Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some Fun P90X & Insanity News

Certainly the Barrancas del Cobre will offer some good blogging opportunities but, while you wait, Ben Kallen over at the Beachbody office found some fun news on Insanity and the X. Enjoy!

According to Atlanta Journal-Constitution sportswriter David O’Brien, the Braves’ Matt Diaz did P90X again during the offseason this winter:

Diaz doesn’t call around to ask reporters or club personnel: “What about me? Will there be a roster spot or any playing time left for me?” No, he hangs out with his family in Central Florida while all this is going on during the offseason, does his P90X diet/fitness regime for the second winter in a row, and prepares for spring training and the 2010 season.

The Washington Redskins’ blog links to a year-old YouTube video in which quarterback Colt Brennan filmed the team’s training staff doing P90X:

This weight-loss blogger is doing Insanity while wearing a GoWearFit electronic activity tracker, and posting the results. On Day 2, you can see that she was burning up to 14 calories per minute.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon

Right now I'm packing to head south and join Caballo Blanco and the Raramuri in the Barrancas de Cobre. This video explains the event pretty well. Enjoy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Customizing P90X

Anyone who follows my blog has read a lot about how to customize P90X for sports, specifically the ones I do. Now I’ve writing a series about how to customize the X for all sports (including mass, weight loss, and combing X with other programs--like Insanity--which aren’t sports but could be objectives for sports) and, finally, we’ve got the archive up. Here it is:

The P90X Newsletter

I think that in order to get both the Beachbody Newsletter and the P90X newsletter you need to enter different email addresses. The may have fixed this but if you aren’t getting both try that. Beachbody coaches feel free to share this info so I can quit answering email about it!

The normal Beachbody Newsletter (why not get both, they’re free?)

To read the customizing series, begin with newsletter 4 on defining muscle confusion, then skip to customizing X and read forward in order as each article in the series references the older ones. Each article is short but there’s a lot of physiological info to understand (keep in mind it’s written very much for the layman) if you want to create your own training programs, which you should. The series is far from finished. Next up are running and triathlon training.

* There is no place on the X archive page to sign up, but you can sign up for both on the main BB archive page.
pic: back in the day: one of our first brainstorming sessions about 90x.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Cleansing Real Weight Loss?

I just did a three day cleanse and lost 10 pounds. By the new American standard I’m hardly fat, so how can this happen? And since it did, is it real weight loss?

I’m currently working on substantiating the science behind P90X so it can air in the UK. Not only is their science criteria more stringent than in the US, they also won’t accept our testimonials who have lost more than two pounds per week because they’ve deemed this unsafe. As the guy who always champions stricter controls about what can be claimed on food and supplement packaging, it’s funny to stand up cry at a regulatory agency that we’re the ones getting hosed.

Two pounds per week is a perfectly acceptable outside limit for body composition change. I would even argue that it’s unlikely you could sustain this for very long. But over the course of a short-term exercise program, especially one that’s combined with diet, you can lose far in excess of this. It happens in our test groups all the time. The reason is the cleansing effect you get, which is real. It’s a one-time effect but we should not discount its importance.

Since I’m the de facto Raton Blanco (white mouse) around here let’s use my week on the Shakeology cleanse as an example:
As noted in the other post, I began my cleanse after a weekend of debauchery. Sure, I ran a ton but I also ate a lot of bad food and drank a lot of beer. Since I’m not used to eating and drinking that much my body was hanging onto a lot of excess food and my cells retaining too much water (also because of the long runs in a drier climate causing an emergency storage response). The flushing effects of the cleanse got rid of this and brought my body back into homeostasis. But now I’m lighter than I was prior to the weekend, and that is true weight loss.

It’s worth noting that my cleanse would be considered high calorie compared to most. I was probably eating 1500 calories a day. I was just eating nutrient dense foods with a lot of fiber (low density food with high density nutrients). Essentially, it was just good clean eating with a lot of water and no junk—the same thing our test groups do. I feel great and everything is again running properly.

Many people rarely feel this state of being. If fact, they walk around most of the time in my pre-cleanse state. It’s sad when you think about it, but if you rarely exercise, eat bad food, poison yourself daily with drugs (legal or otherwise—soda, a drug when you consider what it’s made of, makes up more calories world wide than any food) you won’t even know what feeling good means. Unfortunately, the average US citizen likely never functions properly.

