2019 has arrived and I am going to spend a lot of time out here in cyberspace imparting what I think I know. It is my hope that you will look forward to explorations of health and fitness with me and that we both will learn and experience a few things along the way.
Before we get to all of that lets first just have a little bit of fun. One of the things that I do for myself is to create interesting play lists for my workout times. In particular, for cardio sessions, having a strong cadence to run to, or some powerful lyrics to energize me can make all the difference.
For a strength session I sometimes go with a book or interesting podcast. I prefer a podcast usually since I don’t want my concentration on a lift to be distracted by an interesting plot point. Regardless, there’s always the skip back function.
That being said, I really get into a good music list. The preparation of searching and downloading often get me jazzed up for a run the following day. I can’t wait to ‘try out’ the mix and see what needs to be added or dropped. While I like Pandora for a consistent mix relative to a genre or artist, I generally don’t rely on them for a quality workout mix. Apple music has pre-done mixes in all kinds of genres for all types of needs not just workouts. However, as good a job they do, sometimes I find myself hitting, skip too many times.
A full album might be good, however, it’s rare to find one which all the songs are great run jams. Personally, I like to shoot for a solid hour’s mix at least. Then I shuffle them each time. Since I don’t always go that long I wont get as burnt out on them.
2018 saw the creation of a bunch of lists, as I really ramped up my cardio last year. By the time I was ready for the Tough Mudder distance of 10+ miles I was doing sometimes 25 miles per week. That requires a lot of music!
In the interests of sharing I will be putting together new lists this year. I’ll make them available to see and if you’re on Apple music I can share them with you. Full disclosure, most of this will be more modern high energy dance and electronic music. That’s just what I like. You should put some effort into creating your own lists. Share back with me, what gets you out on the roads?
Not all of these are from 2018, and are much older in some cases. They are just what I put together last year and are the best songs from that year for me.
Best workout songs of 2018
Classic - Baba O’Riley - The Who
- Only The Young - Journey
- Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen
- More Than a Feeling - Boston
- Barracuda - Heart
- Dance the Night Away - Van Halen
Electronic/Pop - Fembot - Robyn
- Carry Me - Kygo
- Burnin - Calvin Harris
- Hey Now - London Grammar
- Therapy - Armin Van Burren
- Sun Comes up - Rudimental
Hard Rock/Metal - The Pretender - Foo Fighters
- Robot Stop - King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
- Girlfriend - Mathew Sweet
- Maiden, Mother, and Crone - The Sword
- You’ve Got Another Thing Coming - Judas Priest
Rap/Hip Hop - He Got Game - Public Enemy
- Run the Jewels (E) - Run the Jewels
- Shut ‘Em up - The Prodigy/Public Enemy
- Judgement Day - Method Man
Well that’s my best bunch from last year. Your assignment: Take some time and see what kind of a list you can put together for yourself. Have fun with it, then run with it.
I finally returned to active event participation and it felt great! I signed up with my buddy Jack and convinced him to go on some runs with me over the past couple of months. The first couple were 2 miles and I slowly progressed him up to almost 4. I had figured that, while he would make the full distance, he might not run much more than that and we would walk a lot towards the end. Plus, I didn't know for sure how much I could run either.
It was fun to be pleasantly surprised on both counts. He is funny to run with. I usually spend my runs zoned out or concentrating on some technical aspect of running form. It keeps me distracted from fatigue and helps get through tough sections. Jack just wants to talk the whole time, like literally, the whole time. We talked about pace, stride length, how to appropriately jockey for position, bathrooms (including all 8 year old topics related to bathrooms) and jokes. He asked about the new Star Wars movies, old Star Wars movies, "Can I have a popcicle?", "What if it was called a 'poopcicle'? "
He was concerned at first that we would get lost, but once he realized we were following a herd of 50,000 people that seemed to go away. I let him dictate the pace, when he wanted to walk we did and when he was ready to run we did that too. All told we ran a lot more than I thought, I figured about 5 miles of the 7+ including all the way up Doomsday hill!
I had no trouble either so that was great. I could have run the whole way and a lot faster for sure. No chance of a personal best but that's ok, it was still the longest run I had done since the accident so any positive outcome was a win.
Next year is the 40th Bloomsday so I think I will try to do that one solo. Hillary can take Jack and get him his poopcicle.
Me and my iPhone
iPhone is lacking in serious musical needs. Sticking with some older mixes but nothing really interesting to report.
