On 21st October my training routine will make a radical change

 

Sunday is the annual 5k race that takes place just before the half marathon in Sant Cugat where we live. The 5k course is fast, starting with a gentle downhill for the first km. The uphill parts are also gentle. Last year, aged 48, I clocked 20m59s in my first ever 5km race. Previously (and we are talking 26 years previously) I was racing over 100, 200 and 400m. A slight pause and a slight change. However I will note that Seb Coe, who was arguably Britain’s best ever middle distance runner prior to Mo Farrar, one the 400m at the British university races a few years before me. So I’m not the first to switch over and have success, although Seb did it slightly earlier in his career and with slightly more success.

Anyway I’m looking forward to the race to see how I compare to last year. Each year it is harder to improve and maintaining the intensity of training is difficult. I have done really well for leg injuries throughout my entire 38 years of running (I only started at 11 years old), however now I find a lot more calf and Achilles soreness and the warm up needs to be ever longer.

So after Sunday the training plan will change. I am feeling pulled in two completely different directions. Ultra-distance and gruelling death race style competitions are very appealing, but I will not dedicate the time to the training at the cost of time with my family. So I’m going to give in to the complete opposite and try to reverse the attrition of muscle and increase sprint training.

At the moment I am 68kg at 15% body fat, that’s 10kg of fat!!!

The goal is to get to 73kg and 12% fat. That’s a drop of 1.5kg of fat and a gain of 6.5kg of muscle.

In old money that means at the moment I am 150lb at 15% body fat, 22.5lb of fat.

The goal is to get to 160lb and 12% fat. That’s a drop of 3lb of fat and a gain of 14lb of muscle.

At the same time I intend to increase sprint speed/stamina. The target is a 200m run in 26 seconds.

Here’s the plan: all weights sessions are 5-7 sets per exercise, 6-8 reps per set. And heavy.

My guess is that after the first 2 weeks I will change this quite a bit, based on feedback from my body! Let me know your thoughts.
Week 1
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
         
Legs Sprints Shoulders Sprints Legs
Chest   Back   Chest
Triceps   Biceps   Triceps
Week 2
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
         
Shoulders Sprints Legs Sprints Shoulders
Back   Chest   Back
Biceps   Triceps   Biceps

 

 

 

 

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What I Learnt Today

What I learnt today: Get it out there fast and learn from feedback.

Never wait until it is 100% perfect to post an article or go-live with something. You will never get there. Perfectionism is always a waste of time. Pareto nailed it with the 80:20 rule.

Go live or post quickly, use the initial feedback to then reshape or guide your product to be better. This is way more efficient.

Tim Ferriss basically uses this method with blog posts, launching late at night, getting the initial feedback from countries ahead in terms of time zones (and civilization if you are thinking Europe, not Australia), and then amend the article to be less offensive when the East Coast of the USA wakes up. Pretty effective and efficient really.

And this technique works for almost everything. The sooner you get other people to review or see what you are doing, the quicker you get feedback so will know if you have it right, you are hitting the mark or you need to rework.

And of course the IT industry has finally caught and introduced no end of variants of methods that move products through the design-code-test process quicker and to get customer feedback earlier into the process, methods such as Scrum and Agile.

We used to have an expression when working in Andersen Consulting – “don’t polish a turd”. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a turd. This was often undertaken with presentations, with people painstakingly amending presentations without adding or changing the meaning at all. A complete waste of time. Read through, spell check, have one dry run, then go.

One other interesting thing I learnt today (about myself) was listening to Jocko on his podcast about writing. When writing his book Jocko Extreme Ownership on Amazon he used to set a target of 1000 words per day, allocate a time, turn off all distractions and JFDI. This is exactly what I do, as I now recognise. Waiting until the creative juices are flowing is a way of putting off getting it done. And it also leads to one very important output. It makes your blog natural, as if you are speaking it. Then when people read it, it is more appealing to them and sounds more natural. Errr, so its more enjoyable.

