Tag Archives: Training

My Supplement Stack: 2023 Edition

It has been a while since I’ve updated my personal supplement rundown. Over the last year and change I’ve slowly tested and adjusted my supplement intake, based on research and personal needs. Since my stack had been actively evolving, I wanted to hold out on updating until I had mostly settled on a revised supplement intake.

But now I’ve comfortably settled into a tight regimen of certain supplements, and I’ll discuss what I use and when.

Please note the obvious caveat: The use and dosage of the below is based on my body and health situation. Your needs may be different. Explore usage of any of the below items with discretion and caution for your individual situation. And of course, you’re welcome to take/use or leave/ignore any of this information.

These are listed in rough order of importance.

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Walking Backwards

I wanted to go to the gym before work in the mornings again. This is also because I wanted to cut down on going out for coffee in the mornings. I didn’t want to sit at home and commute during the rush hour either. A key reason I leave early for work (as well as work out right after work) is to avoid the heavier traffic.

But as I ramp up my mileage in base training, I notice that even simple low-impact spin bike workouts left me unduly worn out each day. Runalyze training stats also showed my TRIMP/monotony/workload-ratio ran unsustainably high when I combined both.

So I cut out cross training aside from strength workouts twice a week. I also cut down on the length of my walks during work breaks.

With this, and without the morning gym workouts, my training stats all fell back in normal range. While demanding for now, my added mileage felt reasonably comfortable.

But I still wanted to make use of the gym in the morning. There had to be something low-impact I could do without it being mind numbing (I can’t lay down and stretch for 60 minutes). Yoga’s a bit too much. Strength workouts are 20-30 minutes and not 60 for a reason. The elliptical and spin bike again were too much. Even a normal treadmill walk was a bit too demanding.

I decided last week to start with reading my Kindle on a treadmill while going as slow as reasonable. The default at the gym is 1.0mph, way slower than usual for me, and I just kept it there while reading. This went okay, but towards the end I got an idea.

I’ve dabbled occasionally in my lifetime with walking backwards, both out in the world and on the treadmill. It certainly isn’t super challenging. I’ve occasionally seen people at the gym do it on the treadmill as training.

I decided on impulse to try it during my last few minutes on the treadmill, and turned out it worked fine. Minimal impact, super easy, no real danger. My Garmin showed it was much lower in effort than normal walking.

Next time out, I tried walking 1.0mph backwards on the treadmill for a whole half hour. Went fine, and Runalyze showed the TRIMP impact is about 40% lower than a normal walk of the same length.


It turns out that walking backwards not only has known training benefits, but also benefits those with lower back and hamstring issues.

The often-constricted hamstrings move more eccentrically in a backward walk, improving their range of motion and better engaging them. Recall that I had serious hamstring problems both last year and in 2019. I’ve had none since, but I certainly don’t mind preventative work to avoid them with better hamstring fitness.

Backwards walking also reduces dynamic stress on the knees and improves motor function of the surrounding muscles, not to mention the frequently neglected tibialis muscles along the shin.

So, I started doing treadmill backwards walking on weekday mornings. It does sometimes leave me a bit weary, though that could also be the cumulative effect of the other running. I still strength train in addition a couple days a week, but other than that (and short walks on breaks) no cross training.

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Experimenting with Tom Osler’s Base and Sharpening Training

I previously mentioned reading Sky Waterpeace’s Lazy Man’s Guide to (Ultra)Marathon Running. While obviously not that lazy myself, Kindle Unlimited granted me free access to the Kindle version. The somewhat insightful book got me experimenting with keto, which was fine for the month I actively practiced it.

But Sky also harps on the writing and work of an accomplished marathoner and ultra runner named Tom Osler. Sky’s principles are based considerably on Osler’s principles. As an appendix, Sky included a 28 page booklet written in the late 60’s by Osler about his fundamental training approach called The Conditioning of Distance Runners. You can now find the booklet on Amazon and other sources.

Along with being a precursor to today’s gumroad e-books if you think about it… Osler’s booklet, however esoteric and outdated on the surface, outlines a sound approach that in some form has been both practiced and ignored in the decades since, to this present day.