A one day kettlebell certification similar to one I've done before is coming to Spokane in August. So, with my knee at a consistent 85-90% I'll be getting back into my routines again.
Since I hadn't been running hardly at all during 2014 I haven't used MapMyRun in a long time. Back in December I opened it up again and started to log some workouts and treadmill jogs. A years worth of updates meant that I had to re-educate myself on how to use the darn thing. Aside from a variety of new functions and social networking capabilities was the addition of group challenges.
Companies sponsor, as advertisement, an opt-in fitness challenge. Britta, for example, challenged you to log 50000 steps per week and, of course, record how often you hydrated. Each challenge has it's own exercise and nutrition goal. While the social networking aspect of MMR is nice, it sort of requires that you have lots of friends using the app. I don't have very many, so the buddy training aspect of the app is a bit lost on me. By contrast, these large community challenges I find a bit more engaging as you can get a percentile rating for your progress relative to all MMR challenge users. If you're really into competition there is a leader board you can check for each challenge. It's nice but I call a little BS on it at the same time. After one day of a challenge this guy had logged five 30 minute workouts and 8 supplementations. Come on man, you worked out for 2.5 hours, probably a run, and ate your vitamins for the day plus maybe a shake or something.
The running total for theses different target goals I like as well, keeping track of different variables each month is more fun than just checking off 'workout' in my planner. It's not like you are married to the thing either, the Britta challenge for example didn't really work for me since I couldn't find a way to log my steps all day and sync to the app. Oh well, I still checked my steps anyways and entered my hydration stats as well. I know I did better than the app was able to record and that was good enough for me.
In February I changed to the MapMyFitness App to more accurately record my workouts since Kettlebells aren't in the MMR list. MapMyFitness still records runs the same way including all my old routes, accesses the challenges, and links to your friends just like MMR.
Lots of folks use the wristband things, but I find them pretty limited in capability. The MapMy apps, I feel, are more comprehensive in what you can do with them plus there are all kinds of add ons if you pay to become an MVP member (I am not). There is a whole family of MapMy apps and I recommend that you check them out to enhance your workouts.
Almost forgot, oranges are good for you but don't really enhance your running much. MapMyRun is better than oranges.
Me and my iPhone
Working on 45 minutes continuous jogging right now. Hope to be close to an hour by April. My buddy Jack is running Bloomsday for the first time so he's been running a little bit with me. That should be fun and will also keep me from pushing too hard for a goal time this year.
The iPhone is tired of playing the same playlists. Need some new stuff badly. suggestions are welcome.
For info on my 4-40 challenge go here
Valentines day will soon be here so I think it’s a good month to talk about heart health. Cardiovascular fitness is key to staying fit and healthy so getting some longer, harder sessions in is important. Increasing by small increments as the month goes along is a great way to push yourself without going to far. Adding just 5 minutes, an extra block, or a lap around the track can wind up being a pretty significant gain by the end of the month.
My workouts are going pretty well so far. The knee is doing well and I didn’t have any setbacks during January even though some of my workouts were pretty rigorous. For the most part however, I kept weight work at less than 25 minutes as I did not want to push too much.
For February I’m going to up the duration for weight work but not my loads. For now, it’s important for me to focus on form and function. Flexibility work continues to be of primary importance for my left side as it’s still not quite right. There are days when my whole leg from hip to ankle feel tight and stiff. All the more reason not to load up a crooked frame with a lot of weight.
Me and my iPhone:
Kettlebells will make a comeback this month for sure. Certification is still out there but I don’t know when I will be able to do it so I’ve got to be ready. It’s not super strenuous but we all start where we need to. Nothing fancy, just the basics:
2 day workout plan:
Single hand KB swings 10x3sets
Goblet Squats 10x3 sets
TGU 3 minutes
With the lame-o winter here road work may make an earlier than usual appearance.
3 days walk/jog for 20-25 minutes. If my knee doesn’t argue I will take my own advice from above!
iPhone - Nothing new. I need some new music so suggestions are welcome. I've been doing audible books for stuff like folding laundry but I may start listening to that during workouts. FYI currently enjoying the classic sci-fi "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov.
In 2012 I discovered kettlebells and really found them to be a fantastic fitness tool for myself and my clients. The system clicked with me and were a responsible for some great changes in my own physical shape. I followed up in 2013 with a more committed regime of running consistently. That combination was really hard to beat for me. I was working out regularly before but had become reinvigorated with the incorporation of new information.
