Friday, December 30, 2011

Recaping The "Year of Fitness"

My theme at the start of the year was a Year of Fitness and, more or less, it was. I stayed mainly quite fit, trained and raced right through a few bad injuries, and find myself just as motivated as ever moving towards next year. Sure, some things could have gone better but I can honestly say that I hope a year never goes perfect. Then what would I shoot for? I presented the numbers earlier this week. Here are a few highlights in photos.

it all started with a party...

and a never-ending winter. would have been great for skiing but i had races to train for.

luckily finn prefers riding to skiing, though most early-season riding needed to be done in the desert.

and P90X2 development meant a lot of trips south

at duathlon nationals in tucson

two days after nats the first big day of the year: sedona's 'big friggin' loop'

romney on a load humping trip to a crag where the season would never start

post crash in ketchum, exploring trails instead of racing nats

with no option to climb training got a wee bit more focused.

oddly enough an article about my climbing life appeared in a year with little climbing.

overlooking the cote d'azur with friend (beachbody president) jon congdon.

on the iconic mt ventoux

gear ready for spain. body, not so much

tapering in france at 'fitness camp'. le bonne vie!

it hurts just looking at this pic

with climbing and racing plans derailled you might as well go local

mick on the final pitch of my only long climb of the year.

in the wee hours at frog hollow. helmet light obviously on a lookout for aliens.

an uninspired birthday challenge for everyone but finnegan, who clicked off 40k at over 10mph.

finishing the year like it started, training with mr. f

and enjoying the desert because now that i have time to ski there's no winter.

it seems appropriate to end with a sunset.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011: Training by numbers

Notes – What's specifically done is listed elsewhere on the blog and can be found under "Labels". Most rehab work falls under Mobility. Cycling and climbing training means specific training. So a ride or climbing day might or might not be termed training. Indoor training doesn’t count as riding or climbing, only as training. All runs had a purpose. I don’t run for fun but do ruke on trails. A ruke is a hike/run, generally at ultra pace. Steep hike is generally fairly arduous, like hiking up a mountain. I don’t include hikes to climbing areas unless they are significant. Ski days all XC, classic or skate. Multi-sports days are two or more sports in a day, whereas multi-workouts are two different workouts done at different times (one is usually easy). A big day is something much longer than I’ve been doing in training.

Jan-Mar: Lots of travel or would have skied more. LA Feb-Mar for X2. Soleus work done early Mar, which is why there is a hole in the running days. Sick in mid-Mar. Hard to estimate recovery days because I often will use a different discipline to recover, like climb to recover from running and riding, which would be a training day.
April: First peak, Duathlon Nats on 26th.
May: A month “off”.
June: From mid-month real training began again after racing Mtb State Champs.
July: Injured hand in crash on 14th. Didn’t affect training, just climbing. By now, 2.5 hr ride considered recovery unless it’s hard. End of month S. France trip w/ 2 big days, Ventoux and run thru Maritime Alps.
Aug: Mainly specific training for World’s.
Sept: Injured soleus on 4th. “Training” became rehabbing through World’s on 25th.
Oct: The next goal for year was to test short training on some longer events.
Nov: All training focused around recovering from 3 12-hour days.
Dec: Play month but psyched and training a lot towards the end of the year. Used my scheduled workouts to fill in the last few days of the year.

Analysis – This may look crazy but look closely and it should be pretty easy to interpret. During the winter training was steady but volume low, hence there is less rest and more structure. Towards the two peaks (Ap and Sept), training became more sports specific. Intensity and volume increases dictating more recovery days. The months following each peak had little to no structure. Finally, during the epic fall marathons everything revolved around recovering between events as opposed to trying to get fitter. Moving into the off-season the winter pattern has re-emerged.

Only did four races but all were significant:

Duathlon Nationals 12th (though knocked to 25th w/ disputed penalties)
Utah State Mtn Bike Champs 7th
Duathlong World Championships 12th
Frog Hollow 25 Hour Race 3rd in duo division

Hardest climb: 12c (not impressive but at least it was on-sight)

Big Days include: The November Trifecta, Squawstruck, Ben's BD Challenge, Mt Ventoux and a long run in the Maritime Alps, and Sedona's Big Friggin' Loop.

Friday, December 23, 2011

No Ski Lift. No Ski Hill. No Problem.

