Don’t Manage Your Time Manage Your Energy

Managing your energy is far more important than just managing your time.

Keep a log of how you feel during the day based on your energy level.

Over time see how hydration, nutrition, sleep, training and work schedules impact your energy.

Then, make adjustments to maximize your overall energy level, and make sure that your key activities during the day are aligned during the times when you have the most energy to give.

For example, I know that hydration has a HUGE impact on my energy level. I also know I tend to have the most energy between 9-Noon. After noon (and until 3-4pm or so), I’m essentially useless 🙂 . Later in the evening, I get a second wind around 9-10pm but if I take advantage of that I will pay the price by feeling awful the next day.

Knowing this I focus on getting creative tasks at work done in the morning before lunch, and do my training in the evening around 5-7pm. I carry a water bottle with me and hydrate constantly during the day – especially when teaching lots of yoga or training more in hot weather.

I don’t believe that it is necessary or even possible to feel awesome ALL of the time. Instead, strive to do your best to feel good MOST of the time, and focus on making use of that productive time to do something worthwhile.

A typical lunch during the week, a super large salad with grilled tofu and peanuts at the cafe at work. Yes, we have an awesome cafe!

Ironman CDA 2011 Race Report

I’m very thankful to have finished and the experience was incredible. I learned far more from this race than I have in other races that I was actually able to “race.” I learned that we are really able to accomplish more than we think we can. I also learned that we are capable of going from feelings of total despair to optimism in a matter of minutes…if you are just willing to endure a little.

This is my third Ironman finish, and not my fastest time but I am actually most of proud of this result. A few weeks ago I didn’t even think I’d be able to race. I was just planning on doing the swim. However, a couple of weeks ago I decided to give it a shot after my doctor told me that my knee wouldn’t have any permanent damage to it if I decided to race.

The inflammation in my knee might “hurt like hell” but it wouldn’t cause any tears or breaks….so I got the green light. Mentally, this made all the difference as it just became a game of pacing and seeing how I could manage my energy during the day and keep the pressure off my left knee.

It was also great to have over a dozen people from my team, VO2 Multisport, racing and spectating. It makes all the difference to know people who will be out on the course. It can provide motivation that keeps you going for miles and miles, just knowing someone will be there expecting to see you.

Here’s how it all went down:

Pre-Race: Thursday

I arrived at in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Thursday around 5pm. My accommodations were SUPER DELUXE. I mean that. They were THE BEST ACCOMMODATIONS EVERY. You see, I am a Product Planning Lead at Microsoft by day, but by night in my personal life I do practically no planning WHATSOEVER. The week before the race I still hadn’t sorted out where I would stay. Browsing the interwebs I came across a nondescript ad with no photo mentioning an “RV” trailer available. I gave the guy a call and he seemed super nice and sent me some photos. SCORE! The place was awesome, cheap and located on an acre of lawn less than 1/2 mile from the race start! The perfect spot. The owner also had this super cool golden lab that I got to play around with.

My home for the race weekend! A great RV trailer 1/2 mile from the race start.

I dropped my bike and gear off in the RV and went down to the race start area, which is a beach right in downtown. Immediately I saw at least 30-40 triathletes swimming or hanging around the beach or lawn. Many had just gotten done swimming and everyone was talking about how cold and choppy the water was.

I threw on my wetsuit and dropped in for a 20 minute swim. It was frigid! Even coming from swimming Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish it was cold. The chop was also very bad. I got out of the water and definitely feeling like the swim would NOT be the cake-walk I was expecting.

My original race plan called for an hour-long bike ride, but given that it was getting late, I went to get some dinner and hit the sack early for the night after sorting out my gear.

Pre-Race: Friday

I did a short 30 minute bike ride along and out and back section to Higgins Point along the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene. I was very cold at 8am, and I was biking in toe-covers, a warm jacket and leg warmers. I was thinking that I should re-assess my race uniform and wear a long sleeve shirt on the bike. I went out and bought a cheap one at a local sporting goods store for $15.  I planned on wearing it for 20-30 miles on race day until it warmed up and them taking it off.

The rest of the day entailed registering for the race and walking around the Race Expo. The were all kinds of interesting bikes on display and other gadgetry.

Felt bike with Shimano DI2 electonic shifters. This bike costs about $10K as shown!

In the evening I headed out to a VO2 Multisport member’s home for a dinner with a bunch of people. It was nice to catch up with people and gorge on pasta, salad and cookies! For those of you thinking of racing a marathon or triathlon, remember that the key carbo-load dinner is NOT the night before the race…it is two nights before! This given the food time to digest and get into your muscles.

The view from dinner!
Team VO2 Multisport. I think 16 of us raced IMCDA, everyone finished and 6 qualified for Kona!

Pre-Race: Saturday

Saturday morning starting with a mini race-rehearsal with the VO2 Team. We all met at 9am and did (more or less) a 10-20 minute swim, 30-45 min ride and 10-20 minute run. My workout was on the low-end of the scale. The water was feeling a little warmer and it wasn’t very choppy.

Sunshine over the beach. This is where will start the race...imagine 2500 athletes starting at once. It will be NUTS!

