Part One of SuperVet Fitness

Step One is improving low-end aerobic function by adding cycling volume under LT1

My return to “proper” endurance training will offer me a chance to demonstrate some things.

It’s whole lot easier to hit modest fitness targets if you have sufficient muscle mass for your goals (Link to Big Slow Day Article)

A lot of athletes see their size as a hinderance to their goals.

I don’t.

If you want to rip bumps in your 60s, sustain impact, run the risk of the occasional crash… a bit of size, combined with a lot strength, will serve you well.

So I’ve moved to my strongest-training weight – which is ~5 lbs above my low-volume sustainable weight.

On my old protocol (outlined here) – being a bit light is fine. However, when my goals require the capacity to fuel meaningful output, my “light weight” slows my recovery.

Let’s be clear: endurance athletes have a “light is right” bias.

Smart athletes know it is better to match your body composition to your goals.

My #1 goal is faster recovery, so:

  • Each week at least two back-to-back recovery days
  • Run my body composition a little heavier
  • Ditch my alarm
  • Use morning HRV to check in before loading
  • Bring back training nutrition

Making The Most of My Time

Many athletes seek to optimize their time by boosting average workout intensity (Sweet Spot, Heavy Domain, Tempo).

I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it work.

Doesn’t work for me.

I’m going Nordic

  • Swedish 5:2 (see below)
  • Norwegian 80:20 (>80% Stamina Focus)

Swedish Periodization (5 days on, 2 days off) means radical recovery and compressed loading:

  • If I finish Day 5 by Noon, then I have ~65 hours until I train again
    • Every week has space for Real Life => sustainable
    • I get a weekly reset
    • My digestion gets a rest – training uptake is fatiguing
  • My Stamina focus is a 2-for-1
    • Train energy uptake (ideas for you)
    • Improve function of my mitochondria
  • My “intense” allocation (<20% total loading) includes my strength training – strength is where I preserve my long-term edge (strength, muscle mass)


Most everybody wants to get faster.

That would be nice… …and I expect it to happen

However, what I actually want is… the capacity to hold my existing submax fitness longer

Which implies…

  • 90% => bottom-up metabolic fitness & train my gut
  • 10% => strength & muscle mass

I’ll keep working and report back

Optimizing Training Protocols for Middle Aged Doctors

In the Steep Gullies of A-Basin, teaching my son how to lead men

In your 50s and 60s, you’re going to have the money to do neat stuff.

Are you going to have the body?


I propose three goals to guide your training:

  • Burn fat
  • Add muscle mass
  • Maintain sexual function

If you’re still into race performance then bookmark me and come back in a few years.

Why?

Because you might be screwing up all three by leaving sustained tempo in your program.

🙂


The ability to do fun stuff with those I love.
A form of wealth.

Now, you’re probably thinking that it’s impossible for an older person to add muscle mass.

You might have even resigned yourself to a long, slow decline in personal function.

That’s certainly the way aging was taught to me (by members of your profession).

Are you sure?

An elder surgeon confided in me that “half the stuff I learned in med school, turned out to be false.”

Perhaps a shift in approach could get you a better outcome?

Besides, there is little downside from shifting your program, away from endurance fatigue, towards doing what it takes to add functional strength.


My son’s definition of heaven.
Bit of a survival ski for me.

So how might we do that?

During the pandemic, I learned this protocol by accident.

I was locked in my house, with three high-energy kids, and I needed a way to chill out before endless days of Home School.

I turned to weights, a lot of them.

I worked my way through Rob Shaul’s SF45 program. The full program was eight modules and took me 60 weeks to complete.

Total body transformation.

Not only did it transform my body, my wife started having fire fighter fantasies. 😉

I became much better at moving through the mountains.

Rob’s redone the modules and now splits them by age (40, 50, 55 and 60). You can find them under General Fitness Plan Packets on his website.

