IRONMAN Wisconsin Motivation

IRONMAN Wisconsin Motivation


Most of you know I’m a big Wisconsin Badgers fan, and if you follow college hoops you also know my boys have been struggling this year.  I used to kick back and giggle as recent Wisconsin teams methodically dismantled Big 10 foes on their way to a high seed in the tournament, but now I get on my trainer and air out the angst! Last night I rode out the entire Penn State game while visualizing those Madison hills at Ironman Wisconsin.


Then, I woke up this morning to another reminder of Wisconsin, snow!  I mean, it wasn’t 24 inches of snowmobiling layers we used to get back home, but it was pretty legit.  I was out of coffee, so I decided to drive over and grab some from Ugly Mugs, but my car got stuck on the first little hill.  I had to do that awkward back-up-into-the-intersection thing and turn around. I am officially Nashville.

But I was inspired and threw on my trail shoes.  It’s four miles roundtrip and running in two inches of snow is absolutely awesome for old guys like me with sore ankles.


It was coming down pretty good and flakes pelted my eyes like needles, which I’m hoping is another great way to naturally improve eyesight.  Thankfully Ugly Mugs was open and I grabbed my beans for the return trip.


About a mile from home I saw a truck ahead spinning its wheels on a hill.  It was a typical Southern move by this guy . . . flooring it and going nowhere.  I closed in, then tore across the intersection without missing a beat and started pushing him up the hill.  I was also keeping him from slinking into the ditch.  For about 200 yards I pushed and steered the back end of his weightless truck bed.  The whole time I imagined he was the kind of guy that hated runners and I was building a bridge.  That he’s in the truck with his wife saying, “Ya know, honey, these them there runner types ain’t half bad.”

When we finally got to the top of the hill, I gave him one final shove and yelled, “Slow it down a little!”  I never saw his face, but he put his hand out the window and yelled, “Thank ya, runner!”

I watched with pride as he crested the hill then disappeared into the rolling terrain ahead, and thought to myself, “He’s fucked.”


So, this has been on my mind for a while now and I’m looking for someone to join me in this recovery/healing plan.  Quick one minute dips into the ice tank. Who’s with me?  





Chasing the Impossible

Chasing the Impossible

I’m continually looking for things that reinforce my belief that anything is possible.  Whether it be naturally improving eyesight, an Age Grouper winning IRONMAN, or following a guy that wants to live forever.  But these stories rarely show up in traditional media because today’s news is a number’s game.

I’m not interested in people telling me to use sanitizer wipes, I’d rather hear that exposure to germs is necessary for your immune system.  I don’t need someone telling me to stock up on milk because the roads will be slick in the morning.  And I certainly can’t take another cute blonde telling me to get a flu shot.

I want to hear about people who are pushing the limits and don’t settle, not predictable words written by an underpaid producer and read by a handsome guy in make up.  I want information that inspires and shakes.

About two months ago, I was having trouble sleeping (probably worried about the new landfill zoning)  on a cold dark night and by chance I landed on a mind-blowing Joe Rogan Podcast. Right there before me was “The Iceman,” Wim Hof, bursting with energy and sharing his secrets for being alive: Deep Breathing and Exposure to the Cold.

Hof owns 20 world records related to extreme weather feats, including: climbing Mt. Everest and running a marathon at the arctic circle in -4 degrees; both wearing only shorts, and standing neck deep in a tank full of ice for one hour and forty four minutes.

He credits his ability to control his autonomic nervous system (turning up his internal thermostat through breathing) and says this ability can be learned.  He also says the things he is doing only scratch the surface of human capability and there is evidence these relatively simple techniques are capable of reversing many of our modern day diseases, including Parkinson’s.

There is really cool movement going on outside of the mainstream.  People all over are refusing to accept limits by pushing the endless possibilities of humanity.

IRONMAN is a great example because it’s turning into the modern day version of the marathon. The more that people do it, the more we realize it’s not as impossible as it seems.  What’s next?

