Monday, February 24, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - Week 5

A strange thing happened on the journey through Week 5: it transformed into a week surprises, small victories, and multiple personal records.Significant progress. At last!

Monday started off with a bang. Not one, but three workouts. Lifting in the morning (which actually SUCKED because my brain wasn't all the way up to speed and the workout was half-ass, at best.) Then 18.5 miles on the trainer. And finally, some magical, amazing 200m sprints. Not sure whose legs were bolted onto  my waist, but my sprints have never (EVER!) felt so strong or fluid. Knees rising. Breathing well. Arms pumping. Right pace. Right timing. Everything just clicked and the average was somewhere south of 39 seconds each. A new personal record.

Tuesday was a long run. Nearly 10K. 54 minutes and change. Foggy and humid, it required several stops just to clean my damn glasses. But Peggy said she couldn't keep up. Rachel said it was great pacing me. And Nancy said she'd never seen me go so strong. Ended up last across the threshold, but mine was the longest run. But still an excellent workout. Lots of strength throughout.

Wednesday haunted me all day. The workout was supposed to be: 5 rounds of 100 double unders + 20 burpees. To me, not being able to do double unders (where the rope passes under you twice each jump) means you have to double the count, to 200. Coach Sara said otherwise. If you cannot do double unders, you TRIPLE the count. So my workout would be 5 rounds of 300 jumps + 20 burpees. My previous record on jumps was one round of 200. Thinking of 5 x 300 wasn't good. But Sarah said to do it. And it was done! Over 44 minutes from beginning to end! And 1500 jumps along with 100 burpees leaves an explosion of sweat on the floor. Once again, the impossible became my new reality.

Thursday had 17.5 miles on the bike. And helped one of the newbies with swimming. Don't miss the days when more than one unbroken lap was impossible. But do enjoy watching people improve. And pleased to know that people are finding a new appreciation of all my efforts across recent years. Saying you can do this is definitely not the same as doing it.

Friday was a rest day. Feel asleep late Thursday night, and then a massive thunderstorm at three in the morning wrecked me for all of Friday. But some rest was deserved.

Saturday was biking in Pass Christian. 19.6 miles. Except it was all spent sweeping the newbies in the rear, so that nobody got lost. Enjoyed helping folks and encouraging them. But it was not much of a workout for me. Thankfully the seat didn't destroy me.

Sunday. Wow. SUNDAY was so full of awesome that it could be a post all to itself. Started with a decent 1200 meter swim and concluded with an epic 15K run. Broke my previous training 5K record with a sub-27min run. Broke my previous 10K (of any kind) record with a sub-54min run. And likely completed my fastest 15K ever and fast pace ever at 9:18/mile for nine miles. The spirit was upon me that night! Never felt so strong or fast or full of energy.

Hopefully all of this is a good sign. Midway through the program my mind is changing about it. Didn't have much (if ANY!) faith in it before. Starting to become a believer, though.

Tim Ferris may end up getting a written apology from me on here...

Week Six will be weird because of family events and the Seaside Half Marathon, but it still won't be easy. Never is!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - Week 4

Week Four was great with only one notable exception. (More on that later.) The workouts remain fairly quick and clean. Few significant surprises.

Been sleeping so well that it borders on unbelievable. In fact Saturday's workout exhausted me to the point of getting 10 hours of sleep that night. Something that hasn't happen in many years.

Eating like a bear but losing weight! Pants fitting differently. Shirts fitting differently. Waistline dropping back down. All around: significant levels of happiness!

If it hasn't been said previously, please allow me to stress: DO NOT TRY THIS UNSUPERVISED! Your interpretation of the 4HB Challenge may differ from mine, but my reading gives me the impression that anyone should be able to do it on their own. That's so far from the truth that suggesting it  pushes the book towards the fantasy genre. Your Humble Narrator is fortunate enough to be wed to a highly trained medical professional. My power lifting is directly supervised by a trained professional. And all of my workouts are done in a controlled, professional environment. It continues to be my opinion that only people in excellent physical condition should attempt these workouts. At a minimum, each workout should be personally adjusted to your specific abilities, rarely taken at face value. Some of them are significantly beyond my abilities and have to be throttle back to more reasonable limits. Your mileage may vary, but consider yourself warned.

How about the specific workouts for Week Four? Here are the highlights:

