Lessons from Ultrarunning

Corbet’s Couloir & the Jackson Hole Tram, last week

My Thread on Jason’s book, Training Essentials for Ultrarunning, got some traction.

So, similar to Steve’s book, I thought I’d share my personal take on the topic.

Before triathlon, I was an ultra hiker and mountaineer. It was a great way to prepare my body for the demands of running.


Frequency is the Foundation

If we want to improve at something then we need to do it often.

Often, like, most every day.

Whatever protocol you choose, it needs to allow enjoyment most every day.

What this implies, for my return to running, is getting my body to a point where I can run 5k most days.


Choose Goals where you have an Emotional Attachment

This helps in expected, and unexpected, ways.

Expected – helping us show grit, getting us past inevitable setbacks, helping us endure the challenges of the process.

Unexpected… when we care about outcome, REALLY CARE, then we might be able to overcome our habits of self-sabotage.

I love amateur sport for driving positive personal change.

Why?

Because our habits are not as ingrained as elsewhere in our lives.

I’m currently rolling a daily mobility streak that’s the longest of the last decade. My desire to improve my fitness motivated positive change.

++

Consistency via Removal

Pay attention to every choice that screws up tomorrow (‘s training). In my early days it was late-nights and alcohol.

As you build a habit of removing these minor obstacles, you might find larger issues to work with. Triggers that lead to “freak outs” (see Do Hard Things by Steve Magness, and my article).

The stress of racing, the grind of training… quite often these will surface other patterns we can work with.

I discovered a lot about myself on my endurance journey. I’m free to change the habits that hold me back.


Don’t let Goals cover Poor Choices

I write about sugar consumption sitting on the frontier between “training for health” vs “training for performance”.

That’s true but it’s only part of the story.

We often use “performance” to justify our choices.

It could be performance but it might also be something else.

Many times, high-performance has been an excuse for a disordered relationship with food and exercise.

Whatever I have going on…

Better to own it.


Gain a Technical Understanding of:

  • Personal sweat rate
  • Sodium needs
  • Gastric emptying

Many athletes have well-earned pride in their mental toughness.

Do not be in a rush to get to the difficult bits!

Understanding the points above, and training your personal “solution”, will avoid many unforced errors.

By the way… most my unforced errors track back to choosing a pace that’s not appropriate to the session, or conditions.

Put another way… nutrition problems are usually pacing errors in disguise.

Sunday Summary 7 August 2022

Top Threads

  1. Book: The Art of the Sprint
  2. 14 Weeks Along – lessons so far & July Training Summary
  3. Pace Change 125s – a favorite swim for all levels
    1. Link to my 2022 posted swims
  4. I’ll write up HRV experience next week
    1. Biofeedback HRV vs Morning
    2. Oura Overnight Trends vs Morning
  5. Authors – consider owning your rights

Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Part Two of SuperVet Fitness

My assessment at the start – nutritional uptake wasn’t the challenge I expected

You can find Part One HERE and a copy of my Public Training Log HERE

14 weeks along => lessons from the first block of training


Being 50+ digging a big hole creates a big problem.
My metrics help me surface errors quickly.

The Toughest Part is not-loading!

Loading remains easy, fun and straightforward.

Recovery remains a challenge.

  • Mentally, when not-training.
  • Physically, when I over-do-it.

++

Previously

Training with little kids in the house => In my late-40s, I used a low-standard deviation training plan. Very simple strategy!

  • Something every single morning – tick the box
  • Second session in the afternoon, if time
  • Longer when I get a chance

Being “consistent and undertrained” supported my mental health and lowered my life stress.

This was essential with preschoolers and toddlers around the house.

Also important if you want to succeed at work, or have high life stress.

++

Currently

2022 & 53 yo => a performance mindset

The goal is to stress, then absorb, then stress again, then absorb again.

“Training for adaption” increases total stress burden.

What have I done to balance this increase in stress?

  1. Sleep – still rolling no alarm
  2. Metricsdynamic loading helps
  3. Less Travel – sleeping in my own bed as many nights as possible

An example, combining all three…

  • My wife is taking the kids on a trip over Labor Day
  • At first, I thought I would do my own trip
  • Then, I realized a staying at home would be superior

My #1 personal goal is “get fit” and there’s no better place to get fit than Boulder in early-September.

Why add stress?

