Challenging the Status Quo

Three nights in Mexico last week. Very enjoyable.

The cost of the status quo is hidden.

It simply isn’t possible to see both (a) what the future could be; and (b) the drag of accepting the way things are.

Over Thanksgiving my kids reminded me of this fact. They were amazing.


After a decade of fatherhood, they chilled the entire flight, enjoying each other.

Bickering

Earlier in the year, I told them that I was done spending time with all three. No “full family” trips.

I stuck to my guns. When it came to kids, I was 1s and 2s across the year. Much less refereeing between them.

But they missed hanging out with each other so they started a get-along campaign.

See Dad, we get along now.

Reminded me of another favorite lesson => to be sick of sickness is the only cure.

The part of me that likes to say “no” was a little sad at their improvement. Strange thing human nature!

I share the story as a holiday reminder that parents have a choice with regard to the status quo. It does take a lot of patience, skill and persistence to help everyone get along with each other.

While I can’t control the actions of others, as a parent, I can influence the incentive structure.

Even getting the incentives correct, change was slow and took many months, to become obvious.


Personal Recovery

Another thing that’s been frustrating is my lack of recovery. In my 50s, I simply do not bounce back from anything very well.

I’ve noticed that the days with “more” cardio are a whole lot easier for my mental health. So, with an eye towards “better”, I got myself an Oura ring to gain insight into resting HR, HRV and sleep quality.

This process was another reminder… Two things are necessary for progress: (a) make mistakes visible; and (b) have the courage to see, then address, uncomfortable truths.

You see, I bought the ring so it could tell me what I wanted to hear!

Unfortunately, the data has had other ideas. It’s early days, so I’ll skip the specifics until I’ve gone a full season.

Suffice to say, the message appears to be that my appetite is greater than my tolerance. The only way I’m going to fit in “more” is to go a whole lot easier (most of the time). This reminds me of an observation I shared with KP (when he was my age).

I used to do a lot more easy training than I remember.

He liked that quote so much, he hung it above his desk. As I near 53, I’m glad the memory came back to me.

Anybody over 50 who says “age is just a number” isn’t paying attention, or may be trying to sell you something. 🙂

A recurring theme across my fatherhood journey… remembering it is OK to be sensible.


Anaerobic Tolerance

Another observation, this one physiological, each time I give myself a novel anaerobic stimuli, it kicks my butt for at least a month.

The first month of something new kicks my butt. Being wrecked is obvious to me. Thereafter, the fatigue gets more subtle.

Mark Allen quote… just because you feel better, doesn’t mean you are better. At the time we were talking about over-reaching but it applies more broadly.

In other words, adaptations are continuing even when I can’t “feel” them.


A well worn race shirt

The shirt pictured above is from the last time I was “fast” in a conventional sense, August 2012. We had a 3 year old, a baby and my wife was 8-months pregnant with our youngest.

Shortly thereafter, I decided to pause the racing. That one choice started a positive cascade of consequences that continue to benefit my family.

The “pausing” racing choice was a big one to make. I had a lot of my identity tied up in my relative performance.

I also had a mistaken belief that the process of race preparation was essential to look good. As I age, I’m bumping into the same fear.

Just like with my household, changing the incentives can lead to better.

Midlife Athletic Philosophy


Our oldest turns 13 this summer and our youngest turns 9. So we have ~5 years until our kids are fairly independent.

Additionally, I’m 52 => so I have 5-10 years until my next physical transition will begin. I noticed a shift at 45 yo and suspect I’ll see another in my late-50s.


Optimizing For Life

Peloton recently added heart rate tracking to their platform. As a result, I see how y’all are training when we’re on the same workout. 2-3 zones above me.

I want you to know there is HUGE upside from learning to train against your impulses – particularly your urge to maximize your numbers, any numbers!

At some point in the future, all we will care about is the CAPACITY to do fun stuff with friends, (grand)kids and spouses. Spending mojo to temporarily pop our 20-minute bests gives us nothing in our larger lives.

But it’s worse than wasting time. Focusing on athletic top-end generates fatigue that prevents us from creating something useful: relationships, career, a home or sub-max capacity.

What is sub-max capacity? I have two main constraints I place on myself:

  1. No impact on my larger life.
  2. Feed myself with real food (outside of training) and water (inside of training)

I spent my pandemic being very consistent and got my performance to 3 watts / kilo in my comfortable zone (<122 bpm, my HR max is low-170s). Good enough.

Push a bit and I can generate 900KJ in a hour. Much above that output I need to start adding sugar to my diet.

Pay attention to the habits that nudge you towards adding sugar (or alcohol, edibles, sleeping pills, pizza… you get the drift).

I have made a decision to LEAVE MYSELF NUTRITIONALLY UNDERTRAINED FOR SPORT. This is tough to do.

I used to be a Jedi-Master of oxidation and carbohydrate uptake. It’s tough not to use a key strength, especially as I really, really like to eat! 🙂

Why? Choosing a higher-sugar lifestyle does nothing for my health, life and body composition.

