Tag Archives: exercise

Building Volume in the Shoulder Season

September is the beginning of the shoulder season.  That is to say, September represents the descent of days spent in the saddle and an increase in the number of workouts to get prepared for the upcoming ski season.  Snow may not have fallen on the slopes yet, but September is when a successful ski season begins.  It does help to have put on over 2,500 miles on my bike this summer so I am starting with an excellent aerobic base.

Switching from long rides on gravel to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) regime that emphasizes explosive movements requires some planning.  If one were to just jump right in you might find yourself spending the better part of a week walking around sore.  Never mind the chance of injury that comes from not properly executing lifts when fatigue sets in.

The key is to build volume over a period of time.  Most people like to focus on adding weight as a benchmark of progress, but if there is not a base of volume to work from injury will likely result.  Matt Owen, a St. Louis based trainer, was quoted in Outside Magazine:

We need to really build that base of general physical preparedness in order to build other stuff on top of it—strength, power, sport-specific movement. We’re going to value volume—one to two hours of work every day—over anything else at first. It’s a lot easier to get strong when you’re able to tolerate more work, more time lifting weights, and you’re able to recover faster than if we just pull you in and make you start lifting heavy.

I am not over fifty years old…yet.  Nonetheless, this advice is sound for anyone who values long term fitness across multiple physical disciplines without experiencing injury.  Once the base is set through a series of workouts a person can focus on the stuff that will really allow them to excel on the slopes.  The same thing can be said in the spring.  No one should jump on the bike and grind out a fifty mile day without first putting on some miles via series of shorter rides.

During the shoulder season, as I watch the early season snowfall reports with anticipation of deep powder days, I am working in three to four HIIT sessions a week while maintaining three or four long rides on my bicycle.  The difference from my HIIT sessions later in the year is that I have lessened the weight on most movements and focused on keeping the repetitions high.

By October I should be ready to transition into four or five longer HIIT sessions with heaver weights and more time on the rowing machine.  By December my body should be ready for the slopes.  Of course, I will be sore after my first day of bombing and ready to soak in the hot tub.  It’s tradition!

Friday Linkage 11/3/2017

Could Washington D.C. be a bigger shit show right now?  Just when you think that American democracy has hit a new low, Donald J. Trump and his sycophants come out with some new affront to decency.  At what point do people look around and tally up the damage done—Russia, cronyism, nepotism, money laundering, and the list goes on for sure?  Is it 2018 yet?

On to the links…

This One Quote Shows What Angry White Guys Mean when They Talk About Government Overreach—Nothing says America like making a truck belch thick plumes of diesel smoke.  Oh wait, nothing says ‘Merica quite like the practice of rolling coal.  My bad.  The sooner that politicians stop pandering to this segment of society the sooner we can move on to a more advanced phase of our development as a country.

The Trump Administration Is Teeming With Climate-Change Deniers—It is like Donald Trump sat down with his chief of staff and asked, “Can you find me the biggest sack of sorry ass climate deniers to staff my administration with because…fake news.  Sad.  Isn’t Ivanka amazing?”

Scott Pruitt Is Using the Bible as His Guide for Reorganizing EPA’s Science Boards—If you thought it could not get worse, it usually does with the Trump administration.  I always wonder why these guys manage to peel out the parts of the Bible that they like without actually having to follow all of its prescriptions like, say, not eating shrimp.  Just consider this list of things “banned” in Leviticus.

Scandals Pile up for Interior Secretary—Sam Clovis did not even get to assume his post, so maybe we can now focus on the organizational dumpster fire that is Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  We’ve got campaign finance chicanery, disaster relief scandals, plane scandals, and a whole bag full of other crap.

Global Solar Market Demand Expected To Reach 100 Gigawatts In 2017—What does 100 GW mean?  It would be a 30% increase over what was installed in 2016.  This makes solar the fastest growing form of energy in the world.

US Wind Energy Pipeline Nears 30 Gigawatts—This is not 30 GW worldwide, but 30 GW just in the United States.  Suck it coal.

Trump Admin. Desperate To Keep Coal Power Plant Alive With Taxpayer Dollars—It is not and it never was about the free market.  Trump’s obsession with coal goes back to his need for adoration and coal barons are always ready to give Trump the love because he is their last hope.  The market does not love them.  The utilities do not love them.  Trump does love him some coal.

Italy To Phase Out Coal By 2025—Another one bites the dust.

Electric Buses are Coming, and They’re Going to Help Fix 4 Big Urban Problems—If I had to put my money behind the electrification of transportation in America I would start with buses and garbage trucks.  There are few vehicles I see that could benefit from the advantages of an electric drivetrains and getting black smoke billowing diesel engines out of our cities would be a good thing.

