Cross-Training

QUESTION: “Are we supposed to be Cross-Training?”
This is such a great question and I’ll try and be brief.   The bottom line is to avoid injury, and the best way to do that is by erring on the side of caution, taking it slow, starting below your comfort-curve and incrementally building up your workouts to your own comfort-level before going beyond what you already know you can do.   There are a few factors to consider when you are trying to decide whether you want to do cross-fit and what kind of cross-fit you should be doing:
1. You need to know where you are at, currently, in your fitness.   We sometimes get caught up in where we WANT to be instead of taking inventory of where we actually ARE – try and know the difference, think about it constantly, and adjust your cross-training goals accordingly.
2. You need to align your training and fitness with your specific goals.
a: If you are just working toward crossing the finish line, you might not want or need to do much cross-training, although it would certainly be helpful if you could add in a little bit.
b: When you have a specific time goal or even a general time goal, you might need to bring varying forms of strength and flexibility training into your routine – very important to have both strength and flexibility when you tackle speed workouts since muscle strain and ligament/tendon stress is at its highest when we exert ourselves in these intense bursts.   Building these tissues up slowly and consistently can at least get you to the starting line, injury free!
c: If your goal includes weight loss, cross-training could be very effective in giving you alternative workouts that are better geared at fat-burning and toning.   I would also highly recommend your team-mate Nicki Mazzioti for nutritional coaching: https://www.risen-nutrition.com/
 
QUESTION: “What kinds of Cross-training should I be doing?”
To answer this question, ask yourself the following:
1. “What do I enjoy or would I enjoy?”   Just because someone else really loves Yoga doesn’t mean that you will love it too – by all means, give it a go if you’ve never tried it, but maybe you would prefer a nice bike ride instead.  (Swimming, Walking, Hiking, Dance, Zumba, Weight-Lifting, Boxing, etc.)
2. “What weaknesses or challenges do I face and what can cross-training do to help me address those weaknesses?”   I’ve already said that my core is really weak; my abdomen, my hips, my lower back (Core workouts 1-2 times a week).   I would also like to do things that help me maintain or maybe even lose about ten pounds (Full-Body strength training to add more muscle.  More muscle equals more muscle to feed and that equals higher metabolism, followed by weight loss), and I need tons more flexiblity in my calves, my hamstrings, my hips and my lower back (Yoga everyday!).
3. “What if I’m injured?”    Tread lightly here.   I’ve dislocated both of my shoulders (a long time ago) and I continue to have left-chain leg issues (calf, knee, hammies, hips and glutes).   Whether it’s my regular workouts or cross-training, I’m very careful and aware of these areas in my body and I approach them with respect and caution – I urge you to do the same.  It just isn’t worth it to drive yourself hard through injuries.   For me, I avoid swimming not just because I’m no good at it, but something about the motion of the arms causes my already weak shoulder sockets to pop out – my goal then is to do upper-body and specifically shoulder workouts (and surrounding areas) to strengthen that part of my body and rehabilitate those joints.   Someday, I hope to get in a pool and get proper coaching to improve my efficiency and form – just as soon as my shoulders can handle it.  Cross-training allows me to approach these injuries in new ways and target the areas that have had problems in the past – bringing me to a more well-rounded full-body fitness someday.
I would add that foam-rolling, deep sports massage, and targetted stretching are part of my cross-training routine specifically in response to my left-chain issues.
Bottom line: Be Careful and always consult a professional for any medical issues or question you may have.
I would love to hear from you!
Q: What forms of cross-training do you love?
Q: What did I miss in this article or what did I get wrong/did you disagree with?
Q: What did you like about this article?
Thanks so much – may you remain injury-free and happy running 🙂
This blog was inspired by the Destination U “DU-OV HalfM – Fall 17” group – training for the Tucson Half Marathon and the Veterans Day Half Marathon.  Thank you “Team Tomato” for your dedication, consistency, and can-do attitude.  You rock!
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OW! It’s working!