I’ve taken what I’ve learned from Rob and interpreted into my life as a coach to kids, adults and elders. I use pieces of Rob’s protocols to address specific concerns (balance, fall risk, muscle activation, injury prevention and rehab). I tweet about these on Wednesdays.

I use Rob’s stuff for creating a valuable form of stress on my 53 yo body.

  • Gaining functional strength
  • To do neat stuff
  • Outside
  • With the people I love
  • For as long as possible

My training schedule is built around placing my key days (my strength-focused days).

I never skip a strength day but… I do delay it when I know it would be counter-productive to stress myself further.


Can you spot the gully entry above my son?
Me neither.
We had to billy-goat a bit.

So how to place those key days?

That was my central problem across 2021.

I kept getting run down, I felt old, my mood was crap, I was worried that I was “done” as an athlete.


To be sick of sickness is the only cure

– The Tao Te Ching

Eventually, I committed to do whatever it took to get my recovery on track. If that meant “getting old” then I’d just have to deal with the consequences.

It wasn’t all that complicated. My Garmin watch had be collecting resting heart rate data for years. Data that I had been ignoring because I was scared to recover properly!

To my resting HR data, I added heart rate variability from an Oura Ring. Recently, I added HRV4Training to better see the differences between my acute and chronic movements.

I don’t use the Readiness Scores because I don’t need precision (and have doubts that any of us can predict outcome on a complex system, like the human body).

All I am seeking is a signal from the raw data.

  • Red – you’d better dial it down
  • Yellow – no surges, just aerobic maintenance (ie fat burning)
  • Green – Go For It, Bro!

Feb 20 (red) – chronic (shaded) and acute are low
Feb 11 (yellow) – chronic is in normal range, acute a bit below
Feb 8th (green) – chronic and acute both high – I went big at altitude, we see the impact on Feb 9th

Similar info in the resting HR data, which seems to be more sensitive to the elevation where I’m sleeping. During the upward trend in HR, I was sleeping at ~8,500 ft.

So when I’m at home, it’s a simple choice each morning.

Strength or Cardio

  • Strength is whatever plan I’m using from Rob.
  • Cardio is a bike workout, usually with a 130 bpm cap.

If I’m not “green” for a strength day, then I dial it down, or delay.

If I’m “red” then I spin easy on the bike (HR < 120) and schedule a neighborhood walk for the afternoon.

ZERO anaerobic load on a “red” day.

By waiting for a green signal, I avoid putting myself into a hole, that takes days to clear.

I’d been running this system (morning strength or cardio) for most of the pandemic (2020 & 2021) but was not paying attention to my HR, and didn’t have the HRV data.

With the HRV data, and guidance from Dr Jeff Shilt, I am able to better place the days that make me tired. Doc J shared his traffic light system, which let me create this article I’m offering you.


This season saw me hand over the title of lead-skier to my son.
With recognition comes responsibility.

As we age, how best to define “getting better”?

My proposal…

We will work towards improving the self-confidence that you’ll be able to continue to share outdoor activities with those you love.

We will use a training approach that builds a large physical reserve against the fears we hear from our elders.

Confidence that, while absolute performance is declining, we continue to enjoy the physical side of life.

Confidence that, while we’re all going to “get old” eventually, we will be able to live independently for as long as possible.

This is going to require a shift in focus from “athletic performance” to maintaining “functional performance.”

The very good news is this approach is time efficient.

Yes, the strength days will kick your butt BUT, when they are placed wisely, you will bounce back and end up with more energy across your week.


Keep it simple.

Start every day with a win.

Burn fat or strength train.

Too Soon Old

Ski touring this past weekend. As I age, my solo long days are appreciated more and more.
Wearing a set of boots Gary sold me, looking across to the Gore Range and remembering his kindness.

As a private equity investor, seven years represented our maximum investment horizon. Everything beyond seven years was, essentially, forever.