Also, enabling a higher-output lifestyle reduces the energy I have available for my strength training.



Strength Training

Since I turned 50, the bulk of my fatigue comes from strength training.

Three reasons…

Efficiency. Strength training is the best fatigue generator for minute invested – better than running, with no range-of-motion cost. I can keep my aerobics “good enough,” ride everyday and maintain my capacity to do fun stuff.

Invert! If I don’t challenge myself with strength training then a weaker future will happen sooner.

Error avoidance. If I challenge myself with strength training then the urge to “maximize the short” is held at bay. The “short” being short-duration and short-term.

Finally, if three hours of my week generates most my training fatigue that leaves a ton of time for working on key relationships, writing, reading => things that might be useful tomorrow.

Ask older friends, and the oldest members of your family, what they value (and what they lack).


Lifestyle

Choosing certain race goals implies certain training protocols.

Certain training protocols imply certain lifestyles.

Goal => Protocol => Lifestyle

Metabolic and work-rate training // beyond an hour, beyond comfortable tempo efforts… imply nutritional habits that prevent me from optimizing my health. Something to consider.

Related, look around at the causes for “things going wrong” => injuries, burnout, chronic fatigue… basically anything that causes us to lose consistency.

The Pandemic forced us to be reasonable. Sanity worked way better than I would have expected.

1/. Consider your 1,000-day protocol.

2/. Understand the lifestyle implied by your goals.

Death Valley 2021


We decided to take advantage of the second-to-last week of daytime childcare (i.e. school) and do a quick couples trip.

Post-pandemic, I’m aiming for one adventure each month.


Vegas Pants…

Tuesday morning we caught a 7:30am flight out of Denver. Gaining an hour, we rolled out of Vegas by 10am and were hiking by 3pm.


At the Mesquite Dunes, M demonstrates the huge vertical of a top ultra-endurance athlete…

The idea was PM/AM hikes to get some overload in preparation for a September trip to the Grand Canyon.


In the background, Charcoal Kilns from way back.

Wildrose Peak, 2,200 vert, ~8 miles, trailhead (at ~7K) was 20F cooler than Stovepipe Wells, which was 102F.


A well-made trail climbs through Piñon Pine and Juniper


After the Wildrose Peak hike, it was time to get to the campsite.

From the 2WD lower trailhead, it is ~2 miles to the 4WD upper trailhead. I’d rented a Jeep and was grateful we didn’t have to haul our camping stuff up the road, or camp lower down.

In Colorado terms, it’s a good dirt. I would have felt OK giving it a shot in a Honda CR-V or a Subaru.

That said, the consequences of a double-flat, or torn oil pan are high… 60 miles to the nearest mechanic.


No water, but a clean toilet and 10 sites

Upgrade! Big Agnes, Copper Spur UL3

Arriving at the trailhead, we were surprised to see a couple sedans up there. I was grateful for 4Lo in the Jeep, a smooth drive up for us.


A rock had been placed in front. Unfortunately, an unlucky driver powered over the rock and dropped his low-clearance sedan onto the wooden spike.

One guy managed to tear open his gas tank, while backing up close to our campsite. It was 7pm. He declined an offer to get a message out via satellite communicator and decided to deal with the salvage operation the following day.

We had periodic cell reception on the high ridges – not enough for the web but good enough to send a couple pics/texts to our kids.


~13 miles round trip and 3,250 ft of climbing (3,000/250)

Telescope Peak is the highest point in the Park. The first two miles of the trail had a little exposure and the last mile to the summit is exposed to rockfall if parties are above you.

The prior day’s hike (Wildrose Peak) was mellow. Great trail with no exposure, or rockfall.


We started just before dawn, which was about as late as I’d recommend. Doing it again, I’d roll 75 minutes before sunrise.

I did an online weather course this spring. It’s increased my appreciation of the world around me.

Fun fact, if you start from the Death Valley side then you can climb >10,000 vertical to the summit of Telescope. However, the route wasn’t clear and the valley is a reminder that, sometimes, nature wants to kill us.

Looking down, I could see water in the canyons, no idea on salt content.


A moderate section for an hour in the middle of the climb. The route switchbacks up, behind the looker’s left skyline coming down from the peak. This picture is taken from the west side of Bennett Peak, wonderfully cool in the morning.

The dead Bristlecone Pines reminded me of The Tree of Woe from Conan the Barbarian – lots of signs of lightning activity on the Death Valley side of the trail.

~11,000 at the top

On the way back down, I could have done with lighter options for sun protection.

We left the stranded motorist a spare gallon of water and crossed paths with a Ranger on our drive out.

Here’s a link to the NPS write-up on Telescope and Wildrose.


Hot wife…

For peak conditions, I used OpenSummit.Com to track the forecast (Telescope Peak). Zion was our back-up plan if wind, or weather, wasn’t favorable.

The Trails Illustrated map of Death Valley National Park saved me more than one wrong turn.

These days, quick trips are where I point my fitness. Avoiding the incentives associated with racing is a better deal for my marriage and myself.


Create the life you wish to lead

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.