The View From 52

This was the 4th take – I was trying to smile but, I guess, the pack was a touch heavy – Call me, “happy on the inside”

After a year of COVID-training, I’m in good overall shape. As a high-performance athlete, it would be time to ‘sharpen’ and race a bit. 

At 52, I chuckle at the thought of spending my summer tired and moody… while chasing external validation.

I’ve had enough winning in my life.

Instead, I’ve been asking…

What aspect of fitness might I miss at 60?

Stamina – capacity to tag along on outdoor trips with my grown kids

Strength – but go deeper and be specific!

  • Overhead capacity
  • On, and up from, the floor capacity
  • Eccentric load tolerance (downhill and soft surface loading)

Agility – the ability to move skillfully under light loads, and balance under heavy loads

Sex Drive – it’s more than sex, it’s overall hormonal status for recovery, mood and life experience

Looking at the above, none of what matters is easily measured.

That’s athletically.

It’s gets even more obvious when I step into my “real” life.


#1/. We overweight metrics that are easily measured

#2/. We combine these metrics with our most salient memories

#3/. Our most salient memories are the joys of youth and the recent past

Beauty, pace, VO2, VAM, race placing, net asset statement, followers, likes, segment timing… hang around long enough and all will decline.

What I’m trying to say…

The stuff I can measure doesn’t have much to do with where a wise person would take himself.

+++

A question I asked my 40-something wife, “Where do you want to be five years after menopause?”

I asked the question to create mental space between (a) the memories of the past and (b) the actions required for a desired future.

Each of us will have a question that helps us make the split and see more clearly.

+++

For me?

Older is going to be about three things.

Patience, always patience – In March, I caught myself yelling at my Alpha Tween. Not the best way to enter the teen years! So I made an offer, “$100 to any kid that catches me yelling.” Haven’t had to pay out so far.

Small incentives can have large outcomes.

Cultivate the kindest girls/women in my life – The last year has had a strong bias towards up-skilling my son so he can hang with me, in any terrain, in any month, in the mountains. We’re there – all that remains is load shifting from my backpack to his.

The next 12 months my focus will shift to our youngest and continuing to have fun with my spouse, who’s been talking about Rim-To-Rim at the Grand Canyon. I’ve started negotiating for Rim-To-River.

Keep on keeping on – Radical change isn’t required.

Take time to enjoy 2021.

Winter Season Review

Homeboy chilling after a three-hour tour

I want to offer you the best lessons from my winter.

#1 winter lesson right here

This is the first winter, out of the last five, where I haven’t been ill or injured.

It’s not because of the pandemic.

It is because I resisted the urge to ramp training load until something broke.

Do you know the warning signs of doom?

  • Sugar craving
  • Hungry all the time
  • Need for double naps
  • Coffee has no impact
  • Inflamed gums (I’m in big trouble once I get this far)

Back in January, I started doing a bit of “real” training. It didn’t seem like much. I added a bit of tempo.

The session is simple, 2×20 minutes climbing on skins/skis, do it Tuesday/Thursday => 80 minutes of tempo, per week.

I’d feel high all day. For the rest of the winter, I had to remember Iñaki’s advice and resist the urge to add more.

I also had to add an extra 45 minutes of sleep, every single night, to recover (from what seemed like a tiny increase to my weekly load).

If you were injured, despite the pandemic (!), then you need to train yourself to follow Iñaki’s advice.

This habit, of increasing to the breaking point, may be applying more broadly in your life.


…and my son learned how to alpine tour

The BEST thing about amateur athletics is:

If you can learn a lesson, when the stakes are low, then you just might be able to apply it somewhere useful. 😉

  • Humility, Patience, Fortitude => how I raced
  • Consistency => no zeros => apply it to Project “Life”
  • Equanimity => focus on the controllable, leave the rest

Making time to share nature, together

Back in September, I wrote about seeking options during the Pandemic. I planned to swap 95% of my ski budget for a new vehicle, while removing COVID’s ability to screw up my ski season.

