Category Archives: training

Stranded on Marketing Seminar Island: How Sad am I!?

It’s true.

I’m stuck at a marketing seminar in LA through Sunday.

Do you realize what this means? Do you realize that I am separated from my bike during ‘cross season? Do you realize that I am actually going to miss a cyclocross race? DO YOU KNOW HOW SAD THIS MAKE ME? Continue reading

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Filed under cycling, cyclocross, dealing, fitness, training, Uncategorized

Putting Boot Camp Fitness to the Test: First Cyclocross Ride

Sal and I headed out to Forest Park last night for my first cyclocross ride of the year. Actually, it was my first ride of any kind in about 8 weeks. I was a little nervous – recalling my first ride up Thurman last year – how I gasped and sputtered and generally almost blew up. Seriously, it was a little embarrassing.

Last year, I ran all year. When I hit ‘cross season, I’d just finished running the Hood to Coast. I felt like I was in pretty good shape. I wasn’t too worried.

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My Hangup With the Word “Fitness”

I’m an athlete. I play sports. I compete.

First and foremost, that’s how I define myself. That’s where I find value in physical activity. My heart believes that it (the activity) should serve a purpose as a means to end toward a greater goal.

For years I considered myself a purist in this respect. I scoffed at the idea of a gym. I scoffed at the idea of diets and nutrition and exercise tapes and dumbbells and workout “aids”. I actually scoffed at the very idea of a “workout” insofar as I defined it as an isolated set of activities designed only for the purpose of achieving a certain level of fitness driven solely by vanity.

Not for me, I thought. I’m an athlete.

Sure. Sure you are.

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This Workout Will Kick Your Ass.

Yes, I mean you.

I have just returned from San Jose and we’ll suffice it to say that staying with Sal’s parents for 8 days was a test of ye olde’ nutrition plan. I went into damage control mode and focused on portions, not content. What are you going to do when you have this 4 foot tall woman smiling you and speaking to you in Sicilian, telling you how happy she is that you are finally home so she can feed you.

Sometimes you have to live, people. And that’s that.

Despite the challenge (what could be considered a setback) I think I did a pretty decent job of keeping the wreckage to a minimum. I put in four decent workouts which are no match for boot camp but at least kept my “suffering threshold” high.

I thought I’d share my workouts because they’re the kind of thing that you can do almost anywhere. I did one heavy-weight workout and focused on my upper body. I did this mostly because I don’t get to do it very often so I figured I’d take the break from boot camp to enjoy something I’ve had to back off from.

Other than that, I did the following super basic ass-kicker of a workout after consulting with Daniel about how best to simulate boot camp pain on my own.

Choose 4-5 of the following exercises:

  • 20 burpees
  • 20 pushups
  • 20 squats (hands overhead)
  • 1minute plank
  • 20 v-ups
  • 1 minute side plank
  • 2 minute jump rope
  • 1 minute handstand hold against the wall
  • 1 minute gymnastic bridge
  • 20 lunges (with dumbbells if you want to make it harder)
  • 20 thrusters with dumbbells

Now do these 4 or 5 exercises consecutively, which will be one “round”. Do 4-5 rounds with 1 minute rest between each round. No rest between one set of exercises to the next… just between completed rounds.

This is simple stuff, people. This is simple suffering.

It doesn’t sound that hard when you read it written here but when I got into the gym and started in, I was drenched in sweat by the second round. In fact, I’d planned to go 5 rounds but only made it four. A super-ripped workout chick was standing next to me the whole time looking at my like I was a complete and utter dumbass.

I know what she was thinking: “Burpees!?”

Yeah, well, I’ll have you know that I would have traded her workouts in a heartbeat. I wore my HR monitor for these workouts and found that I was well into my upper range (165-170bpm) by the second or third activity in each set which means I was not only building muscle, I was also burning fat.

If you don’t know what some of the things listed above are, just drop me a comment. If I don’t respond fast enough just skip those ones and pick the ones you DO know. Give it a shot. Don’t cheat. No resting in between activities and no longer than one minute between rounds. You want to recover but not completely, keeping your average HR up a bit throughout the workout will maximize your results.

These workouts reminded me of something fundamental and important. Fitness isn’t rocket science. It’s dedication, drive, and pushing yourself. It’s asking yourself to go a little further every time. To fight through the burn and stay with it because you know you can. To do something like this workout, which can be so “in-the-moment-miserable” (and which, frankly, isn’t very sexy as warranted by my stink-eye weight-lifting observer), you must remind yourself again and again why you want it and what it means to you.

Keep it simple. Stay focused. Do burpees. 😉

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Things to Think About at the Gym

I miss boot camp. Yeah, you heard me right. I’m going through withdrawls.

For trips like this when I’m away from home for an extended period of time, and moments when I want to do different kinds of training (heavy lifting) I keep a membership to 24 Hour Fitness handy.

I hate 24 Hour Fitness for only one reason. No bosu. What the hell is wrong with these people? What is their bosu beef? I digress. You don’t need a bosu to get a great workout, but it sure is extra fun to have one around.