Who needs Aspen, St. Moritz, any resort or even open space in order to shred? All that's required is ingenuity and a little psyche. And if your town happens to have public transport, consider it a bonus. This is basically the winter companion of this video. Happy holidays. Now get outside and play. Rock skis optional.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Importance Of Iron Fist

Since arms are the theme this week on The ‘Dope, here’s my latest article for DPM mag: The Way of the Iron Fist. It’s a guide to forearm training using a rice bucket, accompanied by stellar video of Master Wu explaining the subtleties of eliminating your enemies using the Buddhist Palm stance.

So, other than the obvious radness of aiding your Predator handshake, just why should you train using a rice bucket?

Obviously hand strength is important for climbers. Unfortunately, both the act of climbing and most of the exercises that climbers do to strengthen their attachment to the rock, work almost exclusively on what are called the flexor muscles of the hands and forearm. This creates a massive imbalance between flexor and extensor strength that leads to an assortment of ailments including elbow and bicep tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and various injuries to the hand tendons and tendon pulleys.

Climbers aren’t the only group to have a flexor/extensor imbalance. Almost everyone does but life required doing a lot of grabbing and very little of opening your hand against resistance unless you regularly practice essence absorbing stance. If everyone used a rice bucket carpal tunnel syndrome would not exist, much less be a syndrome.

A note on rice bucket form from my friend Ed. Don’t hit the rice with your fingertips. Slide them in. You still use force but you also must employ grace. Nerve endings in your fingertips affect your vision so smashing your fingertips regularly into anything can cause your eye sight to weaken.

Finally, if you’re looking for a cheap stocking stuffer how about a subscription to The Stash at DPM? For 5 bucks a year you can get access to unending psyche with their premiere videos. Check out the one below. It’s free. Just imagine how good those in The Stash must be.

Also, unfortunately, Master Wu’s video can only be viewed by those whom he feels are worthy. Others will be re-directed to Grasshopper Ben training in The Coop.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Capacity For Strength, Technoviking, & The Predator Handshake

Lately my only consistent workout has been Friday Night Arms, an obscurity from the One on One/10 Minute Trainer series where Tony works his biceps, triceps, and forearms into oblivion in ten minutes. Why an endurance athlete, where strength to weight ratio is vital, would do this is a fair question. For the answer I present Technoviking.

No one is quite sure what the Technoviking is capable of but with arms like that do you want to find out? He’s the definition of capacity for strength.

Seriously, since my mtn bike crash in July the guns have become even smaller than the spaghetti arms I generally walk around with; not only because I focused on racing but that I was also unable to use my right hand. Coming back to climbing I’ve been feeling undo stress in my tendons because my arm muscle breaks down quicker than normal. Some added girth, especially when it’s trained for power, will alleviate stress on the tendons. All in all weight worth having.

Plus, if you don’t work your arms how else will you do the Carl Weathers/Arnold handshake from Predator? Barry Bonds may have hit more home runs than Mark McGuire but, when you think of that era, you’ve got to admit the Big Mac’s arms are what you visualize. Actors know it. The Shat, to prepare for his time on the bridge of the Enterprise, did nothing but curls. Ricardo Montalban, as his nemesis Khan, requested that he be scanity clad to show off his guns. And my friend Elijah, a very strong climber, once did an entire training program for his biceps and triceps and nothing else. Arms matter.

The name of the video comes from a time when Tony and his buddies would spend Friday nights in the gym training nothing but arms to “get girls”. And while Tony claims it didn’t work back then it does now. Late one night, while we were working on a training routine in a hotel gym a drunk girl stumbled in, mumbled something about Tony’s arms being “kind of a turn on,” and hung around staring until her wine glass had apparently been empty too long. We laughed but there’s a reason both Tony and Elijah love to kiss their biceps. It’s because they know that when one day Carl Weathers appears before them in a third world jungle bar, they’ll be ready for a proper greeting.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

P90X2 For Outdoor Sports V: An Off-Season Schedule

I’ve officially decided to recommend flipping phases one and two of P90X2 for most outdoor athletes. I also think you should practice some of the phase one workouts during your rest phase at the end of the season before you begin training.