I also use this approach to creating presentations, which was given to me by my good friend Alberto Sanz (who is now a project manager for Lego – how cool is that!). He once said that when he needed to create a presentation he would sit down and create the entire framework and flow of the slides in 20 minutes. If you cannot do it in one setting, without having to undertake research, you don’t know your subject. Seems fair enough and this technique works. You then need to fill in the details and get it ready for release, but then jump back to the start of this post and be careful you don’t start polishing that turd!!!!!

That’s it for today. Would love to get feedback or here your ideas about how to become more efficient and effective.

Learn how to sprint

A lot of people, especially joggers, are not able to sprint. Like young kids, they just cannot push off hard and their “sprint” is just running with a longer stride. I just read an article from another blogger about how to sprint, which quite frankly was bollocks. It was like telling a golfer the 37 things to concentrate on whilst swinging the club.

You learn sprinting by undertaking specific exercises not by thinking about landing softly or having a certain gait. It is a style that is developed and there are specific exercises that will develop the ability as well as the correct muscles.

So how effective is this?  Playing rugby at 49 years old I can run faster than 20 year old kids in the A team.  Why? technique.  They haven’t got a clue how to run fast.

So here goes!

1st Exercise: High knee running. Over a 20 metre distance take very short strides and lift the knees as high as possible. Aim for at least 40 strides. Repeat this 3 times.

2nd Exercise: Strides. Over a 50m distance go from jogging to longer than normal strides, increasing the speed.

3rd Exercise: Running on the balls of your feet. Similar to striding but focus on landing on the balls of the feet and not heel-toe running. You will probably have to run slower to be able to do this to start with.

4th Exercise: from lying to running. Start in the top of a push-up position, arms locked. Gradually start to cycle your feet underneath you, lightly at first (looks a bit like running in a cartoon as the feet move but you don’t) then apply more pressure with the ball of the foot until you move forward. If you fall flat on your face, don’t worry, just push up ever so slightly. The trick is to keep as low as possible, almost lurching forward. If you just stand up and run then you are doing it wrong. This exercise gives you the correct position for the crouched sprint start. Repeat 6 times, running about 10m each time.

5th Exercise: Bunny jumps. From a crouched position, jump/bound like a bunny with both feet together. This develops a lot of leg strength required for good sprinting. Do about 6 sets of 20m.

6th Exercise: Hills runs. Pick a fairly steep hill and run with longer strides on the balls of the feet for 50m. You should be breathing very heavily at the top. Walk slowly down. Repeat 6 times.

7th Exercise: Leg speed. Stand leaning into a wall supported by your arms. Run with high knees without going forward (there is a wall in the way), focussing on speed of raising the knees.

8th Exercise: video sprints. Get a friend to video you sprinting. This is priceless. Compare yourself to a sprinter with great technique on youtube. Let’s not focus on Usain Bolt’s technique as it is highly unlikely that you have his genetics. So find someone who is roughly your height and your body type. Again, it’s unlikely you have the same physique as some of the top sprinters, however more lightweight sprinters who were excellent in terms of form would be the likes of Colin Jackson. Although a hurdler his form was superb and he was a lightweight.

Once you have practised these speed is developed by practising to run.  Warm up well and do a few of the routines above.  Take the first sprint in a set slightly slower.  You might find that technique disappears quickly, this is due to tiredness.

Typical training sessions for speed – if you do one of these twice a week, within 6 months you will run faster than almost anyone on the park (depending what level you started at).

  • 8 x 60m.  This is a flat out sprint.  Take as much recovery as required.
  • 6 x 150m.  90% full speed. Full recovery.
  • 6 x 200m. Over 200m you should aim for 80% full sprint speed.  Recovery is a slow walk back to the starting point.
  • 6 x 150m with rolling start.  Rather than a standing start, build up speed slower than a full sprinting start.

At the end job, warm down and stretch.  If you have run fast enough and pushed yourself hard enough, you might have a feeling of nausea, tingling in the mouth and teeth, pins and needles in the fingers, dizziness, generally feeling absolutely knackered.  If you can walk away feeling completely ok, you were not sprinting.  After the first full session, the next day you should have a lot of muscle soreness.  Go for a gentle run, get the muscles completely warm and stretch.