Well, we’re coming up on our 17th wedding anniversary and it doesn’t feel like we’ve traveled “twice” beyond forever!

It does, however, feel very good to be traveling together.

++

My focus on 7 is related to turning 53.

7 + 53 = 60

I suspect 60 will mark the end of my middle age.

The signs — less of everything — are all around me.


I started (re)reading this over the weekend. The chapter about “people your mother warned you about” is worth your time. The author points out that sometimes those people _are_ your mother. True but, the first time I read the book, I realized I was that person!
My weekend was filled with gratitude that I made a choice to seek better.

A book which has guided my life is Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. I read it at the start of my marriage and applied its advice, gradually – point by point.

I would notice Dr. Livingston’s advice in others, then change those traits in myself. Ultra endurance sport gave me a set of skills related to not responding to others. Time and time again, I was rewarded when I overcame my urge to engage.

Outside of sport the game was to not-encourage certain aspects of my personality. I came to his writing with an understanding that my approach to relationships didn’t work, and a powerful desire to find a better way to love.

Like a new parent, I did not have confidence in what-to-do, so I focused on avoiding the big mistakes.

  • Don’t act on anger => easier than… be patient all the time
  • Focus on de-escalation => easier than… seeking to fix whatever seems to be the problem
  • Wait until the energy leaves the situation => better than… heated engagement
  • Schedule time together => better than… expecting my family to serve me
  • Avoid those who bring out the worst in me
  • Place myself in my best environment, especially with those I love

“Who we want to be” – those we seek are a revealed preference.

Lots of guys, and it is mainly guys, get themselves into unnecessary trouble with regards to sex. Tactics that have proven the test of time. I encourage these in my son…

Strength Training – very useful for anger modification. Like everything, I have tended to over-do-it.

Consistently toss plate and you’ll make less mistakes. Just seems to work.

As a young man, I used (extreme) endurance training. At 53, endurance-fatigue removes too many of the filters I use to manage my family life.

About those filers… I’ve come to realize that the greatest risk my family faces isn’t some external shock. It’s me. Specifically, the personality traits that I burnt off in my 30s will resurface and screw up an enviable situation.

Life gives each of us opportunities to start fresh, take parenthood. Not easy, often not much fun… very rewarding in hindsight, much like endurance sport. My kids have an experience of me that starts in my mid-40s. I love what they see in me. Fatherhood is a reminder that we can change, for the better, at any stage of our lives.

Pick a habit, learned young, that might be useful NOT to pass along.

Break the chain.

Dr. Livingston has ideas for you.

++

Athletic spouse – when I pointed out the utility of this tactic, my son asked me to detail specifics!

With him, and you, I’ll leave this advice at “it just seems to work.”

By the way, to end up with an athletic spouse I needed to embrace everything implied, both in myself, and subordinating my “needs” to my goals. Again, elite sport was a useful teacher.

As a couple, we support whatever is required to have the physical partner we desire. We live in the fittest zip code in the US, have an extensive home gym, start each day with a workout… a mutually reinforcing positive cascade.

Having “fitness” as a core value creates blindspots:

  • desiring access to fit-folks we’d do well to avoid; and
  • being slow to embrace not-fit teachers, who are masters of subjects that can change our lives for the better.

Even with the blindspots, fitness crowds out choices that lead us astray. Having tried the not-fit path, it’s a good trade.

++

Here’s an idea about freeing one’s self from the fears and anxieties that typify the mindset of high achievers.

As an endurance athlete, most of my efforts went into my sport. Prior to that, my energies went into finance. Prior to that, they went into school. However, in finance & in school, there was energy left for pursuits that could have led to ruin. Dr. Livingston covers most my mistakes in the first 20 pages on his book on love.

Despite its realities, elite endurance sport has a strong association with health. That association was enough to nudge me into seeking to be better person outside of sport.

Neat.

5, 10, 20 years of better… the compounding effect is real, especially when I transferred a “be the brand” coaching model to fatherhood.

