pushups
run 4 miles 29:51
I thought today's quote was appropriate since my motivation has been pretty weak lately. It is so true that consistent training is as much a mind game as anything. Lately it has been dark and colder in the morning and it has been tough to fire up. So if you are having a tough time transitioning to training in the colder weather, just know that you aren't alone.
I didn't feel like running this morning, but I understand a big storm is coming soon and I wanted to get one more outdoor workout in before the weather gets crummy.
On the topic of weather, I get all of my winter weather reports direct from my friend Paul. He is an avid snowboarder, and even though he is one of the older readers of Consistency Wins, he is in better shape than most of us. Paul's weather forecasts were more accurate than the TV weather people last year, so you might want to track his weather updates on his blog here - Tahoe Weather Blog. I also keep a link to his blog in my links section on the right side of this page.
Here are a couple of crazy stories from the Ironman World Championships that were held last weekend. While the winners maintain an insane level of fitness that I can barely comprehend, here are a couple of inspiring stories from people who you would not have expected to compete, let alone finish. Here's the link - An Incredible Day in Kona, but I have included the good parts below:
A year and a half ago, Elizabeth Thompson was on holiday in Nice when she suddenly found herself on the floor, unable to move. She lost use of her arms and her legs. One eye started to twitch. Her body was shutting down too much for her to even think that she might be dying.
It turns out Thompson was having a stroke. Volunteer fire fighters took her to the hospital. She spent weeks in that hospital, starting the re-learning process that would involve learning how to walk and talk again. Her first workout? Standing next to her bed. Her next one? Trying to walk across the room.
A year later, Thompson managed to finish Ironman France-Nice … well enough to qualify for today's Ford Ironman World Championship. Today she finished this race, too.
Today was a day where we learned just how challenging the Ford Ironman Championship really is. Rudy Garcia-Tolson, an incredible double-amputee who has won medals at the Paralympics, who has set numerous world records and who has amazed the world again and again took part in today's race. After a great swim, Garcia-Tolson rode 112-miles, using just his gluteal muscles to move himself along. He just missed the bike cut off. There are two things you can be sure of after watching his efforts today: he's one of the most incredible human beings on the planet … and you can be sure he'll be here again to take on this challenge again.
Matt Hoover, a man who won the “Biggest Loser” competition on television, gave it his best to be an official Ironman finisher here today. He came up just three minutes short, but put forth an impressive effort by finishing 2.4 miles of swimming, 112-miles of cycling and a marathon in 17 hours and three minutes.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
5 handstand pushups
row 5000 meters 19:16.0 (7)
I wanted to point out some accomplishments of a couple of Consistency Wins readers. Last weekend, Brian and Brad ran the Susan Komen 5k race on a crappy, cold morning on a hilly course. Brian broke his personal best, running just over 24 minutes, and Brad did it in 20:20. Considering Brad ran a 5k in 20:20 at sea level on a flatter course a month ago, this qualifies as a personal best in my book. If saw how muscular both of these guys are, you would be shocked that they can run this fast. Good job guys!
Also, my brother is going to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon on October 17. He is 33 years old, so his qualifying time is 3:10, which works out to 7 minute 11 second miles for 26 miles. I can barely run that fast in a 10k. He has only run one marathon before and finished over 4 hours. And he ran a half marathon this year and did it in 1:38. That projects to about a 3:30 marathon.
But he has been working his ass off, running about 40 miles a week and doing nearly all of it around target race pace. And he has been doing all of this with three small kids at home.
He is a great example of how very hard work can help you improve far more than conventional wisdom would dictate. The experts would tell you that you can't improve your race time that much in just a few months. Well sometimes we have to prove the experts wrong.
To accomplish any new goal, you have to build new habits. Here is an article with some tips to help you develop new, productive habits.
The Habit Change Cheatsheet
Friday, October 9, 2009
4 handstand pushups
run 8 miles 59:50
I have heard a ton of stories this year about people who have gotten in the best shape of their life. People are either losing weight, running new races, or training harder than they ever have before. I was wondering if this wave of health and fitness had anything to do with the recession, and I guess it partially does. Here are three articles about how interest in running booms during recessions. (Running and Rambling, WSJ Slow Economy, Faster Marathons, WSJ Running for Lean Times).
The theme of each of the articles is similar. More people focus on fitness to relieve stress during difficult times, and since some unemployed people have more time, they exercise and run more so overall marathon times across the country go down.
