Solving The Healthcare Crisis

By Mike Tarrolly for Crushing Iron

It’s unbelievable how people can blabber for years without actually doing anything to solve a problem. Health Care is one of those things, so I thought I’d throw out a few thoughts on how to fix this mess.

The problem starts at the top, but I think the best way to solve it is from the bottom.

The combination of Congress and Big Pharma make Pablo Escobar look like a high-schooler selling weed on the corner. The money involved in this legalized drug ring is legendary and the only real way to stop it is by shutting down demand.

The body is dying to heal itself and but we continue to “hack” the symptoms.

In most cases it’s as simple as fertilizing the body’s landscape and letting miracles of nature happen . . . over time. Here are some ways I think we can do it while actually saving money on health care.pills

Get Real With Prescription Drugs

Doing Ironman races has taught me something very valuable: Pain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pain is a clue telling us something is out of whack. By taking the right steps, the human body can fix a lot of our pains. We can swim, bike, run, walk, and/or rest through it. Pain often goes away when you do good things for your body and don’t obsess over it. We don’t need to chase a pill every time our ankle, belly or head hurts. And don’t get me wrong, an occasional pill isn’t the problem, it’s what happens when that pill becomes our first thought.

Make Gym Class Mandatory for Life

We’re all wrapped up in having the government pay for health care, but I think they should take a prevention approach with exercise incentives. Can we incentivize exercise?  I know that’s a tricky one, but if we put some thought into it and employers got on board with flex-time I think we’d all be a lot happier and more productive. Besides, most people don’t work a full 8 hours anyway.

Make Water More Attractive

I realize some countries don’t even have drinking water, but the US has plenty. The problem is, it is often polluted with prescription drugs (see above) and who knows what else? There has to be ways to make out drinking water more plentiful and pure. Maybe installing filters becomes a tax write off. If the government is serious about health, this is one major step they can take to save them money in the long run. Water and sodium are the keys to creating electrical impulses in our body. If an organ or cell doesn’t have enough water, it becomes defective or dies. The body naturally protects the heart and brain first, but if dehydrated, other parts of the body suffer and eventually meet the scalpel of a hungry doctor who wants to hear nothing about water.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Alive 

I personally think lack of sleep is the cornerstone of our obesity problem. Poor rest is the beginning of the carb, caffeine and simple sugar cycle. You wake up tired, pound a bunch of caffeine, reach for a donut or two to soak it up, then grab a Snickers and Coke in the afternoon. I know because I’ve been there (and often still am) but I also realize it’s a problem. I know when I’ve slept well because I will literally forget about coffee and sugar for the first hour or so. I’ve learned the best way to combat this cycle is to exercise more than normal so you’re actually tired when you go to bed.

Food Is Not Medicine . . . But It Is

I saw a post recently touting things like Avocados, Celery, and Spinach as “Medicinal Food” and I almost puked. I can already see it coming, they are turning food into medicine so they can sell it for more. I retweeted it with a scoff because, I mean, how long have we known food is the best medicine? I kinda feel like I’ve known that for, oh, 40 years? Who doesn’t know that we are what we eat by now? It’s ridiculous and I’m not sure where the problem is, but the food most people eat (including me often) isn’t even food. Here’s the thing, though, I realize eating “right” all the time is difficult, especially when changing your diet in a major way, but the body is an amazing machine. I just think if we maybe ate less, drank more water, and had some fruit and vegetables on occasion we’d all be better off.

All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe

Ahh . . . take a deep breath, man. If you listen to the podcast, you know I’m a big fan of Wim Hof. He’s done some amazing human feats. He’s run desert marathons with no water, climbed Mt. Everest in shorts, and sat in a tank of ice water for nearly two hours while raising his core body temperature with mentally induced adrenaline. He claims most of them are possible because of his deep breathing and cold exposure practices. In essence his philosophy is to get the most possible out of the human body and he says oxygen is the key. It’s about getting oxygen into all your cells to make them function right. I don’t want to paraphrase but he’s doing it all with science and they are now proving breathing exercises and cold water therapy are “curing” many modern day ills. His style can be intense, but even deep, purposeful breaths do wonders.

