Monday, January 26, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - FINISHED!

At long last, on his second attempt, after months of sweat and toil, Your Humble Narrator has officially completed Tim Ferris' 4 Hour Body "5K to 50K" program! (Which Tim Ferris himself has never finished.)

My original theory was: the "5K to 50K" is not only virtually impossible for most folks to complete, but Tim makes impossible claims about the results of the program.

For those folks who did not follow my entire journey, just GETTING STARTED required several months of training to get familiar with the exercises used in the program. And all of the exercises are within the realm of modern Crossfit training. So just to begin the program, you would need in-depth knowledge of Crossfit as well as an incredible fitness base. My own adventures started just a few months after finishing my first 70.3 Ironman. And even then my fitness base wasn't anywhere near enough.

The training program itself started off difficult, but didn't require as much time as you might think. Many days the training was less than 15 minutes. (For perspective, your typical Crossfit workout usually lasts an hour, including stretching and warming up.) About mid-way through it became apparent that the training was working, making me stronger and faster. And the final weeks breezed by, with lots of progress and many personal records.

What was the final result? As noted yesterday, the program helped me CRUSH last year's Rock & Roll finishing time. My previous effort was 2:30:XX. After the 4HB training program, my time was 2:09:50. More then 20 minutes faster, and a new personal record. That is a 15.4% improvement. By my measure, that's a success! So the program definitely has benefits. My results are clear proof. And my money says many athletes would love to achieve a 15.4% improvement on the times.

Benefits are good, but they are not enough. There is simply no way the program prepared me for anything more than a good half marathon. And it could not take your average 5K runner to 50K in 12 weeks. (Not even a 42K (ie: full marathon!)) Sure, somebody COULD "finish" an event out of spite or raw determination. But they will not finish with any sort of reasonable time or being in reasonable condition when they finish. The program simply does not provide any sort of experience beyond two hours of running. It was perfect for a half marathon. But the average runner will not be prepared to run for three to five hours doing a mile every nine to ten minutes. The average runner will hit an enormous physical wall that the training does not prepare them for. And the average runner will have to deal with an enormous mental burden that the training does not prepare them for. My own longest run was 10 miles. Adding another 16 (for a full marathon) to 20 miles (for a small ultrathon) without any sort of physical preparation is not (NOT!) going to happen.

In addition, my experience suggests that even completing the program (regardless of your results) is absolutely impossible without access to a very knowledgeable (and encouraging) coach in a well equipped gym and you are willing and able to push yourself to extreme levels you've likely never reached before. Need an example? Can you do hand stand pushups? Can you jump rope so that the rope passes under you TWICE with each jump? Can you squat your bodyweight? Can you deadlift twice your bodyweight? All of those are part of the program. Can't do those? Can't do the program. Even if you lower the weights written into the program, you still have to master the moves themselves and doing them incorrectly could result in serious injuries.

In conclusion, the program will absolutely deliver results in a relatively short time. It prepared me for a half marathon. It improved my run times. It also helped improve my biking and swimming abilities. And my physical conditioning has NEVER been better. But even if you find a good coach in a good location and physically push yourself to new limits, the program will NOT take an average runner from 5K to 50K. Maybe a high level track star coming out of college or high school could do it, but not an average person.

The program is far harder that Tim suggests. It delivers results below what Tim suggests. It will make you bigger, stronger, and faster. But the program will not make most people "effortlessly superhuman," as Tim Ferris writes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 10

Realized there is going to be a missed week. The holidays screwed up the schedule and set me back slightly. Not really a problem, though. Week 12 (the one that will be missed) is mostly a cool down and missing it is no big loss.

So this week (Week 11) will be the last full week of training on the 4HB 5K to 50K program. Next Sunday is my graduation ceremony: Rock & Roll Half Marathon: New Orleans.

Feeling strong. Feeling healthy. Feeling comfortable and confident and ready to see what kind of improvements can be made over last year's times.

This week's workouts included:
  • Monday - Touch & Go cleans + burpees
  • Tuesday - Pub Run 
  • Wednesday - Push Press + Box Jumps
  • Thursday - Thrusters & Pullups
  • Saturday - Race

Monday, January 12, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 9

Moving into the final stretch of the 12 week program and feeling GREAT! Trying to stay healthy. Injury free. Frequently visiting the cold dip & hot tub for therapy. Chiropractor every couple of weeks. Making smarter choices for food. And SLEEPING much more. God forbid, but this could be the first year in almost two decades that has seen me sleeping on something akin to normal levels.

