Sunday, January 31, 2010


"There is great advantage in training under unfavorable conditions. It is better to train under bad conditions, for the difference is then a tremendous relief in a race." Emil Zatopek

2 DB C&P 65 lb - 1 single rep, 11 sets of 2 reps
treadmill 5.0 miles 38:35

I have been in one of those low points lately where I feel fat and out of shape. My weight lifting work has been good, but everything else has been a struggle. Having gone through this a hundred times before, I know it is just a phase and it usually signals some good gains are coming, but that doesn't make it any easier to stay motivated.

With that theme in mind, here is a blog post about commitment. Chuckie V - Commitment

Here is the key part of the post:
What so many athletes fail to understand is that this discomfort is one of the keystones of commitment, and one of the biggest reasons for making a commitment in the first place.

Some athletes don't understand that being uncomfortable is part of the process of achievement, so they use the discomfort as a reason not to go about it all. Naturally, they then don't get what they want. (Or they don't get what they tell themselves they want, anyway.) We must learn to tolerate discomfort in order to grow!

If we fail to see this, we're essentially training ourselves to ignore our own promise. (My apologies for the play on words here within, but I meant it both ways.) Commitment then means nothing. Just as there is no partially pregnant, there is no "partially committed".

Commitment ain't a one-time occurrence. It occurs daily, hourly, continually. We must choose to commit to our goals and dreams, over and over and over.

The test of this commitment, of course, is action.

If I tell myself, "I'm committed to get to the big dance in Kona this October," and then don't train for it, there's really no commitment there; it's just talk. Conversely, if I'm training hard, I don't need to tell myself how committed I am. My action is my commitment.

When we commit and act, we're confronted by our comfort zone. Naturally, we're tempted to quit and we're very much encouraged by ourselves and others (but never mind them) to do so. If we forge ahead regardless, we expand our comfort zone and learn a valuable (and necessary) lesson, and the commitment grows stronger. Of course, that just repeats the whole cycle and we're forced to push our boundaries a little further once more.

Picture of the Day

A -12 degree day in Bulgaria.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


"The hardest things in life....are the best things in life" Kirk McKee

It's video Saturday (e-mail subscribers click here if you can't see the videos in your e-mail feed).

This is an absolutely amazing video of Vancouver Canada, this site of the winter olympics. It is a high definition time lapse video.

Check out the finish of this triathlon. This is the definition of truly giving everything you have to try and win. Notice the clock at the top of the finish line. These guys are sprinting like this after a 1 hour and 45 minute race.

Finally, this last video is for Brian. This is a 42" box jump, but the guy is wearing a 40lb weight vest. Impressive.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Long Term Progress

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience" Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 DB C&P 60 lb - 6 sets of 3, 4 sets of 2
treadmill 3 miles 5.0 incline 27:27

I came across this blog post by a very experienced weightlifter. He talks about what it takes to follow a successful training program. I like it because it stresses the importance of keeping a long term perspective to your training. It is worth your time to read.

Keith Wassung - Long Term Progress and Vision

Some excerpts (I highlighted the best quotes):
The same is true for weight training programs. The ones that are effective all have common foundations and principles, even though they may appear completely different. There are countless numbers of routines and programs to choose from and this often creates confusion among lifters.
You must give ANY program a certain length of time in order to achieve progress. An average program that is performed with consistency and determination is FAR SUPERIOR to the best program that is done intermittently and with doubt.
It is important to always keep in mind that progress is almost never linear or constant except perhaps in the first year or so of training after which gains often come in isolated batches and often at unexpected times.
I can directly relate this to my training as I would train hard for weeks, often months without ANY sign or measurable progress and then all of a sudden *BAM* I would go up 20-30lbs on one lift or would put on 5-6lbs of solid bodyweight, and though the measurable results seem to appear instantly-they were the result of months of consistent and persistent effort.
One of the biggest myths in resistance training is that you have to constantly change your program in order to “keep the muscles confused” or some similar statement.-guys-it just ain’t true-…. Can you think of any sport of athletic endeavor where the training protocol consists of constant change? Do sprinters do this, swimmers? Track athletes? how about skill athletes?
I believe most people would be best served by selecting 6-7 core exercises and sticking with them for their entire lives.
It has been my experience that most of the time when progress is stalled or appears to stall, it is due to “head space” and has little or nothing to do with your physical state. Yes, overtraining happens and yes your CNS can get overtaxed, but nearly as much as the internet bodybuilding wonders would have you believe-most of the time it is because you have lost your focus and your enthusiasm-this whole thing is about getting your mind and your attitude right.-trust me on that one.
you have to be patient and realize that strength and development takes time-in fact, I have observed that the longer it takes to acquire the longer you seem to retain in ( sort of like money) Be patient and think long term. Have a ten year plan, a five year plan, a one year plan, a 90 day plan, a monthly plan and a daily plan-sounds like a lot of planning, well it is, but the results are well worth it.

Picture of the Day

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Metabolic Calculator

"Don't mistake movement for achievement. It's easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: busy doing what? Jim Rohn

2 DB C&P 65lb - 10 sets of 2
stepmill 30 minutes 192 flights

So far, my plan to add more rest days is working well. I am trying out a 2 days on, 1 day off approach, and so far I have more energy and my workouts have been great.

Also, I bought some new toys. I got a pair of 60lb dumbbells so I can do my clean and press work at home. The goal is someday to be strong enough to need 75lb dumbbells too. I get much more fired up buying training stuff than I do TV's or anything like that, so I have been pretty excited about getting these. I will try them out tomorrow morning.

One note about the bodyfat calculator I posted yesterday. Judging by the responses I have gotten, it sounds like the bodyfat estimates from the calculator for the guys are a bit too low, and the ones for the girls are a bit too high. So if you are a guy, then you can be discouraged, and girls can be encouraged. All that matters is how you look in the mirror anyway.

In response to yesterday's post about calculators, Justin sent me a spreadsheet that you can use to calculate your daily calorie needs. It is based on the Basal Metabolic Rate and the Harris Benedict formula. The BMR figures out how many calories you need if you don't exercise at all, and the Harris formula adjusts your calorie needs based on your activity level.

Since I can't figure out how to post spreadsheets on the blog, I found a BMR calculator on the internet. Here it is: Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator

It says that I need 3,136 calories per day, which is exactly the number Justin's spreadsheet gave me. Justin's calculator is better because it also tells you how many calories you need to eat to lose weight. For me, it said 2,636 per day.

I messed around with the calculator a bit, and for both guys and girls of different sizes the difference between the maintenance calorie level and the weight loss calorie level was about 500 calories per day. So take whatever the calculator says and subtract 500 and you should be pretty close.

Picture of the Day

This is a photo of the same trail in Idaho in the winter and summer. Eventually the snow will melt!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Running and Body Fat Calculators

"Your goal in the gym should be simple: more reps performed more explosively with more weight in less time." Unknown

If you are a runner, this link has all kinds of cool stuff in it. The general rule of thumb is that each pound of bodyweight makes you 2 seconds per mile slower when you run. The link below takes you to a tool that quantifies the impact of weight on running times, as well as a ton of other race related stuff.

The neat part is the left hand toolbar. Once you enter your race distance and time for one tool, it keeps the information and re-calculates for other stuff like race splits, VO2 max, etc. I also like the VO2 max race time predictor. It takes your time for one race and predicts your time for different distances. The time predictions seem fairly accurate to me.

Running for Fitness Calculators

Here is an on-line body fat calculator. You pick the male or female tab, enter your height, weight, waist and wrist size, pick your activity level and it gives you a number. It said I have 7% body fat, which I know is low. Encouragingly positive results makes the tool even more fun.