After the rehearsal I ate some lunch and gathered my gear bags to check-in. At an Ironman race, you check in your Bike and Swim-Bike and Bike-Run bags the day before the race. You can put other things in them on race morning but this ensures that there are no lines/bottlenecks on race-day.

The Gear:

  • Swim: Tyr Hurricane Wetsuit, Aquasphere goggles and two swim caps. I wore two caps for extra warmth. I wore a Timex Ironman Watch during the entire race as well.
  • Swim/Bike Bag: Bike shoes with toe covers (I kept these on the whole ride), helmet, sunglasses, 2 packs of GU Chomps, 1 gel flask with 500 calories of gel, 1 tube of endurolytes tablets for electrolytes.
  • Bike: 2010 Cervelo P3 w/ Williams Aero Wheels (80 MM deep wheels) + PowerTap. I used an XLAB bottle cage off the pack and XLAB food pouch near the head tube to store my endurolytes and GU Chomps.
  • Bike special needs bag: 2 packs of GU Chomps, 1 gel flask, 1 GU packet
  • Bike/Run Bag: Brooks Racer shoes, gel flask with 500 calories (I didn’t use it), visor
  • Run special needs bag: 2 GU Chomps, 2 GU gel packets (I didn’t use any of this stuff)
  • Other Run Gear: I used my watch to take splits for the first half-marathon at every mile. After that, I stopped caring about time and just focused on finishing 🙂 .
The ROCKETSHIP!

Fueling Strategy:

As per my race plan, my fueling strategy was simple and focused on pure sugar (no protein consumption) and plenty of water:

  • Consume 300 calories per hour on the bike. Use a mix of Hammer Gel and GU Chomps.
  • Consume 2 Hammer Endurolytes per hour on the bike (more if it was getting hot).
  • Consume 1-2 bottles per hour on bike (1 if cool, 2 if hot – I ended up consuming 1 bottle/hr).
  • Consume 2-4oz of Coke and  few sips of water/ice at every aid station on the run.

Sunday: Race Day!

I slept surprisingly well in the RV, and the three alarms I had set assured a swift 4am wake-up. I ate a cliff bar and drank a bottle of water (with Nuun) and laid around until 5am. I gathered my things and walked the 1/2 mile to a coffeshop for a small Americano, and was at the transition area by 6am.

I went to my transition bags and put some more stuff in them, then found a spot on the grass and did some light stretching. It was funny to see people already wearing their wetsuits at 6:15am! 45 minutes is a long time to be sitting around in neoprene.

I did some push-ups and yoga to warm up, and donned my wetsuit by 6:40am and joined the masses on the beach. It was a HUGE swim start. 2500 people is a lot of people! My last ironman had 1600 people and this felt far bigger I decided to position myself towards the front and in the middle of the crowd. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck behind a bunch of slower swimmers.

The Swim: …a Combat Sport

The huddled masses. I was positined towards the middle, about 3 rows back from the water.

Promptly at 7am the gun went off and all hell broke loose. People were incredibly aggressive in the swim, which amazed me given how long a day it would be. I was punched by a half-dozen different people, grabbed by several and dunked by one – all in the first 500 yards. I swam fairly conservative and at one point actually swam to the outer edge of the pack to find some calmer water.

In retrospect I should have placed myself more towards the far side of the beach, and stood a few rows further back.

The swim course was two loops around a big rectangle, making all left turns. The first left turn was nuts since you had a very wide pack of swimmers all attempting to converge and make a tight corner.

I kept my pace controlled, and aside from worrying about getting kicked or pulled, stayed calm and my breathing was controlled the entire time.

I emerged from the first lap in 35 minutes, did a short run on the beach and jumped back in for my second lap.

The second lap was far calmer, and I focused on drafting and staying relaxed. Coming out of the water, there was a short run along the beach into the transition area.

Time = 1:16:35. I expected my swim to be 1:05-10 and my last swim at IMCDA in 2003 was 1:01. 1:16 was surprisingly slow but the day was long and I wasn’t worried too much about it.

I ran into transition and had my wetsuit stripped (yes, they have wetsuit strippers at these races! You sit on the ground and they yank it off), grabbed my transition bag and headed into the changing tent. One mistake I made was to not wear my racing uniform (a 1 piece DeSoto triathlon uniform) under my wetsuit. Putting this on took FOREVER and it kept getting stuck on my arms and legs. At least 5 minutes were lost here. Amazing how slow you move when your body is freezing. My total T1 time was 8 minutes or so….which is a LOT of time.

The Bike: Staying Relaxed

Mile 60-something of the 112 mile bike course.

The bike was the biggest wildcard of this entire race. I knew deep down that if I could make if through the bike I would finish the race. I know how to gut out a marathon even if it means power walking it. My knee was the biggest factor. I hadn’t tested it with a ride over a few hours in several months, and really didn’t know what would happen.I had an amazing knee tape job (with kineseo-tape) by a PT before the race. This ended up being a huge help.