Late in 2013 I decided to test myself and my level of fitness by competing in the Tough Mudder challenge event. It was truly a great experience and I learned so much about my physical capeablilites and limitations as well. I was was super excited for making 2014, also the year I turn 40, my fittest ever.
Without getting into specifics, I was essentially chop blocked or taken out at the knees on a basketball court just prior to Thanksgiving. Despite what appeared to be a catastrophic injury I recovered and thought I had dodged a bullet. Though I was experiencing no pain, I still lacked some end range of motion which I had attributed to some lingering swelling in the knee. So, I decided to get evaluated and now here I am 2 plus weeks post reconstructive surgery. The procedure went well and although I still have a possible second surgery to think about over the next year the Dr. thinks I will make a solid recovery.
I had plans this year to go to a higher level kettlebell certification. I was also ready to set a personal best at Bloomsday this year. Further into the year and definitely on my radar was a return to the Tough Mudder challenge and I was confident I would be ready and may even have tried another shorter challenge this year as well. Those plans are essentially shelved now and I believe it helps me to think of it that way rather than as being 'canceled'. While rehabbing as a fitness goal is not what I'd call fun, I am going to have to do all the work I can so that next year I can get back to playing terrible golf again.
We all need to have a fitness goal in order to achieve the results we say we want. What I'm learning now is that we must also be willing to completely reassess those plans when life happens. To not cancel a personal best time forever, but simply to be more flexible and delay until next year.
Me and my iPhone
I've been doing multiple sets of peg-legging up and down stairs, crutch walking for my upper body, and a lot of right legged pistol squats out of chairs. Putting on socks in a knee brace has been a good way for me to work on my flexibility.
As probably the last person on earth to upgrade to iOS 7 I've been playing around with iTunes radio and comparing it to Pandora. Musical selections are different, but I can't say it's better. Sports radio went back to sucking in this town so I'm probably going to go back to podcasts.
Or: How many times in 3 1/2 hours can you say, "Holy $#!T"
There are a couple of previous posts which refer to the Tough Mudder challenge so I won’t rehash all of that. Let’s just go with the general description of 12 miles and 25+ obstacles designed by British special forces. After having mentioned signing up for this event a few months ago I’ve often been asked to describe it and then had the follow up question of, “Why would you want to do that?”
I say that it sounds like fun but I’m not sure that is really true. I mean, it’s not that none of it sounded fun, or that I wasn’t really looking forward to it, just that I’m not certain that ‘fun’ was my real intention.
I’m not against entering a 5k fun run or even a 10k for that matter. Let’s be honest, on the face of it, crawling through gooey mud, carrying a log for half a mile, and dunking yourself into ice water doesn’t sound fun. However, the idea of something really challenging was appealing. To examine the course and ask a legitimate question, “Can I finish this or not?” Perhaps I could, but I wanted to know if I could not only finish but actually perform well doing it.
Now I will readily confess that I most definitely fell for their marketing ploy, “Are you tough enough!?” I watched the videos, official and otherwise, and measured myself against them. Am I in as good of shape as that guy? I wonder how old he is? Etc etc. I’m not sure that’s a completely sane way to approach an event but at least I wasn’t underestimating it. I had been entranced by the whole idea of combining physical challenges with endurance. Scouring blogs and youtube videos for tips on training, what to wear, how to eat, etc.
Over the past couple of years my own fitness journey has settled not on being a superman, but on what is it that excites me to workout? Hiking, Kettlebells, distance running, and now I’ve added challenge course events. Staying fit for these activities has meant working from the ground up just like we do with all of you. I work through my system of stretches(including the foam roller), keep up with exercises that challenge my equilibrium and fire up the core, strength work for strong stable joints and an increase in power when I need it.
Believe me, I asked myself why people do this event too. Somewhere, buried in that mud, I found my answer. I feel like that’s what we all need to do. To find the things that push and challenge us to stay fit, healthy, and strong. So that, even if you don't have the snappy headband, you can call yourself a Tough Mudder too.
Me and my iPhone -
Mudder workouts at the park and then a week or two of moaning a groaning afterwards HA! I’ll get back on the stick here forthwith. As we head into darkness and snow the kettlebells won't care about any of that.
Chain gang of 1974 - Sleepwalking, thanks Grand Theft Auto V!
I Blame coco - Selfmachine
retro 80’s synth pop all day baby!
