Last Saturday was officially my longest run so far. I kept with the idea of keeping my heart rate down and I ended up going 20 miles. The interesting thing was I did not want to stop! If it wasn’t for time constraints I would have most likely just kept going. After several hours of running errands and meeting up with some friends I figured I would sleep like a log all night. At 2:30 I woke up and couldn’t sleep. After trying to fall back to sleep for an hour I decided I would go back out and run again. I hit another 8.75 and walked about a mile and a half. I finished my week and started my second week strong! I woke up the next day excited to run. This had never happened before, not like this. I have felt the NEED for a run to get some stress out, or for training purposes, but suddenly I just wanted to run!
Throughout the weekend I started having a crazy idea, one that would be bigger than anything I had ever attempted. It would involve over 350 miles of running, and I figured I could do it all in a weeks time! This was no small feat.
Sunday afternoon I went for a hike in some local woods and the idea persisted. I talked about the thoughts I had about it, what I would need for equipment and support, and what I needed for training. My thoughts only swelled that night when I watched the documentary “Running the Sahara”. I had learned about it just a few days prior but it had Charlie Engle in it. I had met Charlie a few times through Spartan Race briefly, and messaged with him a few times on social media. Even though he wasn’t a close friend, the personal connection pushed me to watch this film. After the film was over my mind was filled with all sorts of mental notes and even more questions. I figured I would try to reach out to Charlie and see if he had any tips for me. I did not have any real expectations, but hoped for a little guidance or at least to be pointed in the right direction.
It wasn’t noon yet and I had been working and wondering when and how I would run that afternoon. My desire to run was stronger than it ever had been. I sent a message to Charlie and put it slightly out of mind, not expecting him to message me back right away. Then I saw his response. Things began to move quickly as we texted back and forth. By the time I was done telling him my idea and my limited experience he told me that he wasn’t a “coach” but he would be happy to help coach me! Charlie Engle, the guy that ran across the Sahara, the United States, countless adventure races, dozens of ultra races including the infamous Bad Water was going to help me and coach me. Almost instantly he put me in touch with his friend Chris Roman who had ran the exact trail that I was planning 10 years earlier. Suddenly I was a buzz! This idea was forming fast and becoming more of a plan than just a far fetched idea.
Now I not only wanted to run, but I needed to. I needed to start my training. I asked Charlie about my biggest issue with training. Being a single parent I have very limited time to go out for runs, especially long runs. It is really not cool to leave a 5 year old alone for several hours while I am out running. What could I do? I had a stationary bike and I could run in place, which I had done a few times before for various challenges, but I wasn’t sure about if it really counted as training. Turns out Charlie has done this before and suggested to switch between running in place and the bike to break up the monotony of what both can bring. That night I decided I would run in place while waiting for things like my laundry to finish, cooking dinner, and doing various things around the house. I could have gone outside for a run, but I wouldn’t had been able to get the various choirs around the house. 2 hours later I logged a little over 11 miles of just running in my living room. I was astonished by this accomplishment and again had that feeling that I could do more.
My training cycle is still not entirely complete. I know that I need to take some rest days and I also know that my schedule is not the exact same every week. It is hard to make Sundays my “long run” day every week when my daughter is with me every other Sunday and I also have her half the rest of the week. Through in all of the upcoming holidays and driving that I need to do having a scripted regimen would be tough. This week I decided that I would just push myself and see how far I could go in a week. I ended up crushing my goal of 40 miles and actually hit 52 even just running. Add in hiking and walking and I hit over 62. I was really excited and because I was taking it easy on my runs every time I finished I felt like I could do more!
The lesson I have taken from this week is having a specific goal and something to train for makes a huge difference. Yes, running 50 miles is a great goal and I had a specific time frame to do this, but I wasn’t pushing myself as far as I could with this. Now that I have a much larger goal, one that encompasses the 50 mile run goal, I am pushing myself farther than I ever though imaginable! Training no longer is a struggle but a desire. I have attached my goal to a much larger purpose that will hopefully help a few people and now I do not want to let anyone down. Ever step has a purpose and brings excitement to me to achieve.