My strategy was to race with my powermeter as a guide. This device basically measure wattage produced and with appropriate testing during training, can give an indication of how hard or easy you should it. During an Ironman race, the goal for me is to ride steadily at 70-75% of the watts that I could hold for 1 hour during a time trial (this is 175 watts). Based on previous testing I had done, this meant I needed to keep my power between 122-132 watts for the entire race. On uphills this means I need to spin in an easy gear and take it easy, and push hard on the downhills and flats instead of coasting. Given the issues with my knee, I decided to go even easier, and stay between 118-125 watts. If I felt good, I would pick it up for the second loop of the 2 loop bike course. WISHFUL THINKING as this didn’t end up happening.

Starting the ride I felt quite good. A little cold, but it warmed up quickly and I didn’t need to wear arm-warmers or a long sleeve shirt, but was glad I had my toe-covers on. There were so many athletes on the course that everyone was pretty much riding in a single ginormous pack for the first 30 miles or so! Since my bike ride is comparatively slower than my swim, people were passing me almost the entire time on the bike course.

After about 90 minutes of riding, my fueling strategy was working well. Gel and chomps with water. I took 2 endurolytes  per hour. It wasn’t very hot but since Hammer Gel doesn’t have sodium, I took the endurolytes anyway.

Mile 25 on the course, with epic views of Hayden Lake.

After about two hours I started feeling my knee. It was a dull ache and I intentionally slowed to keep it from flaring up. After three hours, the pain got worse, almost like a stabbing pain on the medial side of my knee. It was really worried at this point. I tried adjusting my bike position and stretching while riding by it wouldn’t go away.

After 50 miles of riding, on my way back into town to start the second loop of the race, I was certain that I would need to drop out. I couldn’t fathom riding another 56 miles with this kind of pain.

Riding by the transition area, for some reason I don’t really know….I decided to just keep pedaling for another 10 miles to see what happened.

One think I have learned from racing a few ultra-marathons over the past year, is just when you think things cannot possibly get any worse….they don’t….and they actually start getting better!

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn -Harriet Beecher Stowe

The road was pretty flat and I focused on pedaling more with my right leg (which felt fine) instead of my left. I kept riding in this way and eventually (after 70 miles) the pain subsided almost completely!

I really cannot explain why this happened, but my knee basically felt numb (like I had iced it) and the pain was gone. I continued to ride and aside from some stiffness in my lower back and neck, felt OK through the remainder of the 112 mile course. Every 20 minutes I would stand and do some “cat and cow” yoga poses while riding to loosen up my back.

My second lap was much slower, not much I could do about that. On the plus-side my nutrition was spot-on and I came off the bike feeling totally fine. Measurements from my power meter:

  • My first lap took 3:12 @ 120 average watts (140 normalized)
  • My second lap took 3:32 @ 108 average watts (126 normalized)
  • Total bike time was ~6:45 @ 114 average watts (133 normalized)
Power meter race file. Tan line = power, Brown line = elevation, White line = temp. Notice the steady drop in power through the race (ideally, the opposite would happen!). The temperature rose into the low 80's and was perfect with low humidity. Also notice the elevation change, this course was very hilly - mostly shorter hills/rollers with several steep ones.
Mile 65 of the bike, hoping my knee would hold up! ....and it did.

The Run: more like a “shuffle”

My transition was pretty quick, and I walked out of transition (intentionally) for about 200 yards and then started a slow jog. I felt very good and came through the first mile in 8:50 – which was far too fast. I was planning to hit 10 minutes miles for the first half of the run (including walking every aid station) and then run 9 min/miles for the second half.

The next few miles also came through around 9 min/mile pace and I forced myself to slow down to around 9:30-10min/mile pace with brief walk breaks at each aid station.

Mile 3 of the run. My coach Ben Bigglestone (VO2 Multisport) giving me a few words of encouragement.

Here’s how the run went down (2 loops of a 13.1 mile course):

  • Miles 1-3: Felt really great and ended up going out a little too fast.
  • Miles 3-10: Felt good still, fueled completely on Coke (at each aid station) with a little water. Pace slowed a little to 10 min miles. Coke is amazing and I’m glad I started drinking it right away on the run.
  • Miles 10-13.1: Starting to feel more tired, but still able to jog and took short walk-breaks between aid stations.By the time I hit the half-way point I knew I would finish the race no matter what which was a huge relief.
  • Miles 13.1-20: Painful! I ended up walking 2/3’s of this section. It was really tough. My knee didn’t bother me at all really, my legs were just totally dead and the bottoms of my feet were super sore from all the pounding. I never knew it was possible to run so slow…it’s called the “Ironman Shuffle”…I was barely picking my feet of the ground…but still moving faster than a walk – so it counts as running! The pic below is photographic evidence of what a “shuffle” looks like.
  • Miles 20-26.2: I ended up seeing some team-mates, and also a friend that was competing. This gave me a big boost and I ran about half of this stretch. It was slow but at least I ran!
Mile 16 of the run - demonstrating the "Ironman Shuffle". Look at how little I am able to lift my foot!