In a world of polluted airwaves it’s hard to escape negativity, but people like Wim Hof are cutting through the noise with explosive discoveries, many of which are proven by science.  And if a guy like him, in his 50’s, can also finish a full marathon in the Namib desert without water, I gotta believe I can find a better approach to hydration for a silly little thing like IRONMAN.

Check out this film on Wim Hof produced by Vice.

How Better Vision Is Helping Me Train

How Better Vision Is Helping Me Train

Lately I’ve been eating the same meal every day:  a can of tuna (plain), a full avocado, and a green apple.  It could be for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I make it happen once.  Sometimes that leads to a salad or an equally healthy meal, other times, I eat a full pizza.

The reason this is important is because the bones for this somewhat haphazard theory come from a guy whose words have had a big impact on me lately. His name is Jacob Liberman and I learned about him through his book, “Take Off Your Glasses And See.

I’ve had the book for years and seem to always pull it out when I’m in one of life’s low spots (something that IRONMAN off season can do to you).  In essence, he is an eye doctor who doesn’t buy into the theory that your eyes are uncorrectable or have to keep getting worse.  He is more concerned with how we really “see” and the deeper truths of vision.

He approaches life by trusting that the universe will tell him the right things to do at the right times.  Living in the moment.

I’m not finished re-reading the book, but I stumbled onto his Ted Talk, which is below.  He has a calm and subtle delivery and I find his approach fascinating.  I have typed out some of the highlights below if you want to see where in the hell all of this is coming from before you spend 20 minutes on the video.

Here’s one thing I really liked: –  “The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.  When love and hate are both absent, the world is clear.  If you wish to see the truth, hold no opinions for or against anything.  To hold what you like against what you dislike is a disease of the mind.”  

Jacob Liberman – “Stop Looking, Start Seeing”  Ted Talk Notes

– When he was a kid, he was in a convenience store and decided to steal a candy bar.  As he slipped it into his pocket he heard a voice that said, “Nobody saw you.”  And that’s when he realized someone was watching.
–  Every cell has a job.  Every tree, animal, and universe has a job.  The tree never has to think about its job.  It’s continually guided and placed precisely in the environment it needs to nourish it.  The same is true for all species.
–  There is an animating force in the universe.  Something is moving everything.
–  At certain points of our lives we realize we understand absolutely nothing.
–  Consider the possibility that the eye looks for nothing and that life is looking for us.
–  Consider the possibility that the eye never moves or initiates anything … it moves when light finds it… it’s a reflex.
–  Every cell has a job.  Taking us precisely where we need to be in perfect time.  It’s also rising and setting the sun . . . rolling in the tides . . . the exact same force.
–  The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.  When love and hate are both absent, the world is clear.  If you wish to see the truth, hold no opinions for or against anything.  To hold what you like against what you dislike is a disease of the mind.
–  When light interacts with the eye, most goes through the eye to the hypothalamus… that part of the brain that controls everything.  Where emotions collect and connect. It continually syncs itself with Mother Nature.
–  When you say “You think it’s going to rain,” what you really say is, “I don’t know.”  So thinking means, “I don’t know.”  Consider the possibility that what we call worrying, is thinking.
–  When something enters your awareness, it’s looking for you . . . bills, emails, laundry.  Don’t prioritize it, the universe has already done so.
–  It takes work to choose, consider being choice-less.







The Biggest Challenge In Triathlon

The Biggest Challenge In Triathlon

Don’t you hate when Semi-trucks blow by you on the highway when it’s raining?  On my way home for Christmas it was pouring in Illinois and truck after truck sent my nerves through the roof as water splashed on my windshield like I was looking through swim goggles.  I mean, sometimes I get really close to panic because I can’t see anything.  I tried fast wipers, then slow, but nothing seemed to work, until . . . I stopped looking at the road. Yes, I’m not kidding.  I tried to relax and move my vision around.  Looking over at the truck a little, glancing to my right, then at the road, etc . . . A funny thing happened.  I was instantly more relaxed because I could see much better.  Why?  The only thing I can come up with is that I wasn’t completely focused on looking straight ahead (which seems like the biggest blind spot in those situations) but using all of my vision to get a grip on the entire surroundings.  

