Month: July 2012

Hobbies, Trolls, and Goals

I use my Facebook Page to comment at Active.com on some of the really interesting articles there. Sometimes agree, sometimes disagree, sometimes pointing out a simple addition or omission – nothing really serious mind you. Mostly this puts the article on my Facebook Page, so those subscribing (by Liking) my page can view some info I feel might be relevant to their training or goals.

Ice Tool Chin-ups for Sports Specificity
Ice Tool Chin-ups for Sports Specificity

Now and then, I get some replies, and sometimes it’s from the author thanking me for commenting, liking the article, or whatnot. Now and then it’s one of my Facebook family, showing support for “what I said”. And now and then, it’s some oddball hobbyist or troll spewing. One of my previous favorites was for a comment I made on a nutrition article authored by a registered dietician. I said something to the effect of “I agree that you need to properly hydrate while endurance training.”

Hobbyists

In reply to this comment someone said quite rudely, in Brit Slang style, that the author was ill educated and clueless. Since it’s a Facebook post I went and checked, and sure enough, they were a first semester student in a nutrition associate degree program. Confirmation bias – the unsupported belief that your chosen path is the correct one. Since they had just started their first semester I doubted they knew the topic as well as the author. As well, they were pretentious in their poor tv-inspired use of the Mother Tongue, since they were born and raised in like Kansas.

Recently I got it on another nutrition article, this one I think was on the addition of legumes to the diet as a protein, carb, and fiber source. I mentioned that I highly recommend the addition of canned black beans to anyone I consult. A Facebook user ranted that cans were evil and toxic and should never be used. I normally do not feed the troll on these, because it’s useless. Feeding the troll would be replying with anything, since there is already a quick and easy way to suck you into their vortex of nonsense.

Lunch in Russia
Meal after the Qualifier for Elbrus Race 2010. Great combo there of Russian food.

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” – Mark Twain

Let’s run through it quick:

1) cans have chemicals
a: alright then bags
2) bags have chemicals
a: alright then, canvas sacks
3) canvas sacks have chemicals
a: alright then, right from the hands of the farmer
4) the farmer’s hands are coated in 2,4-D/MCPP
ARGH!

So not much point in that progression, right? So this one person has a hobby of thinking the stuff they are learning in their associate degree program first three weeks supersedes the article information from the registered dietitian. Another hobby is related to chemicals in food. I’ve had people with other various hobbies post their trolls about meat, fish, veggies, grains, you name it. The funniest perhaps was a trainer with outstanding credentials getting down on my claim that a plane is a virtual construction of geometry and that it was physically impossible to exercise in a single plane of motion, even on a machine.

Explore your dietary options and be flexible
There is always more than one way to get your food in. Choose what works for you.

Trolls Vs. Goals

The sad thing is that while the hobbyists were feeding their egos, and trying to get me wrapped up in an argument I could not possibly win, there was actual true collateral damage. Yes. Innocent bystanders, people who are looking for the secret to fat loss, weight management, body composition improvement, how to just freaking do it. Falling by the wayside over some silly little inconsequential comment from a Facebook Troll.

In the case of the canned beans, you have someone who leads a relatively busy life, a normal life, and you say to them:

“Go to the store and get a dozen cans of black beans. Have half a can a day with your evening meal.”

Nutrition - meal at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite
FullStrength is an excellent meal replacement – great at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite

Simple, easy, empowering. But then if you toss in a can poison chemical hobby:

“So get some dry beans. Soak them for 12 hours, rinsing in clear cold water 4 times. Place them in a large pot on the stove and bring to a simmer over the course of the next hour. Lower the temperature until the water just barely swirls around the beans, and cook them like that for 6 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and pour cold water in until the water is cold. Let stand for 1 hour. Place on the stove and bring to a rolling boil for 1 hour stirring constantly. Now your beans are done. Eat and enjoy.”

Kids will love to exercise if you start them early
Is it ever too young to start training seriously?

