Thursday, December 23, 2010

Apparently, I Am Brainwashing You

This week's Friday psyche stays home as The Straight Dope was named as one of the 50 most influential blogs in the sports industry.

Top 50 Blogs Covering the Sports Industry

Okay, so it’s last on the list. Still, there are millions of blogs out there and this one’s pretty much done it via word of mouth. It’s never been promoted. Has no PR team and, in fact, no team at all. It’s pretty much spread through my friends in the outdoor sports world and the Beachbody community. So here’s a big thank you to all of my readers. But, really, I prefer the title of educator to influencer, please. I swear I’m not trying to brainwash anyone.

Enjoy your holidays. We at TSD (me, Romney, and the vermin) will be heading out to California to see family and friends and put the finishing touches on my rest phase. When we get back training will begin in earnest. Now it’s off for a quick ski to keep us all placated before sitting in the car for 9 hours.

Cheers to you are yours, and may you all have a very Patrick Swayze Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It’s My Party And I’ll Play If I Want To

Since I’m getting a lot of questions about what I do during a rest phase I will explain. Since these questions are mainly from our customers, who do home fitness programs, I’ll work this into my answer even though most of my goals for the year will happen outside.

The main objective of a rest phase is to take a break from targeted regimentation. No one can stay focused all the time and hoards of studies show that it’s better if we don’t try. So my primary goal during this time is to force myself not be think about my goals, future, or current state of fitness. This is fairly difficult and takes constant attention because we’re all creatures of habit and my daily existence is filled with concerns over fitness. No matter how I try these remain in my head but I force my actions to be contrary to my habits.

This will scare those of you who once were unfit and had to fight to get to where you are today. While natural, you should look at my advice as prescient because I’ve been dealing with this most of my life. Pushing your motivation too far will lead to a breakdown. 100%. Backing off before the lull will have you both physically and mentally reading to see your next challenge through to its end. Your main concern, I find, is that reverting back to your “old” habits will lead you back to your old un-healthy agenda. It won’t, however, because you should plan your break so that your next training cycle begins before these old habits have a chance to take hold. View it as that your training programs are your real life and your recovery phase is a vacation.

Also, as you’ll see from my example, you needn’t waste away on vacation. I ‘m probably spending as much time being active as normal. The only difference is that it’s not targeted; merely play.

Because I’ve got two furry maniacs dependent upon me for their exercise I spend between 45m and 2 hours each day outside running around, often with my wife or friends. This can be hiking, running, skiing, or biking. Mostly I’m going at an aerobic pace but I’ll vary it without any plan. If I feel like doing intervals I will but mainly it’s steady and slow. My scientific view of this is that’s its building base aerobic conditioning that is varied enough to work a lot of difference muscle sets. I’d say my average outing is about 1:15-1:30.

I also go into the gym but my workouts are short: 10 – 20 minutes. Because I know I need to improve both mobility and joint stability that’s all I’m doing. I’m experimenting with this shoulder joint stabilization workout and doing 50 reps of different types of stability squats/hip mobilization and balance exercises. Some days I do the rice bucket workout to keep my finger/hand/forearm/elbow connection balanced. For mobility I’ve been using the foam roller at lot. While this can take some time I do it watching movies, which I’d be doing anyway. I also do some ab stuff in front of the tele. If the mood strikes I’ll do some yoga or take a Bikram class.

So, as you see, I’m not exactly inactive. I’m just playing, not training. I do the same thing with diet. If I want fries, dessert, cocktails, whatever, it’s on. No zigging. No zagging. No real thought about diet. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I’m hitting happy hour followed by all-you-can-eat rib night either. I feel like ass when I eat or drink too much. And I don’t like feeling like ass. It makes me surly. So my diet is still decent; just a lot worse than normal.