Don’t Let Health Bankrupt 

Personally, I think most of this country has a major drug addiction problem and it’s fueled by doctors who have to make tremendous amounts of money to pay off med school. And of course health insurance is the biggest of businesses and the cost to insure families (or yourself) is insane. Can we start with a way that insures we’re not going bankrupt is something serious like some kind of accident that requires surgery happens? I don’t want to go into disease because I think that whole thing is out of control and much of it can often curtailed by the above points. I’m talking about the real stuff like saving lives in the moment. Bike crashes, whatever. Can we get that part covered?

All of this sounds nice, but as many of the wisest people have said, “If you want the truth, follow the money.” I’m not really sure these are realistic solutions unless a boat load of money can be made with a preventative approach and I’m pretty sure there’s more profit in pain killers than water filters.

The only real solution to huge problems like this is to start with one person at a time. And usually, that one person winds up being yourself.

———-
Please subscribe to the Crushing Iron podcast on iTunes

Benefits of the Negative Split

By Mike Tarrolly

Everyone seems to be fascinated by the Negative Split but it’s almost as rare as the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat.

negative split or the action of negative splitting is a racing strategy that involves completing the second half of a race faster than the first half. It is defined by the intentional setting of a slower initial pace, followed by either a gradual or sudden increase of speed towards the end of a race.

A negative split seems fairly manageable during stand alone bike or run races, but when you mix the concept into a batch of triathlon, it seems silly. Especially the thought of negative splitting and Ironman marathon.

I'm guessing this guy didn't negative split.
I’m guessing this guy didn’t negative split and he’s running with a phone.

The reality is . . . we probably deceive ourselves of our real capabilities. I know I do.

For most of my Ironman marathons, I’ve gone in with a 9 minute pace goal.  But I invariably start the race at a 9 minute (or less) pace for the first couple miles. Then, that slowly deteriorates into something closer to 10, then over 10 and I wind up running a 4:20 (which is a 10 minute pace and I’ve done it three out of 4 times).

The other problem is, I’m likely not in shape to run a 9 minute IM marathon. I say that because I think the best I could do in an open marathon is about 8:30, but for some reason I think I can run a 9 minute pace after 112 miles of cycling?

I should probably focus on getting my IM marathon under a 10 minute pace and to do that I should start at 11 minute miles for the first three then inch it down. I’ve proven going out fast doesn’t work in 70.3’s either. Starting below 8, only to scratch and claw for 9’s toward the end.

Anyway… in today’s podcast we take a closer look at why we know a negative split is the right approach, but screw it up every time. We also look at ways mental approaches to give yourself a better shot at going out slow. Enjoy!

New Open Water Swim Race In Tennessee

New Open Water Swim Race In Tennessee

NEW PODCAST –  

There’s a new open water swim race this Fall in Knoxville called, Bridges to Bluffs 10K Open Water Swim. One of the founders is Blaik Ogle who was on one of our first podcasts is now back with Jessi Ringer and last year’s Ironman Florida winner, Jack McAfee, to talk about what it’s like putting together a brand new swim race.

Since it’s the first year, there are tons of logistics. We talk about how the idea originated, what steps they’ve taken, what’s left to do, why it’s different than other open water races in the US, and how racers can get a 50% discount on open water swimming plans from Crushing Iron.

We also get into an mind-blowing story from Jack McAfee who had major bike issues at Ironman Chattanooga and followed up 5 weeks later with THE WIN at Ironman Florida. Not age group win, but overall.

He takes us back to Chattanooga and goes through what happened, why he almost quit, and how “running mad” saved his race. I mean, who else spends nearly an hour not moving on the bike and gets 5th in their age group?

Here’s Jack’s Finish at about the 5:18 mark, though it doesn’t show him tripping over the tape like he said he thought he did.