I want to talk about something for a second here because it’s come up from a few of you and we all need to be on the same page. So here it is – credit Brown’s Boot Camp – Weight Loss and total body fitness (correct me if I’m wrong) is 75% diet/nutrition and 25% Physical Activity.   What does that mean?   It means that if you start working out or increasing your workouts but you do nothing about your diet, odds are stacked against that you’ll reach your target weight and maintain a healthier body composition.
Great bodies are made in the kitchen, not in the gym and not on the track.
Think about that for a second. What percentage of your effort goes into your diet and what percentage of your effort goes into your workouts?    We tend to think that when we get out there and run or lift or whatever it is we’re doing, and we get a nice sweat going, that we are putting all of our effort into our workouts and that’s the place for it, but what about with our diets?   What does it look like to put our effort into what we eat? Have you ever thought of it as effort?   I don’t know about you but for me, it’s hard to be hungry and have my body just craving some carbs SO bad.  I get hangry!   Irritated.  It sucks to eat a scheduled meal that looks big but leaves you hungry for more.  How can it be that I just ate all this food and I’m still hungry?   Normally, I would reach for something..anything to feed my craving.   Normally, I’m not really even hungry anymore, I’m just craving something sweet or filling despite feeling in my stomach that I really am full.   If I eat anything else, it’s just stuffing myself.   What I’m driving at is that not eating when you want to and what you want to and as much as you want to when that is what you’ve been doing up to this point is one hard battle to fight.   And you have to keep on fighting it, everyday, all day, with little moments in between where you learn to make yourself busy and forget about it for a minute.
You may not break out into a sweat, but that hungry feeling and those cravings are as much an effort to deal with and resist than pushing yourself to run a 5k everyday.. or a marathon.   It’s almost impossible.   You have to think of little tricks to help you cope with it.   One of my favorites is the Mohammed Ali pushups quote adaped for dieting; “I don’t start counting my pushups until it gets hard!”.   In dieting and watching your portions and food balance, when it gets hard.. is when it starts counting.   When you’re body is lurching with food-cravings and driving you insane, that’s when you’re losing weight, burning calories, getting tougher mentally.. that’s when it’s WORKING!   That’s when you KNOW it’s WORKING.  Getting the signal that what you’re doing is working – even if that signal is pain or discomfort or irritation – still feels good and you can feel a little jolt of accomplishment.   Just don’t get too comfortable because the next craving is right around the corner.

All the “No’s” that led me here

NO.NO

My life is actually pretty awesome.   I don’t always feel that way, but when I stop and really think about it, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.   I’ve always had a sense that I was going to do great things and, I don’t think I’m alone in this.   As I get older, the idea that I’m going to be remarkable, in any specific and tangible way, grows more and more distant; ever more remote.   It might even be a kind of hubris, but entirely human all the same.

“We all think we’re going to be great. And we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met.” Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

I want to say real quick too, that I actually like myself.   At least, most of the time, even when I mess up, I’m learning to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously.. not all the time, anyway.   What I’m trying to say here is that I can say nice things about myself without thinking too hard about it – and for some people, that’s a big accomplishment.

But..

I’m not perfect.   I haven’t reached some special state that has elevated me above the masses.  I’m not really all that special, after all.   I’m just a guy who has some ‘yes’s’ under his belt.   And, at the same time, I’m just a guy who still hasn’t let go of all the NO’s!

There are a lot of NO’s.

My big think is that I’m afraid.  I’m afraid to interview with ‘important people’ so I say no.   I’m afraid to climb out on that rock with my friends, so I say no.   I’m afraid to apply for that job because I don’t think they’ll take me seriously, so I say no.   I’m afraid to sign up for that race because I’ve never run that far, so I say no.   I’m afraid of working out that hard so I can get to Boston, no.

So I was going to write this blog about all the NO’s, and sure, they exist BUT..  I’m not really feeling the “No’s” right now.  I can think of yes’s for every no, right now.   Right now I know that the road to greatness is mundane, persistent and consistent action; never giving up, letting go of the things that are hurting you, and being your own champion.