The lesson here is that your breaks in your training program should end up not only letting your mind and body recover but validate your healthy lifestyle. As much as you try to be like you were pre-90X (or whatever) you are no longer that person. You feel better when you’re healthy. You like it better when you look good. Life is better when you’re active. And the more you believe it, the more motivation you’ll have during your next training program.

pics: speed bartending at my own party with ex-world’s fastest climber hans florine, making plans to get rid of the ex (more on this later), and playing with the family in the uintas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Cool 2 Mil

Since it’s winter it seemed like a good time to mix a little skiing into the Friday Psyche. Hmm, make that a lot of skiing. 2 million vertical feet, both climbed and skied, in one year to be exact. Woah.

Thus is the challenge set forth upon by Canadian badass Greg Hill last January. As of today he’s just at 1,840,019. This means he’s got to average just shy of 10,000 per day for the rest of the year to make it, which is IN-sane! Of course, if you do the math his challenge consists of 200 10,000’ days over the course of the year so it’s not like big days are new to him. How do you even find that much snow?

He's been blogging all along and you can scroll back and get his perspective. As with most challenges, it's not all gravy. There have been plenty of up, downs, moments of doubt along the way.

As a novice sucky skier than only aspires to do a bit of ski mountaineering I probably shouldn’t care. But I do. A lot. It’s like climbing Mt Everest, from sea level, 69 times and skiing back down. It makes me want to grab my skis, strap on a headlamp, and head outside right now. 2-fucking-million feet of skiing in a year, all earned. It’s just soooo cool.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Travels With Tuco

Everyone’s favorite canine, Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (known as The Rat... and Kailo) passed on recently. Tuco lived an envied life and saw more of the western US than 99.9% of the population. This slide show is my homage to a life well lived. Buddy, you will be missed by many.

Bob also posted a slide show that can be found at:

King Dino

And Romney wrote a beautiful blog about him:

Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez otherwise known as, The Rat. 16 of the most solid years ever lived and sad only for the ones he left behind

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Party Time!

“After his last race of the season,” says my friend Spencer, “he puts him bike in the garage and refuses to even look at it until his legs hairs (which are shaved, of course) grow to an inch and a half.”

We all need rest, both physically and mentally, and this is my favorite off-season recovery story. I like it because it’s simple, clear-cut, and 100% non-scientific. Rest is something where not only is science un-necessary, it’s debilitating. Rest should be both physical and mental. Sports—and exercise—are both physically and mentally addicting. Therefore, breaks should cut you off from both angles so that you come back both physically and mentally fresh.

This is much easier said than done. Vonn (husband of ski superstar Lindsey who is generally referred to by his surname) references the challenge as thus,

“She is extremely diligent,” he said, rolling his eyes. “That’s Lindsey, though. Even when she was supposed to be relaxing and resting her body in April, I would catch her sneaking into the gym. I’d have to drag her out.”

Dragging your spouse out of the gym is certainly counter-intuitive to some of you but, if you’re addicted to a sport or style of training (Xers, yes, I mean you too) there will always be a time where it takes discipline to shut things down.

The reason you want to force is break can best be described as human. Due to a combination of factors no one can stay on top of their game at all times. And if you don’t force rest on yourself then you’re leaving it up to your body to decide when it needs it. While this is obviously dangerous for athletes who need to perform on a schedule it’s better for the rest of us, too. Because we all have times when we would prefer to be at our best, so why leave it up to chance if we don’t have to?

Since my bike’s had plenty of off time this last couple of years I’ve shut down climbing until after New Year. This means no climbing, no training for climbing, no climbing news or scanning the net for videos. It’s a complete forced break that will not only allow microtrauma to heal but will also re-set my daily habits and focus.

Rest has another up side; it’s fun. Historically it’s often been too fun. We only need to peruse the sports headlines to find examples where one athlete or another has gotten in trouble in the off-season. Cyclists are one of the worst offenders. Because it’s such a weight-dependant sport you almost always gain weight you stop racing. Therefore, how much damage was done over the winter has always been headline news in the cycling press.

Jan Ullrich anecdotes aside, just because you’re not focused doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise. In fact you should stay active. The only rule should be that you do something different than normal, with no regiment, no coaching (including Tony, Chalene, Shaun, et al), and no goal except to sustain it for a prescribed period of time. All very calculatedly un-scientific.

