What Do You Love?

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”  – Charles Bukowski

 

It was October of 2010, and Tim didn’t know it, but in four days he’d be dead.

He was drunk and screaming at me through his phone, “Love, Love, Love!  Goddammit, life is about love!”

I couldn’t disagree.

He’d been through hell and back more than once.  But Tim was was abundant with a precious resource, passion.

He took chances and learned some tough lessons. He made a lot of mistakes but faced his challenges head on.  Now, it was cancer.

He was fearless, but afraid of himself.

In the end, it was people who killed him.

People, who couldn’t live with his brutal honesty.  People, who refused to accept their faults and hid behind a mask.  People, who couldn’t return love in the same proportion that he dished it out.

People, like me.

He was my best friend and while he had an uncanny ability to laugh in the face of disaster, he wasn’t laughing that night.  He felt like he’d let it all slip away.  Like he failed at life because he couldn’t find enough love.

We chase money, thrills, and ego, but what is any of that without love?  And not just love in the traditional sense, but for everything we do.  To waste life chasing illusions that leave us empty is an awful way to live.

We bottle anger or fear, unable to forgive because of personal agendas and insecurity.  We want to control instead of love.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation since the day he died and finally believe I have grown enough to let go of what’s been in my way.  I will no longer fight empty battles for the sake of it.  I will no longer hate in the name of public opinion.  I will no longer judge someone before walking in their shoes.

It’s all pretty obvious and starts with love . . . of yourself.

3 Triathlon Articles of the Day

Here are three quick articles (and a short video) about swim, bike, and run to get you in the mood for something other than sex.

SWIM – Here’s a sweet swim drill that would certainly build your confidence for the Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start.

BIKE – I hesitated to post this one because the title is “How to Become A Cyclist” and the first tip is “ride more frequently.”  My first thought was, “Wow!  That is great advice!”  But, then I remembered that’s similar to the schlep I was doling out the other day.

RUN – This is an awesome article for 3 reasons.  One, it’s offered as a way to heal/strengthen your achilles (my nemesis).  Two, it’s run cross training, which I love.  Three, it has me thinking about getting a heavy bag for my garage again.

3 New Workouts (Swim,Bike, Run)

Here are three new workouts for you.  They are also listed with others under the “Workout” tab.  Enjoy.

SWIM – Oly Race Pace

WU
3 x 200 as odds swim, evens single arm, 10 rest

Main set:
3 x 200 high tempo with paddles and t-shirt. 20 rest
6 x 100 oly race pace, 10 rest
12 x 50 as odds fists, evens sprint. 15 rest

2 rounds.

200 Warm Down

BIKE – Stand/Sit

Warm Up:
5 mins
5 x 20 sec sprints, 40 secs easy. In tough gear.

Main set:

hills or tough resistance
5 x 1 min at 45rpms all out, 30 secs easy in between each one.
5 mins easy

6 rounds. Odd rounds seated, evens standing.

2 x 4 min steady at cadence of choice

Rest of ride easy.

RUN – 10K Pace Repeats 

10 mins Warm Up

Main set:
10 x 30 sec steep hill bounds. Get height and distance per stride and maximum muscle loading.

Jog back each time.

2 x 1/2 mile repeats at 10k pace on flat. 2 mins easy in between each one.

2 rounds.
Cool down to make 1:30

The Secret of Effective Undertraining

Do you think you would get better at playing piano if you practiced 30 minutes every day, or for 4 straight hours once a week?

Ever since I started training for Ironman, I have been obsessed with figuring out the best way to prepare.  This morning, that quest continued as I wrote blindly on the topic and my thoughts kept coming back to one thing: repetition.

Last year I went into Ironman Louisville severely undertrained by Ironman standards.  My actual time was 12:40, but I honestly believe an 11:30 was well within my grasp if I would have hydrated better on the bike.

I didn’t follow a typical Ironman training plan.  In fact, these were my longest training days for all of last year:

Swim – 3,000 meters
Bike – 4 hours
Run – 12 miles

For the last month, all I did was bike and swim . . . a lot.  I swam around 1,500 at lunch, then biked for an hour or two in the afternoon.  Nearly every single day.

Going into Louisville I felt very comfortable in the water and on the bike.  And while I hadn’t run (do to an injury) much, I felt oddly at peace about the prospect of running a marathon.

My every-day swim and bike workouts were short, but very focused.  I worked hard on my form in the pool and pushed myself with intervals and aero training on the bike.

Going into Louisville, swimming and biking were second nature (sort of like going to the coffee shop these days) and I had very little fear.  I didn’t have long distances under me, but I had something more important, great command of my effort.

The run, of course, was ultimately my demise, but I refuse to believe it was about my legs or conditioning (over-heated core, soaking wet feet and blisters is another story).  Endurance was never a part of my life growing up, but sports built running into my DNA.  By nature, running’s not intimidating because I have a deep understanding of how to do it any day of the week.

And, I guess that is the entire point of this post.  The more comfortable you are with swimming, biking, and running, the less effort it takes.  For my money, shorter, good-form-repetition is far more valuable than bad-form and exhausting distances.