The last few miles of the run were impossibly hard. You’d think having run 50 miles just a few months ago I could at least jog the last 5K in, but it was impossible. I jogged about 400 yards and walked for 30 seconds….repeat, repeat, repeat. I ran the last half-mile, and took the time to make sure noone was around me so I could get a good finish picture 🙂

The marathon ended up being an over 5 hour affair, not the 4 hours I planned. Whatever, I finished and am happy with that!

Yes, that is salt coating my arms and shorts!

Final stats:

BIB AGE STATE/COUNTRY PROFESSION
1259 32 Bellevue WA USA Management
 

 

SWIM BIKE RUN OVERALL RANK DIV.POS.
1:16:35 6:44:05 5:12:40 13:24:42 1268  

166

 

LEG DISTANCE PACE RANK DIV.POS.
TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (1:16:35) 2:00/100m 825 112
 

 

BIKE SPLIT 1: 34.2 mi 34.2 mi (1:56:07) 17.67 mi/h
BIKE SPLIT 2: 90.2 mi 56 mi (3:27:22) 16.20 mi/h
BIKE SPLIT 3: 112 mi 21.8 mi (1:20:36) 16.23 mi/h
TOTAL BIKE 112 mi (6:44:05) 16.63 mi/h 1272 157
 

 

RUN SPLIT 1: 6.6 mi 6.6 mi (1:02:51) 9:31/mi
RUN SPLIT 2: 13.4 mi 6.8 mi (1:14:25) 10:56/mi
RUN SPLIT 3: 19.5 mi 6.1 mi (1:29:43) 14:42/mi
RUN SPLIT 4: 26.2 mi 6.7 mi (1:25:41) 12:47/mi
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi (5:12:40) 11:56/mi 1268 166
 

 

TRANSITION TIME
T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 8:11
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 3:11
 

 

Post-Race:

After finishing, I spent some time talking with a friend who also just finished, got a post-race massage,  grabbed pizza and found grass to lay in. I stayed in that spot for a good 30 minutes – totally catatonic! I felt surprisingly good but didn’t want to move. Eventually I got up, got my bags and bike, and headed back to my RV where I showered, took a short nap and then headed back to the race finish to cheer on the final athletes who finished between 11pm and midnight. The energy during the last hour of an Ironman is ABSOLUTELY INSANE! It is inspiring to see what people are able to do and all walks of life crossed that line…old, young and all shapes and sizes.

Lessons Learned:

I am convinced that the key to racing Ironman (or any endurance race) is STAYING HEALTHY!

All the fancy gear and training is worthless unless you are healthy enough to race comfortably. Nutrition and pacing strategies also matter but I’m really coming away from this race experience with a new appreciation for how important it is to be healthy come race day. In the future if I have to decide between training more and doing some PT/therapy/yoga or self-care to heal my body…I know what I am going to choose. There is also a whole bunch of exercises I’ll be doing to strengthen my joints/soft tissue to prevent future injury.

What’s Next?

First priority is to get my knee 100% healthy and also remedy the plantar fascia issues that I’ve had since the Copper Canyon race in March. I want to do another Iron-distance race this year to take advantage of the fitness I’ve built up and there are a few events I have my eye on, more to come on that.

Change Your Approach

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

– I first heard this from Tony Robbins at a training in 2005  (original source is Rita Mae Brown and others).

Dealing with a few injuries over the past couple months I’ve had to change-up my approach to training.

An issue with my hip and low back led my to question how I spend most of my waking hours working at a desk, prompting the use of a motorized sit/stand desk. Just a couple of hours a day of standing at work and my hip pain vanished.

An issue with my feet (plantar fascia pain following copper canyon) has me using shoes with a bit more cushioning – Brooks Racer ST’s –  until my feet heal completely.

As issue with my knee (medial knee strain) has me changing my bike position and equipment. Turns out my road bike and older pedals with less float don’t cause me pain, while my new Time Trial bike hurts like hell, despite having it professionally fit by two different bike fitters. Even though the pedals on my new bike (Speedplay Zero’s) are supposed to be great for people with knee issues (and actually prevent issues from developing), for me, these pedals don’t make my knees happy!

My point in all this is that if you are not getting the results you expect, try talking to as many informed people as you can, assess ALL the options and change-up your approach. You never know what little detail could be the missing link.

New Kettlebell @ 53lbs

Image via Wikipedia

I just got a brand new 53-pound kettlebell to join my 32-pounder. The 32 was getting light. Great for higher reps but now is a good time to upgrade. I ordered through a Dragon Door wholesaler, Kettlebility in Seattle, to spare myself crazy-high shipping costs.

A video of the unveiling:

###

This morning I did a trail run at Cougar Mountain, about 4.5 miles at a good clip and then 4 fast repeats up a hill (each repeat was 85 seconds). Nice workout given I haven’t been feeling so hot this week after my return from the insanity that is CES.

Also, I got a copy of Pavel’s book “Power to the People” along with my kettlebell. I almost finished it in one sitting! So much good stuff in there. Can’t wait to start dead-lifting again. I always thought squats were more effective and safer, but Pavel thinks differently.