One of the things that’s always bothered me about triathlon is the repetitive nature of these long swim, bike, and runs.  Over and over and over, we do the same thing. In my heart, I’ve always believed that can’t be good for you.  It’s certainly not dancing, but . . . with the right mindset, it could be.

I’m extremely guilty of using the word focus.  Focus isn’t bad in theory, but intense focus has a strange effect on the mind and body.  Try staring at something for a long time and notice how it makes your body/vision feel. Everything starts closing in around you and you lose perspective.

It’s easy to get this feeling in triathlon.  In some ways it seems necessary to plow through the grueling task in front of us.  Every bit of energy is put into focus.

That doesn’t align with how I would prefer to tackle an IRONMAN.  In some ways it’s like shutting off your senses for 12 hours.

But, when my head is right, I refer to racing as meditation, and that’s the mindfulness I would prefer to let happen.

I’ve finished 3 IRONMAN races and clearly remember feeling the most peaceful in two events:  my Louisville swim, and my Chattanooga bike.  Not coincidently, those were by far my best times in each.

For lack of an better explanation, I believe that during those race segments I wasn’t “looking” but I saw everything.  Not just the road or water in front of my face, but the entire energy around me.  When I swam, I saw the shore.  When I biked, I felt the countryside.

On most of my training runs I “try” to look into the distance rather than at the ground. But this has yet to happen consistently in a race.  I’ve always had that limiting feeling . . . like the world has closed in around me and the only energy available is my own.

Whenever I “press” or “focus” on “crushing it” one of three things happen:

– I become tight
– I become miserable
– I burn out.

This happens in every day life as well.  We are taught to crank out the work, focus, and take control!  But when we allow ourselves to flow, everything, including racing, is easier.

So, as I start a new year of training, I’m going to shift my vision on the concept of “crushing” races.  I’m going to train in a way that trusts (and accepts) outside energy.  Opening my mind to embrace that mysterious animating-force in the universe that understands my direction much better than I do.



Running Into 2016 – Building Your Base

My good friend and coach kept texting me about how he was falling in love with running again and not only getting stronger/faster, but feeling healthier than ever.  Finally I had to know what the heck he was doing, so he offered to write a guest post and here’s exactly what he’s been doing the last 12 weeks and how he’s gotten on top of his run game.  

Running into 2016 – By Coach Robbie 

About 3 months ago (Oct 3rd to be exact) I found myself at a bit of a multi-sport crossroads. I admittedly was a bit bummed after watching close friends and athletes I coach participate in Ironman Chattanooga. It was a race I had originally planned on doing but after a move to the Midwest, a new job, getting married and a sneaky bout of shingles the 2 months prior I  decided to pull the plug on it.

I found myself in a new city with no real known bike or run routes and pretty much zero desire to train. For a creature of habit and routine junkie like myself, this was the perfect recipe for excuses. I knew I wanted to get back into training, more specifically I was ready to start running again.

I also knew that I wanted to get back to “the drawing board” when it came to my training and plan construction. I was not disappointed in my results but really felt I had gotten away from the methods that had brought be so much improvement early in my triathlon career.

I dove back into my training archives dating back to 2011. I looked at what I was doing then versus what I was doing now. A total 180 degrees is what I found.  In 2011 I was able to pull off a 10:31:38 at Ironman Arizona which included the best run performance I have ever had across any distance with a 3:43:39 (8:32 pace) marathon.

That year my training was nothing fancy, not a lot of intervals, track workouts, treadmill burners, FTP tests, turbo sessions, or intricate looking workouts. The majority of my training (about 80-85%) was just good consistent volume in primarily my Zone 1 or 2. I built upon every week very slowly and just stayed healthy and consistent. The last few years I have gotten away from that model and done way too much training at moderate or higher intensity’s for much too long.

