Archive for August, 2011


Posted in Paleo Athlete, Training, Triathlon on August 25, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

Hi Everyone,

The big day is almost here! Race day is Sunday, Aug. 28th. Below is a link to
the official schedule webpage. I have also included my estimated
times for each leg so you will know when to expect me coming through
transition 1 and 2, and the finish!!!!!!

You can also track my live progress on race day through

Sunday. Aug 28

Arrive at Starting area: 5:30am

Final Bike set up and warm up in water 5:30-6:30am

Race Start: 7:00am

Swim: 55 minutes

Transition #1: 7:55am

Bike Leg: 5 hours

Transition #2: 1:00pm

Run time 3 hours, 20 minutes

Finish: 4:20-4:45pm

If all goes well and I pace properly, eat properly, drink properly,
and don’t over heat on the run, my finishing time will be 9:15:00. That may
prove to be one of the fastest finishing times for a first time
ironman age group competitor….. Pros are another story.

On the more conservative side, I hope to finish anywhere around
9:30:00 which would still be awesome!

I have been watching videos on youtube of the pros who sometimes have
a meltdown on the run and have to walk…. It truly is a race that
will make you pay if you push too hard. Its so long that patience is
a virtue. going for 9:15:00 is a gamble that could end up costing me
big time…. but hey, I have friends, family, and thousands of people
I don’t know out there cheering, and I put 6 months into training for
this thing. You better believe Im going out there to make it

Good luck to everyone competing this weekend! I wish you the best of luck.


A Paleo-Type Diet for Superior Athletic Performance

Posted in Nutrition, Paleo Athlete on August 16, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

I recently came across this article on a very interesting blog called SockDoc, Your Body, Your Health.

I feel this article presents a fair and un-biased perspective on the benefits of a Paleo style diet.

Enjoy the read!

Paleo-type diets have become increasingly popular over the recent years. For athletes, a Paleo diet can provide optimal use of the fatty acid metabolic pathways. As your body becomes more and more accustomed to a reduced carbohydrate intake, intra-muscular triglycerides stores will increase along with increased efficiency of stored fat breakdown. Liver, blood and muscle glucose stores will be more actively conserved. The net effect of all of these changes will be to keep your blood sugar levels within normal ranges during the day and during exercise; you’ll be a more efficient fat-burning animal.
Many foods are restricted on a Paleo diet for the reason that that they were not available to our prehistoric ancestors. These include all processed foods, sugar, salt, grains, legumes, dairy products, coffee and alcohol. Potatoes are also restricted because the varieties available now are genetically and nutritionally altered and are much higher in carbohydrates in comparison to those available in Stone Age period. Some suggest there is evidence that the diet of Stone Age humans (as early as 23,000 years ago and perhaps even as early as 200,000 years ago), did include, in some form, refined starches and grains that are excluded from the Paleolithic diet today. However, cereals and other grains are excluded from a true Paleo diet; Lucky Charms and Corn Flakes – sorry.
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, most vegetables, mushrooms, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices make up the majority of the diet. Insects too if you’re into that. Honey, dried fruit and natural oils are permitted in very small portions. Some say coffee is okay in small amounts too.
Some key points of a Paleo-type diet:
Higher intakes of protein reduce appetite and increase metabolism. High protein also prevents loss of lean muscle
Emphasizes fruit and vegetables
High intake of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6)
May be beneficial for dieters who have difficulty with carbohydrate cravings and blood glucose imbalances
Protein (19–35% energy); carbohydrates (22–40% energy); fat (28–58% energy)
56–65% of food energy from animal foods and 36–45% from plant foods
More than 70% of the total daily energy (calories) consumed by persons in the United States comes from dairy products, cereals, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, and alcohol.
Some sources advise eating only lean cuts of meat, free of food additives, preferably wild game meats and grass-fed beef since they contain higher levels of omega-3 fats compared with grain-produced domestic meats. Some Paleo proponents also allow canola oil as part of the diet, (even though this was not available during that era), due to its high level of monounsaturated fats comparable to olive oil. Many also say that since salt was not part of the hunter-gatherers’ diet, it should be omitted, as our metabolism cannot handle salt very well.