Anyone besides me have a life? I thought so. So while people are trying to roll forward toward making serious empowering changes in their lives, we have these Trolls tossing sticks in the wheels bringing them to a dead stop. I don’t think they consider this cruel side effect to stoking their egos. Maybe I’m naive though, and maybe these hobbyists really are the alleged obese blobs with their butts firmly welded to their chairs in their mom’s basement, as legend goes, and since they can’t get out and do it, they will fight tooth and nail with the only weapon available to them to prevent you from doing it too. I sure hope not. Wow. That’s really really sad.

So you, don’t do it either. Don’t post negative hobby-related stuff. If someone posts an article about grains being healthy, don’t go off on your gluten issues. Obviously anyone with gluten issues would know enough to take the article with a grain of salt. You probably don’t have to educate them. That’s just an example, but I think you get what I mean. I do understand that many of these what I refer to as “hobbies” are serious and real to you, and many have valid data to support them, but your mission could cause major damage and this is not the right time or place to spread the word.

Also, if you’re on the receiving end. Don’t quit your program because someone says cans or bags, or something will kill you. Be smart. Life is a compromise all around, and if a can of beans saves you two days in the kitchen while you should be out making money or playing with your kids, then by all means, get the freaking can and enjoy the denial the rest of the civilized world enjoys about can poisons.

Set your goals, make progress, everything in its own time. Baby steps. Hope that helps.

Buffest Skater Ever - Angie Miske
Wife Angie – really buff for a skater, due to a great diet and hard training

Scrambled eggs and salmon with salsa

image

I used about 1/4 cup of salsa and it was pretty well absorbed by the salmon. I scrambled the eggs, then added the salmon and salsa to the pan and stirred it all up till heated through.

Polar Personal Trainer Website

I’ve used the Polar FT60 in the past, and currently use the FT80. The software that comes with them tracks your stats at PolarPersonalTrainer.com – which I’ve been using for tracking my indoor non-GPS workouts for a few years.

To be totally honest, both watches have all kinds of features I’ve never used, and probably never will. I’m really a simple person when it comes to tracking indoor workouts. I don’t set targets and goals, don’t want to hear beeps and tones for when I should start my next weight training set, don’t want to know if I should roll over and go back to sleep or work easy, moderate, or hard. Between these two watches those are all features you might want to use. I myself just want to record my heart rate over time, store it, and transfer it up to the internet so I can see all the cool charts and graphs. I’m not being even slightly facetious here either.

Polar Personal Trainer Summary View
Summary View – Page One

The watches store about 99 workouts, so if you train once a day, you should really upload your files about 4 times a year to prevent them from being overwritten. If you are training with intent and purpose though, you’ll probably want to upload them about once a week, so you can review your week and see your own highs and lows and progress. If you’ve been doing this for a while and have a good idea of your own weaknesses, you won’t need to upload so often. I normally do it about once a month and just glance back to see if some of my suppositions were correct or validated with data.

To upload you set the watches in a little USB dongle that looks something like a small cup-warmer. The lights flash, stuff happens, and shortly your browser will open up at the Personal Trainer website so you can log in. Then you get a page similar to the above, a weekly summary with start time, duration, heart rate stats, and calorie burn. For a lot of you this would be good enough. Just the Cliff-Notes version.

Polar Personal Trainer Diary View
Diary VIew

I like to click the link for Diary View, which puts something similar into a calendar grid and you can scroll through it by week with a little weekly summary beside it. This is a great way to scroll through your weeks at a glance to verify your own progress. If you are doing any kind of split training with multiple times per day, those will show up by hour in the grid, like a calendar app. Notice the Fitness Zone Summary. I am using custom zones, based on a mix of the watch’s fitness test, my training hours per week, and training goals. For yourself, unless you know some reason to change them, let the watch set them for you. Additional to that, this info is also used in calculating your calorie burn, which is a bit more accurate than the display on machines, since the watch knows your age, weight, height, and athletic level.

Polar Personal Trainer Training Load
Training Load Graph

The next most useful feature, IMHO, is the Training Load Graph. Based on your heart rate stats and time in each zone, the website calculates how much “overwork” you might have done, and estimates the time required to recover and train as hard again. I myself do not use this to plan rest days, which I think was intended to help you out, but rather to look back over the week to see if my estimates were correct in planning my own lighter and heavier days. Sometimes I get a “DOH!” moment – when I say “Oh, yeah, that’s why I wanted to hit the snooze button that day”

In my Training Load you’ll notice how low my load was for a while when I was in maintenance mode and recovery mode between outside training sessions, which I record elsewhere. Hence the gaps – when I was outside that day. You’ll also notice how high my training load was as I increased my time and vertical speed in preparation and testing to see if I should do Elbrus Race 2012.