If I want to perform in any one area then I need to remove stress from multiple other areas.


Touch of grey!
Scott Molina came through town (and repeated his advice to be patient)

Don’t Tinker – Let It Roll – Give Fitness Time to Develop

Mid-July, things were going well and I started stacking hikes with bikes. Total output on those days was 3,000 to 4,500 KJ.

Very quickly my metrics tanked!

AC wrote a useful article – Think in terms of three types of days:

  1. Loading
  2. Unloading
  3. Duration

Where I went wrong was pushing duration AND load on multiple days.

Too much stress, too quickly (TSS was 3-5x CTL for the technically minded).

Related, being human… I share the urge…

  • to progress every session
  • to increase intensity when my heart rate is up
  • to set personal bests

Three things have helped me have fun, while not blowing myself up…

  1. Set a HR cap for each of Stamina (135 bpm) and Threshold (150 bpm)
  2. Set a time-at-intensity cap for efforts above Stamina (10% of total load)
  3. Publish what I did, weekly

Reduce the scale of self-inflicted wounds.


The last week of July saw encouraging #s on the bike – the approach is working

Variation

I bought myself a Kickr-Bike.

Love it and realized that my previous riding had been very low variation, possibly too low.

The Kickr, combined with the Zwift platform, gives me natural variation based on the course I select. I’ve been mixing flat, rolling and climbing courses.

I’m going to extend stamina by adding more flat/rolling riding.

I am always tempted to add climbing but that tends to be higher torque & intensity – could lead to repeating my error of stacking load & duration.


What’s next?

  1. Extend my comfortable stamina durations
  2. Add a bit more Severe Domain work (VO2, bounding, sprints)
  3. Increase my run frequency

Keep What Works

Developing Athletic Talent in Your Kids

First Duathlon

Last month I was invited to sit in on a call with Texas Children’s about long term athletic development.

It’s a fun project that lets me share my experience and work with friends.

Previous post on Raising Young Olympians.


I want to highlight three things “missing” from the LTAD literature.

All three are a focus for me.


EARLY positive athletic experiences

I’m on board with late-specialization.

Find, then stick with, something long enough to have a positive experience.

A positive experience matters more than the skill development.

In the kid’s mind, you want a link “effort with satisfaction”.


First Sled Trip – more riding than hauling for the little guy

Relaxation at MAXIMUM heart rate

The look on my kids faces the first time I brought them to treeline still makes me laugh!

It was a literal fear of death.

High-performance requires the athlete to move through their fear of death.

Like water, the earlier you get your kids feeling comfortable with “race effort” the better.

They don’t need to be throwing down weekly!

We stick with summer racing until middle-school age.


RACING is a skill

In the development profile you’re building for your kids…

…race experience is important.

  • Field Strength
  • Crowds
  • Noise
  • Arousal Control
  • Grace in Defeat
  • Grace in Victory
  • Learning different ways to win
  • Learning to persist and achieve secondary goals

Deep dive on performance in Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness recent books (link is my Twitter reviews).


1st Winter 14er

Bonus tip – not for everyone!

If you read Training for the Uphill Athlete (my review on Twitter) then you’ll learn that Kilian Jornet had an ultra-childhood.

If you happen to have a kid that’s into going long…

…let them!

My son has been building his endurance physiology since 3 years old.

His progression is WAY faster than I’d recommend for anyone else’s kid, or even his siblings.

However, it’s not my job to define his dreams…

…and he’s a really good training partner!

Sunday Summary 31 July 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. Doing Hard Things based on Steve’s Book
  2. Jason’s Book: Training Essentials – lots of tips (for all) in thread
  3. Steady State LT1 Treadmill Test (3.4mph @ 15%) – sample tips
  4. Mark asks, “Do you let yourself feel superb?”
  5. 8 year build showing gains for my son

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Athletic Parents with Competitive Teen Athletes

Way out on a weekday – discretionary time is a form of wealth – my son loves to train long, high & challenging

When you are “in it” with babies, preschoolers and toddlers… you might be dreaming of a better future.

The future will come…

…it’s going to be a whole-lot better than calming a cranky three-year old

…it’s going to be different than you expect


When our youngest started kindergarten, I had a vision of time coming back into my life, of life slowing down, of my personal trips returning…

Time came back, for a while.