A couple of interesting facts. Across the country this year, 4.6% of all marathon runners will run times that qualify for the Boston Marathon (shows how hard that is). This number is 39% higher than the year before. Another one is that the New York City Triathlon sold out in 22 minutes this year, versus 8 hours the year before.
I know for myself my training intensity definitely went up when the investment markets (my day job) were getting killed last year. When I got up in the morning at 4:30 a.m. and saw the stock futures crashing each day, I figured I better work out so I had something positive to focus on during the work day.
The key to this trend is for people to stick with it. This recession, like all of the others, will end. Hopefully people will take the habits they have built in the past couple of years and continue a healthy lifestyle for the rest of their lives.
On a totally different topic, one of my goals after my last race was to gain 10 pounds of muscle (I had dropped my weight quite a bit for the race) and to run the same races next year in faster times at a higher weight. So I have been surfing the internet a bit on the topic of gaining weight during training. I came across this article about powerlifters gaining weight. Clearly powerlifters are not the lowest bodyfat crowd out there (you can see why after you read the following quote), but they do know how to gain weight. Along those lines, I found this article completely hilarious.
Here's the link to the interview (T-Muscle Dave Tate Interview). This part about gaining weight cracked me up:
"For breakfast you need to eat four of those breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds. I don't care which ones you get, but make sure you get four. Order four hash browns too. Now grab two packs of mayonnaise and put them on the hash browns and then slip them into the sandwiches. Squish that s**t down and eat. That's your breakfast."
"For dinner you're gonna order an extra-large pizza with everything on it. Literally everything. If you don't like sardines, don't put 'em on, but anything else that you like you have to load it on there. After you pay the delivery guy, I want you to take the pie to your coffee table, open that fucker up, and grab a bottle of oil. It can be olive oil, canola oil, whatever. Anything buy motor oil. And I want you to pout that shit over the pie until half the bottle is gone. Just soak the s**t out of it."
"Now before you lay into it, I want you to sit on your couch and just stare at that f***er. I want you to understand that that pizza right there is keeping you from your goals."
"Now you're on the clock, he continues. "After 20 minutes your brain is going to tell you you're full. Don't listen to that s**t. You have to try and eat as much of the pizza as you can before the 20 minute mark. Double up pieces if you have to. I'm telling you now, you're going to get three or four pieces in and you're gonna want to quit. You f***ing can't quit. You have to sit on that couch until every piece is done.
And if you can't finish it, don't you ever come back to me and tell me you can't gain weight. Cause I'm gonna tell you that you don't give a f*** about getting bigger and you don't care how much you lift."
Thursday, October 8, 2009
3 handstand pushups
row 5000 meters 19:16.3
5 handstand pushups
As I am starting to see how my shoulder holds up to some upper body weight work, I am experimenting again with handstand pushups. A few years ago I used to do them quite a bit. I really like them because they are a great upper body strength exercise that also requires a lot of core strength and balance, and you don't need any equipment to do them.
I do handstand pushups with my feet against the wall. At this point I just touch the top of my head to the floor, so it works out to be essentially a body weight overhead press, but you are only going halfway down. If you look at the ground and touch your nose to the ground you get a few more inches in the range of motion and it is much harder. It will take awhile to get to that level.
Here's a picture of how it generally looks. (P.S. this isn't me, though I am thinking of posting some youtube videos of some of the stuff I do in the future).
For a week or two I will try to do them in a "grease the groove" fashion where you only do a set or two each day (see this post for more information). This way I will hopefully not push much stress on my shoulder so I can ease into more strength work.
The following article is another confirmation that consistency is the key to success. The article talks about how people get excited to do a marathon, run the race, and then go back to their old unhealthy habits. Its not what you do over the course of the next few weeks or months that matters, it is what you do over the course of the next 20 years.
The Fleeting Benefit of Marathons - The Wall Street Journal
Some excerpts from the article:
Fitness and dietary experts say marathons increasingly are the exercise equivalent of crash diets, with similarly disappointing results. There's no evidence that running a marathon leads to lasting weight loss, marathon researchers say. And it's unknown how often such runs initiate or perpetuate a lifetime of steady exercise. Indeed, in a long-term fitness sense, marathons are really sprints; the true marathon is the exercise program that lasts for decades, fitness experts say.