This week's training included:

  • Mon - Snatch Balance, Hanging Power Snatch & 200m sprints
  • Tues - Pub Run
  • Weds - Deadlifts & Rows
  • Fri - Back squats
  • Saturday - Racing

Sunday, January 11, 2015


There are never enough hours in the day. Few opportunities for actually decompressing. Today for example. Up at 0700. Provide technical support for the church. Drop Meg off at theater. Groceries. Order new swim goggles. (Which turned out to be complicated due to the severity of my vision!) Organize the accumulated debris in my room. Pack. Plan. Write. And STILL never reach the end of my tasks...

Wrapped up last night by taking Meg & Liam to Mugshots for dinner & drinks. Cindy had a headache. Daddy had two Angry Orchard + Mystery Romps. Toasted and thought of and sent good karma to all my friends in Disney, preparing to wrap up their long weekend of running. 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon.

Godspeed, friends, you're in my heart & thoughts!

Maybe IronNerd will be there, next year...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Frosty Kroc 10K - 2015

Perhaps it was the near-freezing temperatures. Or the road conditions. Or people wanted to sleep late. Or maybe the fast kids were in other places, working on other races. Whatever the reason, today marked only the second time a medal has been placed around my neck for any sort of race. With a time of 53:XX, IronNerd earned second place in the Men's 34-44 age group!

Something of a sloppy event. Volunteers at registration weren't too insightful with spontaneous questions such as, "Where does the race start?" The city of Biloxi was in the middle of a major overhaul of many of the surface streets making race conditions somewhat sketchy in places. The lone water station was technically staffed, but the person there wasn't handing out water or offering any words of encouragement. And the organizers decided to wrap up the race with TWO loops around their running track. But the after party was good (at least the chicken biscuits were!) and the Kroc Center itself was quite impressive.

My average pace was just under 9min/mile, which included stripping off a jacket and multiple walks to catch my breath. Still fighting off self-destructive thoughts and a constant desire to quit. But average running pace is approaching 8min/min and few (if any?) of the other runners passed me, even as we were approaching the finish.

Overall, still very happy with my improvement and increased conditioning. If only my stupid brain would cooperate!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Do It!

This evening's workout included: 5 rounds of 7 hang cleans, 7 push presses, and 7 front squats. My weight was 85lbs. The program called for 135lbs. Part of the set was predicated on doing everything with the same bar. Have never tried 135lbs on hang cleans. Could do the squats. But definitely could NOT do the additional fifty pounds with my shady shoulders. One previous injury was enough to keep me cautious. So went with 85lbs. Which turned out to be challenging, but not difficult. As anticipated, the push press took the most effort.

Which brings up a very important reminder for the 4HB Challenge: The program is based on Tim Ferris' strength, not mine. He's clearly younger and stronger. So the program has to be adjusted DOWN to my strength level .Most of the time it feels like minimizing my abilities. But Tim is a strong sumbitch. And anyone reading this and considering the same program needs to make sure they consider the difference between their abilities and Tim's!

As an aside, the notes on the mat are my own invention. A bit of personal inspiration that gets written right before the workout begins Today's battlecry: Do it!

And it was done.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 8

Week 8 was something of a mirror of Week 7 due to the holidays and the unfortunate passing of my Grandmother. Did not stick to the plan exactly, but did work out aggressively and picked harder workouts if there was an option.

Running continues to get significantly easier. My times and endurance continue to improve. Very little doubt that all of my improvements are attributable to the program. There is much (MUCH!) happiness with the results.

Some of the highlights of Week 8:

  • Monday - Power cleans, pull-ups, and hand stand push ups
  • Tuesday - Front & Back Squats + Double Under Practice
  • Thursday - 12K run & polar bear plunge
  • Friday - Opted to do the WOD at the gym
  • Satuday - Sprint drills
Aside from working on my own improvements, a major goal of this experiment was to try and determine if the "5k to 50k" training program was fact or fiction. Can anyone reasonably achieve a goal of 50k? While my own abilities are improving, the validity of the program is still in question. Only 4 more weeks to find out for sure.