Polar Heart Belt doing weights
Polar Heart Rate Belt during weight training

If you are interested, there is a social side with friends and sharing and stuff, but I’m not really that kind of person, so I don’t know what those are like. If anyone does, please, write comments below, or put them on the Seven Summits Body Facebook Page (if they’re too long blog it and put up a link there). For something that’s free with the watch, it’s okay, and I do use it on a regular basis to compare my stats to my perception as a reality check – we all need that now and then.



Training Log Example – Weekly Blog Log

The below is an example of a training log taken from a Blogger Blog I share with my wife to track our daily workouts, eating, and goals. I use a little shorthand, since I’ve been doing this for years. Each day immediately after each exercise I write what I do on a small whiteboard I got from Target for $1 in those little bargain aisles just inside the door.

Training Log on Whiteboard
Write Your Workout Immediately on a Whiteboard

I can usually get 2-3 days to a board if I’m doing weights, or 5 to a board if I’m doing just cardio.

Right now I’m in full-on training mode for Elbrus Race 2012 (still not locked in, so not totally committed unfortunately – the visa and flight issues at the end of August are causing me moderate stress as I strive to overcome those obstacles). Hence I am not doing heavy weights, but am going for high volume of light weight to flush blood through my muscles and build endurance and vascularity. (some research has shown an increase in acclimatization with greater vascularity)

I really suggest you log your training for best results. I use a blog that I’ve marked as “Private” and given access (by logging in) to myself and my wife. There are a slew of social sites now where you can do the same thing and share it with all your friends, but I’ve been doing this longer than there even were such things, and I really don’t want to share my every day sweating, despite some of more frequent post topics.

One of my favorite aspects of the online blog version of tracking my workouts is that I can give them labels or tags, so I can find groups of exercises with common themes like “going for maximum vertical per hour” or “squat day” etc. and compare where I am now with where I was a year or two ago.

Angie Lat Pulldown
Angie on the Lat Tower of the Power Rack

Key to log below:
I: Inversion Table
ITM: Incline Treadmill
SLDL: Straight Leg Deadlifts
FS: Nordic Track Freestrider
RC: Roman Chair
DB: Dumbbell
M-: Combo Machine
GHR: Glute Ham Raise
xxxx’/yyyy’ left is from machine display, right is from calculator

Monday July 9

181.6 lb

I: 2:00
FS: L8 – 12:00 – 2000′
Box Stepping/GHR-Poles 25 ea
Stairmaster: 90:00 – 75 spm – 4500′

Daily Total Vertical: 6500′

Tuesday July 10

180.2 lb

I: 3:00
Incline Treadmill: [1800′ – ~mph – hands-free]
1.19 mi – 47:24 – 30% – (1.506 ave.) – [39:50 pace] – 1884.96′ – (2386/39.77 vert per hour/minute)

Superset: 2x {
Standing Wide Row: 25 @ L3
Box Squat: 10 @ 65 lb Safetybar
DB Shoulders: 25 @ 10 lb ea.
DB Fly: 25 @ 10 lb ea.
}

Hyper/RC: 25 ea
Side Plank: 30 seconds ea.

Incline Treadmill: [2000′ – 1.6 mph – hands-on]
1.32 mi – 49:27 – 30% – (1.602 ave.) – [37:28 pace] – 2090.88′ – (2537/42.28 vert per hour/minute)

Daily Total Vertical: 3800’/3974′

Wednesday July 11

182.0 lb

I: 3:00
FS: L8 – 12:00 – 2000′
ITM:  [2012′ – 1.6/7 mph – way hands-on]
1.33 mi – 47:00 – 30% – (1.698 ave.) – [35:20 pace] – 2106.72′ – (2689/44.82 vert per hour/minute)