If I DID  want to wallow in my miseries, then I’m sure I could look back and see a series of fear-laden “No’s”.  No to myself, no to offers and invitations from others, no to flights of fancy that weren’t so flighty after all.

Incrementalism. 

This thought has been banging around in my mind for a while now; consistent effort.  It’s something I’ve got locked down when it come to my runs and I’m proud of that.  I run when I’m supposed to run and I don’t ‘miss’ days, though I might fudge the times here and there.  But when it comes

To foam-rolling, yoga, planks, push-ups and weight lifting, I’m all over the place and almost nowhere at the same time.  


Thing is, I need these workouts.  After dislocating both shoulders years ago, they get really sore on long runs.  Push-ups and weights help for sure, if I would just stay consistent.  My ham-strings, calves and quads – and IT band – might thank me for foam-rolling, but do I do it? No, less than 1/week, anyway.   And everyone knows that a strong pelvis, strong hips, lower back, and general core fitness is just SO FREAKING GOOD for runners but, nope, nope, nope.  

All of those things, done in tiny pieces every ‘now and then’ are essentially useless.  A pressure-relief valve for guilt but not much else.   Huge changes sometimes seem to happen suddenly in a flash, when really, they have been building incrementally for years. 

A recent Freakanomics podcast does a great job of pointing this out; if you want mind-blowingly tremendous results, you have to do mundane, little things every day, consistently. 


I’m cutting breads and grains in general.  Working on cutting back on sweeteners,  but now, it’s time to schedule daily workouts.  Time to start building streaks of planks and lifting and rolling and stretching.   

Thanks to my friend S_ for creating a Facebook group dedicating 30 minutes of exercise every day in November.  Great motivation!

Accountability.  Consistency.  Results. Let’s go!

“This is so easy, I’ll quit”

For me it was heart-rate training.  The zone I was supposed to be working in was so easy that if I ran, I would shoot right out of it and have to slow down.   That was frustrating – I wanted to get a workout, not go for a walk!

I suspect the same thing happened with my C25k group.  I suspect that around 14 people showed up that first day and thought,” this is great! I’m going to sweat and it’s going to be challenging but fun and my muscles will be sore tomorrow..!”   Then, we worked out and it was SUPER easy – Week 1, Day 1. 


People literally stopped coming after that first workout.  It was too easy.  They couldn’t take the long-view; ‘it may be easy now but it is laying the foundation for something much harder, later.’

People suck!  (Me included)

We’re so impatient, we quit when something seems too easy.  We’re such whimps, we quit when it’s too hard.   If it’s just right, we quit for some other stupid reason.  We consistently sabotage ourselves and our hearts desire because an easy excuse presents itself.  We don’t blame ourselves because the instructor could have been better, or certified or hotter.  

We literally grab any excuse to play the victim and we quit.. why?  

Because this is too easy!

When?

A surprising lesson from a Facebook purge.

I run a group to help people who always said they wanted to run, run.  The program is called “Destination YOU!“, it is a couch-to-5k (C25k) program and it can be done either in person, or virtually; wherever you are in the world.

Recently, I noticed that I had over 50 members to the group on the Facebook page, but only three to five people were showing up and only two were actually participating virtually.  As I went through the members, trying to remember who was who, how I knew them, who they were friends with, I kept coming across people that recently joined but whom I had never seen at the group or online in any way, shape, or form.

Any of you who have done something like this will not be surprised that some of the folks I ended up kicking had gotten in under false-pretenses and tried selling things.   Others just seemed to get in and plop themselves down to promptly do nothing, whatsoever.   However, there were some on my list who I knew had some vested interest in joining.  I had invited them personally and they took me up on it so far as to take the action of requesting to be part of the group; and then?  Well, then they just disappeared – their digital spot secure they were likewise never heard from again.  Maybe worst of all, I noticed that several members had been added by other members who were family, and neither one of them had lifted a finger to introduce themselves, introduce the family member, comment on any workouts, or show up at all.  To reiterate – someone joined and thought the program was such a good idea, they invited their dad or mom, sister, cousin or whatever and those invitees never did anything.  They sat there waiting for the program to somehow magically do something for them. The real crime here is that someone who thought the program was good enough for someone else, couldn’t be bothered to participate..themselves.