Here’s a little bonus for Open Water Swim Lovers. This documentary is about a guy whose dream it was to swim across the Pentland Firth, which happens to be some of the most treacherous water on earth off the coast of Scotland.

Turning To Triathlon When Life Turns On You

Turning To Triathlon When Life Turns On You

A while back on the podcast we started asking for stories from listeners. What got you into triathlon? Why do you love it? How does it make a difference in your life?

We knew people were listening, but really didn’t know how (or if) we were connecting. Then we got an email from Ross Kaffenberger and it pretty much defined why we keep doing the podcast.

He said he loved listening and left a review on iTunes, then unceremoniously dropped a link to his blog, “Out and Back.” The next day I read his latest post and was blown away. Robbie said the same thing, and we made plans to get him on the podcast.

His words were heart wrenching and optimistic at once. I’ll let Ross tell the story, but it crystalizes why I think so many of us get into triathlon. It’s either to get us going, or keep us going. In Ross’s case, it has been both, and I’m really happy we’ve connected.

He’ll be doing my favorite race, Ironman Wisconsin, and he unveiled the incredible reason why in this podcast. If there’s any doubt triathlon can have a profound effect on our lives, please listen to this podcast and follow Ross on Twitter: @rossta

Running And Forgiveness

Running And Forgiveness

Most people I know have done something stupid, disturbing, or against the law. I don’t hold it against them.

But why is it so hard for us forgive? And why would I open a triathlon blog post with something so intense? Well, because, occasionally the things I see and feel on a run brings out strong emotions.

Here’s what happened.

I was about two miles into a five miler, and struggling. It usually takes me a bit to find stride, but between allergies and being out of shape, I was digging deep to get this run organized.

Then I saw a woman walking toward me with her dog.

I was breathing hard. My right knee and left ankle were giving me noticeable pain. But, about twenty yards from the woman I made a conscious decision to get my good mood in order and flash the most congenial smile I could muster.

As I closed in, I thought of rainbows, sunny beaches, and a deep love for strangers. I glided toward her with a relaxed and genuine smile in hopes of receiving something similar in return.

She never even looked at me.

About 2 minutes later, a couple walked toward me and I repeated the entire process in vain. They walked right by, both with their heads down.

That’s when I went into this internal dialogue about whether or not people are even actually happy. I know, it’s a stupid thing, but I really do wonder about that a lot. We’re so distracted by shit these days, that the connectivity piece seems lost. And I’m actually one of the worst isolationists I know, so I get it.

Then I started seeing familiar chalk writings on the pavement. Someone actually goes to the greenway and writes things like: “Run” “Walk” “Dance” “Smile” “Stand on your head” etc. on the ground and it always cheers me up . . . and I wonder what kind of person does this?

I passed a couple more people who didn’t look at me, then, out of nowhere, it started pouring rain as I approached a guy running my way. He had his head down, and I pretty much threw in the towel on a hello, but as he got close to me, he not only smiled, but gave a big “thumbs up.”

This rain runner gave me hope as I made my turnaround to head home.

Then, Dan Bern’s “Wasteland” came on my iPod. For a while it was my favorite song and somehow fit the mood perfectly as I trudged through the downpour.

I saw men with dreams like the ones I’d had
Beg quarters outside the 7-11
Till it got so they didn’t affect me anymore
Then the mailboxes I’d passed ‘cept that sometimes
I’d put something in the mailbox
I’d had the wind at my back
Now I felt it cold in my face
And for an awful long time now you were the only one who ever Called me late at night and I really never noticed till after
You stopped calling and the emptiness, silence got so heavy

It’s a pretty depressing song on the surface, but it gives me hope for some reason, and about 4 minutes in, he crooned this lyric just as I realized the rain had washed the chalk affirmations from the concrete.