Become a world expert at anything in 6 months!!!!

This is a pretty big claim and comes from the Tim Ferriss DiSSS approach.  I listened to his podcast which is pretty good.  Some of his other stuff is weird or geeky or just boring.

Note that expert means top 5% in the world, so don’t expect to win the Olympics or the Augusta Masters.  However being in the top 5% will set you apart from normal humans in almost any discipline.

DiSSS is Tim Ferriss’s frameworks for mastering new skills, languages, activities.  Anything that has structure can be tackled.

The DiSSS process:

1. D for Deconstruction. Break down what you want to achieve into the smallest units.  Language = words/verbs/adjectives etc.  IT Director = leadership; technology; applications; operations; services; etc.  Being a chef = recipes.

Here is one of the key parts: find experts in the field and ask them the right questions.  Experts = people who are really good.  Lets face it, its unlikely you will get an interview with Tony Robbins, but I bet there are plenty of coaches in your area willing to talk and discuss, for example.  Here are the questions:

  • who is good at x even though they are not natural (find out who has succeeded without genetic advantages)
  • who are the most controversial or unorthodox people in the field and why
  • most impressive people
  • what makes you different
  • what are the biggest mistakes and myths in your field
  • what are the biggest wastes of time
  • what are your favorite instructional books or resources
  • if you were to train me for 4 weeks, what would you concentrate on

The  intention of these questions is to find the core of what makes a difference.  Example, being able to coach your employees.  Find a few eminent coaches in your field and find out the key 5 techniques or questions that they always use during the first interview.

2. S for Selection. Use Pareto analysis to work out how to get 80% of the value from 20% of the effort.  Following the language example:  what is the minimal set of words needed to be able to communicate?  Here’s a text I found on the internet ….

An average adult native English speaker has an active vocabulary of about 20,000 words. The Reading Teachers Book of Lists claims that the first 25 words are used in 33% of everyday writing, the first 100 words appear in 50% of adult and student writing, and the first 1,000 words are used in 89% of every day writing! Of course, as we progressively move to a higher percentage, the number of words starts to dramatically increase (especially after 95% of comprehension), but it has been said that a vocabulary of just 3000 words provides coverage for around 95% of common texts (such as news items, blogs, etc.).

So with just 1000 words you can cover 89% of everything in English.  We above the 80% target with Pareto analysis.  So probably you can get away with 500.

3. S for Sequencing.  Now put together a sequence of doing things. In some cases this is important.  For example, if learning Karate you need to start with the standard moves.  If learning to cook, perhaps an omelette!  With the language example, you look at the most common words first (the 25), then the 100.

4. S for Stakes. This is really about the “WHY”.  Maybe this is a passion for you.  Maybe it is something you need to do to survive if you lose your job.  Or something to get promoted. Or it something you have always wanted to do.  But you need to understand WHY you are doing this and find the right motivation.  Otherwise it will never happen.

 

 

 

How you feel is all about perspective

How you feel is all about perspective

And the meaning we put to things. This controls the way we feel about everything.

If you can change the meaning to give something then you make change the way you feel about yourself.  Do this consistently, and you can change your life.  I had this explained to me by an executive coach some time ago.  It takes a lot of effort and can take a long time to make these changes stick.  But at the end of the day this really matters. Let me illustrate with a real example.

Someone seeking help or trying to screw me over?

Friday afternoon at 4pm we are all thinking about the weekend. Some people are starting to disappear.  Dave contacts me asking for an emergency piece of work to be done that evening.

There are two simple ways to think about this.  On one hand you can think that Dave left this to the last minute and his panic is not my problem. He should plan his life better and not try to screw up the start of the weekend. What an asshole!  Fair enough?

OR I can think, Dave is really in a hole, under intense pressure from the business to get this change made here and now. He has decided to call me, because he believes I am the best person in the company to help him get this sorted. He really appreciates the help I can give him. Dave’s just in a tough position between a rock and a hard place.