There’s a very old teaching that was taught to me by Mark Allen…

If you want the full power of your actions, then tell no one.

From a walk in London (1993) to a couch in Hong Kong (2000) to a wonderful family (2022).

Brief moments, seemingly small choices, gradually reaching for better.

My Iodine Year

I hosted a belated-birthday party for my son.
I could see why they were sticklers about getting the waivers signed!

A favorite observation from Scott Molina

You don’t need to feel good to do good.

He was talking about race performances. Time has shown Scott’s observation to apply more broadly, say, to families and parenting.

Related to my last post about the phases of early education, you are unlikely to regret the difficulties required to set your family on a better path.

Go further… regardless of the outcome for the generation that follows you… providing a wonderful childhood, to any kid, will be a source of longterm satisfaction.

I’ve been at the fatherhood game for more than a decade. Often I feel worn out. The “worn out” seems to be adaptive. Our oldest is now a teen and my fatigue provides motivation to continue the process of getting her ready to leave us.

So that’s the family bit… occasionally awful, often fatiguing, always satisfying in hindsight.


A bit of real-world physics right there.

Physically, my early 50s are much different than my early 40s. The rate of decline isn’t clear to me. The downward trajectory, however, is clear!

Specific tactics I’ve been using, and considering:

Anaerobic & Tempo Load – my ability to “do work” remains at a high level. What’s missing is the capacity to recover quickly from those efforts.

I can see why people choose to supplement their recovery hormones. I’ve skipped that path. I’ve skipped it because the last thing I need in my life is an increase in aggression. I also like the challenge-of-figuring-things-out.

++

Strava – I ditched it at the start of this month. I felt the public posting was nudging me towards fatigue.

=> Limiting crowd size appears to help the quality of my decisions.

++

Oura Ring – I bought the Gen 3 ring and have had it on for six weeks. It’s been a help. I particularly like the ability to look at what’s happening across the night.


Tired

Ready

Other Changes: turned my morning alarm off, stopped counting days skiing, stopped counting ski vertical and ditched all notifications.

Nothing buzzes, rings or flashes in my life.

Wonderful.


Oxygen Room – When I lived in Christchurch (NZ), I had an altitude room that I used for work/sleep. It was a low-oxygen room, created by running O2 concentrators, and pumping oxygen out of the room.

The company that sold me the system is now creating oxygen-rich rooms, to let people sleep at “sea level.” A friend installed one at her ski place and she loves it. When she caught COVID (breakthrough) with Influenza (same time), she headed “up” to be at “sea level” for recovery.

With the O2 room, I’m considering:

  • What’s the goal? Perhaps better recovery. Sea level sleep, when physically tired, is bliss.
  • Assuming better recovery, how’s that actually better?
  • How would I use the better recovery? History indicates I’m likely to add load until I am just-as-tired as before!

So maybe it’s better to save the $$$s and modify my load.

Time’s going to force load reductions on me, regardless of recovery protocols. Another reason to avoid hormone supplementation => I might as well figure it out now.


Do you notice what you’re not doing to yourself?

It is difficult to wrap my head around things “not done.”

My demographic doesn’t write much about all the alcohol, edibles, prescription drugs and hormone supplementation that’s going on. I’ve decided to skip all that.

When my kids ask why…

Reality is enough for me.

Also…

You will need to decide what you want to get done in life.


Preparation & Prudence

Our family feels like it’s moving into a new phase. The changes are impossible to ignore.

  • My challenges with “preparing” physically.
  • Watching my kids track into self-directed learning, and living.
  • The shortening window, of years, that lie ahead.

On every metric, my life (and the lives of those close to me) is on track.

A new question arose this year…

What was the goal of all the preparation and prudence? Amazing wife, all-star kids, cash burn under control, balance sheet on target, body doing better than I ever expected… what now?