And I watched TV and read the papers and listened to the radio
And made all the fancy scenes and said all the right words
And wore all the right clothes and knew the names of the hip people
But I still felt out of touch so I stopped watching TV
And reading the papers and listening to the radio
And making the fancy scenes and saying the right words
And wearing the right clothes and knowing the names of the hip people
And I felt more out of touch than ever but I didn’t care anymore

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care anymore, but I do. I care about triathlon. About being the best person I can be. And I care about others and their happiness.

But why is it so hard for us to forgive?

Last year I raced at Ironman Wisconsin which about 45 minutes from where I grew up. For months I tried to express how much I wanted a childhood friend to come watch me race. Share my accomplishment with me.

He promised to try to show up, but in the end, didn’t make the short trip after I drove 9 hours to race in his backyard. It did bum me out, and I had a hard time forgiving . . . for about one day.

We’re in this together. IMG_8112Learn, love, create, travel, try new things, meet new people, don’t smother others with negative energy, and forgive.

Dan Bern’s Wasteland

Don’t Suck At Open Water Swimming

Don’t Suck At Open Water Swimming

Many of you know of my up-and-down history with open water swimming anxiety, so today’s topic always piques my interest. It took me back to my first Olympic swim which nearly convinced me to quit triathlon while I was ahead.  I wrote about it a long time ago and here’s an excerpt that will give you some insight to my struggles.

The gun went off and 40 over-achieving men jumped on my back.  I fought for my breath and my strategy went from relaxation to survival.  Primal screams pierced my ears and I think they were all coming from me.  I let the pack race away and unzipped my tri-top so my heart would have more room to beat.

By the time I got to the first buoy, I was a humbled and frightened man.  I stopped in the water and gazed into the distance, then to the starting the dock, then the second buoy.  I faced a major decision while I treading water in this dirty river.  Cold rain fell on my swim cap like a Chinese water torture and each drop reaffirmed what an idiot I was for trying something so far above my capabilities.

The full post is here.

In today’s podcast (embedded below), we cover every issue I (and maybe you) have struggled with in open water. Here’s some bullet points on what we cover.

• Pre-race rituals including a great way to prep for cold water
• Getting mentally stronger
• Wet suit chest pressures
• Controlling your heart rate
• Dealing with contact
• The importance of warm ups
• How to not worry about what’s under the water
• Training for congestion
• Why stroke turnover is king
• Positioning for a floating start
• How to train harder than the race
• How to use a sandy beach to make you stronger

The Most Underrated Part of Training

The Most Underrated Part of Training


In order to train hard, you have to adapt and recover even harder.  Or . . . you’ll stay the same. Same athlete. Same issues. Same speed.

Your lifecycle as a triathlete doesn’t end on the day of your A Race.  It lasts as long as you want . . . until you quit.  Recovery is the most underrated aspect of training and life.

Discipline to recovery takes focus, energy, and dedication. It means we are confident to take a day off when we’re exhausted. There’s no reason to put today ahead of your race, or your long-term goals as a triathlete.

Today we hit all these topics and more in our podcast.

• Nailing your training starts with nailing your recovery.
• Adjusting your recovery cycle to your body and lifestyle
• Reigning in a high-octane athlete
• Why (and how) your coach should adjust to you
• What are the best signs that you’re overtraining?
• How coffee affects your recovery
• Mentally and emotionally guiding your recovery
• What cravings for sugar, caffeine, and pizza really mean
• How being tired and being tempted work together
• The most underrated recovery tools on the market
• Why mental stress = physical stress
• How your fascia can affect your brain
• A surefire way to remain the same speed
• The magic of active recovery

Be sure to check out our awesome training plans here 
We have 13 training plans for everything from Olympic to Full Ironman, plus, Swimming and a few custom designed for certain races.
Leave us a comment and subscribe on iTunes
Email: CrushingIron@gmail.com
www.crushingiron.com

 

 

He’s Got Running Down To A Science

By Mike Tarrolly

The day before my first Ironman, I was a nervous wreck.  I’d feared the mass swim start almost every day for the previous year.  In less than 24 hours I’d be in the scrum with 2700 other swimmers and I was still searching for ways to relax.