Worked out well, I traded-in three vehicles, reduced the target specification, bought my wife a new car and ended up with a 4Runner for myself.

By holding myself back, my financial outcome was better. Not surprising – I’m good with finance.

The surprising part was my ski season.

I will end March with 97 ski sessions and I never hit peak traffic, in the dark, with three kids in the car, during a blizzard…


…and our youngest is linking her turns in the black bumps

Let’s bring it together.

No injury, no illness, ~100 sessions on snow, 2 new cars, family is improving their skills…

…no net financial cost

…no peak-period driving

…during a pandemic

Take time to notice good judgement.

A Conversation Worth Having


Iñaki shared Andy’s longform post on getting older. I thought I’d add an additional case study.

Andy’s conversation is worth having with yourself, usually as part of your annual review.

  • What am I doing?
  • Why am I doing it?
  • Where is “what I am doing” likely to take me?


Two things about aging:

  • I know very little about what the future holds
  • Without thought, and effort, I will default to the recent past

These points are an essential part of the typical aging process, and human decision making!


What is the typical aging process?

Aging athletes keep defaulting to the approach of their younger selves and get caught in a cycle of injury.

Performance follows a step-down process => material downward shifts happen as a result of injury.

This is easier to see as a coach than an athlete. I have your data!

The way it will feel inside an athlete is “I can’t train as hard anymore.” True, but what’s really happening is your consistency is shot, and you’re losing strength, every_single_time you get hurt.

Only the most successful, and fortunate, athletes are able to watch their performance trickle away gradually.

There is a lot of gain from chucking away the habits, and choices, that can lead to a sudden downward shifts.

At 52, I can still do plenty of training.

The best middle-aged athletes might not be racing…

😉



Personal thoughts…

While I don’t know what the future holds, I do know I deeply enjoyed being a camp counsellor and coach. I also know I can have a profoundly positive impact on my kids, and my community.

I also know my drive for external validation, and the chase for relative performance, started to wane in my mid-40s. That made it easier to see, that training like I was 28-35, was likely to take me somewhere I didn’t want to go.

Combine all of the above…

Continual pre-habilitation so I can do cool stuff for as long as possible.

Our youngest turns 16 around the time I hit 60 – the transition to being an empty-nester will be another journey.

For now, I’ll keep tossing plate and enjoying the outdoors with them.

The pursuit of being a better version of myself has no sell-by date.

Successful aging is a continual process of pre-habilitation for an injury you hope to never have.

Winter Workout Reminders


Let’s close the week with some athletic advice (to myself mainly).

Paradox of Stress => if you want to do something difficult then you will need to reduce other forms of stress to achieve it.

Athletically, in the winter, this usually means considering two opposing goals => reducing fat (vanity) vs increasing lean body mass (victory).

Personally, there’s no contest => as a mountain athlete, constrained by COVID, my big wins will come from improving functional strength and increasing lean body mass.

That said, it’s emotionally challenging to absorb this reality. I carry with me an enduring bias towards weight loss. My internal bias is reinforced by my peers and community.

Missing the opportunity to maintain strength has a cost we don’t see until far into the future. In terms of return on investment, strength training is powerful medicine. I can’t think of many things that work as well with a time investment of only 2-3 hours per week.

What’s your long term goal?


Some quick tips.

Gain Five Pounds – let your weight rise a little, naturally. Adding 3% to my body weight does wonders for my ability to recover.

If you’ve overshot on the weight gain then reduce stress below the point you crave sugar. My cravings, and sleep patterns, are my early-warning system (of impending doom).

How might you reduce unnecessary athletic stress?

1/. Cut your power/pace zones unilaterally and don’t test until spring => I knocked 20% off my bike power zones and reset my season bests effective Nov 1st, 2020. This change did wonders for my mental state.

2/. Ditch the sustained tempo => I wear my HRM to cap my efforts. If you want to challenge yourself then do something useful… commit to a quality winter strength program.