There are two camps in endurance runner training. One emphasizes a healthy dose of recurring harder workouts alongside your easy and long runs from day one. The idea is that the harder, faster workouts are what makes you faster and fitter, that without regular fast running you cannot possibly get faster, and possibly even get gradually slower. This approach is far and away the most popular of the two, because people generally aren’t patient, and coaches traditionally have learned to always train this way (plus it’s harder to be hands on when all the pupil’s running is easy running).

The other camp argues to initially emphasize a large volume of (often exclusively) easy training, only introducing harder workouts after having built a sizable easy running base over months. The understanding that developing your slow-twitch aerobic mitochondria is what improves your natural fitness and performance over time, and that speed/tempo work should build upon that base fitness after it has been developed.


Let me throw some arbitrary labels on these two camps for ease of discussion. I’ll call the first camp “Speed and Base”, as the two are utilized in tandem each week. I’ll call the second camp “Base then Focus”, as the theme is you spend months running easy at first to build a base, then only utilize harder training when closer to the goal event(s).

Below are some examples of writers or coaches whose approaches fall into each of the camps. Again, it’s worth noting the lion’s share of coaches and writers traditionally fall into the Speed and Base camp. For them I could name dozens of coaches, but I’ll stick to four.

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The Mechanics and Mindset of the 3 Day Cycle

Within the 21 Day Cycle is a series of 3 day cycles. More than anything the best approach to each 3 day cycle is an approach, a mindset, towards each of the individual days.

At its core, the 3 day cycle is this:

Day 1 involves strength training and easy aerobic training.
Day 2 involves easy, slightly more demanding aerobic training.
Day 3 involves a longer and/or tougher aerobic training session.

Day 1

Of the three days, this day’s aerobic training should be easiest. If it needs to be a day off from aerobic training, then it should be a rest day from aerobic training, with only strength training.

Your primary focus on Day 1 is two things:

1) Get your strength training session done. Strength training can constitute whatever you individually need it to, though during base and race training I wouldn’t make it too tough. I do the Full Fourteen, which with efficient sets and 60 second rest breaks (longer as needed for transitions) takes me about 25 minutes.

You could can do a 20 minute strength routine, and rotate between different blocks of workouts. Since you’d strength train every three days, you could hit every muscle group in every single workout if desired.

2) This should be the easiest, shortest aerobic training of the next three days. I often take a rest day from running on these days. If marathon training, I probably do short easy recovery runs to build training volume. Generally, I often cross train on these days, though on weekends I’ll just strength train and rest completely from aerobic training on these days, since I typically train heavily during the workweek.

If you’re a workaholic, I’d recommend setting a Day 1 cap of 45 minutes on any aerobic training. This workout is setting the bar for Days 2 and 3, and if you set it too high you’re either not going to hit it or burn yourself out doing it. The idea of the 3 day cycle is to moderate your workload so you ebb and flow between challenging training and allowing for recovery.

Day 2

While this is also an ‘easy day’, Day 2’s aerobic training should be longer, more demanding than Day 1’s training. Three important points:

1) Keep this aerobic session to no more than 60-65 minutes. I saw that so if you’re cross training or running on a gym machine, it’s okay to get to 60 minutes and do the full 5 minute cooldown. Also, I don’t want anyone to freak out if e.g. they’re running outside and see their run has gone 1:00:23.

2) If you rested totally from aerobic training on Day 1, then any easy training on Day 2 will suffice. As a minimum, I recommend you train on Day 2 at least one minute longer than it took for you to strength train on Day 1. If I only strength trained 25 minutes on Day 1, I want to run or cross train for at least 26 minutes.

3) You however want to not train too much on Day 2, because Day 3’s training should be longer or tougher than Day 2’s. So you don’t want to set the bar so high that exceeding it on Day 3 is too difficult.

If you did aerobically train on Day 1, then you want Day 2’s training to last at least one minute longer than your aerobic training. So if I decided on Day 1 to do a super easy 20 minute run with my strength training, I’ll want to run or cross train no less than 21 minutes on Day 2.

If you want to do speedwork (tempo runs, track stuff, fartleks, a regular run with any sort of fast segments, etc.), or even a run on unfamiliar harder terrain like mountain trails, I’d pick either Day 2 or Day 3 for that.