Back in the summer, I wrote a small “to do” list. One of the items was 20 blogs in 20 weeks. This one is #20.

🙂

++

Thanks for reading and for getting in touch from time to time.

This holiday season, I hope you get outside and give yourself a chance to enjoy the view. I’ve been trying to look around more.

Picture below is moon-set from the middle of December. I never wonder “what now” when I’m enjoying the outdoors.



PS: Iodine is element 53 on the periodic table.

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.

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.

Athletic Beyond 45

2020-02-02 13.12.35Middle age is going better than I expected.

Why?

Because choices that made sense when I was younger have been replaced by a lifestyle that’s a better fit for where I want to take myself.

Let’s run though the major adjustments.

+++

You might not want what you think you want: athletics is the best way I have found to keep myself engaged and apply energy. Look around and you can see plenty of examples of middle aged men getting themselves into trouble by not managing their energy.

So I will sign up for a race to keep myself out of trouble? Not so fast…

  • Engaging in athletic competition is different from being athletic.
  • Fit for competition is not fit for an engaged life with meaning.
  • To be the sort of father/husband I want to be, I need to avoid athletic competition.

The requirements of racing well, and my competitive peers, exert an inevitable pull on my life. A pull I enjoy but one that takes me away from where I want to be in 5-10 years time.

There are different ways to define excellence and the traits that ring most true to me don’t have a clock attached to them.


The most specific component of race fitness is the least valuable to my wife and kids. 

In your mid-40s you will notice a change in how you respond to training. Specifically, sustained tempo is a lot more fatiguing. This intensive-endurance pace is a core part of training for performance.

As a middle-aged athlete sustained tempo will gobble up your energy and leave you spent for other aspects of your life. If you are in the clutch of negative addictions then this can be a very good choice to make! However, you will have nothing left towards building a life that your future self will value.

This reality was tough for me to face. I know how valuable tempo training is to athletic performance. It was made easier by stopping racing, and reminding myself that I didn’t want the family lives, and marriages, of my competition.

Letting go of deep fatigue enabled me to re-establish consistency, which was being shot to pieces by minor injuries, slow recovery, illnesses and low motivation => all of which stemmed from giving myself more load than I could absorb.

+++

About those injuries… stop hurting yourself.

Somewhere in my recent past, I realized I was constantly managing low-grade calf injuries. At the time, I wasn’t training for a race, or even doing much mileage. There was no reason to endure the constant setbacks.

You’re likely to have similar moments and the performance gurus will encourage you to grind through. I’d encourage you to pause and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Where is this likely to take me? Elective orthopedic surgery?
  2. What is my goal here? Alienate my spouse and estrange myself from my kids?
  3. Is there a better way to achieve my goal? Or perhaps a better goal to achieve!

In my case, I replaced the running with hiking and functional strength training. I can do these before my family wakes up or alongside my family. My best athletic memories of my 50s are shared experiences, in nature, with my family.

With a young wife, and three kids, I’m slowly filling the state of Colorado with happy thoughts. When I’m 70, they can carry the backpack!

2020-02-06 19.03.33

Reality is enough for me. If you’re tempted to use drugs then something needs to change.

Shooting your knee up like an NFL lineman, boosting your hormonal profile to beat an athlete who’s spouse just walked out the door, taking health risks to train alongside college kids…

  1. Where is this likely to take me?
  2. What is my goal here?
  3. Is there a better way to achieve my goal?

A focus on athleticism puts me in a continual state of rehabilitation from the process of aging naturally => functional strength, quickness, range of motion and extensive endurance.

Being freed from external requirements lets me do the right thing for my health, year round.

  • Place a demand on yourself, then recover while working on a project that benefits your larger life.
  • While expanding your life beyond athletics, remove whatever screws up your sleep patterns. My 4:30am wake-up makes poor choices obvious, immediately.

This approach will enhance your biochemistry naturally and not mask errors.