Body Fat Calculator

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Incremental Increases

"Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit." Napoleon Hill

2 DB C&P 60lb - 4 sets of 3, 6 sets of 2
summit trainer 14 resistance 25 minutes 1.65 miles

Another strong workout today. I am going to try to force myself to take a day off tomorrow (which will be hard for me). I want to experiment with giving my body more recovery time and see how it affects my performance.

Here is a funny and to-the-point paper by Mark Rippetoe about how to get people to experience improvement and consistently train.

Incremental Increases - Mark Rippetoe

Some highlights:

As a practical matter, I figured out a long time ago that the easiest way to make the human body look different in the shortest period of time possible was to make it stronger, and that the easiest way to guarantee that this happened was to add weight to the bar every time the member shows up.
But the key to everybody’s progress – male or female, young or old, weak or strong, stupid or smart, scared or tough – was the incremental increase provided by starting at a reasonable weight and going up every time they showed up at the gym.

Doing it this way, with just a few simple exercises, allowed me to show them a completely different approach to exercise than they had ever seen, one that focused attention not on the exercises per se, but on the weights being used on them. Virtually every other gym program, then as now, focuses on the use of as many different exercises as the floor has machines, at least eight and maybe twelve in one workout, while I used at most four basic barbell exercises. I had all the standard machines in the old version of the gym, but I stopped using them because they didn’t contribute to my plan for member retention, which was based entirely on making the member look and feel as different as possible in the four-workout window of attention.

This disturbed many people who, driven by the media, preconceived notions and prejudices, rumor/hearsay/innuendo, bad advice from fools, and the hope for an easy way to do everything, expected machines in their workout. But had I added the machines, the workout would have been too long for most people’s schedule, and they were absolutely unnecessary anyway. This because selectorized machines fitted with a stack of plates on rails in 10 lb. increments that work a small, isolated group of muscles do not lend themselves well to continued incremental increases the way barbell exercises that work large groups of muscles at one time do.
This is wonderful, of course, but after many years of doing things this way it became clear that most people really didn’t give a shit whether it worked or not. Squats, presses, and deadlifts are harder than leg extensions and watching TV on the treadmill, and most people still quit.
Most productive, of course, would be a program that plans a small incremental increase from the previous workout to be done after a warmup that effectively prepares for these work sets, a program that will always produce progress over time because, if it is done properly, no other outcome is possible.
If your knowledge of the acquisition of strength is based on the hope that it just happens because you spent some time working out in the weight room, and you have no personal experience with making it happen a little at a time until either you or one of your trainees is a lot stronger, you have no concept of the effectiveness of the most logical way to make it happen. I stumbled upon this method accidentally, essentially out of necessity. Benefit from my experience, please.

Picture of the Day

Monday, January 25, 2010

Running with Fatigue

"Consistency requires discipline. Force yourself out the door." Bob Glover

2 DB C&P 65lb x 15 single reps
treadmill 5k (3.1 miles) 20:59

The rest day yesterday was a good thing. I felt fresh this morning and had a great workout. I tried twice to get 70lb dumbbells up on the C&P and almost made it. I should be able to get at least one rep on them by the end of February.

This was also the fastest I have ever run a 5k on the treadmill. It broke just as I was finishing the run. I need to start running on an incline, or I am going to get kicked out of my gym.

Here is an article from the Athletes' Performance Insitute (that's the place in Arizona where all of the sports stars go to train in the offseason). It has got some good information on running while tired. Here's the link - Running with Fatigue, and here are some highlights:

Their primary message is "don't force." Fighting fatigue just causes tension and frustration that compound the problem.

Think Small - focus on small, manageable segments of a race. "Tell yourself," they advise, "I'll just do this next loop or next mile or the next stretch." Mentally break up your race into pieces and think about fitting all the pieces into a project that you are trying to complete. Re-evaluate your condition at the beginning or end of each segment.

Read Signals - The second strategy is to listen to your body and take cues from it. Instead of disassociating themselves from the task by thinking about anything but running, elite competitors use feedback provided by markers of fatigue to adjust their stride, alter their pace, and correct other technical mistakes. Their body computers put out data used to make changes. Concentrating on the task at hand prevents them from being distracted by pain.

Practice Reacting - The third mental tactic is a familiar theme espoused by sports psychologists. Use mental images - visualize - to stimulate the body to perform at a high level in spite of the negative forces caused by fatigue. "Visualize running smoothly, effortlessly, and full of energy. Imagine the tightness in the shoulders dissipating as you relax and drop your arms for 30 seconds." In other words, rehearse dealing with fatigue during training sessions so you'll be ready to put a plan in action during competition.

Attack It - Next, change your attitude toward fatigue-related pain. Instead of interpreting it as a limit to performance, try to see fatigue as an indication that you are exploring the outer boundaries of your potential. If you never become fatigued, how do you know if you are making significant performance breakthroughs? "Necessary fatigue" is an indication of a potential performance breakthrough.

"Keep in mind that you can take charge of fatigue. You need not suffer through it."

Picture of the Day

Sunday, January 24, 2010

NFL Photos

"Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you." H. Jackson Brown Jr.

In honor of the NFL Conference Championships, here are some football pictures.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Have You Accomplished Lately?

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." Thomas Jefferson

row 2000 meters 7:23.5
rest 4 minutes
row 2000 meters 7:40.4
125 crunches

In the last couple of weeks, Consistency Wins readers have accomplished the following (each item is a different person):

- ran her fastest 5 miles in last 18 months (44:30)
- ran his fastest 5 miles in the last 6 months (43:30)
- bench pressed 225 pounds 10 times (at a bodyweight of 160)
- lost 5 pounds
- attended a 1 hour high intensity exercise class at 5:00 am 6 days a week since January 4
- trained every day for the last 16 days (many of those days included 2 one hour workouts, one in the morning and one in the evening)
- lost 7 pounds

What have you accomplished in the last couple of weeks?

Picture of the Day

This picture is from Paul, one of the original Consistency Wins readers. It's his son Scott snowboarding in the chutes on Mt. Rose in the middle of yesterday's snowstorm. You can read Paul's weather blog here - Tahoe Weather Blog

Friday, January 22, 2010

Diet Analysis

"Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn't work, do something else." Franklin D. Roosevelt

2 DB C&P 60lb - 2 sets of 3, 8 sets of 2
stepmill 30 minutes 180 flights

There is an interesting article in this month's Outside magazine about dieting. The author tried 6 different diets in the course of a year. He followed each diet for 2 months. Here is a link to the article, and below are some highlights -- Outside Magazine - Man vs. Food

The Abs Diet - The hook: If you've got a six-pack, you're probably healthy. The diet: Lots of protein and good fats, no refined carbs. Accompanying workouts blast those abs! #1 lesson learned: Healthful meals can be tasty and easy to make. One big takeaway: Snacks are best used to prevent hunger, rather than to address it.

The Paleo Diet - The hook: The author of The Paleo Diet (eat like our Stone Age ancestors) teams with endurance-sports coach Joe Friel to tailor it for active types. The diet: Lots of game meats, raw produce, no refined anything except during endurance sports, then bars, bagels, gels, etc. #1 lesson learned: It's tough to exercise when you're hungry all the time.

The Mediterranean Prescription - The hook: More and better years by eating like a Sicilian. The diet: Fresh produce, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, and red wine. #1 lesson learned: Healthy eating means moderation of everything more than elimination of anything.

The Okinawa Program - The hook: Eating like the longest-lived people on earth. The diet: Largely plant-based, but with chicken, fish, and unrefined carbohydrates. And lots of soy products. #1 lesson learned: Conventional wisdom about what constitutes a healthy diet can steer you wrong.