Yet a large percentage of runners who complete the 26.2-mile races fail to match the persistence of John Craddock, a 61-year-old author and book packager in Winter Park, Fla., who has never run farther than six miles at a stretch. Since 1972, however, Mr. Craddock has been running two to three miles about five times a week, meaning that about twice a month for 37 years he has completed the equivalent of a marathon. "I never miss more than two days in a row—ever," he says.
Without question, participants who remain steady runners after finishing a marathon enjoy seemingly impressive benefits. Continuing scientific research suggests that consistent long-distance running not only improves cardiovascular health—a well-known benefit—but also lowers the risk of disorders of the eye and prostate, among other organs.
Still, even as the medical case mounts for people to get more vigorous exercise, behavioral studies are showing that hard-to-sustain regimens and painful routines can diminish the will to work out. Increasingly, public-health officials are questioning the value of the so-called boot-camp approach to working out. "The best can be the barrier to the good," says Heather Chambliss, a University of Memphis professor specializing in exercise motivation.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach
run 8 miles treadmill 0 incline 59:25
2 dumbell clean and shoulder press 25lbs x 10, 30lbs x 10, 35lbs x 10
2 dumbell clean and shoulder press 25lbs x 10, 35lbs x 10, 40lbs x 10, 10
run 4 miles treadmill 0 incline 29:36
100 burpees 6:45
standing dumbell shoulder press 25lbs x 10, 35 lbs x 10, 40lbs x 4, 3, 3
elliptical 2 miles 10 resistance 15:42
standing dumbell shoulder press 40lbs x 10, 45 lbs x 2, 40 lbs x 5
1 handstand pushup
I'm back in town, which means blog posts are back too. I was able to get a few decent workouts in at the hotel gym during my trip. As you can see, I started to incorporate a little upper body weight work into the program. My shoulder feels good so far, so I will keep it up. The mistake I always make is pushing too hard too fast, so I am going to try and be smarter about it this time.
This is a great story from Sports Illustrated that I read on the airplane. It's about a girl in Texas who won the state track team championships two times in a row -- by herself! Even better, she comes from a very small town in Texas and has essentially no training facilities. The high school track isn't even an actual track, it is just a path around the football field. She grew up on a farm, is a serious tomboy, and just sucks it up and figures out how to win. The article is kind of long, but its a great read if you have the time.
The Power of One - Sports Illustrated
Saturday, October 3, 2009
2000 meter row intervals with 4 minutes rest between each interval (7)
7:24.4, 7:42.6, 7:47.8
As I mentioned yesterday, I will be traveling this week so you might not see any posts for a few days.
Here are some random items for a Saturday:
1. This article is about a strongman (the guys who do the World's Strongest Man stuff on ESPN) who had a heart transplant and is back to 100% health and is training for his next event. Amazing.
New Heart Fuels Strongman
2. This is an amazing blog post about a 65 year old lady who deadlifts 342 pounds and squats 250 pounds. The best part is she only started weightlifting 6 years ago, at age 59! Check out the before and after pics in this link. Unbelievable. This shows you that it is never too late to start getting healthy.
Ross Training - Starting at Any Age
3. Finally, since its football season, here is a football motivation video. (the video doesn't always show up in the e-mail feed. If not, click here to see it)
Friday, October 2, 2009
100 burpees 6:17 (new record)
Today was supposed to be an off day, but I kept thinking about the last time I did burpees and did the first 50 in 3:05. So today I went for a new record, did the first 50 in 3:10 and the last 50 in 3:07, breaking my record by 6 seconds.
I am starting to think that i might be able to break 6 minutes someday, which is just amazing to me. There is a pretty long list of record times on a mixed martial arts training blog I follow, and this time puts me 18th out of 71 people. The guys on this blog are in serious shape, so I am pretty happy with a top 20 ranking.
I will be traveling most of the weekend and a few days next week, so depending on my internet access, posts here will be light to non-existent until the middle of next week. Before I left, I wanted to write about reviewing your results and learning from them. I have found that periodically checking on your progress and making adjustments is a good idea for any long term project in life, include diet and exercise programs.
Here is a good post on the subject. (Joe Friel Seasonal Summary) In it he poses a few questions for you to consider at the end of your race season (or any block of training for that matter). I have included the questions below for you, and then I will share my answers.
1. What was the high point of your season? Why does this stand out for you? Was it what you thought it would be at the start of the season?