With the shift to year-round athletics for our teen, the time is being allocated back out.

It’s the right thing to do.


I’m grateful for several things:

  1. I built a life that doesn’t require travel
  2. I have a low-friction routine for exercise (home gym, indoor trainer, live near hills & forests)
  3. I didn’t lock up capital in a secondary location (ski place, lake place, any place)

Travel – we get a lot done by being home.

Invert – life can feel unsustainable when one parent is away all the time.

Simplicity – we can hit our self-care minimums at home, or out the front door.

With capital, we tend to focus on money. That’s not the drain.

  1. Ownership (of anything) is another thing to take care of (share of mind, share of hassle)
  2. Athletic events are a new category of “things that take family time”
  • Time
  • Share of mind
  • Admin

…the more simple my day-to-day, the easier it is to focus on (family) goals.

Simplicity, in the rest of our lives, hopefully, makes this sustainable for us.

Doing Hard Things

Here’s my thread on Steve’s Book, Do Hard Things. It’s a great read.

Today, I want to share a filter for the “hard things” you might be considering.



The Tour de France just finished up.

Lance and I have different views on a few things but an area where we are in alignment is fatherhood.

You may remember hearing his son defend his lie was a trigger for him (Oprah interview).

My kids trigger me, too.

My kids have clear memories of my mistakes, and they talk about them!

Well before I had my kids, Lance shared an observation along these lines…

Winning the Tour is easy compared to being a good parent

Truth, as deep as you want to take it.


Much of what we define as difficult is a thin-desire for: (a) domination over another person, (b) respect from another person, or (c) deference from other people.

  • Domination
  • Respect
  • Deference

We see it everywhere.

Can you feel it in yourself?

I can.

These desires lead me astray!

My drive for achievement pushes me ever forward – more money, more victory, more conquest…

My drive led me to many difficulties, eventually to a divorce.

I made a choice to leave that former life behind, but the habit of striving came along.

Easier to replace a habit, than transcend it.


Lasting satisfaction, the kind that reduces desire, comes from overcoming ourselves and, ideally, building something with other people.

Perhaps a marriage, or a family, or a business, or a community.

I picked marriage.

In 2005, I made myself a promise, I’d put my marriage first.

My promise wasn’t tested until 2010 when we were living with a 2 yo and my wife was pregnant with our son.

Watching my wife suffer, while I chased external victories, wasn’t compatible with the promise.

I had a choice to make.


Fear & negative motivation are, generally, seen as bad things.

Not so in my life.

As an athlete, I enjoyed “showing” my capacity to do things others found too difficult.

Still do – it drives my writing output and consistency of focus.

As a husband, as a father… I realized I could combine (a) my attraction to difficulty with (b) my fear, of a second divorce.

It worked great.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done was become a good husband and father.


So, remember that your future self might not care about the external victories.

I mean, if you’ve haven’t been satisfied so far, then it’s probably not going to happen on your current path.

Many paths remain open

Choose Wisely

Sunday Summary 24 July 2022

Top Threads

  1. Book Thread: Do Hard Things by Steve Magness
  2. Inflation & Real Estate: Ben’s Article & Mine
  3. Swedish Coffee Challenge – my sleep back to normal after a month
  4. Dealing with DNS, #1 Nutrition Error & Bike Interval Sets
  5. Exercise loading, specifically after COVID with AC

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Mid Year Financial Round Up

Family tradition… summit selfie with Grays Peak, and dropped husband, in the background

In May, I wrote about pain, capital destruction and cheap assets. That post covered the delay between rates moving and asset prices adjusting.

It’s been 60 days and we’re starting to see the beginning of the adjustment from higher rates. Average 30-year mortgage chart below.


Looking back One Year

Inventory is back at pre-COVID levels and prices are moving sideways. My feeling is the market is going to get cheaper.

This is a yield-based feeling.

Let’s look at the current yield curve.


Black 2022 vs Blue 2021

A simple metric I use for vacation markets.

What is “one week rental” relative to capital value?

I priced two markets this past week. These are not Christmas or Holiday Weekend rates, but they are December to February high season weeks.

  • Jackson – $10,000 a week relative to $4-6 million capital value
  • Vail – $5,000 a week relative to $2-4 million capital value

This is where the Yield Curve is useful – the 6 mth (to 30-year) rate is ~3%

3% of $5 million is $150,000 per annum vs $10K a week to rent

For nearly all users, the secondary market has swung strongly in favor of rent vs buy.