To learn by iteration, it is essential to physically experience my mistakes.

+++

Victory and Vanity

How are you going to feed that part of your personality that craves recognition, thrives in adversity and wishes to dominate others?

Can you see your desires? Have you considered what is driving your desires?

You might simply be over-scheduled and seeking socially acceptable personal space.

It’s worth looking deeper.

When I looked deeply everything was there, positive and negative. There are many ways to spin our motivators.

Recognition can come from my children, who are hardwired to be impressed by me. I look pretty jacked to a seven-year old.

Personal growth through facing adversity can come from the final few reps of a set (or simply getting out of bed some mornings). My endurance mantra… many people would like the ability to do this right now.

Domination is a tricky one, especially when surrounded by women and children. At my best, I turn it inwards and seek to overcome my negative traits, specifically my urge to resort to force, rather than skillful engagement.

We often let each other off by saying things like.. “everyone is different”, or “you need to find your own way.” I disagree. We are very, very similar within our cultures and wired to follow social proof.

If you want to change your motivation then change your location.

I’m parked in the fittest zipcode in America, training in nature, with a young family, thinking daily about a handful of men who are presenting their best selves to the world.


Finally, remove the friction between your current habits and the life you want to lead.

I have a home gym, I wake up at 4:30am and there aren’t any email/social apps on my phone.

I created a situation where there was nothing for me to do between 5 and 6am in the morning.

So I write, or train => activities that leave me satisfied in hindsight and help my future self.

Making My Life Work Better

2019-11-27 16.58.34You’ll find a lot on my site about strength training. It’s a habit that’s served me well for 25+ years.

This year saw some changes. I went stale in my tried-and-tested program. I recognized my mojo was flat and wasn’t making much progress.

A few years back, a friend had done a backcountry ski program with Mountain Tactical. So I bought the latest version of that program, got to work and learned a few things. Currently, I’m using their in-season ski maintenance program. I’ll skip observations about the plans themselves and focus on general points that might apply to you.

How am I allocating my time and where is that likely to take me? Athletics, relationships, every single thing.

What is the purpose of your protocol? These days: (a) enough stress to get the benefits of exercise (cognitive & mood); (b) vanity; and (c) maintain my ability to ski & hike at a very high level.

With the MTI program, the sessions were so challenging that I needed to drop all other exercise. Dropping supplemental training probably seems obvious but, in my demographic, it’s common for people to do 1-2 extra sessions per day, and still think they are not doing enough!

The results were great. Even the nights with total exhaustion were “fun” => they made me feel like I was doing something.

Giving myself a full 24-hours to recover between sessions boosted my recovery AND reduced the mental stress of having to grind out a lower quality session when tired. It reminded me of my single-sport focus periods when I was an elite triathlete.

Within my training, I made a big demand on myself (for about an hour, 3-4x per week) then backed way off for the rest of the day. If you are finding, like I was, that all your sessions are blending into mediocre performance, with limited gains, then this tactic might help.

Seems obvious but it takes a lot of courage (for a compulsive exerciser) to back off. For example, I have a fear of weight gain and can use cardio to enable excessive eating.

Each one of us has blindspots. Mine are range of motion, quickness and coordination => fundamental components of high-level skiing. The program I bought contained box jumps, lateral jumps, side-to-side jumps, dynamic lunges, stretching and body-weight hip extension exercises. The act of seeking help gave me a nudge to do things I’d skip on my own. This works in our larger lives:

  1. Notice when your protocol stops working
  2. Seek expert advice
  3. Trim non-essential components

As an elite athlete, my “recovery” included 12-15 weekly hours of easy cardio. Easy cardio isn’t easy but that’s a different topic!

My easy-training hours have been replaced with walking, time with my wife and housework. This shift makes it easier (and more likely) to succeed within my larger life, which aims at a world-class marriage, thinking better and educating my kids.

What I value is reflected in where I allocate my time.