Nutritionist - The hook: A customized diet based primarily on ancestry. The diet: A familiar balance of protein, fats, and carbs, but from a detailed food list tailored to your DNA. #1 lesson learned: Each of us can find a diet that works. And it's awesome. - The hook: A free, interactive Web site that helps you meet individualized nutrition targets. The diet: The oft-maligned USDA Food Pyramid. #1 lesson learned: The more diet data you record, the more you'll learn.

Conclusion - What did I learn in the end? Lean protein, good fats, healthy carbs. More specifically: modestly sized meals consisting of lots of produce, a bit of lean meat now and then, and grains that haven't been bleached and pulverized into submission. Also, olive oil is good, and snack on nuts and dates.

Picture of the Day

That is Mt. Everest in the background.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tough Guy Challenge

"Just say to bad do I want this? Am I working harder than the person who will be standing next to me at the start line?" Unknown

2 DB C&P 65lb x 15 single reps
treadmill 3 miles 20:46

If you think you are a tough person, there is a race in England on January 31 for you. Tough Guy claims to be the world's most demanding one day survival ordeal.

The original, held in Perton near Wolverhampton, is organised in England by Mr Mouse, who claims nobody has ever finished all the course according to his extremely demanding rules.

Taking place at the end of January in Perton near Wolverhampton, Tough Guy Race consists of a cross country run followed by an assault course. Running the course involves risking barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, electric shocks, sprains, twists, joint dislocation and broken bones. Before running the course one must sign a "death warrant" which states that one acknowledge the risks and dangers the course brings along, and that one can not claim in the case of injury.

Here is a link to a bunch of pictures from the race. It looks absolutely insane.

Big Picture - Tough Guy Challenge 2009

Here is the website for the race - Tough Guy

Picture of the Day

A competitor working his way through one of the Tough Guy obstacles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1/20 workout

"Restlessness is discontent - and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man - and I will show you a failure." Thomas Edison

Exercise bike 10 resistance 20 miles 58:10

I will be traveling on a short business trip this week, which means I will be eating way too many protein bars. While you do what you have to on the road, here is an article about why too many energy bars isn't a great idea.

Joe Friel - Real Food and Performance

...There is a similar trend going on in sports nutritional products. Athletes seem to be coming to the conclusion that sports bars, protein drink mixes, electrolyte concoctions and more are healthy and a good source of what we need to improve performance. Athletes comment on such supplements as if it is a foregone conclusion that this stuff is not only healthy, but also the best source of whatever it is we need to become faster and more enduring.

I believe just the opposite: A diet high in such highly processed stuff (I don’t think of them as “food”) is unhealthy. Nature has been making foods such as fruits and vegetables for millions of years. We evolved quite nicely as a species eating these along with animal products. Such foods seem to have everything we need to not only survive as a species but to thrive as athletes.

On the other hand, sports nutrition scientists have been making their stuff for about 30 years. And it’s only been for the last 15 years or so that athletes have preferred to carry a bar in their pocket on a bike ride rather than a banana. Now we’ve come to the point where many (most?) think that the best possible food to eat post-workout is something out of a plastic bag. Some even carry this preference for sports nutritionals into their daily lives eating stuff throughout the day that was unheard of just months ago.

Here are a few guidelines I believe will help you when it comes to making food selections.

• If the product comes in plastic packaging eat it only in very small portions, preferably during exercise, and then only because of convenience.

• If the product has more than five ingredients listed on the package it’s best avoided or eaten in very limited quantities. Eat these only when “real” food is not readily available.

• The foods you should be the most wary of are those that proclaim loudly to be “healthy” or “all natural.”

• Typically, the more expensive a product is per calorie, the less healthy it is.

• The less advertising there is for a food, the healthier it is.

• If your grandparents could not have eaten it, it’s best avoided.

This is not to say that you should never eat sports bars or the like. There are times and situations when they are convenient. But the primary time to eat them is during exercise, and then only very long or very intense workouts. Generally, if you are in decent shape and the workout lasts less than two hours all you need is water, assuming you had a meal sometime in the last few hours before starting the session. For such short workouts you really don’t need all of that sugar or the other stuff (protein, sodium, magnesium, vitamins, minerals, etc) we’re told are some how necessary for sports performance.

For optimal health and sports performance simplify your diet.

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/19 workout and Caesar Ibarra 2010 Training Plan

"Discipline is remembering what you want." David Campbell

2 DB C&P 60lb x 10 sets of 2
summit trainer 14 resistance 30 minutes 1.83 miles
125 crunches

Caesar Ibarra 2010 Training Plan

I wrote about Caesar a couple of days ago (see here for the post), and yesterday he was nice enough to share his 2010 training plan.

Caesar has worked his butt off in the gym and on the roads for the last couple of years, and part of his plan this year is to spend more time enjoying his enhanced fitness. This really increases on the "bread and butter" stuff like gym lifting, speed work, etc. because it gives it some context. One of the best motivators is to have fun with your training.

I used to think I could keep up to Caesar in both the strength and speed departments. I have no hope now on the strength side. He and I are nearly the same right now as far as running speed/endurance though. We are entered in a lot of the same races this year, so it should make for some competitive racing.

Here is his plan.

This year will be different for me because I spent a bunch of effort on long distance endurance training last year, and I really would like to mix that up. My friends keep coming up with ideas for this year, and I keep saying “sure that sounds like fun”. So far I have agreed to a few half marathons, a few century bike rides, a few short course triathlons including an Xterra race, and running up Mt. Rose with Ken…and all that was discussed this month. Because I am all over the board and don’t have a specific race to peak train for, my focus will be to be in overall great condition to do whatever comes my way. I am working on continued overall fitness, but do want to focus on two specific things, to be faster and leaner.

My goal for this coming year is to be faster and leaner than my current ability/body comp, while maintaining my strength. I am happy with the results I have achieved from my strength training, so I don’t plan on changing anything there. My strength training is done 100% at Anatomie Fitness and has been for over two years now
(Ken's note - If you are looking for a great personal trainer in Reno, Anatomie Fitness is the place. I went there for nearly 2 years myself, and they are great).

My gym days break down as follows: back & bicep, stability ball & core, chest & tricep, legs & shoulders. I have achieved significant strength gains over the past few years and have found this routine to be very effective for my schedule. The training sessions are 30 minutes long, are with a personal trainer, and basically have me laying on the ground from exhaustion when done. The workouts include weights, intervals, plyometrics, body weight movements, and balance & stability movements.

To be faster: I have recently run the following, mile in 6:06 and half marathon in 1:43 (which was a 7:54 pace). I would like to get that mile under 5:30 and a half marathon under 1:38 (which is a 7:30 pace). I plan on changing-up my cardio workouts completely. I will replace those long slow distance runs from last year’s marathon with short interval based training. For example, intervals at the track, intervals on a row machine, etc.

Last year I spent very little time on interval training, so this is very exciting to see how it changes my performance come race day. I expect that I will be pleasantly surprised on how interval based training will accomplish both of my goals for this year. Since my background is mostly in running, faster for me will be based on my efforts in running events. The triathlons and century rides are just for fun. They are great events to change up the routine and go get a great workout in while having fun with friends.

To be leaner: I have never really focused on diet. I eat really healthy 75% of the time, but have never put effort into being lean. I believe that to hit my goal of lean, which for me is 12% body fat, I will have to put as much effort into what I eat as I do in exercise. 12% might seem easy to some, but for me and the social nature of my job that I enjoy, it will take a significant effort. I am currently at 17%.

I have done a lot of reading lately on the Paleolithic diet, and have really found myself leaning toward that approach. I am beginning to incorporate that approach right now…will see how it goes!!! So far, I am surprised at the energy level I have. Maybe there is something to it. (Ken's note - the Paleolithic diet is also known as the caveman diet. If a caveman ate it, you can. The key is to keep processed foods out of your diet. For more information, click here)

Caesar is one of the most disciplined people I know, so when he puts down a plan, I know he will stick with it. Now we will just have to see if I can keep up with him this year.