Long term success is all about the streak – there are 3,275 days between today and my 60th birthday.

Next week’s posts will explain how I used the pandemic to carve an extra 10,000 hours out of those days.

Streaks, not peaks.

At Any Given Time

Andy’s family was able to learn more about his accident this morning.

On Wednesday evening, after my wife made five days of calls, I was sitting at my desk with Andy’s phone. On a whim, I opened his Strava App to see what he’d been doing over the last little while.

Strava is a web-based application that lets athletes share their training. You can upload from any GPS-enabled device. I use my watch, and my Peloton bike, to automatically share my stuff with anyone who’s interested.

As soon as I opened the app, I saw that Andy had been recording a workout when he fell. Quickly realizing what I had in my hand, I saved the workout and notified the Sheriff’s Office.

I pulled the workout up on Strava and opened satellite view. I saw Andy’s day start at the parking lot, head up the Flatirons Freeway and end up at the morgue. Ugh.

I think the Deputy must have closed Strava when he took possession of Andy’s phone, which didn’t have a passcode on it. Strava only records when you’re moving so this saved the battery life.

Seeing Andy’s day, visually, really hit me. I’m feeling it as I share with you.

Why am I sharing with you?

I am going to tell you why.


Since turning 30, I’ve been gradually whittling away at my acute risk exposure.

  • Mountaineering
  • Technical rock climbing
  • Bike racing
  • Avalanche terrain
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Small propellor-driven aircraft in mountainous terrain

I lost very little by eliminating these items from my life.

Why?

Because I was able to look deeply at the reasons I wanted to hang onto things that could ruin my life.

What’s the source of your risk-seeking behaviors?

For me it was a combination of factors: a lack of impulse control, a short-term high and a desire to do things other people couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do.

Elite sport forced me to address my impulse control issues.

I replaced short-term highs with the serenity that comes from having good judgement.

I refocused my desire to do difficult things… I focus on being a better person over time and have a set of habits that nudge me in this direction => my wife/son are my backcountry partners and I wake up very early each day.


If you are not ready to make a change then I understand. I’ve been working at this for 20 years.

I’ve kept areas of risk in my life.

  • Traveling alone in the backcountry
  • Winter driving on highways
  • Riding bikes on open roads
  • Skiing the toughest downhill terrain I can manage
  • Skiing trees

Here’s what I’d like you to do.

Minimize the impact of your choices on the people around you.

Pay attention when friends and associates die doing what you do. I haven’t had a friend die from bike racing but I can put a named-deceased on each of the other lines in my list.

Run a GPS-track in the backcountry and have it automatically ping to a satellite. Every ten minutes my location bounces off a satellite to a web page. Your family is going to want your body when you’re done with it.

Outside the backcountry? How about a Road-ID bracelet and a Garmin Watch.

Share your definition of late. Andy made this crystal clear and it saved us a lot of worry over the years. It also let us know immediately when he was in trouble.

Sure, it’s tough to watch his Strava file on Google Earth, but it’s a lot better than wondering what happened for the rest of our lives.

Those are the big three.

At the micro-level, I mitigate risk with fitness, snow tires, a big vehicle, knowledge, avoiding risk-seeking peers, not calling audibles, turning around and carrying everything I need for running into someone else’s emergency (because it’s never going to happen to me, right?). 😉

Risk works both ways. Lots of little risks become material, yes.

But also, chopping your tail risk and combining with mitigating factors… can reduce your likely penalty over a lifetime of repeating the same choices.

And, just in case you get chopped, remember the Big Three => Pay Attention, Run GPS to a Satellite and Define Late for those who love you.


One last thing.

Here’s how I make key decisions in my life.

September of 2000: I was sitting in a very nice townhome in Hong Kong. At 31 years old, I had arrived at the top of socio-economic pyramid, exceeding my wildest childhood dreams.

I was doing work that I was good at, and I was well paid for that work. Outside of work, I was a top athlete in the local amateur community and had a great group of friends. Yet…

I felt empty when I looked ten years out. All I could see was an older, wealthier version of myself.