When we begin a good diet and exercise regimen we will always flush undigested gunk out of our system and bring our hydration levels into homeostasis (most people retain way too much water due to excessive sodium in our diets). Then we lose weight. And if it’s weight that you’re always carrying around with you, it has to be considered real weight. No matter what those Limeys say.

pic: earning my cleanse at milt's, one of the west's best diners.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Never Say Never

When Romney got wind of my 07 birthday challenge she had absolutely no desire to participate. A year later, as my wife, she felt an obligation to support what I called an off year challenge. During the latter stretch of my 17 hour affair she said, “I wasn’t sure about these. I kind of thought I might want to do one. But I’m exhausted and all I’ve done is belay. Now I know, for sure, that I’m never doing a birthday challenge.”

Last Saturday she proved herself a liar. Not only had she done a birthday challenge but she’d done an absurd one; an “ultra” marathon. Until a few months ago, not only had she no interest in punishing herself on her birthday, she “didn’t run.” So I was probably as surprised as anyone when out of the blue she targeted the Red Hot Ultra as her objective.

In the five weeks she trained for the event I kept hearing complaints. I tried to tell her she didn’t have to do it (I think challenges are/should be fun) but she wouldn’t hear of it.

"... they don’t call it “The Birthday Pretty-Hard," she’d mutter each time.

Her blog examined her trepidation:

There are days when I’m sitting around and think I’ll just get in the zone and run for however long it takes. Then there are days when I’m running and I think, “this is going to be impossible.”

This lasted up until the morning of the race. At check-in she said, “what am I doing here with these people?” But not only did she finish an hour and a half under her expected time, she finished with a smile. And even when she was suffering she copped to having a good time. This certainly must have been the case. As the weekend progressed her enthusiasm increased until she started saying things like, “I wonder what a hundred would be like?”

As usual, my talented wife explains things better than I do. Congrats, baby!

Birthday Challenged

pics: bounding through the snow during the race; under castleton tower thinking about what's next

Power & Aging II: Darrell Green

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shakeology Cleanse

Here’s a little inside information for the Straight Dope faithful. It’s a three day cleanse (I’m doing this week) that’s becoming a standard part of our diet guides. It came from Mike Karpenko (Beachbody coach who once worked for me in the office and still runs our test groups with me) as an evolution of a cleanse I’d done using Shakeology as a substitute for our current fasting formula. Mike spruced it up a bit, we turned it loose on our test groups, and voila!

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Moab for Romney’s birthday (and birthday challenge, report coming soon). Along with a fair amount of exercise we did a fair amount of reveling. I mean, it’s the off-season and pints are two bucks around town and what else are you going to do on a birthday weekend? Therefore, even though I spent four to six hours each day running around I feel like pig that’s been fattened for slaughter, making this a perfect time to flush my system and bring everything back into homeostasis.

This is a performance-oriented system designed to support hard training. It’s not the Master Cleanse. The goal is to promote flushing junk from your system and regulating hydration levels. It’s calorically restricted to be sure. But in its 1500 or so calories will be more nutrients than most people get by eating well over twice that amount. The key is caloric efficiency; getting the most nutrients possible out of the fewest number of calories.

It’s too fat restrictive for a lifestyle plan. I’m on a low cal cycle of the ABCDE diet so it’s the kick start to that. After three days I’ll roll this into a 1600 calorie a day plan with additional calories added for sports performance only—this means targeted calories consumed during and immediately after workouts don’t count in the daily total.
The plan consists of three Shakeology shakes* a day with a salad in the evening. If the shakes are plain (Shakeology and water only) I can add three pieces of fruit. The salad is unrestricted as far as veggies go, with 4 ounces of a protein source (if it’s meat or fish and slightly more if it’s a veggie source like legumes), and two tablespoons of an olive oil/vinegar dressing. For fatty acids, each salad will also contain a tablespoon of chia seeds (or flaxseed or hempseed). Plenty of water washes it all down. Coffee, tea, and herb teas are fine as long as they are sans additives, as all are performance enhancing. In three days I plan feel recovered from the weekend and ready to roll into my final prep phase for the Copper Canyons.

* Any meal replacement or protein shake could be substituted but I’d recommend adding at least a greens formulation to this to try and equate Shakeology’s 70 ingredients.

pics: romney's run looking less than the promised "red hot" conditions, rare postholing conditions on castleton, celebrating romney's "never say never" birthday challenge.

Friday, February 12, 2010

And You Thought Your Ride Was Epic

It was like I had entered some alternate reality hell. I could barely see, the wind was screaming so that I might as well have been riding on the runway at LAX, the rain really hurt and made navigating extremely difficult, I was freezing now, and my brakes were giving up the battle.