Stairmaster: 36:00 – 80 spm – 1920′

Daily Total Vertical: 4012’/4106′

Thursday July 12

181.4 lb

I: 2:30
ITM: [2000′ – 1.6 mph – still too much hands-on]
1.32 mi – 44:48 – 30% – (1.768 ave.) – [33:56 pace] – 2090.88′ – (2800/46.67 vert per hour/minute)

Superset: 2 x {
Box Squat: 15 @ 65 lb
SLDL: 15 @ 145 lb
Seated Calf: 15 @ 85 lb
}

Stairmaster: 48:00 – 80 spm – 2560′
I: 3:00

Daily Total Vertical: 4560’/4650′

Friday July 13

183.4 (rice and popcorn and veggies and soup)

I: 2:30
FS: L6 – 12:25 – 2000′
12″ Box: side/rear/front stepping 25 ea; Pole Squat: 25 ea;
GHR – poles: 25  — way out!

ITM: [1000′ – 1.6 mph]
.67 mi – 24:54 – 30% – (1.614 ave.) – [37:10 pace] – 1061.28′ – (2557/42.62 vert per hour/minute)

Superset: 2 x {
M-LPD: 25 @ L5
M-Row: 25 @ L5
DB-Fly: 25 @ 10 lb ea
DB-Shoulder: 25 @ 10 lb ea
Buttup: 25
Partial Pushup: 25 !!
Swing DB-Bicep: 25 @ 10 ea.
}

Daily Total Vertical: 3000’/3061′

Saturday July 14

183.2

I: 2:30

ITM: [3374′ – 1.7/2.0]
2.225 mi – 72:00 – 30% – (1.854 ave.) – [32:22 pace] – 3524.4′ – (2937/48.95 vert per hour/minute)
Stairmaster: 48:00 – 100 spm – 3200′

Daily Total Vertical: 6574’/6724′

Weekly Total Vertical: 28,446′ / 29,015′

Sitting is Killing You [infographic]

I was looking for information on a report I heard about a few months ago claiming statistically significant impact on mortality rates for simply “sitting” at a desk and ran into this cool infographic:

I do a lot of sitting as part of my job as a computer geek, and as a writer and blogger, so that sounds a little scary. I can set up my home desk to be a stand-up unit, and a lot of video editors I’m aware of use a stand-up desk, since they’re on a PC like 16 hour days to finish a project.

I also normally am up and down the stairs at work about once every 45 minutes or so, for bathroom or eating breaks, or just to talk to my employees, or dig around in our gear closet. Hope that counts for something.

What do you think? Do you stand or sit? How much time do you spend in front of a monitor/keyboard?

 

 

Steamed Salmon and Green Beans

image

I’m back to my hard training diet, so a couple times a week I’ll be eating steamed fish or poultry with veggies. I’m trying to see if I can get my bodyfat into the single digits as I train for Elbrus Race 2012. I need to make sure I burn fat an keep or increase my muscle mass. I am normally a near-vegetarian, but have found that in this phase I do better with a bit of meat tossed in. I do however generally not eat mammalian meat.

Elbrus Race 2012 Qualifier Training Considerations

Elbrus – 18,510 ft (5,642 m) is a volcano in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. It’s one of the Seven Summits, and also one of the Volcanic Seven Summits. It is generally considered the highest peak in Europe, and is included on both the Bass and Messner Lists.

In 2010 I trained to enter in the Elbrus Race 2010, and managed to successfully complete the Qualifier, despite contracting dysentery from contaminated water. It was an awesome, life changing experience, and I look back on it fondly. I wanted very badly to return last year, but because of some political unrest in the area, there was no Elbrus Race 2011.

Tram Top on Elbrus
Elbrus Race 2010 acclimatization day at top of Tram

It has been recently announced they will be running Elbrus Race 2012, with political stability and increased tourism to the area. I will talk about some of those issues, including obtaining the proper visas and logistical support in the vicinity of Elbrus, in one of my other blogs. My intent here is to focus on training for the 2012 edition.

There are three events in the Elbrus Race.

