Month: March 2013

Easter

Friday, dinner for our babysitter, house sitter, swim teacher, vacation companion and unofficial niece’s birthday.

This morning, woke up to a house of 10. Dinner last night. Breakfast and lunch today. 6 are headed home (the 4 of us remain). Dinner is planned for 14, and that’s a completely different group. Some are blood relatives. All are family.

My girls have been entertained for 2 days straight.

No matter where you are and what you worship may the blessings of family be with you today and every day.

I have found a very great number of exceedingly beautiful theorems. Of course none of them are as cool as a new snatch PR.

Pierre de Fermat (A^n + B^n = C^n only where n<=2 … pure freakin’ poetry)

*Fermat’s Last Theroem, best math novel ever…

I Hate Heart Rate Monitors

Dear runners,

Please unsnap that obnoxious chest strap, turn off your aerobic zone alarms, and reenter reality for a little bit.

Before we go a bit deeper into why heart rate monitors (HRMs) are bad I will admit that there were times in the past where I was that guy, wearing Oakley Irridium Razors, running in a Speedo, with a black heart rate monitor chest strap just below nipple level.

I’ll give you a couple of minutes to go bleach your eyeballs… Sorry about that. No really, I apologize to all of society.

Why rant against HRMs? For one, because people most often forget the purpose of any monitor. A monitor provides a stream of data. What you do with that data is key, however many people start thinking that the data is the endgame.

Truth be told, HRMs are awesome tools when used properly. If you know your max heart rate and aerobic threshold then an HRM can help you get better – a lot better.

If you don’t know these things then you are training by someone else’s rules. In my running days, my max HR was 207, and my aerobic threshold was 173, Anything below 173 and I could go forever. Above 173 and I was getting into oxygen debt. I tested both of those myself and had them verified in a lab.

I’m an engineer. Numbers are my thing. Testing and validation… critical. The funny part is that I told the lab tech what my numbers were before the test. He was not convinced. If you run enough, and run long, you can get to the point where you can feel that instant when you switch out of aerobic. It’s called the “fun zone.”

For years I used an HRM to keep myself in check. It was a valuable limiting tool. When I’d go too hard it was a tool to say “back it down. NOW!” which would allow me to go much longer instead of burning out. Then I started realizing something. If I paid attention to my body it was already telling me what the electronic readout on my wrist was saying. I just hadn’t listening. There were also times when I needed to override my watch and JFR (Just Fucking Run).

I have an e-buddy whom I have known for 16+ years. We met once, briefly, but we have followed each other’s exploits for a long time. He’s a 10 time Ironman, 50+ marathons, etc. Finally one day, he was subjected to an intervention. Close to 30 people jumped all over his ass in a couple of forums.

He deserved our wrath. Why? Yet again he was doing a half-marathon or maybe a marathon, and, in his write-up, he moaned about the discrepancy between how his body felt and what his heart rate monitor was reading. He backed off, ran a crappy race, and he was sure that was all he had in him that day… because his heart rate monitor told him so.

This is an experienced distance athlete. If he didn’t know how to listen to his body then nobody did, but he didn’t trust himself. So we blasted him. We flamed him. We scorched his heart rate monitor safe haven. At first he couldn’t let go. His HRM was his trusted companion of many years and many, many miles. Frankly, it was a useless crutch.

After much back and forth he agreed to forego his HRM at the next race where he just happened to set a new PR. In that write-up he talked about knowing just how he felt and how much he could push himself instead of arguing internally over his sense of self and the readout on his watch.

Since then he has set new 10k, 1/2 Marathon and Marathon PR’s. Why? Because he was already an experienced athlete who knew what he had to do. He was letting a tool limit him.

HRMs provide reams of wonderful data, but you are powered by the most powerful computer in the world. At least until Deep Thought comes along.

Use a Heart Rate Monitor as a handy electronic friend. And on race day tell your friend to pack sand and go race your ass off!

Bro…

heard too often???

Think Globally. WOD Locally.

As a marketer, I am obsessed with demand generation and messaging and why people take an action to part with their (or their company’s) hard earned cash.

Why I earn my living in an industry that doesn’t do any demand gen and messaging is relegated solely to speed and feeds is a question I prefer not to ask myself, but that’s another story.

As a Crossfitter, I am obsessed.

Do I need to write anything else? OK, we’re done….

I’m obsessed with why Crossfit has gone from zero to 60 in almost no time. Granted, it’s really no different than other exercise fads.

  • Spinning
  • Jazzercise
  • Step Aerobics
  • Boot Camps
  • Zumba

All of these spent a couple of years in anonymity and then exploded into a national fad. Clearly exercise, or wanting to exercise, is an international phenomenon that Crossfit taps into, but why the exponential explosion of CF boxes?

For one, I’d offer that CF training clearly feeds something in people. They get an emotional response. Filling an emotional need is critical, but would CF grow like it has with a more corporate style model? I think not.

For the record I have a membership at 24 Hour Fitness. Since it only costs me $20 a year I plan on keeping it. When I (rarely) walk into a 24 Hour location I realize one thing – nobody owns the place. The person at the front desk is paid to be cheerful. The staff is paid hourly. The manager reports to some offsite district manager who reports to a regional manager who reports to a VP at corporate. Although it’s a decent gym it is somewhat impersonal.