But no matter what you do for Day 2 training, again keep it below 60-65 minutes. As I mentioned with Day 1, your mindset is to keep Day 1 short. Again, I’d recommend setting a Day 1 cap of 45 minutes on any aerobic training, so that this Day 2 workout builds on and proves tougher than Day 1.

Day 3

This is of course the longest of the three aerobic training days. On Day 3 you go longer, or you go harder, than Day 2.

When I originally wrote up the 21 Day Cycle, I recommended this aerobic workout be 60-90 minutes. That is generally true, and if you’re training for a race that will last longer than 90 minutes, you want your weekend Day 3 workouts to be sufficiently longer. Half marathoners should aim for closer to 2-3 hours. Marathons should build towards at least 2-3 hours, probably towards 4 hours if your goal time is that long or longer.

Otherwise, midweek, cap these workouts at 90 minutes. While you should aim for at least 60 minutes, if Days 1 and 2 were shorter, and anyting below 60 minutes would be longer than those two days, then you can go less than 60 minutes… e.g. Day 1 you rested from aerobic anything, Day 2 you went 30 minutes, Day 3 you could go as little as 30-35 minutes if desired or needed.

The general intention on Day 3 is to work on your aerobic endurance. But if you went 60 easy aerobic minutes on Day 2, you could on Day 3 work on speedwork. In this case, it’s okay to also do 60 minutes on Day 3, e.g. you ran easy for 60 minutes on Day 2, so on Day 3 you spent 60 minutes running repeats, or do a 60 minute tempo run, or an easy 60 minute run with a 15 minute fast finish, etc.

Otherwise, during midweek you can go up to 90 minutes on Day 3. This is where various research (that I won’t cite for now) shows your workout hits the peak of the bell curve on aerobic development. The only reason to go longer is to work on developing endurance for a longer race, and given the body’s recovery needs you generally want to avoid doing that more than once every 6-8 days. The sweet spot for aerobic fitness development in an easy workout is 60-90 minutes.

THE WEEKEND PIVOT

My original 21 Day Cycle recommends two long workouts within 6 days of each other, followed by two weeks off from any workouts longer than 90 minutes.

While this allows ample recovery from the long workouts, some may find this doesn’t allow them to sufficiently build up their long run in marathon training.

It also reduces one’s margin for error in marathon training, that if they have to miss one of their scheduled long runs, they’re now facing at least 3 weeks between long runs, which could lead to a loss or setback in fitness.

So maybe you want to schedule a long run every week, and want to schedule one during that odd 2nd weekend where Day 1 falls on a Saturday and Day 2 falls on a Sunday, leaving the longer Day 3 on a Monday. (And yes, the occasional Monday holiday makes a long run work there, but 95% of the time it doesn’t.)

If you want to run long every weekend, I propose an alternate 3 day cycle for those odd weekends:

Day 1: You strength train, and either take off from aerobic training or do an easy aerobic workout, as usual.

Day 2: Do your long run here.

Day 3: Either take this day completely off, or do the same sort of easy aerobic workout you would do on day 1 (but no more than 45 minutes).

Then the following day you go back to Day 1 as before and resume the normal cycle.

If your long run isn’t any longer than 2 hours, I would say this is not at all necessary, that you could follow the original 21 Day Cycle as usual. This Pivot is largely for marathoners and similar long distance athletes who find the scheduled weekend off from long training more concerning than rewarding, or otherwise feel they must be able to train long every weekend.

And of course, if you do need an easy weekend, you can always go back to the original 2nd weekend schedule as needed.

YOU CAN DO OTHER STUFF

I often cross train each morning throughout the week regardless of what other running or strength training I have scheduled each given day or week. I’ll do super easy, zone 1, 50-60% of max heart rate “wake me up” cross training a lot of mornings or afternoons on the spin bike or similar. I also take a lot of walks during breaks at work.

You will want to be careful not to overdo any of this, especially as you build serious training volume, but if comfortable for you it’s totally fine.

I often take it easy on the weekends. If I don’t have a strength session or long run on a given day, I’ll often take a total rest day.

IF LIFE INTERVENES, IT’S OKAY TO BAIL

You wake up on your Day 3 and you feel sick as a dog, or something hurts more than it should, etc? Just take the day off. Take a whole 3 day cycle off if you want.