Getting better with age

I finished the Portland Marathon last weekend. It was my first marathon in 10 years (not counting the Ironman‘s shortly after). Glad I did it but boy was it tough! Leading up to the race I had a lot of people ask me how I thought it would go. I really didn’t have a clue. I ran 3:10 in my last marathon on a tougher course. This time, running under 4 hours would be nice and I set that as a realistic goal. Having only run 16 miles in training leading up to the race it was really unclear what my body would actually  be capable of doing. I ended up finishing in 3:54.

Here I am - with coffee in hand - talking to a friend who just finished the Portland Marathon as well.

I definitely feel like I am far tougher now (age 31) than I was when I ran my first marathon (age 21). People say all kinds of things about how younger athletes are stronger, recover faster and have some sort of edge. I think it is completely untrue. While science shows that lung capacity and strength do begin to decline beyond the late twenties (some say the decline starts as early as age 25) there are so many other factors at play. I know for certain I am mentally tougher than I was 21 years ago. I know how to handle discomfort and pain much better. I know how to not go out too fast (though sometimes I still do!) in a long race. I focus more on nutrition and hydration strategy. I also have a more well-rounded approach to training. I’m not as fixated on mileage on more on overall fitness. This means I do a ton of cross-training (yoga, bodyweight exercises, hiking, etc.).

I think the biggest distinction that I’ve gained with age is the ability to just endure. For my marathon, the final 10 miles were incredibly painful – not just tiring. My feet were swollen and I was freezing cold (it was pouring rain the entire race). It felt like I was running on stumps due to the swelling (first time I have ever experiences this). My hands were also swollen and hurt. I am still not sure what caused the swelling – the cold, the fact that I was soaking wet or some allergic reaction to something I ate. I slowed down a lot in those final miles but was able to stay mentally clear enough to reassess how I was doing and change-up my strategy. Instead of trying to run non-stop, I decided to walk the aid stations and then jog at a consistent pace in between. I ended up finishing strong and with a smile on my face. 10 years ago I would have definitely pushed it hard and probably ended up with massive cramping (as happened in my last marathon 10 years ago, and at my last Ironman race 7 years ago).

Hydration and nutrition is also another benefit. I used to think that stopping for water and food was lame and just an excuse to take a break. I used to speed up at aid stations just so I could pass people who were slowing down to get some food and water! I take the other approach now. I think it will help me out in a big way as I start racing longer distances – I am doing my first ultra-marathon in December at the North Face Endurance 50K in the San Francisco area Marin Headlands park.

I am convinced that when it comes to endurance sports we improve with age – especially when you count things beyond just finishing time/speed. I don’t know how far this will go….but I do know that when I hiked the Inca trail in 2003 – one of the strongest porters (hiking the entire trail barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt with 70 lbs on his back) was also the oldest. Nobody really knew his age…but it was definitely well over 50. Everyone respected him. All the guides, all the porters, everyone. I want to be like that guy!

The Inca Trail Entourage! Here we are cresting the highest mountain pass on the 4-day journey to Macchu Picchu - "Dead Woman's Pass" at roughly 13,500 ft. elevation. I am squinting from the cold wind and wearing the red winter hat in the back. (Dec 2003)

Tony Robbins Health Mastery Tips

The other day I came across some notes from from a few Tony Robbins programs I attended. As we emerge from the holiday’s and the overeating that typically goes along with it, these will come in handy to help us get back on track.

Tony Robbins Health Mastery Tips: Eight Key Principles for Maximum Nourishment

  1. Break your fast every morning with green vegetables, green juices, non-acid producing, low-sugar fruits and fruit juices or light alkalizing foods only
  2. Properly combine your foods for maximum health. Eat one concentrated food in a meal and do not combine carbohydrates and proteins in the same meal
  3. Eat comfortable amounts of food to maximize energy and nutrition
  4. Consume quality oils (Udo’s oil, flax, primrose and olive oil)
  5. Do not eat when you are stressed or tired
  6. Do not drink water during meals (dilutes the digestive fire)
  7. Eat organic food whenever possible
  8. Do not eat condensed foods, especially animal proteins, immediately before going to bed

Other important tips….

  • Consume 70% from water-rich foods (raw-living foods) – have a salad with every meal!
  • Avoid animal flesh – it’s highly acid-producing
  • Avoid dairy – it’s highly acid producing
  • Eliminate acid-addictions (caffeine, sugar, salt, nicotine, alcohol)
  • Eliminate processed fats

Take The 10 Day Challenge!

Try the above for 10 days and see how you feel. Make it a 10 day challenge to your own health and wellness. Ask a buddy to join you! Leave a comment and let me know how it goes.

The Value of Sleep

Quick post – it’s been a while since I last wrote and I’ve recently discovered something so simple that I just have to share. Sleep. I’ve been very busy of late, with a new job at work, a bunch of travel, teaching yoga and taking some workshops, and getting ready for an upcoming trip to India. The one thing that has been lacking is sleep – and I’ve been getting by on 5-6 hours a night pretty consistently for the past several weeks.

I’ve noticed that I’ve definitely been a lot more irritable, less energized and haven’t been as mental sharp and generally optimistic about things.