That’s not the life I wanted.

The filter I used…

You’re 50 years old and sitting in a doctor’s office. He tells you the tests came back and you have pancreatic cancer.

How do you feel?

Balance that against something I told my friend KP after he ticked past the age his father died…

What if you don’t die young?

Choose Wisely.

2021 Season Planning


Despite an irregular year, my fitness followed a typical pattern with a clear peak around the end of August.

Because of COVID it’s going to be tempting to change things up this winter. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. The earliest I can see a return to racing (other than super-spreader events in soon-to-be-personal-freedom-loving-hotspots) is Q3-2021.

You want to be thinking about multiple base cycles. This season, more than ever, early base is really early… …we’re way out from when you’re going to want to perform.

Here’s some ideas that might help you avoid common pitfalls.

Drop your zones – I spent the last 7 weeks pushing one-rep maxes and climbing mountains. I was either sore or exhausted, and had many days where all I could manage was easy spinning.

The reduced bike load had the effect of drawing down my aerobic bank account. I got my money’s worth and am satisfied with my COVID-summer. Coming back to “real” bike training…

1/ I put in place a 130 bpm HR cap – for this first cycle of the 2021 season. This is just under the top of my “steady” HR zone when I’m fit.

2/ Tested my low-end aerobic fitness (around 120 bpm for me), saw my power had fallen by ~40 watts so pulled 40w out of my FTP estimate and re-calculated my zones.


My 2021 season-opener zones. Best 20-minutes this past season was 265w.

I could train much more intensely but what would the extra effort buy me?

1/ Know when you want to be fit and the type of fitness you require. My required fitness is sustained endurance, with pack, to guide my family on trails and snow.

At 51, my true goal is pushing out the start of old-age, which implies a large functional strength reserve at 60 years old, and a body in orthopedic shape to use it.

The best choice I made in my athletic career was to avoid choices that would jeopardize this overriding goal for my future self.

2/ Closing out 2020, building mojo gets you more than building fitness. We are going to need a lot of mojo to get ourselves from January to Easter.

The lower zones are a wonderful break from having to get psyched for sustained tempo and generating KJs when tired. If ever there was a good time to let go of chronic endurance then now is that time!

3/ Leave space for COVID disruptions. It could be a hectic winter with random quarantines due to positives at my kids schools.

I’m a lot more patient with my kids, my spouse and the reality of my COVID-life… when I’m a little under-done with my training.

Freshness is a good trade for an improved life experience.


At the back of my mind, I’m remembering that my first “COVID winter” started on March 13th. That’s 20 weeks from now!


Yesterday afternoon at the Casa del Gordo

Waking up with a foot of snow on the ground (October 26th) I think caution with pacing my season is warranted.

Hope this helps,

G


PS:

Two big 1RM achievements for me in 2020. 135# overhead and 200# bench.

Earlier in the block, I had missed on 205# and found myself pinned under the bar, in my basement, solo, at 5:30am. Eventually, I rolled out and was fine.

For the 200# attempt, I brought in a spotter.


Vision 2030

I spent yesterday wandering around bogs, scree and talus. Good times!

Something I do well is back-fit a future goal on top of my present reality. It helps me stay the course.


As you age, what’s it going to be like? I have coached some very special older folks, and paid attention. Here’s what I’m expecting.

  • More time but less energy — the energy “step down” from 45 onwards was a surprise — the fact that it was happening before I saw it, is something I remind myself as I head towards 60.
  • You are going to want to delay the inevitable physical decline — there is a lot of good news here — if you start building your physical reserve then you can push the decline WAY WAY out. I’ve been fortunate to watch athletes manage themselves from 60 to 70 and beyond.

The key recommendation for you, if you plan to live past 60 then start strength training now, just a little.

When I was a speedy young man, there was a controversy about strength training. As a coach, I’d be asked “where I stood on the topic.” Sitting here a couple decades down the track, it makes no sense that smart people argued passionately against strength training.