  • Monday - Front squats, one on the minute for 5 minutes, then deadlifts on the minute for 8 minutes. Really wild because my legs and back were terrible when starting the workout but felt 900% better by the end of it. Very doped up on adrenaline and awesome sauce after this one.
  • Tuesday - 7 Rounds of 7 hang cleans + 7 handstand pushups. Brutal and sweaty and very barbaric. Wanted to crush my enemies before me after finishing.
  • Wednesday - OH NOES! Totally craptacular run. Worst in many moons. Supposed to do 5 miles and could barely do 3. Very depressing and had to eat mac and cheese to cheer up.
  • Thursday - 1200 meter swim. Hate to say this but swimming is nearly effortless, now. Perhaps my pace needs to increase? Not sure but did 24 laps without getting winded. Supposed to do Tabata Runs on the treadmill, but skipped it after the terrible performance Weds.
  • Friday - 6 rounds of 5 power snatch + 200m rows. Quick and sweaty. Actually enjoy rowing!
  • Saturday - Ladder! Deadlifts then cleans then floor presses. 1 round x 10, 1 round x 9, 1 round x 8, all the way down to 1. Took 22:48 and felt like two hours. One of the longest workouts yet!
Being a middle aged Super Nerd is not conducive to power lifting. Squats do NOT come naturally to me. My coach politely yells at me all the time. But it is getting better. And the mechanics are slowly becoming natural. There's literally a complex, very specific science to it. Thrust with the hips, shrug the shoulders, pull up but close to your body, don't pull too soon, don't pull to far out, just as your momentum stops... ...slip UNDER the bar, land with your knees out, land on your heels, land with your butt out, land with your chest up... and all of this takes place in a split second. If you have not grown up with it, it isn't pretty and it isn't easy.

But here comes Week 5!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - Week 3

Week 3 went far better than Week 2! Despite recovering from a half marathon, eight different workouts still landed on my schedule!

  • Monday - Recovery super set of Kettlebells, dumb bell press, and chin-ups. 3 sets x 15 reps. But nothing crazy on the weights.
  • Tuesday - 10 x 200m sprints (which were brutal) and 2 Good Mornings on the minute for 10 minutes.
  • Wednesday - Rowing in the morning. In the evening: 5min of jump ropes, 5min of Turkish Getups, then 100 Hand Stand Pushups, separated every two minutes by 5 x Pendley Rows and 5 Hanging Power Cleans. 
  • Thursday - More ROWING! in the morning. And a 2000m swim in the evening.
  • Saturday - Deadlifts & Hand Stand Pushups: 21, 15, 9. 
Sunday was an Off Day, thankfully. Greatly needed it. With only ONE a week, they're like a Godsend when you finally get there.

The workouts are still mostly quick and (once you are used to them) not very complex. Being a middle-aged, frumpy nerd, my output isn't the same as a 20-something. But there is still a tremendous effort. 

Feeling stronger. Maybe feeling faster. (Springing is getting easier.) Hungry all the time. Popping Ibuprofen like candy. But sleeping better than ever.

Nearly 1/3rd the way into the program, as Week 4 beckons!

Thursday, February 06, 2014


Perhaps this secret has been shared previously. If so, here it is again: cold & hot, cold & hot.One of my favorite secrets to rapid recovery involves alternating long exposure between the cold dip and the hot tub. The dip is between 40 - 50 degrees. The tub is around 100 degrees.

Exposure to cold makes your blood seek refuge in your core and major muscle groups, going as deeply as possible to remain warm. Exposure to prolonged heat makes your blood go to your extremities and where your skin is the thinnest so that it can radiate the heat and protect your sensitive organs from thermal overload. Alternating between the two causes lots of awesome blood flow to your major organs and muscle groups, helping with oxygenation, repair, and helping get rid of inflammation.

Here's my current routine: Twelve minutes cold. Twelve minutes hot. Within six minutes of being in the cold, you're numb to it. "Legs? What legs?" Within three of four minutes in the hot, your muscles will unwind and there will be lots of pins and needles as the blood circulates through.

Repeat at least twice.

Do daily. Or as needed.

Thank me later.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


Challenging couple of days with strength & conditioning. Especially on the heels of a half marathon. Recovery workout Monday. Two sessions yesterday, including 10 x 200m sprints. Two more sessions today. Including something completely new to me: Turkish Get Ups.

Start on your back, face up. Hold a 28lbs (or heavier) kettle bell in one hand. Do not let it down as you do the following: Sit up. Come to one knee. Stand up. Kneel back down. Sit down. Lean back to get completely prone. Then switch hands. Repeat. Over and over. For five minutes. That's Turkish Get Ups.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Cleaned Up

Haven't really shaved since NoShaveVember. Three months? Longest streak, thus far. Cindy said she liked it. Though she wanted more gray. (?!) That certainly isn't going to be allowed to happen. Not interested in "salt & pepper." Or "looking distinguished." Though, Cindy reminded me a couple of times a week that she liked it. So I kept it through December. And January.

Anyway, three months was enough. For me. Felt like Cookie Monster. Or a geeky wanna-be Duck Dynasty reject. So it all came off tonight.

Feels good to be cleaned up. Maybe it will help with my swim times? Or run times!

Until next November.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - Week 2

Week 2 of the 4HB Challenge fell on bad times. Between irritating work projects and aberrant weather (ice in South Mississippi?!?) only 4 out of 6 workouts made it onto the corpse of my schedule. The workouts that did make it were great! Like the first week, they were over quickly (rarely more than 15min each,) and very exhausting.

The lone bonus workout this past week was a half marathon. No small task!

Week 3 promises to be significantly more challenging. Tune in next week for details and feedback.