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?—The moral of this story is that it is hard to undo damage.  Especially when that damage occurred over a thousand years ago and your country happens to be a volcanic hot zone.  It does not mean, however, that you do not try.

If You Care About Cleantech, You Have To Change Your Diet—There are few more impactful things you can do in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than changing your diet to one that does not feature meat or other animal products.

Why You Shouldn’t Exercise to Lose Weight, Explained with 60+ Studies—You are what you eat.  Literally.  It does however make sense for you to exercise to be healthy.  There is nothing more liberating than following an exercise regimen to reach a goal that is not weight specific.  The scale is no longer your enemy.  It’s just another diagnostic tool.

Spring Suffering

Suffering comes in two flavors during the spring: end of season suffering for skiers and beginning of season suffering for cyclists.  Unfortunately, I find myself suffering on both ends of those seasons.  Damn.

Spring skiing sounds like fun, right?  Warmer temperatures, laid back crowds, decent base…blah, blah, blah.  For the first couple of hours everything holds true.  The runs are great and the kids are happy.  Sometime around noon as the sun bakes off any cloud cover you slowly descend into a slushy hell known as the last run of the day.

The crowds wake up from their jaeger bomb comas for the two runs they will do for the day before going back to an après scene focused on even more jaeger bombs, but not before completely chewing up all of the decent runs and clogging the lift lines.  Seriously bro, do you even lift?  Sorry, I could not help myself.

Spring skiing starts off with so much potential and ends up being a sufferfest of slogging through snow more reminiscent of mashed potatoes than anything else.  At least my kids do not complain about cold fingers and toes.  So I have that going for me.

Spring biking is never meant to be fun and no one is really going to try and convince you otherwise.  The weather is usually leaning toward cold and wet.  The wind is never blowing less than ten to fifteen miles an hour with gusts of double those numbers.  And your legs are somehow not prepared for even a light day despite a winter of working out and skiing.

You spend the first few rides wiping snot every five minutes, huffing cold air like an asthmatic weed smoker, and generally struggling to push a gear that would be light in the middle of July.  What the hell spring?  At some point during every early spring ride you ask yourself why you do this and why aren’t you inside watching Netflix?

Why?  Because we are masochists who need to suffer in order to feel alive.  None of this activity is necessary to our living yet it is essential to our happiness.  We are smug in looking across the bar at a fellow skier with sun burnt cheeks and a wiped out thousand yard stare at the end of a long day plowing through snow cone conditions.  We are a member of that tribe.  We wave stealthily to the other hardy cyclists out in these early days of spring knowing that their lungs are struggling to suck down air just like us.  We are bonded in our suffering.

It is easy to go out when the skies are clear, the temps are in the teens, and there is an inch of fresh snow on the front side of the mountain.   It is easy to get in the saddle when the sun is out, the wind is mild, and your neighbors are out mowing their lawns.  What defines us as members of a different tribe is when we commit to the suffering willingly.

Tangential Goals

I have struggled with my weight since childhood. Periods of “normal” weight usually coincided with times in my life when I was very physically active, as in two-a-day swimming practices. Since leaving business school more than seven years ago I have found that physical activity and weight loss have been very difficult.

I have set weight loss goals, done all the recommended dieting, and struggled to even lose a few pounds. It is disheartening.

This year I wanted to do something different. I decided to ignore the number on the scale for all intents and purposes. I might weigh myself from time to time, but it was not going to be the single piece of information that determined success or failure. Instead, this year I chose to set a goal of riding my bike 2,000 miles with a stretch goal of 2,500 miles. The total stands at 1,505 miles before today’s ride

The reward for getting to my goal? A brand new Chris King external bearing bottom bracket. Granted, it’s going to replace an already fried FSA external bearing bottom bracket that I am trying to nurse through the next 500 or so miles. The clicking is starting to drive me mad, but I do not want to lose a week of riding time to get the bike in the shop. If I get to 2,500 miles I might replace the no name head set with a Chris King model as well. Sure, it’s “bike bling,” but there are no finer components for your bicycle.

The upside of this goal has been a fairly amazing weight loss. Before the end of winter I weight over 220 pounds. Just yesterday I weighed in at 196 pounds. Granted, some of it is because I have cut back on my beer consumption but some of it is due to riding my bike thirty miles or more four and five days a week. As I stay focused on getting to my mileage goal the pounds seem to melt off. Maybe I will get to my goal of sub-190 pounds before the end of the summer and sub-180 pounds before the start of 2015’s ski season.

