Category Archives: Life

Building Better Base Fitness, and Using the Gym While I Can

Shortly after the New Year began, I poked my head into my gym to see how they were handling Nevada’s 25% max capacity restrictions, and found that it was mostly business as usual. Because of this particular facility’s vast space, even with a crowd they don’t come close to capacity, so as long as some machines are shut off, as long as everyone is wearing masks and spaced apart, everything can proceed as normal.

I had been developing a home strength training plan during the preceding weeks with useful results (and I’ll share this at some point soon). But with my gym open and available, I’m taking advantage of the strength training and cross training equipment while it’s currently available.

After taking a few weeks off from training in December, I wanted to ramp back up into training. But I didn’t want to just run and run as I did in the past, as I found the demand of so much running led to me running slower than I liked or having to take more total days off from training.

I knew from the past year or two that I could comfortably cross train while ramping running back up, allowing me to quickly rebuild aerobic fitness and augment strength while my neuromuscular fitness developed more gradually.

While I’ve only been able to run a few miles every other day, and do some additional neighborhood walking… I’ve rode the spin bike at the gym every day, plus strength trained with full weights every other day.

The following quality workout day looks initially daunting:

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A Home Endurance Workout Series Using 5-lb Dumbbells

My 5 pound dumbbells

With Nevada’s “Pause” lockdown reducing gym capacity to 25%, going to the gym to strength train or otherwise exercise could become largely impractical. I don’t foresee the restriction being lifted anytime soon. Plus, with New Year’s having arrived, what little capacity is available is likely getting swallowed up by many poorly-planned New Year’s resolutions.

Until a couple weeks ago, I hadn’t lifted weights at all, since I hadn’t been to the gym at all. I’ve had personal dumbbell weight sets at varying points in my life, but the last few years certainly hasn’t been one of them. My only free weights are a pair of 5 pound dumbbells that I once used in a clown theatre piece years ago. I long since figured I’m probably not getting swole off such light weight.

Or so I thought.

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The Work In 2021

Happy New Year 2021, everyone.

I’ve spent the last month mostly thinking about what I want to focus on consistently doing in 2021. Unlike most, I didn’t run myself into the ground with excessive workouts in 2020, instead taking the time to reflect on where I was at and where I need to be going in 2021.

Living with my family is the first time I’ve been able to clearly evaluate where I’m at and where I need to work toward, while not simultaneously scrambling to maintain my existence while living on my own. Coronavirus aside, it ended up being a good decision to move back from Chicago in 2019. I was treading water financially and that situation probably was not going to get better had I stayed, let alone after Chicago’s mostly draconian approach to lockdowns let alone all the violence that erupted during last summer.

In 2020, I took a lot of extended time off from working out. I did train during extensive periods in 2020, but with no goal races to eventually run, I had the freedom to just break it off once I needed a break. Unless I decided to never run races again (hint: highly unlikely), I probably will never again get a period in life like this, with the total freedom to not worry so much about maintaining peak conditioning. Being over forty, I’m not in a condition to train that hard all the time and not see ill effects.

Over the last month, I’ve thought about how I want to handle training in 2021. I don’t expect races to fully return before late 2021, and realize this situation could continue into that winter and push everything back into spring 2022. I don’t plan to run Vancouver before 2022 (and thankfully they’re allowing 2020-deferrances to register at a steep discount for any marathon through 2023).

I was considering another marathon in May, but now it looks like most if not all big races in early 2021 will be wiped out. I’m willing to risk being wrong about that while training on my own terms.

If 2020 was about recovery from the continuous stress and demands of the previous several years, then 2021 for me will be about building the person that can excel at the ambitions I will have for 2022 and beyond.

The following are not necessarily New Year’s Resolutions, as I’ve already been working on them to some extent in late 2020, and I’m mostly just initiating them now because after the recent conclusion of my last work project (plus most of the rest of the world being idle at this time) I’ve got suitable free time for now to be a good time to start. I could have started this in March or June.

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Curing Your Sleep Problems

Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Here is a topic near and dear to my heart, an important facet of health that I’ve been working on as much as my diet and exercise.

The single most important aspect of your training development outside of the actual exercise is your ability to get good sleep. Even the important factor of your diet serves in large part your ability to effectively sleep, and its positive effects on your health will be limited if you aren’t sleeping well.

Over 1/3 of U.S. residents surveyed report they don’t get at least 7 hours sleep, and it’s no surprise nearly 40% report some sort of sleep disorder. While some may try to pinpoint the cause to some sort of disorder, the reality is that our choices play a substantial role in how much sleep we get or don’t get.

Unless you’re caring for a newborn child (during that period, they’re often going to wake up overnight and there’s little you can do about that), those choices were to a substantial degree probably avoidable. Even being compelled to keep a complicated, troublesome schedule due to career or family concerns is to some degree a preventable product of life choices. We often choose other priorities over sleep and don’t realize what a mistake that is.

But I digress, and that’s a whole other topic. Barring such extenuating circumstances, most people have ample opportunity to get good sleep every night, and they just don’t. And they may not be fully aware of what else they do aside from just staying awake to deny themselves of that opportunity to sleep….

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How A Busy Schedule Improved My Nutrition

I’m currently working in a fairly isolated location across town, and some weeks I’m working longer than 8 hours. My schedule many workdays is wall to wall booked:

  • Wake up
  • Perhaps run as time allows
  • Prep for work
  • Go to work and work 8-10 hours
  • Commute home
  • Work out if I didn’t get to in the morning
  • Eat dinner
  • Prep food and clothes for tomorrow
  • Go to bed.

On many workdays I can’t leave the client facility because I only have 30 minutes for lunch, plus even when I can the best food options are halfway across town. In this location there’s no supermarkets or viable restaurant options nearby. I won’t eat garbage fast food or something off a vending machine or convenience store counter. Even if any of it was satisfying (hint: doubtful), the near total lack of useful nutrients will crash my energy levels in the afternoon, in a job where I need to stay engaged and proactive.

And, of course, I’m now endurance training. I need to stay fueled for those morning and/or afternoon runs. I can’t just eat a minimal diet or whatever happens to be available and expect to perform as needed in these workouts. Plus, I have to maintain my overall health and not make choices that will contribute to illness or burnout. The food I eat has to support not just my general day to day health but what I am doing in training.

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Forty Two.

Today is birthday number forty two. I am working long hours today on a time sensitive work project so Friday’s work will begin early and end around 6pm. I don’t have a whole lot of interest in doing anything special for my birthday, other than probably this post. I rarely do.

Taking stock: As my personal life completely changed, I did what I could to maintain my training until other priorities and situations slowed or stopped it. I went to training for a CPT certification, and even though I’m ready to go its acquisition was delayed quite a bit (still in process) due to…

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Two Common Strength Training Mistakes

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

I spend a lot of time in the gym with a lot of people who work out. Social media shows me countless others who also work out, train others, etc. I don’t have a Kinesiology degree but I know what I’m talking about. I preface with this because some of you are not going to like what I’m going to say next.

The two most common mistakes I see people make with strength training are:

  1. People train like a powerlifter, with powerlifter goals, even though that’s not or should not be their goal.
  2. People train continuously without taking any proactive, conscious training breaks.

Why are these problems?

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