Riding. In the mountains. In a 50 year storm. Through a gauntlet of boulders being cut loose by a combination of fire followed by rain. Sound fun? For your weekend entertainment here’s a tale of an epic ride from my friend Aaron.

A Ride Worse

I’ve ridden this loop many times. And I’ve ridden it in the rain. But I haven’t seen it during a 50 year storm. And certainly not after the worst fire season in the history of the area, where the rain turned one of the most beautiful mountain passes in the USA into a road cyclists’ version of the North Face of the Eiger.

It wasn’t until I’d made it about a mile down that I realized I was a true idiot and had made a terrible mistake. As I was navigating through a relatively entertaining mine field of baby head sized sharp rocks on the road, I heard a crash from 40-50 feet up and saw a boulder smashing down the hillside on a collision course. No Fucking Way. People do NOT get killed by boulders while road riding! I grabbed what brake I had in the wet and swerved...

It’s posted in a more apropos home, on the Ritte Van Vlaanderen cycling site. This is my new team, which you'll certainly hear more about as the season kicks in. Started by my friend and fellow birthday challenger Spencer, it’s pretty much the embodiment of why I ride and sometimes race. To train hard, to have fun, to mix it up at the races, do epic rides, look cool,look really cool, but never take yourself too seriously.

pics: aaron's favorite doper, the lion of flanders, and the ritte boys doping retro.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Let Moderation Be For Other People

I’ve always thought the cliché everything in moderation was ridiculous. Now I’ve got some stats to back me up. The “world’s largest study on running” has concluded that more exercise is better, period.

“The government was saying you get benefits by walking three or four times per week. My data has shown that the more you do the greater the benefits,” stated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Paul Williams to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve had people doing 100 miles a week of running and you could see benefits up to that level.

Williams has studied approximately 100,000 people over the last 20 years. He reports that exercise seems to prevent heart disease and stroke, as well as vision problems, like glaucoma and cataracts. He speculates that a link between running and cancer prevention “may just be a matter of time” since most of his subjects were young when the study began. The study doesn’t just observe running. “Any sort of regular aerobic activity helps,” say Williams. “The more hours they put in, the more benefits they’ll see.”

So where did all this moderation nonsense come from? I can understand recommending vices in moderation. This makes sense. A bevy of studies indicate some amount of “bad” behavior can be healthy. So, yes, by all means moderate those things that we know can cause harm. You know, smoking, gambling, watching TV, impromptu drag races on public roads… things like that. But healthy stuff? Why should we moderate our eating habits, getting enough sleep so that we feel good, challenging our brains to learn new things, and exercising? To paraphrase my favorite doctor (Bones per the Captain), where’s the logic, man?

According to the article, “doctors and public health officials worry that with half the country not meeting the (current) guidelines, even talking about running 50 miles per week will intimidate folks who aren’t doing anything.”

This is bullshit. It’s a smokescreen. If more is better, and we know it, then the common sentiment should be that more is better. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you can’t advise easing into exercise. Doctors are supposed to advise things. But we do the opposite. We—as a society--caution away from too much exercise. That we’re of lawsuits or worried that recommending too much exercise might lead to injuries doesn’t make sense when you consider that it’s a 100% fact that too little exercise leads to illness and pre-mature death. So what gives?

Call it a conspiracy if you want, but how are doctors going to stay in business if nobody gets sick? How are corporations going to keep their salaried employees working 16 days if the public conscience is that they should spend a few hours a day moving around? How are marketers going to sell ad space if we stop spending five and a half hours each day surfing the net and watching TV*? Where’s all this moderation talk when we really need it?

My dog is 15 years old. He’s outlived the expected age for his breed by 40%. Most “responsible” (their word) dog owners and vets have told me I work him too hard. He’s climbed hundreds of mountains. He’s run multiple marathons. He’s done ultra marathons. Somehow, all this exercise hasn’t killed him but made him stronger. In fact, he still gets out for two miles or so a day and is grouchy when he doesn’t. Sure, he’ll die one day. We all will. But his life, which has been anything but moderate, is testament to my belief that life should be lived full on, and that everything in moderation is a societal excuse to give up your life it live it as defined by others.

* Based on a study that’s a few years old. It’s probably worse now.

pic: tuco at 15. still running.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Finally it appears as though we're getting a climbing movie in the narrative genre that's going to be seriously good, as opposed to unintentional comedy (not that there's anything wrong with that). This film, in fact, looks amazing. For the time being it's only in limited release so check the dates on this page and see it. Generally the numbers during screening runs determine whether or not a film will get a larger release.

