Know when to punt

25 days ago I started a wee challenge: Trying to train every day for 100 days straight. I’d done this challenge in 2017 to mixed results. Physically it was mixed; training every day is too much and I ended up defining some recovery days as “training.” Mentally it was also mixed; I wasn’t trying to build a new habit, so the “daily” part didn’t work towards that, and it became a serious drag forcing myself to train every day.

When I finished the 2017 challenge I knew it sucked and definitely didn’t want to make that a thing I did often, nor even yearly. When 2020 rolled around—my physical activity was exactly as usual, with me outside doing various things just as much as 2019—but I started thinking about doing some more rock climbing (outdoors, on real mountains.) That prompted me to think about getting into better shape. For me, that’s primarily removing fat. For the first couple months I concentrated on diet, which means focusing on when and how much I’m eating.

After I peeled off 10 pounds of blubber, that’s when I had the idea to take on a fresh 100-days-of-training challenge. It was exactly what I remembered it was like: It sucks. In years past I would have just embraced the suck and pushed through the thing. Note that I would have constantly considered myself to be failing. Entirely missing a day here and there, realizing I need a rest day and defining recovery as training, and just generally nagging myself with, “I should go train.” Instead I simply punted on the whole thing and deleted it entirely.

…aaah, yes, the power of “no” when you have a bigger “why” burning inside you.

When’s the last time you punted on something?

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§24 – Recovery Days

(Part 36 of 37 in series, Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

In certain circles it is said, “what was once your workout will become your warmup.” In my journey of rediscovering activity and play, there was a long period—20 years now, perhaps—where I was able to focus primarily on growth, forward motion, and transformative change. This made for a very long period where my workouts did gradually became my warmups. Certainly I’ve always had rest days; nearly 10 years ago, when I started parkour, it was all I could manage just to recover over the course of the entire week before heading back to the next hard training session. Rest and recovery were always in the mix, simply because I began my journey of transformative work in my 30s.

I’ve found it increasingly challenging to remember the importance of recovery now that I’m no longer shoving the needle of progress ahead day by day. Truth be told, I’m squarely on the mid-life plateau and it is time to take life more freely. Sure, the days of working every day for seven years on the house, climbing mountains, jumping on stuff, and doing things which cause police officers to say, “…and you sir, how old are you? You should know better!” are not over. (As far as I can tell.) But these are also, certainly, the days where spending a couple hours, every day, sitting still reading and writing is truly blissful.

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§12 – Final Thoughts

(Part 12 of 12 in series, Changes and Results)

Wow.

It took me years longer than I had originally hoped to finish this series of posts. I’ve recently decided to push these posts out the door so that they could possibly be of some use to others. Having them laying around as drafts-in-progress isn’t helpful.

As this series was being written, I took a terrific detour working with two friends who were experimenting with starting their own personal training company. They used me as a guinea pig for testing their coaching and training systems for nutrition, psychology of eating and physical training. During this time working with them I succeeded at some huge improvements in psychology (related to eating) and achieved the best physical condition I’ve been in in recorded history. If you want to do a deep dive, check out, Training for the New Alpinism.

…and a few other disjointed thoughts:

This: From Nerd Fitness, 5 Steps After Failing.

What do I want? I simply want to be able to move and play. I’m constrained by physical limitations (age, body type, etc.), but mostly just by my total weight. So although I always want to increase my general fitness, the current first order problem—and I’ve linked directly into the Wikipedia article to the section that could be a profound, new way for you to consider when solving problems—for me is simply weight. For me, that is almost entirely driven by psychology—psychosis?—as it applies to food.

What am I tracking? I’ve often heard, “that which you measure gets improved.” Tracking and measuring does focus your attention, but it only gets you data. You have to be motivated to analyze that data and make adjustments to your routine. Am I making progress? Is the rate of progress what I expected when I planned? Is the progress too slow or too fast? What can I change that would affect the progress? What happens if I cycle periods of tracking a lot, and tracking nothing? You have to look at your assumptions, analyze, research, and experiment to figure out what’s true. “Science, bitch!” ~ Jesse.

So long, and thanks for reading!

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Gymnastic Strength Training

https://tim.blog/2016/05/09/the-secrets-of-gymnastic-strength-training/

This is an insane, 3-hour-long interview. Which I listened to twice. (So far.) Christopher Sommer ( https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/blog/ ) is an Olympic Gymnastics coach and this interview has broadened my horizons– about training, about strength, about recovery, about success, about goals, about gymnastics… I could not even decide what to pull-quote.