Made it to a Million

Got done with my workout yesterday and realized something:

PM3 MonitorI made it to the million meter club on the rowing machine.  I thought that it would have come sooner, but the summer months turn into biking and swimming workouts when the weather cooperates.  For anyone living in the Midwest this Memorial Day weekend it does not seem as if the weather is ever going to cooperate again.  Rain, rain, rain…

Getting to a million meters seems like a lot of time on the rowing machine.  It seems so much harder to get into the “Zen place” that I can on the bike or even the treadmill.  It’s like I always am thinking about working out.  If it were not such a great total body workout there is no way I would keep doing it twice a week.


Friday Linkage 1/4/2012

It’s 2013.  Oh yeah!  I have no idea why people get so excited by the New Year.  No one goes around getting crazy stupid drunk when the calendar changes from July to August.  Yet, it’s really no more or less of a momentous day.

Sure, some laws change or go into effect on January 1st but that seems more like an arbitrary date than anything special about the actual date.  Oh well, I guess I do not get it because I do not make resolutions and I usually go to bed about 9:30 on New Year’s Eve.

On to the links…

New U.S. Windpower Capacity Might Beat Natural Gas and Coal in 2012—For the first eleven months of 2012, with December data yet to be tabulated, windpower had added 6,519 megawatts while natural gas had added 6,335 megawatts and coal was a distant third with less than half of windpower’s addition.  Damn!  2013 could be a good year for wind with the production tax credit surviving the fiscal cliff.

Link Between Lead Exposure and Crime—This is an absolutely fascinating look at the link between lead exposure and a whole host of socially deviant or destructive behaviors.  Basically, lead is really bad stuff and it leads to all kinds of long term bad outcomes.  However, we can mitigate the impact so that potential investment would yield huge returns.  Seems like a win-win no brainer type solution to me.

Worms Produce Another Kind of Gold for Farmers—I like the stories like this on one hand because it shows there is finally some mainstream acceptance of what the organic and biodynamic agriculture movements have been saying for years.  I dislike stories like this on the other hand because it treats this information like it is something new.  It’s about rediscovering knowledge that has been lost through neglect.

Kilauea Eruption Infographic—On the Big Island, Kilauea has been erupting almost continually since the 1980s.  It was one of the highlights of my trip to the Big Island to hike through one of the lava fields.  Kind of amazing.  This infographic comes from the Honolulu Star Advertiser:


Don’t believe me how amazing the lava can be?  Check out the “end of the road:”

Lava Field

River Otter Returns to San Francisco Waterways—For the first time in approximately 50 years there is a river otter in the water around San Francisco.  Problem is that no one really knows why the little guy is present.  Apparently, he is all alone.  Here’s to hoping he finds a friend.

A Voracious Demand for Shark Fins—When will we finally stop the slaughter of sharks to make a tasteless, gelatinous soup for Chinese taste buds?  Soon?  This barbaric practice has to stop.

The Best Food Sources for 13 Essential Vitamins—It’s another infographic.  This one is a handy guide to the best food sources of 13 essential vitamins:


High Efficiency Trims Can Actually Reduce Your Car’s Resale Value—These “high efficiency” trims are a total joke.  You pay up to thousands of dollars more to save a theoretical mile or two per gallon in an already efficient vehicle.  Thus your payback is measured in a decade or more, assuming a lot of variables, and now it appears like you cannot even bake the extra cost into your resale calculations.  That Nissan Leaf is looking better and better.

Why Norwegians Love EVs More than the Rest of the World—And I thought it was because Norway was a country full of genial, sweater wearing folk who just wanted to be nice.  Or is that Minnesota?  I get the two confused all the time.

Halfway Home

A while back I gave up on using my weight as a measure of my progress toward fitness goals.  It was fickle and capricious.  If I backslid a little bit I felt bad about it, etc.

One of the goals I set for myself in the new fitness regime was 1,000,000 meters on the rowing machine.  Today’s workout put me over 500,000 meters, so I am over halfway home:


Looking back on where I was when I started rowing this winter the change is amazing.  I started rowing about 6,000 meters a workout.  Now, it’s 15,000 meters.  My split times were anywhere from 2:15 to 2:20 per 500 meters.  Now I am consistently below 2:09 for the entire workout.

The rowing machine is such a great workout because it really does torture the entire body—in a good way.  My back feels so much stronger now that I cannot wait to get out on the water stand up paddling soon.  I should fly!

I know the numbers on the scale should not be the ultimate decider of success, but when I stepped on the scale it read 201.0 pounds.  I feel so close to seeing a 1 as the first number that I can almost taste it.