Anyway, I find that going to the gym is always the most fantastic kind of sociological experience. Between the meat-heads, the barbie-dolls, the cool old guys wearing slacks and black socks, and the 1,000 year old grannies getting changed for aqua-aerobics, I never cease to be impressed, appalled, amazed, amused and befuddled.

Here’s what struck me today in the form of some things to consider the next time you go to the gym (and your intention is actually to work out and change your body / attain your goals. Of course, anything is better than NOTHING. I’m just saying, most of us are short on time, right? Why not do what you can to get the most out of the time that you have dedicated to your workout. 🙂 ).

  1. If you pick cardio machines that “seem” easy, they probably are. This is not to say that the eliptical glider doesn’t serve a purpose. For those with joint problems it can be a low-impact way to get the old heart-rate up without having to put on a bathing suit and dip yourself in chlorine. But if you’re sort of mindlessly plodding along thinking, “Great! I’m getting my cardio in.” it’s time to take a good look at what you’re really accomplishing. Be present to your workout. Work HARD. Focus. (Here’s a tip: Want results faster? Do intervals, don’t go long and slow. You’ll save time and accomplish more.) What’s the best cardio machine you can pick for an efficient, ass-kicking workout? The stair-climber. Go suffer. Earn it. And, for godsakes, don’t read while you’re doing it. I’m sorry, if you are reading on a cardio machine you are not getting a good workout. It’s better to focus on challenging intervals for 25 minutes then go slow and comfortable for 60 – trust me.
  2. Don’t hold on. If you are on an eliptical machine or a stair-climber or even a treadmill and you are holding on while you work out you are doing yourself a great disservice. Keeping your hands free forces your core to activate for balance, giving you more bang for your workout buck.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask. The last three times that I have been in a gym I have been asked for advice. All three times it was women about my age who were asking for advice on form, or how to target something, or what’s this thing for? I was never brave enough to do this, fearing that the askee would be annoyed at having their workout interrupted. In truth, I’ve been flattered to suddenly be perceived as someone who probably knows what they’re doing and have taken longer than necessary in all three cases to provide extensive, thorough answers. If you’re not sure about your form, or how something works, just ask someone who looks competent, or find a trainer.
  4. Have a plan. Take 5 minutes before you go to the gym to plan out what you’re going to do when you get there. Don’t rest for 5 minutes inbetween activities trying to figure out what you’re going to do next. Be prepared, even if it’s just a simple circuit of 4 or 5 different exercises that you do consecutively, rest for a minute, and then do again. If you write it down beforehand you will avoid that “lollygagging” thing that happens when you’re unsure.  And while I’m on the topic of lollygagging let me address the really-long-rest-interval phenomenon.  As far as I know, unless you are doing HUGE, heavy-weight workouts, there’s no reason you should need to rest longer than a minute.  I see guys in the free-weights area resting for 2-3 minutes before sets – in reality all they’re doing is checking out their “pump” in the mirror.  You’re doing yourself a disservice if you rest for longer than a minute – and time starts immediately – walking to the next machine/bench/mat/location is part of “rest”.
  5. Be sure to warm up and cool down. Don’t just walk in and start going 100%. I see so many people do this and it drives me nuts. It’s a great way to insure injury. And don’t just get on the treadmill and fast-walk for 5 minutes to warm up. You need to do some active stretching, deep-breathing, marching in place (knees high), hip rotations, etc. Warm up the parts that are going to get the most use (if you’re going to use your shoulders a lot, do arm rotations). I often feel silly warming up in 24 Hour Fitness because it definitely doesn’t look “cool” but my body thanks me when I start in with the heavy lifting and intense supersets.

The main point of all this is don’t waste your time! If you’re going to go work out, then go work out. Don’t go read the paper while going through the motions on an eliptical machine. Don’t go spend half your allotted workout time figuring out what to do next. Be focused, have goals, go after it! Earn it! This is your time to shine so for godsakes, BE SHINY!!

And be sure to count the small victories.

Today was the first day at the gym I actually had a guy come up, interrupt my workout (he actually made me pull my headphones out), and complain to me that I was lifting more than he was. I appreciated this because usually when I am pulling more weight I just get the evil eye, not friendly competitive recognition.

Small victories!!

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Go be. Go big!

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Don’t Call it a Comeback

On Wednesday I popped out of bed at 4:15am.  I was elated!  I felt normal again.  I felt like ME!  The sickness, the plague, the illness… she’s subsided.

In truth, I wasn’t 100% well, but there wasn’t a constant pounding in my head and my lymph nodes weren’t the size of golf balls anymore.  I could swallow food without pain!  Someone had removed the sandpaper from my throat!  Coherent, clear, and even somewhat complex thoughts were once again making my brain a home.

I never realize just how much illness takes out of me until I snap back.

I was so overjoyed at the progress of my healing that I ran into boot camp, nearly skipping, while the not-so-overyjoyed faces of women who were sleepy, tired, and sane greeted me.  I was literally vibrating I was so excited to be back at a normal energy level.

“Daniel,” Kirsten said just as we were starting, “I think you need to do some drug-testing on Heidi.”

It was true.  I was in Full Spaz Mode.