For those who aren't familiar with the story of Kurz and Hinterstoisser I'm giving away nothing. But one of the most vivid memories I've held on to comes from reading the account of this climb, years before I was an actual climber (meaning a long long time ago). If you're interested in the history of the Eiger, read The White Spider, Eiger: Wall of Death, or just watch The Eiger Sanction and call yourself educated.

I'm more attached to this mountain than most. Its lore was a catalyst for me to start climbing. I've done an Eiger Sanction themed birthday challenge. And I was married under it. One of these years I'll have to take my turn in the barrel. Ben says that at 35, give or take, I'm a little too old for the Eiger. But as I've always said: good weather, bad weather; now or later; any time is good for climbing.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sore, Hungry, & Slow

There are a few indicators that let me know a training program is working. The big three are getting sore, getting hungry, and then getting slow. You can’t avoid this scenario if you are incurring any kind of serious body composition change. In this article I explain the process in some depth.

Sore, Hungry, and Slow: 3 Signs That Show Your Program Is Working

I wrote it a few weeks ago, back in my hypertrophy phase, but I couldn’t post it then because the newsletter I wrote it for is new and the archive page wasn’t set up yet. It’s an important piece of information because too many people back off their training instead of pushing through and allowing their body to adapt. There are times when you shouldn’t push through pain but there are times when it’s essential.

I’m still getting sore adapting to longer and longer runs but my climbing training is in power mode, where soreness means injury. During power training you should finish your workout feeling as though you didn’t do much. Slowness, too, has vanished. When your muscles are growing during the hypertrophy phase you get slow. Power is training these new muscles to get strong, or fast. You should get faster and faster as you train power, and never be sore.

You can be hungry in any training cycle but it’s also a part of the hypertrophy stage. Your muscles are hungry because they are growing. I was very sensitive to the changes in the ABCDE diet during hypertrophy. All three symptoms would increase during my low calorie phases, almost instantly; an indicator that training is on the rivet, where it should be.

pic: an obvious indication of a family in hypertrophy phase.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

One Louder

Power training is a delicate balance between rational and irrational. Yesterday’s harebrained scheme pushed it too far but, hopefully, not so far as to interfere with my program. As Nigel wrote on my Facebook last night, “it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”

I mentioned the dangers of power training the other day. Whenever I’m at my limit I’m always trying to gauge whether or not it’s too much and attempting to back off before I hit the inevitable “one move too many”. Until Sunday, each successive workout was building on the prior workout fairly substantially. But my program isn’t for one sport. It’s a hybrid with the aim of concurrently building different energy system fitness for different sports at the same time. Friday I’d done a hard 2.5 hours of running on the trails. Saturday Romney and I did an easy six. Easy, but still six hours on uneven snow with probably 4,000’ of elevation gain. Sunday I was a little tired.

In all training for climbing I used to have a rule that if I warmed up and didn’t feel right I bagged the workout. (I still have it, though I haven’t seriously trained for climbing in ages so used to seemed more appropriate). So after 30 minutes or so of easy climbing I stopped.

Yesterday I completed my warm-up. I wasn’t feeling strong but proceeded anyway because I felt fine, just not strong. I’ve been upped the resistance I use on the simulation I’ve set of my project each workout. Day one it was everything I could do to just do the moves, and then complete the three individual sections. Subsequent workouts added weight (using a vest) until I could hike each move first today. Today the plan was to add ankle weights.

Then I got a bright idea (these inevitably go wrong). Instead of using my small ankle weights on my ankles I opted for the larger ones and put the small weights on my wrist. I did a few easy moves on big holds and then cranked up Big Bottom and went for my project.

And wrong it went. I tweaked a finger. Not bad, but definitely a tweak. Feeling that it might be minor enough to finish the workout as long as I stopped climbing I rested and then began my hangboard session. It lasted two sets or so before I became certain it was at least some kind of injury and was off to ice. This morning it feels good. Almost 100%, but still, almost. Time will tell. Certainly shutting the workout down was the right choice .Whether I stopped early enough remains to be seen. If I did I’ve dodged a shit sandwich.

The crazy thing, really, is that can’t stop thinking about whether I can do the moves weighted down as I was. I think that I can, in fact, if my joints remain intact. And that is the crazy drug of power training. Our bodies only go to 10. We’re always trying to push them to 11.

video:ben's i-phone captures an attempt on the delicate slab climb, 'lick my love pump.'