There is a guaranteed large future payoff when you create a strength reserve – against aging, against illness and against injury => aging, illness, injury => unless you’re taken out in an accident, these events are absolutely certain for your future self.

That’s the physical.


For the mental, I see two components:

  • Humility & Patience – a useful combination if one desires to be seen as a wise old man!
  • Kindness (towards the ugly) – consider it self-love for my future self 😉

I have a vision for what I’d like to be doing. My daily writing project during the first 20 weeks of COVID was a test run. It went well.

By the way, you can create a personal niche, while learning about favorite topics. The game plan: one classic book per week and choose the best idea inside. Cap yourself at ~450 words for a summary that includes three personal examples. Do that every week for two years. ~45,000 words across 100 good ideas.

A friend sent me Stray Reflections, which gave me the above idea and reminded me… don’t be put off by a lack of experience, rather, make a daily habit of doing what it takes.


How will I know I’ve succeeded? Well, success doesn’t matter.

Freedom matters. Not being owned matters. Personal safety matters. Being engaged in working towards mastery, matters.

I’ve done so much and it’s all in the past. None of my success has stuck with me. If you are a striver then I’m a voice from your future. What stands out in memory are my setbacks and errors. They motivate me to avoid repeating mistakes and iterate towards better. A feeling of moving towards better matters.

That said, via Stray Reflections, I came across an article that resonated. The author shared that success is what lasts beyond the grave.

Beyond the grave is a sentiment I felt strongly immediately after our third child was born. In 2012, I spent a month writing my kids a book. Now that they are older, I give my kids myself, rather than my work.

In sharing myself, I offer an ethical framework through which my kids can navigate the world.


Quick update on what happens when thousands of college kids arrive in your zip code.

Athletes in the time of COVID


My current strength coach has a saying that goes like this, “I don’t train individuals. I lay out what is required to achieve the goal.”

I used to say something similar about the World Ironman Champs, “Kona doesn’t care about your schedule.”

As an under-40 athlete, the recipe for success was clear => large doses of specific training load with recovery enhanced by life simplification.

Eat, sleep, train, repeat.

While we do that, we pay attention to the unforced errors and weed those habits out of your life.


Years ago this was our set up => 9-week camp => SwimBikeRun the USA, every_single_meter! That’s my buddy, Clas, on the VasaTrainer. There was a perfectly acceptable lake just out of the frame. He was put off by the dead trees sticking up out of the water and the nuclear power plant just around the corner…

Well, the events are gone, and going to stay gone, for a while.

Your status quo => of preparing for your next big thing => is gone.

The removal of the end-goal, provides an opportunity to think in terms of years, rather than months and seasons.

Getting yourself really fit to cyber-race a stranger with a hacked powermeter… might not be the best use of your time.

Two things for you…



You can’t train a muscle fibre you don’t have.

For the next year (at least), there is ZERO penalty for putting on size, boosting immune function and getting strong.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere then I doubt you’ll need to do much race specific training until the Spring of 2021. There aren’t going to be any races.

Back in the day, I’d be tempted to avoid my Max Strength phases because they would screw up my sport-specific numbers and leave my legs feeling flat.

These days my heavy days are a lot of fun. My endurance load is reduced due to COVID and it’s nice to work my way through a long session with decent rest.

The anaerobic stimulation, combined with reduced chronic-aerobic beatdown, has my hormonal profile (expressed through mood and sex drive) feeling great.

A small increase in lean body mass can result in a large improvement in the way you feel inside your body. I’m up ~4% and feel gigantic!


Universal gyms have come a long way since the 80s. The gear in this photo was 2/3rds the price of solar panels, and a similar monthly savings when my wife dropped her pilates membership. I’m told it’s called a Megaformer.

Be wary of becoming a single-plane athlete.

I’ve set a lifetime annual record for indoor training and I’m 18 weeks into this journey.

You need to be thinking forward to this winter, when flu season returns. If you spend your days bouncing between a treadmill and an indoor trainer then you’re going to lose athleticism.