Ironman Louisville Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forced Change and Motivation

This morning, NPR enlisted a panel of college newspaper editors from Dartmouth, Virginia and Vanderbilt for a discussion.  All of them seemed anxious to change the world and their immediate focus was sexual assault and racial diversity on campus.  They were adamant about finding and implementing a solution to these seemingly never ending problems.

Their conversation reminded me of a Charles Bukowski quote I have on my wall:  “You begin saving the world one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s campus behavior, social ethics, or triathlon training, substantial change rarely, if ever, happens when it is forced.  Fear, threat, or rules are bad places to start changing the world . . . or yourself.

You have to go inside and let it happen.

Three years ago the energy and newness of training consumed me and I forced my body to the limits.  I was genuinely motivated by the fear of not finishing my first Ironman.  I would not be embarrassed!  And, while it worked in the short term, I quickly learned there has to be a deeper, long-term reason for tangling with these challenges.

I’ve realized this process can’t be about false confidence–it has to be authentic.

It can’t be just for your body, mind, or spirit; it has to be all three.  They are interconnected (much like swim, bike, and run) and if one doesn’t get enough attention, the recipe falls out of balance.

For years I have tried forcing things I don’t like out of my life, whether that be too many sweets, negative thought patterns, or staying up late.  But that’s the wrong approach.  It’s more about flooding my life with good, consistent, and meaningful patterns and letting the bad habits leave on their own.

Swim, Bike, Run Reading

I’m gonna start pulling 3 articles (a swim, bike, and run) every couple days that I think are pretty good reading.

Here’s one on designing your swim training around your “test pace.”  Also, check out the Crushing Iron podcast on how to love swimming.

Here’s an article on 5 Ways to cross train for cycling.  (Is it just me or is it sometimes hard to find the rest of the article when they hide the “next page” in a jungle of ads?)  Or, check out Crushing Iron’s satirical list of 10 Favorite Things About Cycling.

Work on your running stride with these three video drills.  And, here’s a little post on how I overcame my disdain for running and eventually proclaimed it “king.”

 

 

10 Thoughts on My Run 1-30-15

1.  Of all things, I am currently addicted to “House of Cards” on Netflix.  It’s the strangest thing, and even makes me feel a little grimy.  Truthfully it’s everything I dislike about human interaction, but I guess that proves (at least on some level) we (or I) have a little animal left in us.

2.  Never eat Taco Bell before a run (or anytime, really).  Though, this article points out it may not be as bad as I think.  The meat is actually 88% beef and 12% “signature recipe.”  I was too scared to look up Caramel Empanadas.

3.  I always say I’m gonna wear a Garmin simply to keep my pace “comfortable,” but it’s almost impossible to take an easy run when I wear that demon.  I hear that “mile beep” and look down with the anticipation of Christmas morning.  Sometimes I get a Chipotle Gift Card, other days it’s a lump of coal.

4.  Exhaling on the seven stride is my comfort zone.  This is a strange, but important key to my endurance.  If I exhale while my left foot hits the ground, then exhale again after right, left, right, left, right, left, I know I can keep that pace for days.  Once it creeps inside there, I’m “pushing.”  The more relaxed I am, the more I can keep that breath at a faster speed, which led me to this next thought . . .

5.  Now, I realize this may sound kind of obvious, but I never take anything for granted in triathlon.  In one of my last posts I was talking about the importance of “the catch” and turnover rate in swimming.  If we catch and pull the same amount of water, but you turn your stroke quicker, you will be faster.  It occurred to me the same theory applies to running.  If our strides are equal length but I churn quicker than you, I will be faster.  In biking, the catch or stride equivalent would be the gear.  If you’re in a bigger gear and we have the same RPM (assuming same weight, bike, etc) you will be moving faster.  I’m not sure what this means or if it proves anything, but it seems like the more analogies I hear, the better the chances I will understand and improve.

7.  I can’t neglect speed training.  While thinking about the above concept, I decided to add 6×30-second sprints toward the end of my run.  They weren’t “all-out” blasts, but about 80% with a huge focus on relaxing.  I’ve always recognized the key to improvement as breaking thresholds by slowly getting comfortable at faster speeds.  If I’m normally an 8:30/min guy and can stay relaxed and in control for a while at a 7 minute pace, holding 8 minutes doesn’t mess with my head as much.

8.  Thank goodness for hills.  I’ve said it before, but I’m really glad I started running in East Nashville.  The “flats” around here are hillier than a lot of places.  Just like the speed example, the more hills you run, the more you don’t even notice them.  (This one’s for you, Corey).

8.  Less coffee, more juice.  I could just trade that second coffee for a fresh carrot/celery/parsley juice every morning, I think I’d be a lot better off.  The dehydration trade-off alone would be worth the excruciating cleaning process.