My rationale is that it’s better to avoid doing a lot of sport-specific training when you’re gaining muscle and phase II targets hypertrophy. In a perfect world you’d do the phases in order but most cyclists, runners, and climbers are lucky to take a month away from their sports, and those are the ones who get paid. Recreational athletes—who play sports for fun—have a very hard time stepping away from their sports at all. Bringing phase II to the fore lessens the chance of overuse injury because sports-specific training should, at worst, be base fitness and nothing your body can’t handle while it’s gaining muscle.

Without further ado, here’s what I’m doing this off-season.

I 2 “practice weeks"

II Phase II for 4 weeks.

Auxiliary training will be hang board training also based on hypertrophy (details later). The bikes will stay out of sight and I’ll ski for fun and aerobic conditioning. I’ll attend the Ritte training camp at the end of January (get destroyed) and then move into...

Phase I for 3 weeks.

Auxiliary training will be climbing on my wall and other more intense climbing training and a few cycling sessions, mainly on the trainer, as well as skiing.

Phase III for 4 weeks.

Since this phase is so intense all other training will be based around how well I recover from the workouts. Hopefully I’ll be testing (again) some PAP training for climbing. I’d like to have a climbing peak in April/May as I’m also building my cycling fitness.

So that is the overview and, of course, it will change somewhat as it goes down as that’s what programs inevitably do. I’m excited about it. Base fitness was excellent last year and I’m thinking it’ll be even better in 2012.

pic: a preview of ritte's winter training camp.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

P90X2 For Outdoor Sports IV: Goals & Reality

Now that you’ve assessed your goals and timeline you want to look the reality of just how much you can train. Most of us are not full-time professional athletes and need to be time efficient. There are too many variables to address in one post (or book) so I’ll carve out my plan as an example.

Let’s begin with my personal assessment of yesterday’s topic. Most of my goals are far off so scheduling my program is fairly simple. Still, however, three months is too long for most of us to be away from our sports. So I will be altering the P90X2 structure to allow more time for sport-specific training to occur as the season approaches.

Last year I averaged about 1.5 hours of training a day, which includes dog exercise (a post on multi-tasking this will be part of this series). I tested this on a series of long events during the month of November. A post on this is coming, too, but the gist is that it’s possible to train fairly short for very long events. Not optimal but it can work. Anyways, 1.5 hours isn’t a lot when each X2 workout takes an hour.

My goals for the year are a mixture of short and long events and I think I can strategize how to train for both in 1.5 hours a day. I’m 51, so you’ll see that theme at work as I present my 2012 tick list.

5 first ascents, 1 5.13
5 long days, 1 grade V in a day

5 races, 1 100 mile
5 big days, 1 multi-day self-supported

Running & Skiing
No goals but to improve and get 100% healthy as there will be running and skiing on the ’13 agenda.

Current assessment: Back in the days when I had a ton of free time this wouldn’t have been a problem. With my current schedule, however, it’s going to take a lot of planning and discipline to get it done. The training is almost the easy part but I want to do well in the races so it’s got to stay focused. Also, I’m trying to climb at what is my limit these days, at least for one peak, and I’ve never been in 5.13 and bike race shape at the same time, so there’s a lifetime achievement goal on the agenda, which is always good for motivation.

I need a very high level of base fitness to make this happen, which is precisely why nothing is scheduled early. I want to be able to do a full unabridged round of P90X2. I also want to come out of my winter training ready to climb hard so some multi-tasking will be in order. If I can tick off my power goals in the spring it’ll be much easier because I can focus on endurance as the days get long. Now that my agenda is clear I’m ready to draw up a plan. I’ll post it tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

P90X2: How To Design A Sport-Specific Training Program

As you sit down to embark on next season’s training plans here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re sorting out how P90X2 is going to fit into your year. I’ve written a lot about designing programs, both using Beachbody programs and not, and at this point in your planning P90X2 is no different than anything else because we’re simply looking at the big picture of when to target non sport-specific weaknesses and when to integrate sports training back in.

These two articles, written for P90X, will help you get the gist of what your training structure should look like:

Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I

Endurance Athletes: Get Ripped in the Off-Season

Your first consideration is time. How long until your first event and, more precisely, how long until your important event? All training should be planned around a peak. In any given year we can probably peak twice and your most intense phase of off-season training should at the furthest point from these goals. So, for example, if you want to peak in February and again in October you’re better off scheduling a short cycle of training now and more off-season oriented training beginning in March. If you’re two peaks are late spring and fall—very common for both climbers and endurance athletes—now’s the time to get going.