Vision Sixty

2019-08-20 07.58.18Seven years ago, I asked my smartest pals to share their experiences with sabbaticals. It was a very useful exercise. Rather than a sharp, and sudden, sabbatical, I made a choice to change slowly. I gradually shrank my working life and replaced it with more family engagement.

Over the last year, I’ve been tapping my supervet buddies in a similar exercise. I am asking about their 50s => any lessons, any tips, how’d you find it?

2019-08-20 06.26.25The answers have been all over the map.

  • Everything gets easier
  • Worst decade of my life
  • Best years of my life

ZERO consistency in what people say, but clear themes when I look at what they actually do. They keep on, keeping on.

Despite what we tell ourselves, there is little practical decline through 60. Obviously, I’d be miles behind my 37-year old self in any sort of race. However, even in my sedentary pals, it’s more of a “slowing down” than a decline (in function). I saw this in the supervet athletes I coached. A clear, annual, decline didn’t start to happen until ~70 years old.

In comparing me-with-me, there’s very little lifestyle change forced upon us. The changes are more about coming to terms with “less.” Less vision, less skin tone, less aerobic capacity, less recovery capacity…

Middle age struggles tie back to seeking “more” => relationships, heart problems, injuries, dissatisfactions… the damage comes from the stresses of striving.

My happiest older pals have found a way to come to terms with what they have, and what they’re not going to have.

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If “more” is going to challenge you then it will be obvious (injuries, depression, a-fib, drama, binging, addiction).

I like to remind myself, “Reality is enough.”

My mind is ALWAYS spinning ideas for more. I pay close attention to how “more” makes me feel – exhausted, neglecting my family, worried I’m going to get caught out.

2019-08-17 09.20.59Get your winning done early and pay attention each time you taste a lack of satisfaction after striving.

Look deeper into your drive, passions and interests => what lies beneath your compulsions?

For example, I like spending time in forests – my speed of movement through the forest is something I track, but has no impact on my satisfaction.

What’s your gig? My gig is sharing a connection to nature with people I love.

The “lack” is deeper than the “more” we seek. I had to back off to find out that satisfaction was behind me.

2019-08-15 17.22.14How would you describe your desired outcome over the next 5-10 years?

Active, polite, easy-going, positive. These are the traits of my older pals that I enjoy spending time alongside.

Strength & Training Strategy at 50

2019-07-07 09.01.30Strength gives me better choices.

Specifically:

  1. Maintain muscle mass
  2. Challenge my connective tissue
  3. Strengthen my shoulder complex (to survive my inevitable crashes)
  4. Get the bio-chemical benefits from working large muscle groups anaerobically

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My base period needs to be longer: I was very consistent with strength maintenance across the ski season. As a result, I lost less strength than prior years. However, I was WORKED at the end of the season and my mojo stayed flat for a long time when I returned to more focused strength training.

Two, maybe three, “good” sessions per week: At 50, I go flat quickly! I need to be humble with the load I put into myself.

I split upper and lower body days: in order to do quality exercises, and recover, I split my workouts across the week:

  • Monday/Thursday – lower body
  • Tuesday/Friday – upper body
  • Wednesday/Saturday – plyo (~7 minutes total per day)

Very little sustained intensity: I lose a lot when I get sick and can’t train. Put another way, my ability to go training is more important than my training ability. A calendar of events would certainly push me to do more (likely for less benefit).

I go to the gym to be around people (even if I don’t speak to them!): the core of my program has been the same for 20 years. It would be easy to set it up in my garage. However, part of my “feel better” seems to come from the gym process. The most time-efficient setup isn’t always best.

My aerobic goal is “about an hour, every day.” I’ll go longer when I can hike trails with my wife or son. I do a bunch of walking on top of the aerobic exercise.

Learning to navigate the physical decline of middle age is a benefit of middle age.

The days that start with training are clearly better.

Pay attention to better.

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