I know I have been fairly vague about my goal in this post, but that is primarily due to the fact that I am not going to post the specifics about it until a few things are in place. Once I have these things in place however I will announce it to the world and I hope that many of you will follow along.
If training has become a bore to you, or you find yourself going through the motions a bit, set a specific goal that scares you! Something you are not positive you can do, but you know there is a chance! Then start chasing that goal HARD!
With Thanksgiving this week, training will be difficult a bit, but I know that I will do what I can. I also need to create a 14 day training schedule for myself to make sure I am hitting my running goals as well as strength training, stretching, and rest. Part of my training for this week will be research! It is a good thing I love research. Comment below and let me know what you are doing this week for training and share your goals. I want to try to hit higher numbers with my running this week as well as push the strength training a bit more. Feel free to follow me on Strava, Instagram, and Facebook and have a happy Turkey Day. Get out and run off some of those extra calories!
Originally my mission started out to run an Ironman which is something I have not done and know would be an incredible challenge. But as I started gearing up for the training portion I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t as excited by it as I thought I would be. This was disappointing and obviously took a mental toll on the preparations for my training. At the same time however I started (and finished) a few books that talked about ultra endurance! One focused solely on running (Born to Run) and the other was focused on double Ironman’s, or more (Finding Ultra). Either way, these both got me really excited about the idea of running a double marathon and a 100 mile run! This might sound crazy, but the idea of running from Syracuse New York to Buffalo New York (173 miles) was more attractive to me than running an Ironman. So I started looking into training for ultra endurance and scratched together a plan quickly.
The three days leading up to my planned Day 1 training were not easy. I was participating in the Spartan World Trifecta Championship Virtual. A 5k, 10k, and 21k with body weight workouts in place of the obstacles over the course of three days. This would have me run more in three days than I have before by itself, but when my watched died at the 11 mile mark of my first attempt of the 21k, I surpassed just about every weekly total I had logged in about 48 hours. Over 30 miles on my feet I thought I was going to be hurting, but I wanted more! This was great motivation for my ultra prep. I felt great and wanted more.
One of the problems I faced was finding time to run safely. With the sun going down at 530 in the evening and being pitch black by 6:15, my only option was to run in the dark… on roads… with a headlamp. Not ideal, but I have done worse.
I was also planning on conditioning my body and heart rate, so my runs were to be at 130bpm which is much slower than my normal pace. I would do this for the majority of my runs throughout the week and mix in a few speed days where I could let myself fly at least once if not twice a week. This way I could still work on my speed but also condition myself for the long haul I was trying to prep for.
Things were going well on my first run. It was a struggle, but I was patient and kept my heart rate down and felt great. I was moving at about a 10 minute/mile pace, which is about 2 minutes slower than I am use to for my daily runs of 3-5 miles, but I kept thinking to myself that I could run like this all night! I was even upset that I did not have enough time to go for a long run of 10 or more miles that night because I had to meet up with some people in about an hour. Then it happened!
My sole of my left foot was practically vertical even though I was standing upright. The pain shot through my body instantly and I was screaming before I hit the ground. My foot caught the edge of the newly paved road that rose about 6 inches up above the ground with no curb. I rolled my ankle and thought I had broken it. I stood on my right leg for a minute and gauged the oncoming traffic to ensure they were not going to hit me and assessed the injury. Within a few moments I realized it wasn’t broken but still could barely put weight on it. I attempted to use my headlamp to flash down a passing sheriff, but he did not see me. Suddenly I was alone in the pitch black dark on the wrong side of a blind turn without the ability to jump out of the way if a car was coming too fast!
After a few minutes the immediate pain subsided and I was able to walk. Knowing that I had a few miles to go I decided to just take it easy. After a few steps though I was not in any pain. Knowing my pace was slow I figured I could run at my slower pace again. For the next 2 miles I ran at my 10 minute pace keeping my heart rate in check and feeling pretty good. I knew I was pushing my luck, but I wanted to run and felt pretty good! By the time I finished the 2 miles back to my home I was feeling so good that I figured I would hit at least 4 miles on the day, still falling short of my 5 mile easy run plan, so I continued. This is not advisable obviously and I knew it would be a potentially bad move, but onward I went until I saw a few guys working out in their garage. After a quick stop to chat I took a few steps and realized just how bad of an idea running had become.