Picture of the Day

Winner of the 2009 Ironman World Championships

Monday, January 18, 2010

One Lift Per Day

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

2 DB C&P 65lb x 10 single reps
DB power clean 75lb x 1
treadmill 5k (3.1 miles) 21:08

This morning I was able to pick up the 75lb dumbbells and get them to my shoulders. My form was crappy, but at least I could do it. It almost seems impossible that I would be able to press them over my head once, let alone 12 times. However, usually if you stick with things for a long time, you end up doing things you never thought possible. Slow and steady wins the race, and all that stuff. Or as I like to say -- Consistency Wins.

You might wonder why the majority of my weightlifting work is focused on just one exercise. Well, for one, it is a complete movement that works every muscle in your body at once (read more about that here).

But it also fits with my "farmer fitness" philosophy. My grandfather lived to be 98 years old, and he was running his farm and hunting into his late 90's. His entire life he was one of the most fit people I know, with incredible amounts of strength and endurance. He got this way by working hard all day, every day (read more about my Grandpa here).

My Grandpa would do things like stack 80-90 pound hay bales and 100 pound sacks of fruit all day long. He once shoveled over 20 tons of fruit into transport bins in a single day. During each of these jobs, he didn't stop in the middle and say, "well boys, the rest of this is going to have to wait. I finished my 15 reps of hay stacking, and now I have to hit the triceps extension machine and do some swiss ball crunches." You worked hard, and your body just figured out the rest.

Back in the 50's and 60's, that's the way weightlifting was. Most gyms had barbells and dumbbells. No benches for pressing, and definitely no cable curl machines. If you wanted to do something with a weight, you had to start by picking it up off the floor.

So if you add all this up, the reason I focus on one lift is the dumbbell clean and press is a very efficient total body exercise and it makes me feel all old school and cool like my Grandpa.

I am not the only person that feels this way. Here is an article about a weightlifting program that is focused on doing one lift per day. Dan John - One Lift a Day Program

Here's Dan's take on the subject:

First, let’s discuss why anyone who tries this is going to hate it. I'd bring this up later, but there are some subtle and not so subtle issues regarding the One Lift a Day program. The biggest issue for most people trying this for the first time is hard to fathom: you don’t get to spend a lot of time in the gym…because you can’t spend a lot of time in the gym.

The other issue is closely related: since you're only doing one exercise, you can’t slip away from squats to the leg extension machine to convince yourself that you're working your legs. If you're only doing squats, you do squats. If you're only doing chins, you're going to chin for 45 minutes!

Doing "just chin-ups" might have sounded like a grand idea in the car on the way to the gym, but I guarantee that you'll be looking around after about five sets for the "relief" that changing exercises brings to the body and the mind. On the One Lift a Day program, you just aren’t going to get that relief.

The biggest problem is that there are no excuses. If you choose to do squats, it's a squat day. There's no place to hide in this program. You can’t convince yourself that you had a good day because you did 41 different lifts or a lot of volume or you did a lot of abs after blowing off the stuff you hate.

The One Lift a Day Program is really hard. Certainly, it's the most productive program most people have ever tried, but it's simply too hard.

Interested in trying it? Think about a few things:

• Big weights, short workouts. It's hard to go heavy for a long workout. If you don’t believe me, enter a strongman contest or a Highland games.

• If the whole idea sounds crazy, just try an occasional "One Lift Only" day. It certainly breaks the mold of what most trainers do and is actually fun.

Picture of the Day

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1/17 rest day

"It is a sublime thing to suffer and be stronger." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here is a motivating post from David Goggin's (the Navy SEAL/Ultrarunner) blog.

David Goggins - Can't Sleep

Here's the whole post:

Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can not do something. All my life I heard that I couldn't do something. My mom was working 2 jobs and going to college. I was an African American kid in an all white school. They tried to say that I couldn't....but I did. I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. They said I couldn't because I was too big and couldn't hardly swim....but I did. They said I couldn't go to Ranger School because my schedule as a SEAL wouldn't allow it....but I did. They said that I couldn't run 100 miles because I had never ran a marathon...but I did. They said I could never complete the Ultraman because I had never done a triathlon...but I did. Now they say I can't do RAAM because it's too soon. It's not safe....but....

Life is not always going to be this care free happy place that we would like it to be. What life throws at you is a lot of negativity. It's what you do with that negativity that makes you a stronger human being. When you hear the words, no, you can't, impossible, never...what do you think to yourself? Do you cower inside and run from the challenge. Or do you face it...head on...asking for more?

Failure is an option. It's what you do with the failure that makes you who you are. Our failures mold us. I have failed at several things in my life. What sets some of us apart, is that when we fail, we can't sleep at night. It haunts us until we have our time at redemption.

Picture of the Day

Special Forces training. Real men do training runs with a buddy on their back.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

1/16 workout

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." Norman Schwarzkopf

2 DB C&P 60lb 10 sets of 2
stepmill 30 minutes 183 flights

This time of year the weather often keeps us trapped in the gym. Sometimes when I get tired of cardio machines, I remember that one of the reasons to stay in shape in the winter is so we can do fun stuff outdoors in the summer. This video is a collection of pictures put together by an ultra runner from his races last year. There are some great images in it (e-mail subscribers click here to see the video).

Picture of the Day

Friday, January 15, 2010

1/15 workout

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another." Walter Elliott

2 DB C&P 65lb x 5 single reps, 60lb x 5 sets of 2
treadmill intervals - 1/2 mile interval, 1/4 mile rest
#1 - 9.0 mph (6:40 min/mile) #2 - 9.5 mph (6:18 min/mile)
#3 - 9.5 mph (6:18 min/mile) #4 - 10.0 mph (6:00 min/mile)

Congratulations to Caesar, who yesterday met his goal of doing 10 reps on the bench press with 225 pounds. Now this is the same guy who ran a 6 minute mile with me last weekend, so he is both strong and fast.

The really impressive part is Caesar weighs 160 pounds, so 225 pounds is 1.4 times his bodyweight. I am a fairly strong guy, and I couldn't do one rep with 1.4 times my bodyweight. Now Caesar and Brad are in a horse race for the title of the strongest, fastest person I know.

It took a year of work for Caesar to a reach his goal. Which leads to this question:

Are you willing to commit a full year of dedicated effort to achieve your goals?

Picture of the Day

Maybe this will be Caesar someday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

1/14 workout

"Crawling is acceptable. Falling is acceptable. Puking is acceptable. Tears are acceptable. Pain is acceptable. Injury is acceptable. Quitting is unacceptable." Unknown

500 meter row intervals with 1 min. rest between intervals
1:43.6, 1:45.6, 1:47.4, 1:48.2, 1:46.9 total time: 8:51.8
100 crunches

Short workout today. More like a day off than a workout. Short intense workouts like that are a great way to refresh the system without actually taking a day off.

I try to have a theme for each day's post, but today is just a mismash of stuff.

First, a few administrative items. I know many of you follow this blog through e-mail or rss feeds, but for the people that visit the website directly, you have told me that it is too hard to figure out who is writing the blog. So I added a picture of me on the main page sidebar and made the About Me information easier to find and updated the page. If you click on the picture (I need to find a better picture), it will take you to my profile. If you want to check it out, here is the main page link --

I also added a search tool on the sidebar. Since I have over 200 posts now, it can be a pain to find old stuff on the site. The search tool works great for that. It is also cool because it not only searches the blog, but it searches the pages that I have linked to in the blog.