The SockDoc take on the Paleo Diet, which has been supported by advising patients on dietary changes for almost 15 years and more recently after a week-long strict Paleo diet at the MovNat retreat, is this:
A Paleo-type diet is a great dietary template to follow if you want to improve your health, fitness, and over-all well being, (as well as lose fat and gain muscle). Ideally I feel it should be the foundation to every person’s diet unless there are food allergy concerns.

Take it easy on the fish. Fish is not as healthy as it was back in Paleo times. There were no coal plants omitting mercury and other contaminants into our oceans, rivers, and lakes. Contaminants were much, much lower (perhaps non-existent?). Keep the fish, especially the large ones like tuna, to once a month. Smaller fish can be consumed by some individuals once a week. Check out the fish chart below.

Ditch the canola oil. It’s not the same as olive oil. More on that at DRG site here.
Dairy fats are needed, especially butter. The arachiodonic acid (AA) is necessary for neurological development and health (even in the elderly), as well as hormone production, and even necessary to properly deal with inflammation. Though you can get these fats from red meat, it’s much harder to do, especially if you’re getting the leaner, healthier grass-fed beef.
Salt, in the form of sea salt, should be considered, especially when sweat rates are higher – hot summer days and with prolonged exercise. Healthy diets, devoid of canned food and fast food (where most humans get their salt), can often be deficient in sodium chloride.

How about grains and other starches? That should depend on your exercise rate and how you feel eating them. Sweet potatoes and possibly even regular potatoes may be advised if you feel you metabolize them well. You can certainly be very healthy without these in your diet, and they should not be consumed every day. Corn, rice, and other non-gluten containing foods should be based off your individual need and preference. Though you can’t call yourself a true Caveman or Cavewoman, pay attention to how you feel when you eat a certain food.

Adjust the diet to your individual needs and habits. More calories should come from fats (avocadoes, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconut, butter) and less from carbohydrates (fruits, potatoes, honey) if your exercise levels are low. The opposite holds true if exercise is more intense and of long duration.

Racing or training at a high intensity or long duration? – Consider some carbohydrates.
During long or hard workouts and races you may want to consider high glycemic indexcarbohydrates mostly in the form of fluids such as sports drinks or gels like GU. Events lasting less than one hour, and perhaps up to two hours depending on your metabolism, don’t require any carbohydrate. Water should be all you need. A starting point for deciding how much carbohydrate to take in is 200 to 400 calories (50-100 grams) per hour modified according to body size, experience, and the nature of the exercise. For example, if you’re not aerobically fit and training/racing too anaerobically, then you’ll need more carbohydrates because you’re burning more sugar than fat for fuel.

In the first 30-60 minutes after long and/or highly intensity exercise or a race use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein in a 4:1 ratio. 80-100 grams of carbs and 20-25 grams of protein is a good average starting point. This 30-60 minute window is critical for recovery and should be your highest priority after a hard workout or race. For the next few hours continue to focus your diet on carbohydrates, especially moderate to high glycemic load carbohydrates along with protein. Now is the time to perhaps eat “non-Paleo” foods such as rice, corn, and other foods rich in glucose as they contribute to the necessary carbohydrate recovery process. If you handle gluten well, then breads and pasta may benefit your recovery. Remember, it’s all very individualized so listen to your body and experiment with different foods. Don’t be an ignorant Caveman – also known as a Jackass in modern times.

An Experiment on Strength and Recovery, part 2

Posted in Lessons Learned, Paleo Athlete, Training, Triathlon on August 16, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

This post is a follow up to my earlier post and is also featured on Crossfit Endurance’s Brian Mackenzie’s blog If you have a moment or two, check out for more cool content from Brian and other Crossfit Endurance athletes….