Starting last Friday, I’ve been making it a point to sleep a LOT. This means getting to bed by 10pm at the latest and getting a solid 9 hours every day (over the weekend I got 12 hours a night….which was a bit too much). The change is dramatic. I find that my entire day goes better and I feel generally happier, mentally tuned in and my relationships with people also seem more connected.

Sleep is important….speaking of which…gotta go to bed soon…teaching yoga in the morning!

Interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke (Part 2/3)

Here is part 2 (of 3) of my interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke. You can see part 1 of the interview here.

In this segment, we cover:

  • Robert’s story of transformation from 125 pounder to 200 pound vegan bodybuilder
  • How to gain weight on a plant-based diet
  • The importance of a journal – keeping track of your goals and training progress
  • Tips to staying motivated and achieving goals

Enjoy!

Interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke (Part 1/3)

<if you can’t see the video embedded in this post, click here>

A few months ago I got the chance to sit down with Robert Cheeke, my good friend and an accomplished vegan bodybuilder. Robert is currently super-busy working on his second documentary (“Vegan Brothers in Iron”), his first book (due out sometime soon!) and touring the country as a representative for Vega and as motivational speaker. He frequently gives talks at health/fitness festivals, universities and vegetarian/animal rights conferences.

Robert is a super-motivating guy who really walks his talk – he’s been vegan for over 15 years and in that time has gone from 120 pounder to 190+ pound bodybuilder, all using 100% plant-based nutrition. I split the interview into three different clips. I’ll post the second two in the next week or two, but wanted to share this one with you right away.

In this <10 minute clip, we discuss:

  • What Robert is up to – filming, speaking, competing!
  • Update on his latest competitions
  • Common nutrition “pitfalls” many vegans make
  • His favorite 100% plant-based protein sources

Enjoy!

Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke Interview (Part 1/3)

BTW…if you have questions for Robert, please leave them in the comments to this post and we’ll address them in a future post.

Barefoot Running – Vibram Five Fingers Are Worth It

I’ve been a runner for the past 15 years. Over this time I’ve suffered countless injuries. Training for marathons and Ironman Triathlons can be tough on your body!

Shin splints. Stress fractures. IT band issues. Knee issues.  Plantar fascia issues. I’ve suffered through it all. I can run injury-free as long as keep my mileage fairly low, around 30 miles a week. If I get above 40-50 miles a week for a month or longer – I tend to develop issues. My easy response to this is just to keep my mileage low and cross-train heavily.

There must be a better way to stay healthy while training – without having to cut back on mileage.

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about barefoot running. The benefits of ditching traditional shoes have been discussed in Men’s Health, bestselling books like “Born to Run” and by popular blogger Tim Ferriss. Running and walking barefoot is what we were built to do as human beings. Ditching heels and overly cushioned trainers are said to be a huge help in curing lower-leg and back injuries as well.

Continue reading Barefoot Running – Vibram Five Fingers Are Worth It

Stretch Yourself

I stretch everyday, in some way shape or form. I practice yoga or just do a few stretches to move my physical body and get the blood flowing. Stretching isn’t just about flexibility, it also makes you strong.

When you lengthen your muscles you increase the amount of blood that can flow through your tissues, which helps your cells cleanse and fill up with nutrients. The more nutrition you can provide your cells, the stronger and healthier you will become. So yes, stretching can and does make you stronger!

I also stretch myself in other ways every day. I stretch myself at work by taking on challenging projects. I also stretch myself at work and home to use my own creativity to solve hard problems. I stretch myself to motivate others and improve my own levels of health and wellness. I stretch myself to teach more uplifting yoga classes. I stretch myself to just blog more often 🙂 .

How did you stretch yourself today? Before you answer…..get down on the floor, sit with your legs together and straight out in front of you and just fold forward in a relaxed forward bend. Don’t try to touch your toes, just fold over your legs and surrender to gravity and hold the pose for a few minutes. Releax your head down toward your legs too.

OK, once you get in the pose, now ask yourself the question…how did you stretch yourself today? If you don’t feel completely satisfied with your answer, what are you going to do differently tomorrow to give your self a  more inspiring answer?

Raw Food Challenge – Day 11 Update

Today is Day 11 of my Raw Food 30 Day Challenge. I really didn’t expect it to be this easy. I feel absolutely fantastic and have absolutely no detox symptoms to speak of. In fact, this transition from my vegan diet to a 100% raw food diet is easier than my transition from lacto-ovo vegetarian to vegan.

I think difference is that I am both far more educated and also have connected into a support system of people that I have learned a ton from – from various raw food online forums like Give It To Me Raw and 30 Bananas A Day, and through a few friends (like Darrick) who have been walking down this path for a while. I’ve also been reading a ton of books and online resources (including Dr. Doug Graham’s 80-10-10 and David Wolfe’s Sunfood Diet).

Continue reading Raw Food Challenge – Day 11 Update

5 Tips For More Energy

People ask me all the time about what I eat (since I am Vegan) and what kind of smoothies I drink and why. Most people ask me these questions because they want to loose a few pounds or gain some strength, but in almost all cases I think the real motivation for the question is something deeper.