We had a great workout and I went home elated and wrote the Five Simple Lessons post.  I worked on personal projects, contract work, and house chores.  I kicked Wednesday’s ass.

So I was a little surprised when the cough crept back into my throat on Wednesday night.  I was more surprised when it didn’t go away.  Not even after 3 doses of codeine cough syrup from the bottle I’d begged off the urgent care nurse earlier in the week.  In fact, I coughed so much that for the first time in our relationship, I went downstairs and slept on the couch because I was keeping Sal awake.

Thursday the glands were back and so was the sandpaper so I stayed home and ditched my workout plans.   I’ve been strongly criticized in the past for working too hard through illness and I’m really trying to get better about it.

Here’s the thing though:  I’m always sick.

Seriously.  I get sick far more often than the average person.  This seems ironic since my lifestyle is arguably healthier than the average person but whatever.  I asked the doctor about it this week and got kind of a lame answer.  She suggested that some people just are more prone to illness.  What a cop out!

I mean, maybe it’s true, but isn’t it worthwhile to at least take a hollistic look at my overall wellness and try to see if we can’t identify some things that may be adversely affecting my immune system?  I guess I can’t blame her – she’s an urgent care doc – get ’em in, get ’em out.  But I feel like her answer was pretty indicative of the way that Western medicine is going to frame my “frailty”.

As such, I just bought Paul Check’s book “Eat, Move, and Be Healthy” on the recommendation of Daniel The Boot Camp Dude and another woman in class who has read it.  The primary focus is metabolic typing and eating for your optimal health, but it also presents a holistic approach to health that may help me find ways to boost my immune system and stay healthy more often.

Either way, my throat and lungs were still searing this morning so I opted out of what is arguably one of my favorite parts of camp – the timed mile.  Instead, I hit the local 24 Hour Fitness and cranked out a sweet, little upper-body blowout session.

It’s been a while since I lifted on my own and I was surprised (and elated) to discover that I am almost as strong as I used to be in San Francisco before I left my trainer there.  Even better?  I’m stronger in some areas; namely, my triceps.  Biceps, shoulders, chest and back have all slipped a little bit but the little tris are kicking ass!

Sweet.  Now I just have to figure out how to ditch that creepy girl who trailed me through all my weight circuits and exactly mimicked everything I did.  She freaked me out!

Enough about me, time to talk nutrition!

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Just Show Up.

The phenomenon of attrition at boot camp is pretty fascinating.  Today we counted 16 women present.  32 people are registered for the class.  Everyone who registered paid either $300 (for all five days per week) or $200 (3 days/week) to join.  It’s a four week program – you do the math (or let me do it for you: it’s about $15 a session).

I’ll maintain that this is an absolutely wicked bargain.  During 2005 I paid $60/hour for personal training and usually had 2 or 3 sessions per week.  Sure, the sessions were more customized for my specific goals (arm and back strength – maximum pull-ups possible for the purpose of beating my sister in a contest), but the costs added up fast.  I made a lot of sacrifices to pay for those sessions – more sacrifices than I feel like making these days.  Still, I need a way to get an intense workout with great results and boot camp has been the perfect answer.

I digress.

We pay money for this pain.  We pay money for this structure.  We pay money to pick Daniel’s little muscley (but very brainy!) brain for nutrition advice and whatever else we need help with. He’s there for us, he pushes us, and he kicks our asses.  He’s keeping up his end of the bargain.

So why is half the class MIA?

He’s pulling his hair out trying to figure it out – and not just becuase he’s thinking about dollars (they’ve already paid, he has the money in the bank) – but because he’s really passionate about helping people create important and significant change in their lives.  It’s not just about bodies, it’s about the way your mind begins to shift when you start to take control of your health.  It’s about the way it makes you feel – about that self-love that rushes through you.  That is an under-rated sensation, I promise you.  It’s the best kind of drug.

What makes you stay in bed at 4:30 in the morning when your alarm goes off?  Sure,  you’re tired.  Of course you are.  Are you insane?  It’s 4:30 in the morning.  Fight it.  Get out of bed.  All you have to do is show up.

On my most challenging psychological days I lay in bed in the morning and give myself a million reasons to stay there.  “I deserve a little break.”  “My body needs a little healing time.”  “The extra two hours of sleep will be better for me than boot camp.”  “Sleep is so important.”

In the end I reason with myself.  How hard is this really?  All I have to do is get up, get in my car, and present my body to the group.  Hell, my mind doesn’t even technically have to be there in the beginning (it will always follow, of course).  All I have to do is show up and I am going to have this dude instructing my every move for an hour.  How brainless is that?  That can’t be hard.  I’m going.

And it’s true.  Just show up.

When you get there, you’ll be glad you did, and your body will remember where it is and why it’s there, and it will wake up.

Daniel is a stand-up guy and I rely heavily on his energy in the morning.   I get there with nothing and tap into whatever he has for me.  Gradually, as we wake up together, the group creates an energy of its own and you begin to feed on those around you.

Accountability.  One of the biggest factors in all of my success and absolutely the only way that I was able to truly transform my body in 2005.

Just show up.
People are expecting you.
People are waiting there to motivate you.

All you have to do is show up.
Get out of bed.

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