Finally, I have received a ton of questions about the 2 dumbbell clean and press. If you haven't seen it yet, I wrote an article about it that gives background, provides some form tips, and discusses the 12 reps with 75 pound dumbbells challenge that I am currently working on. I also included a video of myself doing the exercise so you can see how to perform it with proper form. Here is the link - 2 DB Clean and Press

I just have to say that many of you are making me feel like a wimp lately. I have been so impressed how hard you all are working. I know a number of readers that are currently doing 2 workouts each day, getting up early in the morning and just generally pushing the training volume a lot. You are reminding me that I need to step up my game -- thanks to all of you for firing me up.

Now, a couple of training items.

This first one made me feel like a wimp as well. I was reading a mixed martial arts training forum last night, and came across the following post. This forum posts a monthly conditioning challenge that readers use to compete against each other for time. This month's challenge was to do 5 rounds of 5 deadlift reps with 1.25x bodyweight and 10 burpees for time. One of the members did the workout, posted the video, and wrote the following:

First off, I normally lift while drinking peri-workout smoothie. I lifted right before this, but I should have left the smoothie out. All of this was done out in my unheated shed in cold weather, hence the layers. I finish the workout, and I absolutely can't catch my breath. My arms and legs are burning like no other. I normally hurt like hell on conditioning challenges/burpees for time, but this was at a new level. My head was throbbing. It took me about two minutes before I turn off the camera. I truck it about 50 feet inside through the snow. I struggle like hell to get my shoes off. My wife is wondering what the f**k is wrong with me, and she's nagging me with "I don't know why you do things like this". My dog and cats are running up to me annoying the piss out of me. I immediately snap yelling at all of them, run to the bathroom, puke up the smoothie, and lay on the ground in pain. I could not catch my breath, and my head was throbbing like crazy. I got into the tub for a warm bath with the door open in case I passed out and drown. I finally got back to normal about 30 minutes later. I doubt I will be doing this challenge again.

That is what it feels like to give 100%.

Here is the link to the video if you are interested -- Sherdog January Conditioning Challenge

Finally, after my shoe post yesterday, one of the blogs I follow had another article on the same subject. Here is the link -- Joe Friel Running Shoes Part 2. He includes some recommendations to strengthen your feet over time, which you can read in the link. But here is the bottom line:

When I owned the running store mentioned in the previous post I soon discovered there wasn't one shoe selection that would work best for all runners. But gradually I came to realize that runners are less likely to have injuries and to perform better if they use the least shoe possible for them. Note that 'for them' is quite a broad qualifier. A 115-pound woman with excellent running technique and years of training injury-free can generally get by quite nicely with the least shoe possible. Whereas a 220-pound runner with flat feet and awful run technique who is in his first year of serious running will need something far more supportive on his feet.

Picture of the Day

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1/13 workout

"You can't really be strong until you see a funny side to things." Ken Kesey

2 DB C&P 65lb x 1,1 60lb x 4 sets of 2
summit trainer 14 resistance 1 mile 15:40
125 crunches

I am trying out a new pair of running shoes. Inspired by the book Born to Run, I have been thinking of using shoes with less padding in the sole. The rationale in the book for not buying the latest, most cushioned shoes made a lot of sense to me. This is a whole topic by itself, but a short history of how shoes have evolved the last 20 years is here -Running Shoes Part 1

For years I have worn Mizuno Wave Rider running shoes, which already have less padding than many other shoes. But when I bought my last pair, they had added more padding than the previous model, and immediately my hips and knees started to hurt. I switched back to my old, worn out shoes for awhile, but I had to eventually get new shoes. So I figured now was as good a time as any to try something new.

I bought Mizuno Wave Elixer performance trainers (which were about $30 cheaper than my other shoes). In the spectrum of running shoes, there are racing flats or spikes, then performance trainers, then shoes with increasing degrees of sole cushioning, all the way up to what are called stability shoes. The shoes that I bought have the least padding possible without being a flimsy racing shoe. Even though they look similar, they weigh about half as much as a regular running shoe because they have so little cushioning.
So far, I have just run a fast 3 miles on them. They felt great -- they feel a little bit lighter on my feet and are more comfortable. The most interesting thing was this morning I had light cramps in the arches of my feet and the insides of my shins. Why? Because even after one run my feet are beginning to get stronger and adapt to a more natural running motion. I am using muscles that I have never used before because they have been supported (handicapped?) by the padding in my old running shoes.

When people start barefoot running, it usually takes a few months for their feet to adjust. Without padding, you are running the way the human foot and leg was designed to run. But in a sense we have all spent years running with a crutch (the shoe padding), so our feet and legs have to adapt back to their natural state.

I won't be barefoot running, I think that is too extreme. But I do find it interesting that people have run races for decades on flimsy, flat soled shoes, and suddenly in the last 20 years shoe companies figured out that we all need 1 1/2 inches of padding on our feet? It is equally interesting that these "enhanced" shoes are much more expensive, and as their use became more widespread, the number of running related injuries have proportionally increased as well. Something to think about.

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1/12 workout

"Top results are reached only through pain. But eventually you like this pain. You'll find the more difficulties you have on the way, the more you will enjoy your success." Juha Väätäinen

2 DB C&P 65lb x 1, 60lb x 7 sets of 2
treadmill 5k (3.1 miles) 21:06

Great workout today. It was my best dumbbell workout yet - my body is finally adapting to the heavier weights. Then I ran the 5k in 6:48/mile, which is fast for me in January. Total time spent in the gym = 30 minutes.

This is exactly the kind of workout I am looking for this year. Pick up some heavy weights and put them over your head and then run fast for a few miles. My long term goal is to do 12 reps of 2 dumbbell clean and press with 75lb dumbbells, and then run the 5k under 20 minutes.

I will achieve that goal by following a program focused on progressive overload. Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training. Here is the link with a ton of related information -- Progressive Overload - Wikipedia

Everybody "knows" this, but not everyone uses it. If you are going to get stronger or faster, you have to consistently push your body to its limits. Each time you push your limits, your body will adapt to handle a little more effort in the future. Repeat for a few years, and you can get very strong and very fast.

There were probably 30 people in the gym when I was there this morning. Just looking around, I am guessing that maybe 10%-15% of those people (about 3-4) were actually working hard enough to make a meaningful difference in their fitness level. It is an unfortunate fact of life that if you are going to improve, it will be uncomfortable getting there. That is what makes your ultimate success so sweet -- you actually worked hard for it.

So ask yourself next time you are in the gym - are you one of the 10%? Are you working hard enough to make a difference?

Picture of the Day

This effort level is about right...

Monday, January 11, 2010

1/11 rest day

"Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't" Jerry Rice

This is an article from Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's trainer - Inspiration Trumps Motivation

Some highlights:

There’s a big difference between a motivated athlete and an inspired one, within any sport and any level of participation. Motivation gets you out of bed and into the gym or to trailhead, but inspiration pushes you to get the maximum benefit out of every effort and every workout.

Motivation comes and goes because it is a product of logic. People are motivated to exercise because of simple equations like: More exercise = greater fitness - love handles + sex appeal. There’s a mathematical, mechanical component to motivation that leaves it vulnerable to changing circumstances. Motivation goes out the window, for many people, if the equation gets thrown out of whack by poor weather, a new girlfriend or boyfriend, or mounting obligations at work.

Inspiration, on the other hand, plows through the math to keep you on track for your athletic and fitness goals, even through life’s ups and downs. Inspiration is the most powerful performance enhancer on earth because it enables you to access deep reserves of power and energy that simple motivation can’t touch.

In Lance’s case, the process of fighting cancer required every ounce of his strength and commitment. He dug deeper than any race had previously asked of him and learned what he was really capable of when he directed the full force of his attention and devotion to a goal. With his second chance at life, he gathered inspiration from the millions of cancer patients and survivors with whom he shared a common bond. The inspiration to show the world that cancer was beatable, and that survivors were anything but damaged goods, drove him straight to the top of sport and sustained him through a record-breaking streak of victories in one of the world’s toughest endurance events.