None of this is legally binding! The cycle does make it easy to get back in the swing of things should you need to take a day off or an extended break. Obviously, if you need a long break during a trianing block, you still need to reconsider your race goal as usual. But live your life and make adjustments as needed.

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Checking In 10/1/2022 (after a week of keto)

The keto diet‘s working very well. I’m feeling markedly better. Hunger is much less of a problem than it was before. My energy actually isn’t too bad, even with the expected tired stretches as my body exhausted its glycogen stores and adapted to ketone use. Not to mention, after my weight (despite a clean consistent calorie deficit) stubbornly refused to budge for months after climbing to the low 180’s… it promptly began a steady everyday slide downward and is now in the high 170’s for the first time since May, continuing to slide downward by a fraction of a pound every day.

Admittedly, ongoing sleep problems (terminal insomnia) and hunger pangs (the two were somewhat related) were my main motivation for trying keto in the first place, and it’s helped both a great deal. The earliest I wake up now is 3:00am-ish, and that’s still after a fair better amount of sleep compared to before. Often I wake up closer to 4:00am, definitely good enough. Even if a bit generally tired later in the day, I don’t feel sleep deprived at all, and have no trouble getting to sleep around 9pm.

Another obvious effect: Keto dramatically simplified my grocery shopping and meal planning. I eat a lot of beef, which isn’t cheap on the surface. But when the meat and eggs are most of what I need, I’m not buying anything other than brussels sprouts for side dishes. My daily food expenses actually got cheaper . I got take out a couple of occasional times during the early transition, but now I’ve locked into a consistent at-home diet.

The only carbohydrate food I have most days are the brussels sprouts I have at dinner or at work, and much of that is insoluble fiber.

There’s another key change I made last month: I got a 2nd gym membership, at a gym right near my work. Super convenient, and on weekdays I just commute there in the morning, work out, then go a block to work and park. Instead of the afternoon rush hour, I go back to that gym after work for a 2nd brief recovery workout, stretch etc, then commute home with the traffic having calmed down a bit.

This has helped a lot with training consistency, and has also cut costs for me on coffee as I’m just drinking the coffee at work instead of going out for it in the morning.

I’ve settled into a food, exercise, work routine that’s felt great and has been very easy to follow.

In the morning, unless I’m totally resting from exercise that morning (in which case I usually fast until lunch), I’ll poach a combo of a jumbo egg and about two eggs worth of egg whites in the morning, eating that before leaving. If I know I’m going to do a lot that day, and I’m up early enough, I may bake a salmon fillet and eat that instead. But usually it’s eggs.

I’ll go straight to the gym and, unless I do strength training that day, do an hour of easy cardio, then stretch and go to work. I’ve done the spin bike a lot, but also dabble with the ARC Trainer. I can also just walk on the treadmill if I want a super easy morning.

If I strength train first (and that’s always first when applicable), I do 45 minutes cardio afterward. Eventually I’ll see how doing a bit of running feels, maybe start with a bit of running until I hit high zone 2 then switch to other cardio for the rest of the hour.

But this is working very well, and I always get to work afterward feeling pretty good.

I eat the same wild tuna and sardines during the workday, one at lunch and one mid-afternoon. On busier days I’ll also have brussels sprouts at lunch. I put more coconut oil in my hot water and mix in more collagen peptides. I used to do plenty of walking and little runs on work breaks, but now I’ve cut down to a simple 20 minute walk at lunch, maybe a little 15 minute walk on break in the morning. I save my energy for the workouts.

I also switched to marine collagen from regular collagen, after learning that the regular stuff contains a good quantity of various metals, while the slightly pricier marine collagen is much closer to clear. It’s a much finer powder, and more than regular collagen it can kick-up like dust if you’re not careful handling it.

After work I go back to the gym and do easier cardio than in the morning. The gym has good rowing machines and I’ve gone to those, though I could also ride the spin bike or treadmill walk if desired. I stretch again afterward, then commute back home. This is more so to avoid the peak of the rush hour than because I need the work, though the extra cardio has felt good, and I imagine it’s beneficial after sitting all day at work.

Once Vegas cools down I’ll resume running outdoors. While I’m going to stick to the 21 Day Cycle pattern for the above-mentioned cardio and strength training, I’m leaning more and more towards a traditional weekly schedule for runs, three dedicated days a week with a weekly long run.