Other impacts… the stock market ~19% off its peak, crypto down, commodities down, China property market under stress, hot war in Europe, US Fed in a tightening cycle…

These changes, combined, are making marginal buyers less wealthy.

All prices move at the margin.


What does this mean?

My #1 investment principle is to construct a life where I don’t need to be right.

If the Central Banks are done bailing out financial assets then it makes sense for the price of financial assets to fall. The free-money era pulled returns forward and some of that will need to go back into the future.

That said, the recent past shows a clear bias towards continuous financial bail outs.

Impossible to know what will happen.


A note on inflation, as I see it.

If you own financial assets then you’ve been “paid” in asset appreciation over the last few years – SP500 is up ~50% over last 5 years.

Going back further, say 2010, the owners of financial assets have grown accustomed to unearned wealth.

So the best hedge against the market (& inflation) was letting personal spending decline, as a percentage of family assets, across the run up.

If you didn’t own assets then, hopefully, you’re in a skilled profession where you’ve been able to increase your income faster than inflation. If not then your best investment is up-skilling yourself.


The recent past, and media, are skewing your perception of inflation.

What’s your best guess for the 10-year breakeven inflation rate?

It peaked at 3% in the spring, currently 2.4%

1.03 ^ 10 = 1.34, 34% price increase over last 10 years

If, like me, you were building a family then your core cost of living is up WAY more than 34%.

When I look at our family budget, I can see a big part of our increase is lifestyle inflation.

For many of us: the long bull market has driven lifestyle inflation well ahead of the price inflation we’ve experienced.

Again, the best hedge is either: (a) not ramping spending, or (b) staying variable so the family can cut spending quickly, if required.

For perspective compare 34% 10-year inflation to…

  • SP500 10-year total return => 175% increase
  • The 10-year price of wherever you happen to be living

Short-term price inflation is nothing compared to long-term asset value inflation.

Given the future is unknowable (bailouts, ZIRP and money creation):

  • Stay invested
  • Stay variable
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Build human capital within your team

Swedish Coffee Challenge

Coach Monsy tradition is swim your age in 200s – if you look in the lower left corner then you can read a fun note from our son, “good luck swimming 16,000 when you’re 80!”

At the end of May, Johan asked if I’ve ever tried 1-2-4 with coffee.

1-2-4 is the pattern I came across with regard to alcohol, or anything really, that reduces the chance of over-doing-it.

  • One an hour
  • Two a day
  • Four a week

Johan’s timing was perfect.

A month earlier, I was talking with Dr. Jeff Shilt. I had a concern that sustained, high intensity training might be bad for my health. Jeff was succinct…

If you really want to do something for your health, consider drinking less coffee

I knocked out alcohol a few years ago. Coffee, however, has been a 20-year habit. I’ve metabolized a heck of a lot of caffeine in my life.

I told Doc J that I wasn’t interested in that adjustment, and we left it.

However…

I pride myself on being a model-patient and I remembered what he said

…and, behind the scenes, I noticed it was taking more and more intake to get a coffee buzz

…and, then Johan came along and said pretty much the same thing


I found myself in the position of ignoring a doctor, an Olympian, two goal-medal coaches, and a long-term friend… all rolled up into two people.

I decided to give it a shot.

I stopped the morning after Johan’s question. Johan’s on a break as well.

3.5 weeks so far.

  • No headaches
  • Drinking more water
  • Overall hydration better (assess via urine color) – likely means my recovery is better

The one drawback has been waking up _really_ early (3am) and, for the first two weeks, I couldn’t fall back asleep.

Cravings, perhaps.


The Stories We Tell Ourselves

One of my fears of stopping coffee was I wouldn’t be able to wake up. The autobrew was my alarm clock.

FALSE – if anything it’s too easy to wake up!

Another fear, I’d have less energy.

FALSE – no change in energy

Two things this experiment have proved to me, yet again.

#1 // when you get to a place were more ceases to work, try less

#2 // every so often, call your bluff on the stories you are telling yourself

My inner narrative on coffee proved false.

Not the first time, I’d been fooling myself.


Related Post is The 30-Day Test // binary choices are easier for me than moderation, less cognitive burden