First is the Qualifier. It begins at the Barrels Huts at approximately 12,300 ft (3700 meters) and ends at Pastukhov’s Rocks at about 15,750′ (4800 meters). From the Elbrus Race website:

Qualification route goes from refuge Barrels (3708m) till the Pastuhkov Rock top ~4800 m)
Start point is on small square between 2 row of Barrales.
Terrain at September — snow + ice destoried[sic] with sun — safe to walk as the ice surface keep strong grip if one would fell down
Length of the route ~3980 meter
Vertical drop of the route ~1090 m


The participants who have passed the qualification standards will be admitted for the Elbrus Race. The standard will be calculated from the starting time until reaching the Finish line, set on the top of Pastukhov’s Rocks. The participants are considered passed if they reached the section line independently less than 2 hours of ascent and descended down to the starting place not later than at 16.00.


Me in blue #24 at start of the 2010 Qualifier

Explaining these stats, you need to climb 3576′ over the course of 13,058′ or 2.47 miles, in less than 2 hours. Even with my dysentery, which required me to somewhat waddle up while squeezing it in so to speak, I made it in 1:41, a relatively comfortable margin. That’s equivalent to a 40:53 pace, or 1.47 mph with an average ascent rate of 35 feet/minute. The fastest time in 2010 was 1:04 for a 25:55 pace, or 2.31 mph and a 56 feet/minute ascent rate.

Elbrus Race 2010 Training Objectives

Last time, I trained to merely qualify, with a time around 1:45. I did end up doing about that too. The course on Elbrus is roughly averaged to 27% grade. For my vertical training I walked at 1.5 mph at 28% grade on an Incline Treadmill for 2 hours, very close to the course stats. I also did lots of Stairmaster Stepmill work. The vertical ascent rate of 35 feet/minute is roughly equal to a 53 step/minute rate on the Stairmaster. I also used an elliptical trainer with a very steep ascent angle on the foot pads, and the guage monitors vertical step distance, but it’s not body-weight training by any means, so I was able to easily do 9,000′ in 60 minutes. Good workout, and great for the glutes and quads, but not specific enough.

My back bicep pose
Back and Biceps during Elbrus Race 2010 Training

At the time, for general physical conditioning I ran about 2 miles every other day. For weights I did box squats and straight leg deads, calf raises and lat pulldowns and bench presses. Not a lot of upper body, primarily low weight/high volume work to prepare for poling up the slope. For core work I was doing reverse hypers, reverse curls, and Roman Chair exercises. I did a little messing around and experimenting with Mountain Climbers and various planks, but the above was my primary workout.

While training for Elbrus over the course of four months I went from 195 to 175 pounds, and my resting heart rate dropped from the mid-50’s to the mid-40’s. I did splits 3-4 days a week (splits is a bodybuilding term for two workouts a day, usually a different body part or different training goal like cardio vs. weights), and a typical workout was 3 hours long. My work and home life suffered a bit (or more) because of this heavy of a training load. I did make great progress though.

running up Rainier on Muir Snowfield

I did very little training outside, with a few tests on Quandary, and one on Rainier to test my shoes and crampons out. I hadn’t really tested my outdoor clothing system out yet, and relied on the advice of a good friend from Italy, Luca Colli, who had come in 5th in the Elbrus Race 2009 for shoes, clothing, and gear.

Now it’s 2012, and a lot of water under the bridge later, I have some interesting advantages over training in 2010. I’ve sustained a weight between 180 and 185 since I recovered from the 2010 race. I have run a lot, including weeks with more than 40 miles. I’ve entered a handful of running races, and have a better feel for tapering and pre-race nutrition. I can sustain a 55 feet/minute ascent rate on the Stepmill. I haven’t had easy access to an Incline Treadmill, so I can’t say how that will go, but in small steep hills with a gradient over 20% I’ve been able to average up to 3.0 mph (20:00 pace) in short bursts.

I’m not saying I can “win” the Qualifier, but I do feel like I’m in a lot better position for 2012 than I was in 2010. In the next episode I’ll explore how I am training now, with some ideas of my programs and goals. I’ll also explore the stats from the main Elbrus Race – The Classic.

To view my reports from the 2010 event check out my old blog on [ Blogspot ]

To view some of my current outdoor training reports check out my current Seven Summits Quest [ Blog ]

I’ll do my indoor and accessory training here on this [ Blog ]