I had two high points. The first was setting such low times for the 100 burpee challenge. The 100 burpee challenge always intimidated me to the point I was afraid to do it. But as I eased into doing it three times per week I improved quickly, and importantly I am not afraid of how much it hurts anymore. For me it is a great test of my physical and mental conditioning and I am very proud of my improvement there.
The second was finishing 2nd in my age group in the Lake Tahoe 10k. I am not a fan of putting in a ton of running miles per week, which is what you really should do to be competitive in a race. To actually win a running trophy in a race with 500 people while sticking with my underlying training approach of lots of intervals, short workouts and not much running was a big accomplishment for me.
The race finish was a goal at the beginning of the season, the burpee progress was a complete surprise.
2. What was your greatest disappointment? Why did this happen? Is there anything you could have done to have avoided it?
I had two disappointments. I was unhappy at how I paced the Journal Jog. I acted like a rookie and started out way too fast. Second, I developed biceps tendonitis (which actually hurts in the shoulder) in January 2009. I tried to work through it for about 6 months and finally had to stop any sort of upper body weight lifting.
I am pleased at how burpees and the rower have helped me maintain a lot of the muscle I had developed, but I do miss weightlifting. So far every time I have experimented with some weights the shoulder flares up, so it will probably be awhile before I can do upper body weights.
3. Looking back, do you think you trained as wisely and as hard as you could have trained?
I trained much more wisely than in the past, but I have room to improve. I was much more consistent in my approach, but I definitely could increase the intensity and improve my training focus. All in all I would give myself an 8 out of 10 on this one.
4. What is the one thing you most need to work on for next season in order to perform better?
I need to do a better job of managing the intensity of my training and ensure my training is consistent and focused throughout an entire year. I need to better cycle periods where I significantly increase the intensity with periods where I back off to let my body recover but still get quality workouts in.
5. What would you most like to accomplish next season? Is it a good stretch and yet within your reach if you do things right?
Overall, I feel I have a lot of room to grow because I have only been working with a something resembling a focused training program for about 9 months. I am hoping that with a better winter training program and consistent, wise training all through next year I can take my fitness to a higher level.
As far as goals, I would like to improve my race times while running at a body weight closer to 180 than the 173 I ran at this year. I will focus on shorter races next year (nothing above 10k) and try to place in my age group in two 10k races (one in the spring and one in the fall). I would like to emphasis rowing more next year and probably enter an indoor rowing competition. The thought of doing that makes me uncomfortable, which means it is a good idea.
I would also like to break 7 minutes for a 2000 meter row and 6 minutes for 100 burpees.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
row 10,000 meters 39:14.8 (7)
If you haven't tried a workout on a concept 2 indoor rower, you should give it a shot. Every person who I have recommended the rower to is now addicted to it (or actually hates it but still uses it all the time, which ends up getting you to the same place).
For the people that are rowing, you might try the rerow feature. In the main menu, choose select workout, and then rerow. A list of your past 50 rows will come up. Pick the one that you want to race, and then when you start rowing, the pace boat will follow the exact pace of your previous row. Now just beat the pace boat. Using this method made this morning's row a lot more enjoyable (and a lot faster).
One of the downsides of the indoor rower is it tough to compare times between different size people. It is much easier for a stronger 220 pound person to row 2000 meters than a lighter 170 pound person. So here is a conversion tool that translates your time on the indoor rower to an 8 man scull on the water.
Concept 2 Weight Adjustment Calculator
Since heavier people would weigh the boat down in the water, this conversion tool accounts for that. Obviously, when you play with this thing, the lighter you are, the faster your times convert to. For me, my 7:01 personal best for 2000 meters converts to 6:20.9 on the water (assuming I actually knew how to row in a competition scull, which I have no idea how to do). I don't know how accurate this is, but it is kind of fun to mess around with (of course that is because it makes my times look faster -- if it made me look slower, I am sure it would be less fun).
In other news, it must be psycho ultrarunner week in the Reno area. Earlier this week a 21 year old Spanish trail runner shattered the previous record for running the Tahoe Rim Trail. The Trail is 165 miles of seriously difficult single track trail that circles Lake Tahoe. He finished in 38 hours and 32 minutes. He only took a 2 hour nap at one point, the rest of the time he was running. That works out to 13 minute miles for nearly 40 hours on a trail with extreme elevation changes. Crazy...
Spanish Runner Smashes Tahoe Rim Trail Record