An Experiment: Part 2

This past tuesday marked the end of my study. The study was on the
effect of a heavy weight training session resulting in a neuro
endocrine response during the early stage of a post race recovery

As I had mentioned in my initial description and design of the
experiment, the N. Endo response was generated by a heavy squat
workout 3 days after the Calgary half ironman 70.3 triathlon

I then executed a week of structured workouts and planned rest days.
From Wednesday Aug. 3 to Tuesday Aug. 9 my schedule included 2 full
rest days, 1 heavy weight workout, and 5 sport specific workouts
geared towards one of the three metabolic systems, Phosphagen,
Glycolytic, or, Oxidative. The workouts and rest days are listed at
the bottom of this post.

Throughout the week I used a heart rate monitor to keep track how my
body was responding to workouts. With the heart rate monitor I was
able to make sure I didn’t over do it, and hence, corrupt the
experiment by over training and foregoing the positive benefits that
were hypothesized. I did this by simply monitoring how high I could
get my heart rate and how long could it remain elevated.

From what I have gathered and what I have experienced, if its
challenging to raise your heart rate above 90% of your max and hold it
there for any period of time, its a tell tale sign that you need a
break and should take the day off.

Anyways, onto results:

I strongly feel that my hypothesis was correct and I have just
witnessed the biggest single week gains in fitness since starting my
training plan for Ironman Canada back in March.

The Hypothesis was: The Neuro-Endocrine response from the weight training on
Wednesday is mixing with the typical post race recovery process adding
a hormonal and neurological boost to the system. The body is not
just repairing from the stresses of the race, but it is also receiving
a message to get stronger and bigger ASAP.

Not unlink most post race recovery periods, I felt stronger and
stronger as this week progressed. What was unique about this recovery
period was the rate at which my top end speed and power returned.

After the sheer beat down my body took during the Calgary 70.3, I knew
I had to monitor my body closely to prevent over training during this
experiment. On Sunday, and therefore 4 days after the heavy weight
workout however, I was feeling good so I went for a hard bike up
Cypress Mountain with some friends.

During the climb I did 4×5 minute all out intervals with 3 minutes
rest in between and managed to peg my heart rate at 96% for each of
the four intervals. I tried to do a fifth but my heart rate could no
longer remain above 93% max so I called it off.

4×5 minutes at over 90 % max is a huge effort. This was never before
possible, as my legs would tire quickly at such an effort and my heart
rate would decrease as a result.

Two days later, I had a run workout in which I did 2x5km with 8 mins
rest in between. Once again, I was able to sustain a heart rate above
90% without any significant fatigue, and without any signs of post
workout muscle soreness. In fact my second interval was faster than
the first but I was going all out on both.

In conclusion my body has responded favourably to the experimental
program and I have experience significant gains in endurance, and
power as a result of the heavy weights and associated Neuro Endocrine
response early in the recovery period. I would not say I have seen
any increase in speed, and I still believe that speed is something
that takes time to develop.


Design of the Experiment/Recovery Week program:

Sunday, Race. 4:43 at over 85% max bpm
Monday, 3 hour mountain bike ride at elevation, tapping into oxidative
system, staying away from glycolytic and keeping heart rate super low
(except for when descending!)

Tuesday, Full STOP. REST like a couch potato watching Game of Thrones all day

Morning: Power Squat workout. 4 Sets, Reps 12-8-8-6,
Glute/Ham Developers 3×6
Glute/Ham Developer Sit Ups, 3×15

Afternoon: Swim, 6x100m TT with 2 minutes rest.
Staying phosphagenic. above the stressed out glycolytic system that is
still recovering from Sunday

Morning: 45 Minute mountain climb up the Grouse Grind in
Vancouver: Tapping into Glycolytic for first time since Sunday 80-85%
heart rate

Afternoon: Light technique/recovery Swim with a
friend, using go pro for video footage. (If you haven’t tried it yet,
do it! Great learning resource)

Friday, REST: Starting to feel the DOMS from the squats and the
general fatigue from a full 50 hour work week.