I could hardly sleep the night before, but as stood on the cool concrete staring at the water on race morning, an extreme sense of calm washed over me.  Every ounce of fear and doubt was gone.  But why?

That experience has happened many times in my my life, especially with sports, and makes me of the saying “90% of life is just showing up.”  I’ve always liked that logic, but always wondered why that is the case?

Today, on our podcast, I learned the answer from Steve Magness, who has has a website called “The Science of Running,” and will soon release his new book, “Peak Performance” with Brad Stulberg.

20150527-doping-magness-630x420
“I have a theory for everything.” – Steve Magness

Steve is the head coach for the University of Houston Cross Country team and also works with several professional runners.  His writing, philosophies, and podcasts have established him as one the most sought after minds in the endurance world.

To say Magness is passionate about sport physiology and psychology is an understatement.  He dove into our questions with childlike enthusiasm that rekindled my fire for sport, and frankly made me feel better about always wanting to know “why.”

He’s a cool guy, too.  Due to conflicts on our end we had to move the interview several times and he just rolled with the changes.  Then, 30 minutes before the podcast I was stuck in traffic, so Robbie started without me and Steve wound up recording the podcast for us.  I joined after 10 minutes.

Here are a few of the topics we cover today, but there is a lot more and we could have talked for five hours.

– Accepting anxiety in order to boost performance
– How and why training gets overcomplicated
– Why he think a lot of us would be better off leaving our Garmin’s at home
– Why coaching is usually more mental and emotional than physical
– Why we sometimes perform best when we feel bad
– Our bodies survival skills at work when we race our best
– The breakdown on Steve’s new book “Peak Performance”
– We ask about the differences between his college and professional athletes
– Biggest differences between coaching women and men
– The best piece of advice Steve’s ever gotten from a coach
– His take on the Sub 2 Marathon Hour Project
– His favorite runner of all time
Please subscribe and comment on the Crushing Iron Podcast on iTunes.

Running Slow To Get Fast: Hard Evidence

By Coach Robbie
c26Coach@gmail.com 

I have been strictly focused on training for the Leadville Trail 100 for about 10 full weeks now. I originally had this blog post tagged for just a typical update. Leadville this. Leadville that. Why I cannot understand everyone’s obsession with running in a flat bill trucker hat…. etc. The fact of the matter is, the only real “update” I have is that I have just been doing a ton of running. 🙂 My typical week has had 2 “recovery” runs, 2 quality sessions split between speed and hill work with 1 long run per week. I have also committed to serious strength training and injury prevention sessions to compliment my running. Ultimately what this blog is going to be about is how I was able to take off over 1:30 in my 5k in just 10 weeks by doing the old “long slow training.” I have included a lot of data/graphs/charts to hopefully better explain how I was able to achieve this. It is a lengthier blog so I put this carrot at the front in hopes you will read the entire article and apply it to your training.

Test results (10 week span)

Jan 10 – 5k test – 20:58 (6:46 pace) Avg HR – 178 , Max 185

Mar 13 – 5k Test – 19:22 (6:15 pace) Avg HR – 174, Max 184

If you have listened to our podcast called “Running slow to get faster” (embedded below) you already know why I am such a huge fan of this approach. It might not be “fancy” and FB worthy every day but it works and getting faster is the only thing I am concerned with. The chart below will show you some good data on how I have sprinkled in my runs the last 90 days. Even before signing up for Leadville and doing my initial 5k run test  I was already accumulating some pretty good frequency. As shown in the chart you can see that outside of a few “recovery” gaps my runs have all stayed quite frequent but have just gotten longer in both duration and time. Before taking my first big recovery cycle this last week I had built up to a long run duration of 2:40 and a long run distance of 19 miles. You will see in the early March block that immediately preceded my recovery cycle I had 2 really long runs fairly close together. For the record, I do not recommend placing them so close together but I gambled and did it because of family obligations that weekend. I ended up accumulating a little over 54 miles in a 5 day span so my recovery block was a welcome rest period.