This loss of multi-plane function will leave you exposed to injury – as you age… as you return to normal training.

So consider… how best to develop my agility?

Answering that question, in a way that challenges your neuromuscular system, will be time well spent. It’s also going to give you something where you can experience improvement.

Getting better at something will perk you up.

We could all use a perk up!

Life Lessons From Sport

Some folks do better with exercise => some parents too!

I’ve been working on my Athlete’s Journey essay for a month.

It’s become a never-ending project because I keep coming up with new ideas to share with you.


So let’s step back and think about the essential message.

Assume you are graduating from High School, virtually.

What can I share with you about sport?

As an adult:

  • The pursuit of sport opens your field of potential partners => this isn’t just about sex. Across all fields, all cultures – athletic people are considered desirable.
  • Structured training crowds out bad habits. Take a look around and you’ll see people getting themselves into difficulties that wouldn’t happen if they were pursuing an athletic lifestyle.
  • The challenges of athletic training will surface your self-defeating habits. Over a few seasons, it’s certain that you will see your process fail. Process failure is a low-stakes way to get to know yourself.
  • The stress of competition gives you a non-lethal environment to practice coping skills.

Better opportunities, an ability to see my process break down, a non-lethal field of play for high stakes and less space for getting myself into trouble.

All good.


While you are young… find your people.

You don’t get to choose your family. You do get to choose your friends, coaches and mentors.

You are likely to have more flexibility to move around within your athletic life than your academic (working) life.

Great people are out there, to help you become who you’d like to be.


Now, somewhere down the athletic track – decades before the rest of your life starts to decline – you’ll have another opportunity => to begin the transition from Fitness to Function.

What I mean is, you might take a look around and say to yourself, “what am I really up to here?”

In answering this question, I cycled through a process of dig in, quit and adapt. I’m still working through it.

By answering this question, as it relates to your sport, you’ll set the scene for addressing a deeper question of meaning within your life.

Navigating athletic “aging” can be seen as a practice to prepare you for another journey that will likely begin 20 years later, the transition out of middle age and into elderhood.

Getting Back To Cycling

From days gone by => Sunshine Beach, QLD, Australia. Married, no kids, scared of Queensland traffic!

Yesterday was 60 days in a row of riding and I wanted to jot down some notes.

The last time I got back in bike shape I was in my early-40s with only one kid and no lockdown restrictions.

Times have changed!


Another blast from the past => as an elite athlete, physiological testing helped me get the most out of my training. This one was during blood lactate testing in NZ.

At the start of May, I’d been locked down since March 13th and was injured from my run program. Early in our lockdown, my wife ordered a Peloton spin bike. I decided to try it out.

May 8th was my first ride. I immediately enjoyed the format – music with no cars. I also liked the fact that my public health authority couldn’t take away my ability to ride indoors!

It’s been a fun progression:

  • May 13th => 20-minute best effort ride (222w, 152 bpm)
  • June 25th, held 221w for 75 minutes at 137bpm
  • 1st week of July held 230w for an hour at 139bpm

I’m at ~3 watts per kilo in my “peppy aerobic zone” – that’s good enough. I’m pleased how it worked out.


A proud moment from my athletic career. Being hung on the Wall of Fame in Dr John Hellemans office. There are a lot of VERY good athletes on that wall! John cared enough to teach an arrogant, but passionate, stranger about exercise physiology and coaching. I learned so much from him.

Here’s my training protocol, you don’t need a Peloton. You do need a bike, a trainer, a heart rate monitor and a power meter.

Ride twice most days, mainly endurance. First ride is done before my kids wake up. I enjoy a cup of coffee then get rolling.