I contrast that to a Crossfit Box. Whether there is 1 box in your neighborhood or 200 within 5 blocks, each location is owner operated. Look on their website. Where it says “Our Coaches” – the first person you will see is usually the owner and primary coach.

Although Crossfit corporate is big,and the Games/Open infrastructure has gotten HUGE, each box is an island unto itself, and that, to me, is key.

Your workouts are created locally. If you have a problem it’s clear where the buck stops. If you like the way your box is managed you can thank them personally. After all, they are probably the person opening the door at 6:00am. If you don’t like the way your box is managed, well, you know who is making the decisions.

It makes for a decidedly personal experience.

The owner of my box has 4 or 6 locations, but when I send an email to Jason@____.com I get a personal reply from Jason, not his admin, not his regional manager.

When I see posts from CrossfitPete or BillyCrossfit it is clear that it’s their box they are talking about – it’s their investment and their personal standard.

Side note – am I the only one who confuses them upon initial reading of their posts? Not that I should, they are really different people in entirely different parts of the country, but it always takes me a second to sort things out.

To me, one of the keys to Crossfit’s growth has been it’s franchise model that drives responsibility down to a very local level. I am not saying that CF is perfect because nothing is perfect.

Well, I am perfect, but don’t ask my wife to confirm that.

CF is popular because it’s personal. Walk into a box and odds are the first person you talk to will be the owner, and that makes the experience all the better.

Declining from the public ways, walk in unfrequented paths…
Seriously people. Do you want me to spell it out in plain English? Don’t go to globo gyms.

Pythagorus

That moment when it’s late, you still have a 7pm call, you just want to eat a candy bar, and the only junk you have are sweet potato chips, cashews, and protein powder.

10 Reasons Crossfit is Popular

  1. Is there someone who doesn’t want a 6-pack?
  2. Lifting heavy shit and slamming it down is badass.
  3. At any other gym has someone said to you, “OK, let’s talk about proper mechanics when using a rower?”
  4. Even anti-social people like me crave company.
  5. It’s awesome to have people congratulate you.
  6. It’s even more awesome to congratulate other people when they reach a milestone.

    And if you are at a normal gym do you ever know if a total stranger just achieved a milestone? At a Crossfit gym you will know. You will celebrate it, and it will motivate you to do better.

  7. When is the last time someone asked you to do a handstand?
    (or any other funky body movement, for that matter)
  8.  As a straight guy, I like going to a gym with a great distribution of hot, sweaty, strong women.
  9. Once you suck up your courage and go to a Crossfit gym you find out that it’s a hell of a lot LESS intimidating than you first thought.

  10. People say, “Hi” to you and mean it.

I’m not an affiliate owner. I’m not a Crossfit trainer. All of my reasons are emotional not physical. Why? Because we do things that make us feel good.

If You’re Given a Gift, Shut Up and Take It

Needing some stoke this morning, thinking back to things that spark me a bit. Some of the old “coulda, shoulda, woulda” that really chafes the ego.

Back in undergrad days, the triathlon team would hit the track weekly for an informal interval session. Speed is not my specialty, so it was good to have a group around.  These days, strength is not my specialty, and it’s good to have a group around. I guess some things never change.

The track was a great place. It was the old football stadium, one of those Depression era WPA style buildings with a full field and stadium. The band practiced at the track which made for some spirited accompaniment in the echoing confines of the concrete bleachers. A local running group also did their workouts there. These were the fast guys. Not to be specific, but the Power Bar van always showed up. The original Power Bar van from when Power Bar was the only energy bar. Yeah, I’m old. Yeah, it’s a great school.

OK, what about the gift.

The local running team had a bit of a attitude, and one of our intervals happened to coincide. One guy took off, so I decided to hang with him. We were running quarters. Clearly he was doing something else, but I had a point to prove. I don’t know what the point was, but it was something important and, I am quite certain, not testosterone driven.

We hit the first quarter in 1:09. That was moving, but I wasn’t hurting.

Have you ever felt that moment, especially on a track, when your peripheral vision really does blur a little bit? Where you really can sense that you are hauling ass because you are flying by fixed objects? It’s amazing. I highly recommend it.

We hit the second quarter in 1:11. He kept rolling. I have no idea why, but I stopped. I seriously bailed out for no good reason. We had just pulled a half in 2:20. I was working, but I wasn’t working that hard. A 4:40 was possible. Definitely sub-5:00 minutes. Not world class, but darned fast and faster than I have ever burned a mile.

He put in two more laps and pulled up. I think he said, “I was hoping you would stay with me. It was great keying off of you. Lost quite a bit on the last 2 laps without someone to pace with.” He had clocked a 4:50 mile.

Why, on Earth, did I drop? And why didn’t I immediately get right back on that horse?

I never know when those moments of amazement will come. These days, I try to be much more appreciative and take advantage of them.

Usually….

BASEBALL OPENING DAY THIS WEEKEND!!!… yeah, me too. Totally more interested in what team WOD the box will be throwing at us.

Me