If you’re of the former scenario, P90X2 can be utilized in a short cycle of training. Here’s an article on how that might work.

Customizing P90X for Skiing: How to Structure a Short Training Cycle

That’s enough reading for today. Tomorrow I’ll be back with my personal goals for 2012 and how I plan to schedule my training phases using P90X2.

pic: my schedule from winter 2010

Monday, December 12, 2011

P90X2: Practice Week

Using P90X2 for outdoor sports requires an evaluation process that each of us must do in order to schedule it the most sensible way. This week I’ll post on the aspects of this while concurrently doing some of the workouts in what I call a practice week.

One of the principles of X2 is based on the specificity of adaptation. This is true of every exercise program we’ve made but it’s never been pushed as far as we’re taking it this time. For some of you learning the movements of this program will be like learning how to dance. When the movements you’re learning click (like in the pic) is when you’re going to start seeing crazy progress so I’m getting a jump on it while I’m still in recovery mode.

“Core should be the first workout because it teaches you so much,” said Steve Holmsen, one of the program’s developers who’s also Tony’s ski buddy and the guy who got him psyched on balance training. And, in fact, all of phase I of the program is about learning. But we outdoor athletes might be best served to alter the schedule to accommodate our sport-specific training. I will go into this later but, for now, consider jump starting your winter program with some practice.

When I’m in recovery mode I play. I still exercise, sometimes a lot, but I have no targets or goals and I certainly don’t diet. Sometimes, like this year, I have injuries and when I do I will keep going with my rehab. So my play schedule has been basically climbing, easy riding, and easy running/hiking (ruking) along with stability workouts like this and this. And also Friday Night Arms, which I’ll go into in a separate post.

With that in mind my practice week looks like this.

Daily: whatever I want/have time for sports wise.

Practice schedule:

Day 1: X2 Core
Day 2: X2 Mobility
Day 3: Friday Night Arms & rice bucket
Day 4: X2 Power and Balance
Day 5: Shoulder and pelvic stability & X2 Mobility

Friday, December 09, 2011

P90X2 For Outdoor Athletes

I’m going to be starting a round of P90X2 designed to get me ready for a season of riding, running, and climbing. Today’s Psyche post is on the above photo of the package sitting in my garage that was followed by Twitter and Facebook posts, “There's a package sitting on the floor containing P90X2 and collateral material that's burning a hole in my post-challenge recovery mode.” All pre-orders should be in transit. If you don’t have yours yet it’ll be there any day. Anyone interested in sport-specific training should join me.

P90X changed the landscape of home fitness training forever. P90X2 is going to raise the standard, particularly for those of us who participate in athletic activities. One of my promotional articles (for, I think) concluded with a line about how I’ve never been so excited for off-season training to start. I’ve been tinkering with this program for years and it’s finally coming to fruition. I’m psyched.

like presents under a tree, the x2 kit begging me to action.

Over the next few months my goal is not only to get into tip-top shape, but to preemptively answer your questions about sport-specific training with X2. Put this blog on your favorites list and tag along. It’s going to be a helluva fun ride.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

First American Female To...

Climb 9a. For you who don't speak climbing just know it's really, really hard. Hence "first".

Sasha DiGiulian. "Pure Imagination" 5.14d (9a). from Adidas Outdoor on Vimeo.

Been too busy to write so this is going to be triple Psyche week. This is round two. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Trouble With Trouble

For this weekend’s Psyche here’s a good vid of Emily Harrington battling with Waka Flocka, a route in Rifle. Projects aren’t easy, otherwise they’d have been finished, and here Harrington deals with some of the issues any of us who’ve had one go through. It’s inspiring, well done, and makes me want to get outside. Luckily I’m in California this weekend. Think I’ll head out to the crags right now...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Questions, Answers, and Song

Denis and I did an impromptu video chat this afternoon that you might find entertaining. Since no one was around at first we began with a bit of movie banter. As the word got out we progressed to a standard fitness and nutrition q and a session until a little challenge got Keith the Dude to provide a human beat box for one of Denis’ old high school raps.

My chats have changed to video format recently. They are generally full of detailed information that stays pretty much on topic. Today was different. You’ll have to decide if it was better or worse but it was certainly a lot more fun.