Archive for the Rest and Relaxation Category

The Standing Desk

Posted in Lessons Learned, Rest and Relaxation with tags on March 2, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

I am a big fan of standing at your workplace. Standing while working reinforces natural posture, facilitates passive strengthening of muscles and connective tissues, and prevents the shortening of your anterior hip and other ergonomic ailements. Try it out, starting in short periods of time working at your desk, and eventually work up to a full work day.


2012 Race Season Begins with 21km around Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Posted in Rest and Relaxation, Training with tags , , , on February 12, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

After a short hiatus from the blogosphere I return with a short but pointed blog entry. To begin, I just want to say I hope you have all had a great start to 2012.

My 2012 race season begins tomorrow with a half marathon in Vancouver. BC. As a triathlete, my weakness is running so I have told myself I would focus this early part of the season on improving my run so that I am a more well rounded athlete for my main event: Ironman Coure D’Alene, on June 24th

Tomorrow’s race is the ‘My First Half Marathon‘ in Vancouver, BC. The course runs from the Yaletown community centre, around Stanley park and back. This course is flat, fast, and fun, and should be a great early season event.

A half marathon is 21km, so in preparation for such an event one could only assume my training plan has incorporated multiple long runs of 15+ km to get my body prepared for the demands placed upon it by running 21km.

This assumption however, is wrong. I have run only one long run in 2012 and it was a 10k two weeks ago that I ran in the rain on a cold afternoon weighing in at 196lbs. I started off at a slow tempo, found my grove around 2-3km in, and low and behold, ended up setting a new PR at 37:53. Needless to say, I was shocked.

My training over the past 6 weeks has been based first and foremost on the development of efficient movement patterns and technique, and then the development of strength, speed, power, and stamina.

I have been following the Crossfit Endurance protocol quite closely, involving 4-6 crossfit workouts, 3-4 strength and conditioning workouts (incorporating the conjugate strength method popularized by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell) and 2-3 run workouts cycling through short intervals, long intervals, and one tempo or time trial each week. The programming on the crossfitendurance site is brilliant, I just tweak it ever so slightly to fit athletic goals and fitness level.

So all this talk and no action means very little. The intent is not to look at my run splits and say ‘wow this guy is fast.’ On the contrary. Any competitive runner would look at my times and say they are quite slow, and that person would be right. The point is, at almost 200lbs I have learned how to run fast, run efficiently, and train in a way that avoids repetitive stress injuries and keeps me looking forward to the next workout.

I am on to something new, something exciting, and something that we can all tap into. It’s the development of holistic strength and endurance through crossfit inspired exercises, that when done correctly, and with properly executed rest and recovery periods, can create new frontiers for athletic performance.

I’ll write an update tomorrow after the race.

Goal time for the 21k: 1:22:00

Constant Variation, Optimal Results

Posted in Rest and Relaxation on November 4, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

In the first two months post ironman I’ve learned what it feels like to have your body’s energy stores truly and utterly exhausted. It’s a humbling and gratifying feeling at the same time. Overall, its not awesome, but eating the right diet and sleeping lots gets you back to full steam in only a few weeks.

I’ve also learned that as an athlete, you can never stop learning, growing, and varying your training regime. Everything to do with your training plan must be targeted (i.e. Rest, intensity, duration, and volume) however these elements must also be constantly varied in order to prevent special adaptation or ‘accommodation’.

If your body starts accommodating to any sport specific movement pattern, it begins to weaken in other areas. Therefore as an athlete and especially as a triathlete you open the door to sub-optimal gains in your general physical preparedness and therefore your sport specific performance will be governed to a sub-optimal max.

Not to get too deep on this, but hear me out:

I believe its important to split up a training plan into three categories: general physical preparedness, Special physical preparedness, and sport specific training and then get after each one accordingly. When this is done correctly it will yield far superior results than a training plan that is too narrowly focused.

I will use my own experiences as the basis for this statement.

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been full on training but putting in only about 6-7 hours a week. Instead of building up sheer volume the focus has been on programming in 4-6 targeted crossfit workouts, tons of mobility wod, 2-3 conjugate strength workouts focusing on different lifts, and lots of low intensity, technique work.

With such a low volume of training any traditional training plan would put my level of fitness far below the pre-ironman peak back in August.

But in reality I have recently set PRs in the following disciplines:

Deadlifts, Front and Back Squats, 10km run, 400m run 100m swim, and my average pace for a variety of swim and run intervals has improved.

So what is the deal?

Its simple:

A low volume, high intensity, targeted, and constantly varying crossfit endurance style training regime, is a fun and super effective way to train for endurance sports.

One way to look at it is: Technique leads to proper movement patterns, which leads to the ability to handle more intensity, which leads to the ability to handle more volume (without injury), which then leads to increased performance.

Another way to look at it is….. De-evolve your training plan to tap into a prehistoric evolutionary power source.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors flourished in a constantly changing, dynamic environment. Embrace this heritage and program some hunter gatherer style variation into your training plan.

Further reading:

I encourage you to read up on Louie Simmons and the West Side Barbell method of strength training.
I say this because Strength training is crucial to both the development of an endurance athlete’s performance and injury prevention and the conjugate method which is used at westside barbell is hard to beat.