In a previous post I talked about theme running events. Being unfamiliar with these types of runs prior, I was very excited by them. I'll be honest, I REALLY wanted to do the zombie one, but I was too late to register for one in Seattle, so I signed up for the Tough Mudder in October. This event is much more intimidating than the zombie run and I was not entirely sure how to train for it exactly. After bombing Bloomsday two years ago having pulled a calf due to my lack of road running I have accepted the fact that I am old enough to do better.
I tried to follow rather general training principle that I use for any activity, match your workouts as closely as possible to the event in quiestion. We do this all the time in our programming. For tennis or golf we incorporate movements which will aid in shoulder mobility and rotation. A marathoner or triahtlete will build over weeks up to the race day load so that the body is familiar with the stresses placed on it. And on and on... However, I just wasn't sure how to get close to 12 miles and 25 physical obstacles.
It might seem obvious now, but I’ll admit it took me a week of treadmill/weight lifting circuits to realize that playground equipment was the better fit. A large open space to run on for about 1/2 mile or so and fixed sturdy equipment that I can use to move my body around on.
The event’s obstacles vary but in general the difficult ones emphasize upper body pulling and pushing such as, log carrying, wall climbing, pulling yourself out of the ice-water dunking area, etc. So, as I come to a stop near the play equipment, I’ll grab the monkeybars and do pull-ups, then switch to pushups or some squats, If there’s a bench I’ll do dips or step ups. Some challenges also require jumping or leaping so doing a set of short sprints or pretend basketball layups will really boost the heart rate. It varies and I usually go for about 2 minutes. After that, I’m back to the field for more jogging. Yes, it probably looks ridiculous, that's the nice thing about ear buds....I don't hear people wondering what the hell I'm doing on a children's playground.
Since the event is not timed, I’m not really concerned with my running pace, just completing the run/obstacle/run/obstacle format. The trick to increasing the number of circuits is to use the jog as your rest period. It’s challenging, so I’m also spending a lot of time stretching out.
Try the playground workout as a fun change up to a boring road run that incorporates some strength work. Regular cardio/strength circuits are fun too, but it’s nice to be outside while you can.
The double bonus was taking Jack with me once and he played with a friend he saw while I worked out. Initially, he said he would run with me a little bit but when he saw his friend, he was off and gone. So, working out while he plays pirates beats sitting on a park bench buried in my iPhone.
Speaking of iPhone - Needing some new music. U2 and some Arcade Fire mixes. Alternative Cardio Pandora station is good too. Still, I could use something new. Suggestions?
As if we didn't need any more evidence that regular exercise is good for you. Now it seems that even small amounts, as little as 15 minutes, can add years to your life.
The current recommendations for exercise rest around 150 minutes per week. Yet researchers in Taiwan observing over a period of 8 years noticed that even at 15 minutes per day, deaths from any cause were dropped significantly. It may not seem like it, but you can do a lot in 15 minutes.
15 minutes is enough for a tough circuit or a brisk walk around the block. 15 minutes in plenty of time to get 4 or 5 hard sets of just one exercise in, or even to simply take some time to stretch out your stiff muslces. I think it's safe to say that most people, including myself, wish we had more time to work out and take care of ourselves. Use this info as a reminder that "something" is, in fact, better than "nothing".
Running events have been one of the most popular public fitness related activities in history. I would say that swimming is probably right in there as well. Yet, of all those thousands of participants, over time immemorial you haven’t been one of them. Oh, perhaps you started a training program and intended to sign up for a 10k, but after a few weeks slogging along the road at 6:30 in the morning it just wasn’t that fun. It could be that you are an old hand at Bloomsday and it’s just not holding it’s appeal anymore. Been there, done that.
If only there were a way to look forward to an event with excitement, pure fun, ridiculousness, or even a little danger? That’s currently one of the fastest growing movements in the business of exercise. Theme events. From charity runs with doughnuts(best rest area ever) to insane adventure runs, these events put less emphasis on time and effort and more on fun and accomplishment.
Here are a few events to throw that much needed wrinkle into your straight and steady workout programs:
Training can get stale, whether it is running 5 days a week, or strength training regularly. Switching it up often can be helpful, but sometimes we just need something to look forward to. Most training blogs or articles (including ours) tend to focus on sets, reps, loading techniques, technical form tweaks, and other serious fitness topics. That’s all good, however, as insane or as silly as these events might be, I think they all come from a similar premise which I tend to agree with. Physical fitness should be an enjoyable part of life and these events can certainly be part of that lifestyle.
Me and my iPhone - This week has been Crystal Method Pandora station. Got some good runs in, including one with the nephew which was fun, I won’t say who got home first. Kettlebells and more kettlebells!