Overall Run Summary for last 90 days:Running Peaks

Established HR Zones for chart below:

Z1- 118-151 – Recovery 

Z2 – 152- 161 – Endurance 

Z3- 162 – 170 – Tempo

Z4 – 171- 177 – Threshold 

Z5- 178 + – Aerobic CapacityScreen Shot 2017-03-13 at 11.51.04 AM

As you can see I spent the majority of my time in both Zone 1 and 2. To be exact I spent 39.5% in my recovery zone and 43.6% in my endurance zone for a total of 83.1% of overall training. That came out to about 54 hours of the 58 hours I spent running strictly focused on my Z1 and Z2 work. 

Established Pace Ranges for chart below:

Z1 – 8:44 and slower – Recovery

Z2 – 7:43-8:43 – Endurance 

Z3 -7:10- 7:42 – Tempo

Z4 – 6:46- 7:09 – Threshold 

Z5 – 6:45 – faster  – Aerobic Capacity Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 11.52.38 AM

Again, as you can see here as well, most of my time in pace zones was directed towards Z1 and Z2 totaling about 86.1% of my overall training. There will always be some discrepancy in time allotted to each specific HR and corresponding Pace zone due to wind, temp, terrain, etc. 

Ultimately, what I hope you take from the pace/speed graph is that while I was able to go from running a 6:47 to a 6:15 pace for my 5k test I only spent a VERY small percentage of time even below or at threshold (less than 6% under 6:45 pace). In order to run fast, or run FASTER you do NOT need to spend all of your time running fast and doing endless amounts of interval work. Too much fast doesn’t beget fast. FAST BE GETS YOU INJURED! The right dose of easy and endurance running combined with the appropriate amount of speed work can really produce some solid benefits. So far I have been able to perform better, for longer in my endurance runs AND as shown, I am also increasing my top end speed. It is a delicate balance but incredibly important.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to not change when others are changing around you. I made this mistake a few years ago when “high intensity – HIIT” became trendy. Combine that with Strava and Garmin Connect and you have a recipe for disaster. The daily training temptations are always there and it can be hard to convince yourself that running slower is both safe AND beneficial in becoming a faster runner. So next time you are tempted to go out for a home-run workout ask yourself “is it worth it?”

RUNNING SLOW TO GET FAST (Subscribe on iTunes)

Swim Anxiety, Building Confidence, and Silencing Critics

Swim Anxiety, Building Confidence, and Silencing Critics

I used to be the poster-child for swim anxiety.  Every time I got out of the water in a race, I felt like my chest would explode.  Then I’d spend the first 5 miles of the bike getting back to normal.

This went on for a few years, then I discovered the power of frequency.

Before Ironman Louisville I spent nearly 3 weeks swimming every day.  Not terribly long, but usually 1500 or so.

Two things happened:
– I got very comfortable and relaxed in the water
– I got faster

I’m a firm believer the latter is deeply connected to the former, and I think this holds true for all three disciplines in triathlon.

The more you do it, the more comfortable you are.

I swam a 1:06 that day in Louisville, by far my fastest Ironman swim.  The main thing I remember was how patient I was in the water.  I wasn’t trying to “race” but stay in my box and relax.

Frequent swimming gave me the confidence I needed to get out of the water fresh.  I still remember the feeling I had running to my bike after that swim. I had a genuine bounce to my step.

Now, what happened after that swim on a scorching hot summer day in Louisville is a different story, but that had more to do with neglecting the bike and run in training.  Hence the eternal dilemma of triathlon and why it’s so difficult to build confidence in all three sports.

On our latest podcast we take a deeper dive into swim and cycling anxiety, building overall triathlon confidence and silencing the critics who can seem threatened by your growth.

We appreciate all the email to CrushingIron@gmail.com and the great reviews on iTunes.  Thanks for listening.