Saturday, Morning: 3 hour light cardio ride. No major exertions
Afternoon: Rest

Sunday: 90km with four, 5 minute all out intervals up Cypress
Mountain, with 3 minutes rest in between. I managed to do four
intervals before my heart rate could no longer remain above 93% max
heart rate, which for me is 155.
Afternoon: Technique Swim, no hard efforts

Monday: Mobilitywod

Tuesday: 2 x5km TT, on 8 minutes rest.


Posted in Nutrition, Triathlon on August 8, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

Today’s post is all about SALT!  (and how its super effective).

Replace salts that you lose while sweating so that your neurological system can continue to operate effectively and your muscles continue to function correctly!

In my third race, (July 3rd, Vancouver Half Ironman) I got off the bike and could barely run.  My legs fully cramped and for a moment or two, it felt like I had to drop out of the race.

I learned a lot from this experience.  First off, my seat was too low on the bike which resulted in too much stress on my quads, hence the muscles fatigued and started to cramp up.

The second and most important thing I learned is that I had not taken in enough salt to replace the salt I lost while biking the 90 km.   Needless to say, I now know that it is absolutely critical to replace electrolytes (salts) that you lose through sweating during exercise.

I first heard about replacing electrolytes back in high school.  I thought it was far too complicated to figure out and it was sort of intimidating so I never really paid much attention to it.  I just assumed that drinking a sports drink or taking gels would be sufficient.  After cramping up and almost dropping out of the Vancouver Half Iron triathlon I realized I had better figure this out.

Without getting too in depth with the numbers, when we sweat we lose electrolytes (salts) mainly Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium.  On average a person will sweat 16oz, or 500ml per hour of exercise.

160z of sweat contains 220mg of Sodium, 63 mg of Potassium, 16 mg Calcium, 8mg Magnesium

The easiest way to replace these lost salts while practicing or racing is to pick up a bottle of ‘salt stick capsules‘ and simply take 1-2 an hour depending on how much you sweat.

From the label, Salt Tabs have 215mg of Sodium, 63 or Potassium, 22 of Calcium, 11 of magnesium, and a little vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium.

So its really a no brainer.  Don’t be like me and neglect the importance of replacing these electrolytes.  Simply replace them as you lose them so that you can allow the muscles to continue to contract and release smoothly.


I mentioned that on average a person will sweat 16oz per hour.  To find out how much you sweat personally, follow the advice by Max Wunderle of TriMax Fitness.

He recommends you weigh yourself, then go out for a ride or run for 60 minutes at race intensity. Then come back in and weigh yourself again. The weight you have lost is water that you have sweat out.  Take this figure and apply the per 160z values of 220mg of Sodium, 63 mg of Potassium, 16 mg Calcium, 8mg Magnesium to determine how much you need to replace.

Salt, Get it in ya!

Coach yourself to be better using Youtube, a Camera, and a super friend

Posted in Paleo Athlete, Triathlon on August 8, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

This note is on how to coach yourself to become a stronger athlete. As I mentioned in my second blog entry, technique is absolutely fundamental and is by far the most important element to improved performance. Therefore to coach yourself to be better you need to start by analyzing and improving your technique.  How can you do this without paying for a coach? Its easy. Pick up a video camera and get a super friend to help you by taking a few short clips of you during a workout. I use a go pro which helps with the underwater swimming shots. Then all you need to do is compare your short video clip showing your current technique with a video on youtube showing a professional athlete.  Analyze each video side by side, pick out the differences, and voila!  You have yourself a road map to improvement. Embrace the use of a video camera, because it really exposes areas for improvement that if addressed will provide substantially improved performance! Get on it!

Train the brain, A smart athlete is a strong athlete

Posted in Paleo Athlete, Training, Triathlon on August 8, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

When you begin training for triathlon the amount of information available is extremely overwhelming.   The most important lesson I have learned as a beginner triathlete is train your brain before you even think about training your body.  Your brain is the most powerful weapon in your quiver. Use it to become in tune with your body, develop a training plan that creates quality adaptive response from every workout and most importantly FOCUS ON TECHNIQUE. Your body will explode with athletic potential.