For fucks sake people – recommending something even YOU won’t try to someone you think needs it, is the biggest act of fraud you could ever commit.   You want to convince someone?  How about shutting up and doing?  Actions will always speak louder than words and NOTHING gets the attention of someone who needs it more than seeing someone they love, do something and accomplish something that they had to work hard for and to which they had to commit.

Being the person that loses the weight, quits making excuses and gets fit is the biggest motivation you could ever give to those you love.fraud

And one last thing.  To all of those I kicked out of the group today, I have to imagine that they had these intentions to someday participate.  The ones that joined or asked to join did it for a reason, but so long as their action cost them nothing, they were happy to pretend that they would actually do something substantive someday.  Instead – #bookmarked – they’ll get to it later!  But when?  When were they going to get off their butts and actually do something?  Tomorrow?  Are they really convinced that tomorrow they’re going to get after it?  They’ll just have one more chocolate-covered almond, but then that’s it – no more!  They’ll just have a #3 with curly fries once a week..today, like right now.. but no more!  They’re tired, it has really been a tough day and they don’t have the energy to go do a workout – they’ll just work extra hard tomorrow!

Tomorrow never comes.

It gets easier to put off tomorrow what we put of today.. and on and on.  We make some half-hearted effort to join a group, this little half-measure, dipping our toes in the water, dressed out and ready but.. but.. we find a reason to get distracted, make an excuse, shrug our shoulders and wait until we catch the next whiff of motivation.

But joining a fitness group won’t make us fit.   If someone wants to participate, someday.. just not today?  Then they can find another fitness group.   I’m not here to build numbers, I’m here to help people realize their potential, to selfishly get motivated by seeing someone kick butt and stop making excuses, I’m here to find the hero in all of you, to learn from you and cheer you on.

If you aren’t going to act, then please do me the favor of leaving the group.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

The Refining Power of Audacious Goals

Learning what’s important and what’s holding you back

This Boston Qualifier is eating me up.  I have 74 days before I run the Tucson Marathon on Dec 10 and I’m still slow.  I don’t know how I’m going to drop down to a 7:40 pace over 26.2 miles, but I have to to do just that.  It is as thrilling as it is terrifying.

As I begin to hit some speed-bumps and challenges that are truly pushing my limits right to the edge, I begin to realize that other areas of my life might be affecting my performance and my training.  I need to go to bed earlier, I need to eat earlier, I need to stay off of electronics.. earlier.  It would help if I added and stuck with some consistent core workouts.  I need to be more aware of my eating and drinking habits.  I need to lose weight.

Each one of those changes and additional challenges become opportunities for me to increase my chances of having a successful race – each one of them is a chance to reaffirm my priorities to my training, my coach and myself.

When I stay up past 8 p.m. – I am placing my desire to be entertained by whatever is going on after 8 p.m. ABOVE my desire to get the rest I need to have a good solid training run the next day.

When I eat late – I am jeopardizing not only my sleep, but my digestion and nutrition for my next training run.  I’m putting my false-appetite ABOVE my appetite for success.

Each one of these things (and more) offer an opportunity to make the decision all over again – “What is really important to you here and how does this action reflect that commitment?”.

As we go about our lives, we begin to see all the little actions we take and choices we make against the back-drop of our big dreams and our over-all goals.  It has a refining effect. We begin to see what stuff we are made of.  We begin to see what our weaknesses are and where we need to work in our lives in order to make things happen.  We refine, we transform, we fail and we fail, chipping away at the walls that hold us back until, one day, we succeed.