You don’t need to stare death in the face to be inspired, but I have found that athletes and active individuals driven by inspiration are far more likely to achieve their goals than those motivated by consequences (positive or negative).

Picture of the Day

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1/10 workout

"The more I train, the more I realize I have more speed in me." Leroy Burrell

2 DB C&P 65lb x 1, 60lb x 10 singles, 65lb x 1
stepmill 30 minutes 190 flights
100 crunches
(about 2 hours later) run 5 miles with baby jogger stroller 53:30

Yesterday, after our interval workout, Brian broke out his weight vest. It actually used to be mine, but I gave it to him a year ago because I wasn't using it. He definitely puts it to much better use.

Brian currently does pullup, pushup and cardio workouts with 30lbs in the vest. We did pullups with it yesterday. I got 8 (the last couple were pretty crappy form), Brian did 6, and Caesar got 5 (he is quite a bit lighter than Brian and I so 5 reps for him is about the same as 6 or 7 for us).

It's amazing to me that Brian goes through full cardio and strength workouts with an extra 30 pounds on him (next time you are on the stepmill, pretend you have an extra 30 pounds on your back).

To show you how productive consistent, incremental training can be, Brian couldn't do one chinup 18 months ago. Now he can do 7 with a 30 pound weight vest on. Very impressive. As you might imagine, after seeing Brian's strength and muscle gains, now a bunch of guys at his gym are wearing weight vests.

Progressive overload is the concept of slightly increasing your workload each time you train. As Brian's example proves, over time you can accomplish amazing things if you consistently work a little harder each day.

Picture (& Video) of the Day

Here is an insane rock climbing video. You have to watch this (e-mail subscribers click here to see the video)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1/9 workout

"I don't believe in mind over matter. I take my mind out and hope my body can endure the torture I put it through." David Goggins - Navy SEAL

Brian, Caesar and I showed up on this 32 degree morning at the Reno High track to do a sprint workout and set some bechmark times for the mile and 400 meters. Unfortunately, the track was covered in ice, so that wasn't going to happen.

We were bummed, but since we were there, we decided to use Brian's Garmin and measure 1 mile along the Truckee river running trail. We then did three 1 mile intervals with about 4-5 minutes rest between each interval.

The trail still had some icy spots, and some twists and turns and slight hills, but it will have to do for our 1 mile benchmark for January. Here were the times:

Ken mile 1 - 6:05, mile 2 - 6:47, mile 3 - 6:37

Caesar mile 1 - 6:06, mile 2 - 6:56, mile 3 - 6:35

Brian mile 1 - 6:35, mile 2 - 7:26, mile 3 - 7:14

We were pretty happy with our times given the icy running conditions.

More than anything, this workout was a harsh reminder of how much sprint training hurts. Your muscles tighten up, your lungs are searing and you just want to quit halfway through. It's a serious gut check. When it gets hard, do you back off, or push harder? Besides the fitness benefits, its a great character builder.

Picture of the Day

Got to love the snow...

Friday, January 8, 2010

1/8 workout

"When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring how to excel." Deena Kastor, U.S. Olympic Marathoner

2 DB C&P 35 lb 5 sets of 10
500 meter row intervals with 1 minute rest between intervals
1:44.4, 1:48.5, 1:50.3, 1:51.4, 1:48.3 total 9:02.9
100 crunches

My back felt a lot better this morning, so I did the same workout as yesterday and pushed the intervals harder. Twenty seven seconds faster doesn't sound like much, but it hurts a lot more.

One of the reasons I track my training is so I can compare my current efforts to past workouts and measure my progress. When I look back to my June/July 2009 workouts, I feel like a wimp. My times were much better, my workload was higher, and when I look at pictures of myself I had lower bodyfat.

So I am fatter and slower than I was 6 months ago. Great. I have been taking it a bit easy during the holiday months, but that is over. It's time to suck it up and get serious.

Here are some quotes and pictures for your Friday.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt

"Perhaps Henry David Thoreau said it best: “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” It seems life’s most desirable rewards rarely come to those who set out in pursuit of them—but strive instead for excellence, and the rewards of life often find you." Russell Berger

"In fitness, the process of improving one’s work capacity delivers an equally obvious reward: aesthetics. Those who focus their efforts entirely on 6 percent body fat and washboard abs rarely find success and don’t understand why. Programs such as 10 Minute Abs and Butts and Guts are designed, marketed and fueled by the desire to look good naked, but do they produce results? Spot reduction doesn’t work, and there are no shortcuts. Fitness products have little worth without a complementary diet, and a lack of effort and commitment can derail even the best program." Russell Berger

Thursday, January 7, 2010

1/7 workout

"I want to live my life so that when I get up in the morning, Satan says, "s**t, he's awake". Unknown

2 DB C&P 35lb x 5 sets of 10
500 meter row intervals with 1 min. rest between each interval
1:54.5, 1:54.1, 1:54.5, 1:53.1, 1:52.9 total time 9:29.1
100 crunches

My back is still tight, so I took it easy today. Like Brian told me yesterday, it is better to do something than do nothing.

Amy and Brian forwarded this example of a "perfect" diet week. Obviously you don't have to follow this exactly (for example, the calorie level is too low for me). But if you want to lose weight, this is a good feel for what your food week should look like.

A Perfect Week of Abs Diet Eating:

Monday: 1,592 calories
Breakfast: 3-egg-white omelet with chopped vegetables, 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 2 teaspoons soft margarine
Snack #1: Raw mixed vegetables, 1⁄4 cup hummus
Lunch: 3 ounces sliced turkey breast in a whole-wheat tortilla with mixed greens, tomato, and 2 or 3 slices of avocado; 1 cup mixed green salad with 2 teaspoons olive oil and vinegar
Snack #2: 1 cup berries mixed with 2 tablespoons fat-free plain yogurt
Dinner: Asian chicken salad: 2 cups mixed greens, red onions, and tomato wedges; 3 ounces cooked chicken breast, sliced; 1⁄2 cup mandarin orange sections; and 1 ounce cashews tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar; 4 whole-grain crackers
Snack #3: 1 piece fruit, 1 cup fat-free plain or artificially sweetened yogurt

Tuesday: 1,597 calories
Breakfast: 1 cup whole-grain cereal with 2 tablespoons raisins and 1 cup fat-free or 1 percent milk, 1 banana
Snack #1: 1 container fat-free plain yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons dried fruit and 2 teaspoons honey
Lunch: 1 cup broth-based or tomato soup; 2 ounces sliced lean roast beef with lettuce, tomato, and mustard on 2 slices of whole-wheat bread
Snack #2: 1 stick string cheese, 2 whole-wheat crackers
Dinner: 1 cup cooked white or brown rice, 3 ounces grilled shrimp in gumbo sauce, mixed green salad with 2 teaspoons olive oil and vinegar
Snack #3: 1 large whole-wheat pretzel

Wednesday: 1,427 calories
Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal with 2 tablespoons mixed dried fruit and nuts and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1⁄4 cup fat-free plain yogurt, 1 cup orange or grapefruit juice
Snack #1: 1⁄4 cup microwave air-popped popcorn (100 calories' worth; see package)
Lunch: Tuna salad: 3 ounces grilled or canned tuna, 5 small red potatoes, 1⁄2 cup string beans, and 5 to 8 olives on a bed of salad greens tossed with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Snack #2: 1 large rectangular graham cracker with 1 teaspoon nut butter, 1 piece fruit
Dinner: 1 vegetarian burger with lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a soft wheat roll; side salad of mixed greens and vegetables and 2 teaspoons olive oil and vinegar dressing
Snack #3: 1⁄2 cup fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt

Thursday: 1,564 calories
Breakfast: 3⁄4 cup muesli with 1 cup fat-free milk, 1 orange or 1⁄2 grapefruit
Snack #1: 1 ounce low-fat cheese, 2 whole-wheat crackers
Lunch: Tossed salad: mixed salad greens, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, diced carrots, tomato, 1⁄2 cup chickpeas, 1⁄2 cup string beans, and 1 ounce grated hard cheese tossed with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar; 1 small whole-wheat roll
Snack #2: 1 cup fortified soy milk, 2 Whole Grain Fig Newton cookies
Dinner: Spaghetti marinara: 1 cup cooked whole-grain pasta topped with 1⁄2 cup marinara sauce and 1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese, side salad with olive oil and vinegar or light dressing
Snack #3: 2 kiwifruits

Friday: 1,115 calories plus cheat meal
Breakfast: 1 cup hot oatmeal with 1⁄4 cup fat-free plain yogurt and 2 tablespoons raisins
Snack #1: 1 energy bar like a PowerBar Pria or a Luna bar
Lunch: 2 ounces whole-wheat pita, 2 ounces chicken or turkey breast, 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce with chopped mixed greens
Snack #2: 1 container fat-free fruit-flavored yogurt with banana
Dinner: Cheat meal
Snack #3: 1 low-fat or fat-free brownie, 1 cup fat-free milk

Saturday: 1,557 calories
Breakfast: 2 eggs and 1 egg white, scrambled; 2 slices whole-wheat toast with 2 teaspoons soft margarine and 1 tablespoon jam; 1⁄2 cup mixed fruit and 1⁄2 cup fat-free yogurt
Snack #1: 1⁄2 whole-wheat pita with 1 tablespoon hummus
Lunch: 1 cup chicken noodle soup, 4 whole-wheat crackers, mixed green salad with 1 tablespoon grated hard cheese and 5 sliced olives tossed with 2 teaspoons olive oil and vinegar
Snack #2: 11⁄2 cups watermelon chunks
Dinner: 4 ounces broiled lean steak, 1⁄2 cup mashed potatoes (made with soft margarine), 1 cup steamed broccoli with 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese
Snack #3: 1 piece fresh fruit with 1⁄2 cup sorbet

Sunday: 1,448 calories
Breakfast: 2 whole-wheat frozen toaster waffles topped with 1 tablespoon nut butter and 1⁄2 medium banana, sliced; 1 cup fat-free milk
Snack #1: 8 ounces low-fat yogurt
Lunch: 1 medium baked potato topped with sautéed mixed vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, onions, broccoli) in 1 tablespoon olive oil with 1 ounce grated hard cheese
Snack #2: 10 almonds or cashews
Dinner: Turkey or chicken burger: 4 ounces grilled or broiled chicken or turkey (white meat only) with onions, tomatoes, and lettuce on whole-wheat roll; mixed greens tossed with 2 teaspoons olive oil and vinegar
Snack #3: 1 4-ounce fat-free pudding

Picture of the Day

Look what you get when you wake up early. I took this a couple of days ago in Reno.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

1/6 workout

"You owe it to yourself and the millions of lives that generated yours to live as though you appreciated it. Over and above the fact that you’re healthier—and as a result cost everybody less money and aggravation while you’re here—there is just something wrong with getting up every day and moving through your existence with the least possible effort." Mark Rippetoe

2 DB C&P - 60lb x 6 sets of 2, and 3 singles for a total of 15 reps
treadmill intervals 1/4 mile rest, 1/4 mile speed interval - first 2 intervals were done at 9.5 mph (6:18 min/mile) and last 2 were done at 10 mph (6:00 min/mile)

Sometimes, you have crummy workout weeks. This week is one for me. First, I tweaked my back and it is just starting to feel ok. Then today, the treadmills at the gym were killing me. The first one died halfway through my interval workout. Then the second one was slipping enough that I was afraid to run the interval as fast as I would have liked. So I said screw it and cut the workout short.

Nothing is more irritating than a crappy workout. It sucks to get up at 4:30 in the morning and feel like it didn't do you any good. But that happens to everyone sometimes. If you look at the big picture, this workout is just one of thousands. If you train 6 days a week throughout the year, that is over 300 workouts in this year alone. The world won't end if you have a few bad ones (at least I keep trying to tell myself that).

Mark Rippetoe is a weightlifting trainer, and his views are colorful to say the least. I really like his perspective, because it is a no-bullshit, get the job done kind of approach. He has a number of articles out there - I have put together a collection of "Mark's greatest hits" below.

Here is a link to his gym's website - Wichita Falls Athletic Club and a profile of Mark - Mark Rippetoe Wikipedia. And here is a link to a ton of quotes, some funny, some politically incorrect - Mark Rippetoe Quotes

Here's some stuff from his various articles:

Because we have not spent the last 65 million or so years finely honing our physiology to watch Oprah. Like it or not, we are the product of a very long process of adaptation to a harsh physical existence, and the past couple centuries of comparative ease and plenty are not enough time to change our genome. We humans are at our best when our existence mirrors, or at least simulates, the one we are still genetically adapted to live. And that is the purpose of exercise.
To a great extent, the health problems experienced by the members of the ridiculous culture in which we live are self-inflicted. They are result of the reluctance of the bulk of the population to do anything that is either physically hard or something that they don’t want to do.

People seem to have acquired the idea that they have the inalienable right to stroll through life without having sweated, picked up anything heavy, worked hard, or eaten less than they wanted at every meal. This approach is, of course, wrong. And it has resulted in a lot of expensive, unattractive, and entirely preventable problems amongst people who seem puzzled about why things aren’t going well. We have become lazy.
The two things that most influence our physical appearance, exercise and diet, have in common the fact that doing them correctly means choosing to do things that involve discomfort. It is unfortunately impossible to sit down to the table and eat all you want every time you eat.
Jobs that make this possible—like being a galley slave or a field hand—are not terribly common since the invention of modern labor-saving devices like engines and tractors. Leaving the table before you’re full involves making a decision not to do something you’d rather do. Whether this rises to the level of actual discomfort depends on your personal relationship with your cheeseburger, but hunger is a powerful sensation for most people who don’t suffer from an eating disorder. Try walking into a restaurant sometime and just watching other people eat when you’re hungry yourself.
Eating to obtain a positive result as opposed to mindlessly feeding yourself to satiety requires discipline. And if you can’t make yourself stay away from the fourth piece of chicken, you’re never going to do the set of twenty anyway. Supper might be a good place to practice setting easy little goals for yourself that require some discipline to accomplish, so you can get in the habit of being in better control of your behavior.
So let me say something a little meatier: you owe it to yourself and the millions of lives that generated yours to live as though you appreciated it. Over and above the fact that you’re healthier—and as a result cost everybody less money and aggravation while you’re here—there is just something wrong with getting up every day and moving through your existence with the least possible effort.
If your expectations are always those of someone content to live without physical challenge, then when it comes time for mental, moral, or emotional challenge, you fail to meet it because you are out of practice. Meeting and overcoming obstacles are skills that can be honed, as opposed to talents with which we are born. The best way to prepare for the inevitable shit that life occasionally hands us all is to live in a way that prepares you for it. If you can treat personal tragedy like a heavy set of twenty squats, you’ll do better than someone who has never met any challenge. Intentionally placing yourself in the position of having to complete a task when you don’t know if you can is the single best way of preparing to be in that position unintentionally. And that, my friends, is the way your training should be approached, so that you get more out of it than just “wellness.”

Picture of the Day

According to Mark, this is how you should feel after your workout.