People are really looking to have more energy to live their lives. I’m not just talking about being able to keep your eyes open during a boring meeting at work. I’m talking about having the energy to perform at a high level both in mental pursuits (working on a hard problem at work or in school) and physical pursuits (like a power yoga class!).

I thought it would be good to share my top 5 tips for energizing your life. These are things that I do on a regular basis – and they work. I think experience is the best teacher – and I have learned well 🙂

  1. Avoid Caffeine. I know I know – sacrilege! Despite the supposed health benefits of drinking coffee (and even tea), the reality is that when you borrow energy you need to pay it back. This might not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth. If you are serious about energizing your body – cut the caffeine. Or (as I do right now), limit it to 1 serving in the morning.
  2. Hydrate. Your body is 75% water. Your body also has 2-3x as much lymph fluid in your body as it does blood. Lymph is the watery substance in between your cells that allows nutrients to flow in and toxins to flow out of your cells. Staying well-hydrated is critical to proper energy transfer into and out of the cells. A great way to stay hydrate is not just to drink water, but to avoid dehydrating your body with caffeine, refined sugars and other highly processed (and dehydrated) foods.
  3. Eat Nutrient Dense Foods. I’ve written a great post about this. In summary, you should focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and green/bright colored veggies that have high water content and high nutrient contents on a per-calorie basis. Did you know that broccoli has more protein than steak on a per-calorie basis? The truth is sometimes surprising but it is the truth nonetheless.
  4. Eliminate Refined Sugars. If it says “cane sugar,” “brown rice syrup,” “corn syrup,” or any other kind of processed sugar on the package, don’t eat it. This includes most energy bars! Your body will just experience a sugar rush and crash cycle when you consume these things. Instead, eat fresh fruits. The sugar in the fruits is processed differently by the body and they won’t cause the same spike in blood sugar. You’ll also help your body to stay hydrated.
  5. Breath Properly! This is perhaps the single most effective thing you can do. I wrote a long post about the importance of proper breath work. If you are at all committed to having more energy in your days – you should read this post. Essentially, cultivate a practice of consistent and deep nasal breathing – especially under times of stress and while sleeping. It may take some practice but the benefits are well worth it.

Have any other tips to share? Please let me know in the comments!

3-Day Fruit Fast & Cleanse

I’m participating in 40 Days to Personal Revolution at my yoga school. This program, developed by Baron Baptiste, incorporates regular asana practice (6 days a week) with regular readings from the book, journaling/writing/reflecting, weekly group meetings with other participants, twice daily meditation and observation of certain dietary restrictions (for the sake of cleansing). For me, I have eliminated all caffeine and processed sugar from my diet for the entire 40 days.

As part of the program, we embark on the fourth week (we just finished week 3) with a 3-day fruit fast. I might as well call this a fruit “feast” since I truly enjoy eating tons of fresh, ripe, juicy fruits! During these 3 days we eat nothing but fruit. This begins tomorrow (Monday) morning and ends on Thursday morning.

I just re-stocked my fruit supply. Here is what my kitchen counter looks like right now. I don’t know if I will finish all of this in 3 days, but it will be fun trying! Most of fruit is organic (except for the berries, papaya, avocado and mangoes).

  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 4 avocados
  • 2 x 2lbs strawberries
  • 4 x 5oz blackberries
  • 7 kiwis
  • 4 large mangoes
  • 4 apples
  • 2 pears
  • 25 clementine oranges (small ones, about 5 pounds)
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 huge pommelo
  • 3 medium papaya
  • 22 mini-banana
  • 22 regular bananas
  • 1 large pineapple
  • 25 kumquats (8oz)

High Quality Breathing

I have written a lot about breathing, perhaps because it matters so much.

We can go for weeks without food, days without water but only a few minutes without breathing. The world record for breath holding is currently held by David Blaine – a famous magician who got his start doing street magic. The time? 17 minutes and 4.4 seconds.

The quality of our breath tells us a lot about our mental and emotional condition. It is something worth reflecting on. What is the quality of your breath? When do you tend to hold your breath without even knowing it? Are you breathing fully?

It is common for people to spend thousands of dollars on beauty treatments every year, and even more money on supplements. Perhaps the more important thing to consider is the quality of air that you breath, and the quality of your actual act of breathing.

Your Perfect Meal

I’m really into my blender drinks. I start out every morning with one, before work and even on weekends. I’ll add anywhere from 8-10 ingredients…a real mess of things. It’s tasty, organic, cleansing, energizing, alkalizing, hydrating, satiating and yes….I said tasty.

My drinks get pretty crazy because of all the great stuff I throw in there. When in doubt….toss it in. My Vita-Mix does the trick every time. If you don’t have a high quality blender…get one…..my Vita-Mix is one of the best investments I’ve made. I didn’t think there was a difference between a $40 blender and a $400 blender….but now I know that there is. You’ll never taste a smoothie so smooth.

My blender drinks are perfect meals. In the morning, they are so packed with nutrition, that if this one drink was the only nourishment I  had all day, I would be alright. Note that I said if, since I do eat several snacks and lunch every day.