Endurance ride => the basic Peloton format…

  • Three song warm-up
    • Song 1 just spin, build cadence and power into Zone 2/Steady
    • Song 2 insert 4×30 seconds, spin-ups (cadence ~110 rpm) with power not more than Zone 3/Mod-hard
    • Song 3 split in half – Zone 2, Zone 3
  • Endurance set, alternate by song Zone 3 / Zone 2 => 20-45 minutes based on time available.
  • Spin your HR under 100bpm when you’re done

That session is the bulk of my bike training, it works great and will continue to work great. Even more important, I’m having fun.

You can see everything I do on Strava => weights/strength/hills and a lot of “low” HR endurance.

If you go the Peloton route then they have an intro to power module (here’s their power FAQ).


Friday the 13th, March 2009, Kitt Peak, Ajo Highway, Arizona => 40 years old, one of the first times I can remember stopping (mid climb) to take a picture!

Bonus tips:

  • The target power zone sets the MINIMUM for your workout target – put a floor on work – if you can’t hit your endurance zones, or if your HR pops, then your zones are set too high. Upward zone creep is common across all ability levels!
  • Heart rate zone sets the MAXIMUM for your workout – put a ceiling on stress – once warmed up, I give myself permission to push the watts up a bit, so long as my HR stays in my target zone. When I consistently generate higher level power, on lower level HR, I know it’s time to retest my zones.
  • Climbing/Big Gear workouts are a great way to rack up Threshold Watts (Z4) at Mod-Hard Heart Rates (Z3). Example here.
  • My toughest workouts are crisscross sessions – about an hour a week – warm-up and power is going over/under FTP with recoveries in Zone 3/Mod-Hard. Example here.
  • Traditional Spin Classes are done for variety, as a pep rally and to build quickness/cadence. Quickness is key as we age. This skill was tough when I started – it came back fast.
  • Being able to use Peloton to create a “proper” program was a surprise – I thought it was all spin classes and high intensity. Guess I am a bit out of date.
  • The 20-minute benchmarking test is a “nice” session in itself – kinda hurts at the end. You don’t need, or want, to be doing much truly tough stuff in 2020. There are many better places for you to put your energy.
  • Peloton has world class coaches – Alex Toussaint leaves me feeling cheerful every_single_time I do one of his classes. Throughout lockdown, I was laughing out loud with his classes. Laughter is good medicine.
  • Lift weights – moving your power zones up won’t improve your life. Getting stronger will improve your life.

A fun memory => at the end of a 12-day training camp in the Rockies, we did a handicapped TT up Mt Evans (28-mile climb that tops out above 14,000 feet). We adjusted times based on rider/bike weight. Someone noticed I was pounding fluids at the back of the line and we had to redo the weigh-in! This is my buddy Clas, he was training for Zofingen Duathlon so running 2x per day as well as all the cycling we did (over 100,000 feet of vertical). Needless to say, his legs were less than snappy. It was the only time in my life when I could beat him in a sprint!

Clas and me, later, riding into the clouds! The top 14 miles of the climb are closed to traffic this summer. If you ride then pack top/bottom shell and a very warm jacket. Also beware of the dreaded downhill-bonk!

Some specific thoughts on intensity.

  • When you’re training with power, you can track total work measured in kilojoules (KJ). If you’re a time-limited athlete (running home school, working, cleaning your house…) then KJs are worth noting.
  • You’ll quickly see that highly intense workouts have a poor KJ-to-Fatigue ratio. You get a lot of fatigue without much work being done.
  • You might think intensity is a good deal. It’s not. It’s an awful deal because highly intense workouts are stressful and stress makes you eat / crave sugar. Bad deal all around => you can easily gain fat while exercising often and feeling tired. Lose-Lose.
  • The Win-Win is a cardio program that adds energy to your overall life and helps guide your body composition, an endurance-based program.
  • Once your endurance is well established 6-18 months, it only takes a bit of tough stuff to get your numbers to bounce.
  • Your overall program needs to keep you under your sugar threshold. Cravings, and bingeing, are signs of depletion and excess stress.

Aim for a protocol you can do every day for 15 weeks.

Challenge yourself to eliminate the habits that screw up tomorrow’s training.

Keep it simple and repeat the week.