It’s hard to force yourself into some down time, especially if you feel as though you’re getting close to your potential. But if you take the initiative you’ll find that you’ll end up with more control over both your performance and your life.

Part II, what I'm doing as "rest", is here.

pics: curious goings on in the off-season: der kaiser obviously not worrying about his weight, party night in italy (“last blowout before training camp”) featuring some of the world’s best cyclists, and mrs. vonn decidedly not wasting her time off.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Winter 2011 Training Program

Big Wall Cribs with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on El Capitan from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

It’s the time of year, again, when I re-tool for a new training program. I think I learned more in 2010 than I have in a given 12-month period in ages. Thus, I’m thinking this may be my most complete training program yet. Of course—as is my M.O.—it’s going to be experimental. In fact, you’ll see these elements in our upcoming P90X mc2 program but only after they’ve been thoroughly tested on me first.

As it’s a 50-themed year, my off-season conditioning program is going to be in three 50 day training phases that will mimic what we’re doing with mc2. These will be coined foundation, strength, and performance.

Goal: since all training plans must have one, is to build a huge fitness base that will see me through an epic year of adventures.

Phase I: Foundation (Nov 18 to Jan 6)

Here we’re going to get more literal with terminology, as we’re referencing our foundation, or base, as in the thing that roots our bodies to the ground as opposed to its usually meaning of any requisite fitness conditioning that readies you for further training. The goal of this phase is to build a physique that is structurally sound and in balance in order to handle the rigors of athletics without breaking down.

Most athletic programs only pay lip service to this phase, instead of making it a priority to the point where actually sports-specific training is put on the backburner until the body is ready for it. P90x did a better job than most, which is why it’s so popular among athletes. This time around we’re targeting it with laser-like focus. This phase will target completely revamping weak areas. Granted, you can’t offset 50 years in 50 days but I’m going to do the best I can.

I’ve been talking about this for a long time but the training is ever evolving. What were once a lot of boring rehab-style exercises are gradually getting more fun, and more like normal exercise.

Key words: balls (balance, physio, medicine, massage), foam roller, instability (not just in the gym as it’s snow season, which is like one big stability ball), kettle bells, yoga, rice bucket.

Phase II: Strength (Jan 7 to Feb 25)

There‘s a fair amount of wiggle room under the strength moniker. In mc2 we’ll focus on hypertrophy for most people. Since I’m not looking for much size increase this is where I plan to build my strength to weight ratio in a non-targeted sense.

Why I say non-targeted is because the sports themselves—and the next phase—will target my training. Here, especially because I train for sports that are not complimentary (climbing and biking/running), my goal is to build a very strong overall base. But instead of base as in phase I (the human kinetic chain), it’s a solid base of performance-oriented muscle mass.

This means both hypertrophy (as needed) and power (for all muscles) in a foundation format (generic strength tests, like the 90x or mc2 fit tests).

Key words: static strength, lock-off strength, wattage, form.

Phase III: Performance (Feb 28 to April 19)

Here I’ll try and put my winter fitness to use towards some goals. Specifically, the Duathlon Nationals at the end of April and some targeted climbing goals (short powerful routes) before that. This phase will feature a lot of sports specific training, postactivation potentiation, and neuro-integrated stretching to bring my power base into focus for the season ahead. After these tests I plan to roll this fitness over towards endurance based activities for the long days of summer.

Key words: speed, power, explosiveness, PAP.

So that’s the overall structure. Of course there’s a lot of fill in, including the sub structure of each phase, which will bring up words that should be familiar to Xers, such as blocks, transitions, adaptation, and mastery. By following along you’ll get a preview of why P90X mc2 is what it is, and also get a feel for ways to incorporate P90X and our other programs into your own active lifestyle plans.

vid: since i didn’t have anything fun of my own to post enjoy this clip of life on el cap. the captain's got to be on a list for this year somewhere, right?