I enjoy the process of eating, but modern day lifestyles make it tough to just sit around and chew all day. That’s why blenders are so valuable. They also take foods that might not taste great on their own (e.g. raw cacao, spirulina, maca root) and make them down right tasty when blended with banana, honey, dates, berries or other fruits.

Blenders also pulverize food to the point where your body can more easily assimilate nutrients. I typically have a second smoothie after my yoga practice in the evening, while I am preparing dinner. This will be lighter drink (about 3-5 ingredients).

I am a big believer that any craving for food is ultimately born from a craving for nutrients. We are so used to eating calorically dense foods are nutrient light. Pizza, pasta, rice, sandwiches, etc. Lacking the nutrients it needs, the body starts to crave more food. This causes us to eat even more calorically dense foods in a desperate attempt to get the right nutrition. In most cases, this nutrition is in the form of key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Unfortunately, our food choices rarely give us what we need. We get tons of calories but not enough real nutrition.

Blender drinks give you a way to consumer natural superfoods in a user friendly way. These superfoods (cacao, maca root, flax, goji berries and hemp are my favorites) are ridiculously nutrient dense. For example, cacao (raw chocolate beans) have > 5x the antioxidants of blueberries and is the top sources of minerals like sulfur and magnesium out of all food products. A high quality meal with these superfoods make food cravings a thing of the past. They make a perfect meal.

My Strength-Gaining Mission (Final Results)

I started this mission as a 30 day challenge. Through day 20, I followed the protocol. Then, things got very busy for me at work, and I did not have the time to even get in the gym for 30 minutes twice a week. I did my last real weight workout 20 days into the mission, and did another (abbreviated) workout 24 days in.

That said, I did continue to monitor my bodyweight and body-fat, and made a conscious effort to eat more high quality food even when I wasn’t working out. In a way, the last 10 days of this experiment were really about just letting my body recover completely and seeing how that would impact my stats.

In my last post, I did a recap of the strength gains I saw after 20 days on the program:

“So in 20 days, I’ve managed to INCREASE my Squat by +26%, Chest Press +10% with +3 added reps, Chest Fly +11%, Pullover +30% (with 1 less rep) and Leg Press +12% with 1 fewer rep.”

Throughout the month of May, I’ve seen my bodyweight and body-fat fluctuate a bit. I didn’t see much change during the middle of the month, but saw quite a lot of progress during the end of the month. What change did I make during the end of the month?

Quite simply, during the end of the month, I ate more <high quality food> and trained less <in fact, I didn’t do any significant weight training during the last 10 days>. While from a psychological standpoint I felt like I was getting slightly weaker, the stats showed that I was indeed getting stronger.

The net results showed that I had lost 3 pounds of body-fat and gained >5 pounds of muscle in a single month. <see chart above>

This is a big insight for me, that my body needs time and lots of rest to gain muscle mass.

I am going to keep up the High-Intensity training protocol for another month, but cut back my training to once a week and see what happens.

Seattle Experiment: Check-In

May 12 Check-In

I’ve been following a HIT <high intensity training> training protocol for the past 12 days. The routine, as mentioned on Tim Ferriss’s blog and outlined in The Colorado Experiment, calls for training less frequently, using very slow reps whereby you reach muscular failure in a single set.

Continue reading Seattle Experiment: Check-In

How to Gain 34lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks

Tim Ferriss has another motivating post about how to gain a massive amount of muscle in a short period of time. It is almost too big a change to believe, but I’ll let you be the judge.

What’s the most weight (muscle or fat!) that you’ve gained in a single month?

For me: +10lbs. Back in 1998, after school let out for the summer, I had an internship in NYC. I went from running, swimming and biking a ton, to just lifting a ton (and eating a ton) and not doing much else. The weight came on pretty easily. After the first month, I gained about 2 pounds each of the remaining 2 months.

During my 12-week challenge last year, I managed to gain +10lbs of lean muscle in 12 weeks.

Gaining 34lbs in 4 weeks is crazy. Even 1/4 that gain would be tough. The kicker is, Tim did it while training only 8 hours a week! I need to learn that technique.

Increase Your Endurance and Reduce Stress With One Simple Technique

Hi there…I just wrote another blog post with some additional techniques for taking your physical endurance to the next level. Check it out here.

For the past three weeks I have been applying a technique that has had more impact of my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being than any other product, system or technique I have tried out in recent memory. It is incredibly simple. It is free. It doesn’t require any props or accoutrement’s. It doesn’t disturb or distract anybody. You can do it while doing other things. You don’t need any special abilities to start doing it. You don’t even need instructions. Oh, and did I mention it’s free? 🙂

In my own experience, this technique has had a profound effect on my quality of life. My endurance throughout the day has skyrocketed. I rarely become stressed, and when I do, it seems to pass over me like a gentle breeze. My ability to focus on things that are important to me has increased significantly. I am less easily distracted. Do the benefits really match the claims by the title of this post? Yes.

Continue reading Increase Your Endurance and Reduce Stress With One Simple Technique