I am currently following CrossFit Endurance (CFE) to prepare for Ironman Canada. This is my first attempt at the ironman distance, in this, my first season competing triathlon. I chose to follow CFE because I feel as though it is a revolutionary training program developed my athletes whom wanted to challenge the norm to create something new and better. I just think its the best program I have found for generating a quality adaptive response from every workout.

I don’t use a coach.  I wanted to immerse myself in the sport of triathlon and learn how to train, learn how to race, and learn how to balance training with my full-time job and private life on my own. I wanted to treat it like a big project and make my ironman campaign a fun and experimental journey.

My official start date of training for Ironman Canada was March, 2011.  I should have started earlier but.. c’est la vie.  I began by looking at traditional training methods and decided that dedicating 15-20 hours a week to training for a race is just not possible.

So I researched alternatives, got introduced to a new training philosophy developed by the genius minds at and never looked back. I began training in March, putting in 4-5 hours a week of quality, intense workouts involving lots of weights, crossfit, and interval training. Over a 4 month period I gradually increased the volume up to 8-10 hours a week and I plan on keeping the total volume hovering somewhere below 10 hours from here on out.

Just think about it and it all starts to make sense.  Training doesn’t make you stronger. Recovery does.  As an athlete trains, their body essentially believes it is fighting to survive and undergoes an adaptive response to become stronger. Training with short duration, high intensity workouts ignites a powerful adaptive response in a short period of time. Less time spent training allows for more time for rest and recovery. The athlete is then able to hit every subsequent workout with a healthy stronger body.

Try it and you will explode with athletic potential.

Enter every workout tired and sore from the traditional approach of multiple long slow duration workouts and you have less chance of creating a quality adaptive response for your efforts.

For more on this groundbreaking stuff check out Spend a while reading up on it and it will blow your mind.

Next thing, an athlete must focus on technique before all else. Program the neurological pathways to execute perfect technique before all else. Throw out the ego, take down the speed, shorten the distance, and work on technique. Its the absolute most important thing for anyone in any sport. From beginners to pros, its all about technique.  Its more important than anything an athlete can possibly do to become faster.  Clearly you can tell I am passionate about TECHNIQUE. Trust me..  Embrace it by taking down the distance, and taking down the intensity for a week or two, or however long it takes you to learn proper technique. This is important because as you fatigue, you’ll fall back into the old inefficient biomechanics that your body is used to. Once the technique is ingrained, push the pedal down and get moving.

If you want to take seconds off your swim, bike, or run… train harder.

If you want to take minutes off, butter up your technique and own it. Its priceless.

To finish this entry off, I just want to reiterate one thing.  Your brain tells your body what to do. If you want your body to perform to its full potential, then its your responsibility as an intelligent being to put your body through the right motions. You could be the strongest person on the start line but if all you do is train your body like a meatstick and don’t think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, or how you could be doing it better….. your performance will plateau and you’ll never reach your potential.

Brains before braun my friends.

A Beginner Triathletes Experiences with Bike Fit

Posted in Lessons Learned on August 8, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

July 6, 2011:

Just tweaked my bike fit after realizing all the faster cyclists on Sunday were waaaaaay more aero than I was. I raised the seat about 1 cm and dropped the aero bars about 1 cm as well. That being said, as a beginner triathlete I went for comfort in my first few races. I almost had a touring style position as oppose to a race position. Now my body is a little more used to the strain of being down in the bars so I am able to get a little more aggressive without discomfort. If I went back to May when I bought the bike there’d be no way I could handle this new aggressive stance.

I hope this translates to a fast bike split at Ironman Canada!

Last point to keep in mind: You can’t be overly aggressive with the aero position in triathlon because you have to a) run after the bike and b) your gut needs to be able to process lots of calories which is impossible if you’re all bunched up like the time trial position you see in the tour de france.