1/5 rest day

"Running, like Wetmore said once, is like getting up every morning and shooting yourself. You know that you are going to put yourself through something painful, but you also know how much strength and speed are going to come with it." The passion of the runner is to force forgetfulness on that pain and embrace the benefits that will without fail make you a better person." Adam Batliner

Running with the Buffaloes Book Review

This book is a pretty quick read, and if you are into running you would probably like it (though I would recommend you read Born to Run before you read this one - they aren't related, I just like Born to Run better).

The book profiles the University of Colorado cross country team in 1998. It starts out kind of slow, but once you get a feel for the characters in the book, it starts to pick up.

The coach of the team, Mark Wetmore, is famous for his high mileage training (80-100 miles a week in singles, which means all mileage is in one run each day, i.e. no two-a-days) and a lot of the first half of the book talks about the training program and introduces the characters. A lot of the last half focuses on all of the injuries that the runners experienced and how they fought through them. Ultimately, the program worked for the team, but the casualty rate was high.

There were some quotes of the book that resonated with me. Here are a few:

A quote from one of their team meetings - "If you're not enjoying the journey, you probably won't enjoy the destination."

Love this quote from one of the runner's journal (it's the same quote that I used at the top of the blog post): "This team knows what it is to be invested in a plan, to be dedicated to a system that simultaneously scares the hell out of you and makes you so excited you can barely hold it in. Running, like Wetmore said once, is like getting up every morning and shooting yourself. You know that you are going to put yourself through something painful, but you also know how much strength and speed are going to come with it. The passion of the runner is to force forgetfulness on that pain and embrace the benefits that will without fail make you a better person."

A quote from the team's coach (Mark Wetmore): "In football, you might get your bell rung, but you go in with the expectation that you might get hurt, and you hope you win and come out unscathed. As a distance runner, you know you're going to get your bell rung. Distance runners are experts in pain, discomfort and fear. You're not coming away feeling good. It's a matter of how much pain you can deal with on those days. It's not strategy. It's just a callusing of the mind and body to deal with discomfort. Any serious runner bounces back. That's the nature of their game. Taking pain."

Picture of the Day

Adam Goucher, the star of the Colorado cross country team in 1998.

Monday, January 4, 2010

1/4 workout

"I love to win, that's why I train. I'm 42 years old. There's nothing more exhilarating than running past these guys who are 25." Paul Tharp - Navy SEAL

2 DB C&P 60lb x 10 singles
summit trainer 12 resistance 1.5 miles 19:55

My back is still tight, so I kept it light today. Rest day tomorrow.

I had a few question from readers about the 2 dumbbell clean and press, so I wrote an article about it and posted it on the sideber. Here is the link - 2 DB clean and press. Yes, that's me in the demonstration video. I couldn't find a good one of the internet showing proper form, so I had to make my own.

Jen's 2010 Training Plan (first 6 months)

Jen (who is my wife for those folks that didn't know) already has a good level of base fitness. Her biggest strength is she is very mentally tough. After she had the baby last year, she ran a couple of races with essentially no training, and gutted out times similar to her past performances. We have run a lot together, and she has the ability to suck it up and suffer long after I am over it.

Her main goal this year is to build on her base level of fitness and train more consistently - through primarily running. She would like to set personal records in each of the races she runs this year. Like most people, she would like to lose a couple of pounds, but weight loss isn't a primary focus for her. Her body composition improvements will be a by-product of her training.

I really like Jen's training plan because it is challenging, achievable and realistic. Her plan is designed to peak for the Napa to Sonoma half marathon on July 19, so the first month just gets the ball rolling and will start to re-build the training habits she needs to hit it hard in the spring.

Here's the plan:

Run 50 miles in the month of January, and increase mileage each month leading up to the July race. The incremental monthly increases will get her to 80-100 miles in the month of June. In addition, she will attend one strength class each week (either pilates or a 1 hour weight based class). If she has the time or motivation, she will add a second class during the week, but that would be considered extra work for the first couple of months and is not part of the main plan.

She can complete the 50 miles any way she wants. It could be two long runs each week, 4-5 short runs, or anything in between. In reality, it will be a combination of short and long runs, 3-4 days per week. She will start to incorporate some speed work as we get into the spring. She will also run a race in the beginning of May (either a 10k or half marathon) to test her race progress a couple of months out from her focus race.

As far as diet, she already eats fairly clean. However, her weakness is going too long between meals so she gets too hungry near the end of the day. So her goal is to eat quality foods frequently throughout the day to support the energy level she needs to achieve her training goals.

That's it. Short and simple. I like it because the plan uses the month of January to ease into a more aggressive program in the spring. Many people start out too hard in January and burn out before the snow even melts. This way, she will just be getting fired up when the roads clear, the days are longer and we hit prime outdoor running season.

I know Jen has a sub 1:50 half-marathon in her, and this plan will definitely get her there.

Picture of the Day

Sunday, January 3, 2010

1/3 workout

"Challenge yourself every day and push through the myth that you have limits." Marty Taylor - Navy SEAL

Handstand pushups 5, 3, 2
2 DB C&P (clean and press) 60lb x 5 singles
treadmill 4 miles 27:44

I tweaked my back a bit on the Versaclimber yesterday, so I had to be careful with lifting today. After some ice last night and some extra stretching this morning, things went pretty well. The run was great, I hit 181 bpm peak heart rate at the end.

Feel free to forward the website to any friends or family who are interested in fitness. What started as an e-mail to a few friends has grown to over 100 daily readers and over 200 blog posts (and counting). It is very humbling to me that so many people read my blog.

As the blog readership grows, I get even more motivated to set a good example with my workouts and to post interesting stuff for you all to read. Some of the best feedback I get from readers is when I post things about my friends and their training programs and accomplishments. Expect more of that kind of content in 2010. And of course, I will keep the quotes, pictures and article links coming on a daily basis. Thanks very much for reading and for all of your support and motivation!


This is a great time of year to do some benchmark tests so you can measure your improvement later in the year. Here are some ideas for things to measure:

Other body measurements (waist size, arm size, etc.)
Take a picture of yourself
1 mile time
max pushups in a row
max pullups in a row
max situps in a row
max bodyweight squats in a row
500 or 2000 meter row time

The list is endless. Take anything from your 2010 goal list and set a benchmark now. You will be amazed how much you will improve in 3-6 months.

For me, I can currently do 7 nose-to-floor handstand pushups, and 2 reps with the 60lb 2 DB clean and press. I am going to hit the track with some friends next Saturday to set benchmark times in the 1 mile, 400 meter and 100 meter sprints.

Picture of the Day

This is the swim start at the Lake Placid Ironman. Watch your head!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Train with a Purpose

"Success demands singleness of purpose." Vince Lombardi

2 DB clean and press 60lb x 10 singles
Versaclimber (legs only) 10 min. 960 feet
Treadmill 2 miles 15:40

Train with a purpose.

There are two types of people in the gym. The first person looks lost. He or she spends a lot of time looking around, going from machine to machine. He doesn't have a plan, he doesn't push hard on any one exercise, and he often barely breaks a sweat.

The other person is focused. He or she walks with a purpose. He knows exactly what needs to be accomplished, and knows it is going to hurt. He doesn't look around much, in fact he spends a lot of time looking at the floor or the wall. Why? Because he is preparing his mind to push his body to places it has never been before.

When he is training, he has a vacant, yet determined look. He is arguing with himself - do I really need to go the whole 30 minutes? 25 minutes would be ok wouldn't it? He eventually tells his mind to shut up and he guts it out.

He is only at the gym for 30 minutes. He walks out, muscles ripped, sweat dripping off his face. He is exhausted, and looks it. He trained with a purpose and intensity rarely seen in most gyms.

Who do you think is going to see results?

Picture of the Day