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Sometimes everything just falls into place

So I went for a walk to shake off the aches from two solid days of training at the new LVPK Academy. And I got to the part where I normally loop back and I thought, “I’ve never actually walked up to that upper parking lot…” So I did. Above the lot, another level higher, is a wide open soccer/football field with brilliant green grass, and those 5-tier, ubiqitous, aluminum bleachers. I laid down on the top-most, narrow bleacher– just basking as the bright sun, and the cold wind argued back and forth about wether it was warm or cold weather. Just staring up at this gorgeous blue sky containing one of those new-fangled aeroplanes and one of those old-beaked vultures– the teeny tiny black speck near thebottom, just a bit to the right, …you thought it was a mark on your screen didn’t you? Ever do that yoga pose where you cross your legs and lay back on something alinged along your spine, put your hands behind your head, crack open your entire chest, pull your shoulder blads back and just streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch?

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I work like a gardener

(Part 58 of 74 in series, My Journey)

http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/09/17/i-work-like-a-gardner-joan-miro/

I work like a gardener… Things come slowly… Things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. I must graft. I must water… Ripening goes on in my mind. So I’m always working at a great many things at the same time.

~ Joan Miro

In the beginning, my Parkour practice was simply “push. push! PUSH!” with the only moderating factor being to avoid serious injury.

Fortunately, I soon found my own way to the concept of auto-regulation (although I didn’t know the word at the time). Now, at each practice session, I simply start moving and practicing. Then depending on how I am actually performing (physically, mentally) I dial up or down the intensity, and level of challenge, to correspond to the moment/hour/day. The critical point being that I assess how I am actually performing. It’s not, “I roll out of bed, decide I feel sore (or lazy) and then skip the workout/class.”

Lately, I’m noticing there’s a seasonal component. (It’s one thing to say that. It’s another thing to really experience it over a few years.) In the Spring I charge ahead on new plans and goals, and by Summer I find I’m making progress by leaps and bounds. (See what I did there? #sorrynonotsorry.) Then Fall rolls around and I’m starting to chillax and really enjoy things; Meals with friends, vistas, the moments between gonzo training sessions, etc. By the time winter descends, I’m ready to burrow into reading and cooking up new schemes for the coming year.

Obviously, part of that is just the natural rhythm of life in an area that has four clear seasons.

…but part of it is exactly what Joan said about working like a gardener.

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Targeted-heart-rate workouts

(Part 29 of 74 in series, My Journey)

A while back I mentioned I’ve been experimenting with a FitBit HR and an intentional, designed, fitness program. I’ve been playing with this more. I originally didn’t like that I couldn’t just redefine all the zones to the HRs that we’re targeting.

Most, tradition/common workout programs I’ve seen have just 3 heart rate (HR) zones based on a maximum HR which is simply computed based on your age. The plan I’m working with from Mike, is significantly more complex. (Details for another post I suppose.) Anyway, the plan calls for very specific workouts, for example: “17 minutes in Z1”.

I noticed on day one, that the FitBit only has one “custom zone” that you can configure. So, I’ve begun manually setting the “custom zone” to the goal HR before some of the workouts. Once I plug in the specific Z1 lower/upper numbers, I can then set off on the workout.

On the device, there is an icon-based display that shows you quickly if you’re below/in/above the target zone. Normally, the icons refer to one of the FitBit’s built-in zones. But it turns out that if you set a custom zone, then the icon status is for your custom zone. Ok, now THAT’S useful!

The above screen grab is from a morning run where I had the custom zone set to my specific Z1 values. The graph shows the FitBit’s default zones (blue/”under”, yellow/”fat burn”, orange/”cardio”) and it overlays my custom zone as the hatched band. The bar graph even adds a value for the time in the custom zone.

In this example I set out to perform, after warming up, for 17 minutes in Z1. …and BAM! 16 minutes in Z1 by it’s measure. Now that’s a targeted workout.

Aside: The tail end of the graph was a strong-run-out, 1/4 mile. My opinion is that the FitBit sucks at picking up highend HR. Either that, or I’m a machine, and can run an 8 minute mile pace at a 151HR. …and it’s not the latter of those two.

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