9.  I couldn’t help thinking about the trail run I missed this morning.  My Nashville Running Company training group car-pooled over to Cookville and ran Bear Waller Gap Trail.  The pictures everyone posted are incredible and make me cringe in envy (or give me another reason to quit Facebook).  I guess that’s what happens when you’re up until 2:30 watching “House of Cards” and the convoy takes off at 7:00.

10. Speaking of guilt, my iPhone text message situation is totally whacked and I am starting to wonder if anyone likes me anymore.  Apple has been under fire for this, but it does nothing to soothe my ego when friends don’t respond to my messages.  Usually, it goes like this:

Me:  Some super-sarcastic remark.
Friend:  No Response.
Me (somewhat regretting the message): “Hey, man . . . you there?”
Friend:  No Response.
Me:  “Come on, you know I was just jacking you.”
Friend (two hours later):  No Response.
Me:  “Hey, I mean, you’re one of my best friends… I’m sorry!”
Friend (the next day):  No Response.
Me:  (looks sadly at phone… goes to Taco Bell).

 

 

Slow Down To Get Faster

When I started drumming, I wanted to be an instant rock star.  I sat at my kit and played as fast as I could.  But of course, I sucked.

I asked a lot of questions and every drummer I talked to told me to practice as slow as I could.  And you know what, going slow was really hard.

But going slow in practice builds good technique.  It also teaches you to stay under control.

I’m sure you’ve heard an athlete say, “The game is starting to slow down for me.”  My interpretation of that is, “I’m learning to relax when I’m going fast.”

The road to relaxing at peak performance starts with drilling the fundamentals.  Let’s use swimming as an example.

Most of us trudge to the pool with hopes of making a major break thru, but time after time we see our 100 splits stay about the same or start slipping as we get tired.  We do this for years on end with seemingly no real gains in speed.

We can think it’s about strength or endurance, but with swimming, those assets don’t matter as much.  You can be bursting with Crossfit strength or marathon endurance but sink like a log in the pool.  The number one way to get faster is mastering technique.

Body position and less resistance play a part, but moving through the water faster is mainly about propulsion.  Are you catching correctly and pulling with optimum resistance?  The only way to get there is to consciously learn those sensations.

The key is to slow down and think about what you are doing below the water.  Imagine reaching out with your arm and pulling yourself over an imaginary wall.  Feel the pressure against your forearm, wrist and hand.  Pull with your lats, not your shoulder, engage your core and do it all in a continually smooth rotation of both arms.

There have literally been books written about this one topic, so while it seems easy, it takes a lot of repetition to get it right, and for most, that means taking steps backward.  In order to get faster you have to build the right muscles and adapt to your body’s potential.

For some this may mean shorter strokes with a higher turnover.  For others, that means a long reach and a longer pull.  Either way is fine, but you’ll never get faster unless you slow down to perfect a relaxed and efficient form under the water.

 

 

Creative Workouts For Triathlon

Our coaching staff is continually thinking about ways to make training more effective and enjoyable, so Crushing Iron will now be adding creative workout ideas if you feel like breaking up the monotony.  We only have a couple now, but hope to add one or two a week for each discipline.  They can be found under the “Workouts” tab at the top and broken out by sport.  Here’s an example for the pool:

Band On The Swim

Warm Up
200 easy cruise
100 kick with board hard

Main set:
400 pull/paddles high tempo
3 x 100 BAND around ankles
200 t-shirt swim AND clenched fists high tempo
100 SPRINT

: 45 rest throughout

2 rounds – Beginner swimmer
3- rounds- intermediate swimmer
4 rounds total – advanced swimmer

200 Warm Down

 

What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Ironman

When Steve Jobs started building computers in his garage, he was hungry.

A few years later, Apple was a powerful brand and Jobs faced a whole new set of challenges.  The Board of Directors was more concerned about how Apple’s perception, but Jobs couldn’t stop thinking about its soul.

The Suits ran Jobs out of town, so he took his youthful passion to Pixar and NEXT. Apple may have been his baby, but he never lost sight of his purpose.

Eventually, he went back to Apple with real influence.  He re-trained the culture to focus on basics and ultimately changed the way we live.

Jobs was a little nuts, but what genius isn’t?  Who in their right mind would think they could accomplish the things he did?  And what person in their right mind would think they could complete an Ironman?

Somehow Jobs overcame resistance and made huge sacrifices to stay true to his mission.  Say what you want about Jobs, but his story is a good lesson for training.

For my first Ironman I was a hungry entrepreneur sharing the message with anyone who would listen.  I genuinely felt like I was moving toward a higher plane of consciousness.

Then came Number 2, and I was a more comfortable with the shape of “my business.”  The product worked, it was just a matter of consistency.

In year three I have become a little complacent.  Automation is taking over, but that’s no way to be great.

Racing is far more than hanging an award on a hook.  Being great is a process and it helps to remember why we wanted this in the first place.  For me it was to be alive, test my limits, and become a better person.

That is why I train.  That is why I sacrifice.  That is why I push my body to places it doesn’t voluntarily go.

It always comes back to today, to the process, to the growth.  When we start chasing symbols, approbation, and medals . . . we lose.

medal-cropped