The first scenario makes me feel bad, screwed over, helpless, I am a victim of someone else’s inability to plan. The second scenario makes me feel like a hero.

Depending upon the meaning I assign to the interaction with Dave, I can feel like a victim or a hero.  It’s pretty clear which option I want to take.  But it took someone else to help me work through this example and see a different perspective.

Why do I blog about training and fitness?

I’m 49 years old, next April I will hit the big 5 – 0.  Luckily I have always done some form of exercise.  As a kid I did anything and everything.  I’ve trained and raced on a track alongside some real champions.  I’ve also been out of action for 6 months after a back operation for 6 months at the tender age of 26.  But I count myself as very fortunate.  Despite all of the aches and pains that most sportspeople take as part of everyday life, I can still participate in any and every sport I want to do.

I took up playing rugby at 44 years old.  I did my first ever 5km race at 48 years old.  A Spartan is beckoning.  Maybe this is my mid-life crisis!

What hit home was last year when I joined a gym. For several years I had not been a member of a gym and home-based sessions with a pair of dumbbells was all the workout I was doing.  And I could see the muscle waste before my very eyes and it wasn’t good.  Obviously despite having been a gym-rat off and on for a lot of years, I still needed to have a session with a personal fitness trainer.  This guy was good.  I learnt some stuff from him, that’s for sure.  But he was 25 years old.  His body’s capacity to train and recover is different to mine.  He probably doesn’t get up every night to go to the bathroom!  He cannot possibly have that level of empathy and understand the training needs of someone a generation older.

And let’s face it, I don’t need anyone to motivate me to go out and train my guts out.  I have unlimited motivation and drive for this area of my life. It is a true passion.

So I’m here to show people that a normal guy, not a pro-athlete, can keep going and have really good fun up to and in to the fifties.  I will continue to post my training plan and what I achieve. And if anyone wants help with a routine either to get into it or get to the next level, drop me a line.

 

Updated: The week so far – Training week of 19th September

Updated:  The week so far – Training week of 19th September

The start of a new week. No big meetings, business travel or executive dinners planned to get in the way of a full week of training. The focus is now on speed/endurance for the 5k race on 23rd October.  1 month to go.  Sounds like a long time but it will fly.

Training plan for the week:

Monday: 5k time trial.  √

Tuesday: Gym full body √

Wednesday: Intervals, 6 x 1km √

Thursday: pace run, 7km

Friday: HIIT, including 6 x 500m

Saturday/Sunday will be active recovery with the kids!

Thursday/Friday:  as I said in a previous blog, I’m not as young as I used to be. I hit the wall.  Rest day Thursday and went out for an easy tempo run Friday.  Which was, by the way, perfect.  Felt 1000 times better after it.  Maybe a little training over the weekend if I can get my son, Pablo, out to do something.  Lets see.  It was a good week.  My body feels like it has done some real effort.  Happy with the times.  Looking forward to next week.

Wednesday:  killed it!  5 x 1km, in 4m15s, 4m, 4m, 4m, 3m55s.  1 minute jog recovery (which I kept to pretty well).  Didn’t go for the 6th km as I could tell I had achieved the goal. Live to fight another day!

Tuesday:  hit the gym. The gym hit me!  Big spasm in my back, not the first time.  Out with the foam roller and all seems ok for now.  Still managed a good workout and 24 hours later the biceps and triceps are feeling really good.

Monday started ok. I set my Garmin watch at 4m20s lap pace for the time trial, thinking I would be able to beat the time. I came in at 21m41s. So ok, but feeling like I should have done better.

Let’s look to the positives:

  1. I was bang on the timing.
  2. I managed to hold back from killing myself on the first and last laps – kept reminding myself it’s a training session not a race. I have a good sprint finish no matter what my state, so confident that I can take 15 seconds out of the final lap anyway.
  3. Finished overall tired but not dead! A lot to build on for the next month.

Looking forward to the next 4 days of intensive training!