These runs will still be in the evenings after work, for now. My preferred park locations open at 7am, I don’t want to have run-ins with Parks and Rec over parking at 6am, plus managing time and stretching is a lot easier at the gym than outdoors, and the parks aren’t as close to work.


My concern is how I’ll sleep once I go back to moderate late day workouts. They can interfere with your sleep, and though I’ve slept better I haven’t been working out more than 20-30 minutes in the evenings. But my sleep quality and consistency has improved a great deal with keto, and the hope is I’ll continue to sleep fine after those 45-90 minute sunset runs. If I have to build on doing the runs in the morning instead, then fine. But again, the gym environment in the morning is important, so they’d have to be on the treadmill. This has drawbacks and advantages.

Based on the reading I’ve done this summer as well as my own experience, as well as logistics required for the runs, I plan to do my weekday runs Tuesday and Thursday evening, with the long run being Saturday or Sunday depending on not just logistics but how my body responds overall:

Do I feel better going long Sunday, going back to work the next day, then having a run the next day? Do I get up early and ready to run on Saturday morning after the workweek ends? Do I need that weekend off day after a long run? How I respond will mostly dictate where in the weekend that long run goes, though logistics often will push it around anyway. For example, maintaining the 21 day cycle, a strength workout falling on Saturday will probably require I do the long run Sunday.

Speaking of strength training, the new gym has far more variety in equipment than Planet Fitness. Also, though it gets a good crowd in the mornings, it’s fairly easy to get my Full Fourteen in during mornings.

If keto has had one clear effect on my fitness, it’s that bench presses and other lifts got harder at the same weight. This is almost certainly because of glycogen depletion and those muscles still transitioning to fat/ketone driven fueling.

I paused all my weight/rep progressions anyway when I started at this gym, while getting used to the new equipment and layout. I restarted my progression at new weights once I got the hang of it, and I’ll take it from there. If any of my lifts flat-line at a given weight for weeks or months, it’s no big deal right now.

Since I’m still ramping up long run workouts, diet and workout routines on weekends remain a work in progress. I mapped out workable diet plans for both the long and total rest days, and need to see how keto and my energy handle the longer workouts. I had during the first week cycled some carbs around these long workouts, but I went net-carb-cold turkey mid-last-week (15-20g net per day) and feel real good in that state. So I need to give the long workouts a shot and react to that.

I’m running several 10Ks this next month, all on consecutive weekends. I’ll probably treat these as supported workouts, strong steady efforts, and then run the last 2-3 miles of each depending on how I feel.

That is all for now. So far, so good.

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Going Full Keto

Surprise: I decided to start practicing keto this week.

Others have described the basics of the keto diet better than I ever could, but I’ll summarize:

You cut out almost all of your carb intake, outside of insoluble fiber. Instead, you eat a decent amount of protein, and a lot of dietary fat.

During exercise your body typically looks to burn glycogen (sugar) first, then fat. When you deprive your body of glycogen, your body adapts to produce ketone bodies from your dietary and stored fat. These ketones can mostly stand in for the glycogen you would get from consumed carbohydrates. This state of primary ketone production is called ketosis. The Keto diet (obviously) gets you into ketosis.

Why do this? Isn’t any low-carb type of diet bad for endurance training?

So I have several reasons for doing this.


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Improving the 21 Day Cycle, and using Workload Ratio to plan training

Since adopting the 21 Day Training Cycle in late July, I’ve made some adjustments.

First of all, it makes more sense to not run or aerobically train on the strength training day. The swolework is already fairly challenging, and my body has lately responded better to an easy day of strength training with no running/cardio every three days than it has from running or cardio every day.

Secondly, continuing my research on training monotony, I’ve noticed that monotony scores are helped by not having any other training on the strength days. Monotony has gone up as I’ve gotten back to regular training, and it indicates that aerobically training everyday would probably be unsustainable. With every three days being only strength training, the monotony stays closer to normal.

This also indicates it may be sensible to make an otherwise do-able 2nd day run shorter, in order to vary that week’s training stress and reduce overall training monotony.

Conversely, it’s often a good idea to make the 3rd day workout longer, or add a 2nd cardio session elsewhere in that 3rd day, to increase the variance between days and reduce overall monotony.

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