After taking a look back, it was now time for me to look forward and make a plan. My first priority was to address run fitness/volume. Not only do I believe this is the best time of the year to address your run fitness it is also the biggest limiter for most triathletes. I decided on a 12 week run focus block where I would gradually work in strength training and cycling as long as it never interfered with my run plan. I decided to use the BarryP model with training paces from McMillan Running. For those of you not familiar with the “BarryP” model it is quite simple:

1. Find a REALISTIC weekly run distance or volume to start.

2. Commit to running 6x per week.

3. NEVER increase your weekly distance or volume by more than 10%.

4. Run 3 runs at 10% total weekly distance.  These are Recovery runs.

5. Run 2 runs at 20% total weekly distance. These are Easy runs.

6. Run your 1 long run at 30% total weekly distance.

7. Run a 5k race to establish your paces.

8. Find your training paces for each of the 3 runs.

9. Build 3 weeks and then have 1 week of recovery.

10. Go run.

Here is how it went for me after following this plan for 12 weeks.

Week 1 weekly mileage – 20

6 runs broken down as 2/2/2/4/4/6

Week 12 weekly mileage – 58

6 runs broken down as 5.8/5.8/5.8/11.6/11.6/17.4

Starting zones:

Easy- 7:36-8:36

Long- 7:40-8:56

Recovery- 8:42-9:23

Finished zones:

Easy- 7:07-8:07

Long- 7:12- 8:25

Recovery- 8:12-8:55

Starting weight – 175

Finishing weight – 168

Total miles – 484.7

Total runs 72

First 5k time was 20:38

Last 5k time was 18:49

This is by far the happiest, healthiest and most consistent I have ever been when it has come to following a training plan. I did not miss 1 single run. I never got injured. I never made an excuse. I made time (aka. was allowed) over my honeymoon, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years so I did not miss a run.

I never ran on the track or did any “speed” sessions. Somehow in the midst of this run focus I also got my cycling groove back and have been riding 3-4x per week. Although I plan on finally getting back in the pool in the coming weeks I wont do it until the time is right and I really want to.

I would encourage you to do your own research on the BarryP plan, read as much as you can, immerse yourself in McMillan Running and just buy into the process. It will take patience but I promise your results will be worth it. ” The fitter you are, the more careful you must be in training. Too often, the engine breaks the chassis. Respect the chassis.” Take some time to build your chassis and put your engine (ego) aside for the next 12 weeks.


New Year, New Plan

I may have mentioned this before, but one time I heard a Zen Master guy say, “Exercise is meant to give you energy, not take it away.”


That has always resonated with me, and it will be firmly planted in my conscience as I tackle training for IRONMAN Wisconsin this year. Do you want to spend the year exhausted, or energized and looking forward to your next workout?

I choose the latter.

Crushing Negativity

I realize it’s cliche’ to make a writing comeback on New Years Day, but this “resolution” has been building for a long time.  It took two very long drives and a week of laying around getting fat to realize that I fallen prey to one of life’s most destructive forces:  Negativity.

As a lot of us know, IRONMAN is a daunting task in its own right, but when you start seeing the negative side of daily life, you might as well hang up your lycra because racing is the least of your problems.

The worst part about negativity is that it just sort of starts and snowballs until it’s out of control and you’re left staring at the ceiling saying, “what the fuck just happened?”  And I did that a lot.

You start asking the question, “What’s the point?” a lot, too.  Why do I want to do this Ironman stuff?  I’ve done it, it hurts, I get it.

So, I went home to Wisconsin for a week and the first night I ran into an old friend who told me point blank, “I think what you’re doing is kind of asinine to be honest.”  He said it in such a way that I could tell he was “looking down” on me for doing it and something inside nearly exploded . . . in a good way.

I kind of laughed it off, but couldn’t ignore the look on his eyes.  He seemed tired and I didn’t think he really meant it, but it felt a little personal.

The room itself was filled with guys I grew up sitting around playing cards like they often do. Sometimes it’s tough to get out of those situations, almost like kids from a ghetto.

I truly love these guys but similar moments replayed throughout my visit.  Then I was at a physical rehab clinic shooting a video for a client and saw a kid who looked to be 15 or so come in on crutches without a left leg.  That’s the kind of stuff that crushes me. Here I am, fully capable of swimming, biking, and running, but bitching about “what’s the point?”

So, on my long drive back, I “remembered” the point.  The point is to quit complaining, be alive, and surround yourself with people who will remind you to do just that.