Walking the remaining distance home I made a few phone calls and talked to a friend about what had happened. She insisted I get it checked out, but as usual I just wanted to get home, ice it and go about my night. The pain was fairly incredible until the ibuprofen kicked in and allowed me to sleep a little. The real pain however was knowing that I was going to need to take at least a day off. That would be two days this week, during an amazing streak of beautiful weather that I would need to be off my ankle (second day I get to be home all day with my daughter since neither of us have school). I was antsy and felt like I could scream!
Over the course of the rest of this week (finishing up my week on Friday for the purpose of this post) I took it pretty easy. I really only had one opportunity to run, but the circumstances were similar to the night I wrecked my ankle and I won’t lie, I was nervous about it. I knew though that I needed to keep working. I spent some time getting back into strength training, but differently than I am use to. Rather than seeing how heavy I could go, my new mission is endurance so I wanted to see how long I could go. This meant I needed to drop weight significantly, but in a way that would still build muscle as well as endurance.
I grabbed my trusty “HydroRuck” sack and filled it with about 40 pounds of water and started taking it to work with me. I used it to occasionally bust out a set of 10-20 ruck swings (kettlebell swings with a ruck sack) or if I was standing at my desk I would do 10 single leg calve raises holding the ruck sack on the same side (next week I will start doing opposite side to help with balance and core). My thought behind all of this was to get my body use to being strained throughout the course of the day, not just for the time period of a workout. Since what I am planning on trying will take me 8 hours or more (8 hours for a double marathon to start) I need to be able to abuse my body for an extended period of time. The only downfall with this tactic is that it is difficult to time how long I am actually working out!
Today I started making a log of every body weight movement I do that is specifically meant to help me prepare. My upper body will be getting minimal work throughout the week since my focus will be on core and lower body strength, but I always need to incorporate some upper body into my workout. That is my goal at least. The general plan for right now is what I have laid out below. This is only my working idea over the first 3 weeks. I do this because I know things will happen and I will need to adjust.
As you can see this is an overview of what I want to do. Each week I will set up my weight training to be a little different than the last week, but I do not want to lift heavy. The heavier I am the slower and more energy I will need for the runs. So I need to strengthen for endurance, light weight with a lot of reps (100 or more). I also do not schedule my runs because my schedule is so chaotic. I set weekly goals and I will make sure to match them by the end of the week. This week with my ankle will mean long runs on both Saturday and Sunday to ensure I hit my mark. For clients, I like to be more specific, but I like to make things random or change them up frequently. Today for instance I was planning on lunges but changed in the middle of the workout to goblet squats with my ruck sack. This keeps my mind engaged a bit more from what I have experienced, rather than a scripted workout. If you do not know enough, or have enough equipment however, make sure your coach is scripting out your workouts in detail! This will be essential for your success.
After completing my first week I have fallen short on two of my three goals. The running and biking. I have until Sunday to get the miles in, which running wise I am fairly confident I can do without going too far past my prescribed pace and distance, but hitting the bike for my prescribed time may not happen.
I am also finding the challenges of running in the cold and dark more of a struggle than I thought. I knew I wouldn’t want to do this, but when I had the opportunity this morning I deferred to weight training rather than running. I did think about my ankle and wanted to make sure I was rested and healed before tomorrow, but deep down I know that I just wanted to stay warm! These are things I will have to get over.
I am also struggling to stay on the bike for longer than 30 minutes. I am going to try again tonight and find something to watch while I ride, but indoor bike riding is just so damn boring. This will be essential for me though for the endurance piece as well as quality cross training.
Strength training was not as much of a challenge this week, primarily because it is what I really enjoy. It did get “boring” compared to what I am use to however because of the lighter weights, but that is why I try to change it up a bit. All in all, it was a struggle this week but that is because I am changing my norm. I knew this would happen and am ready to adjust and do what I need to in order to hit my goals. It is only going to get harder from here so I need to push myself if I want to make this idea a reality. I also need to remember that this is not about time/pace! It is about distance. If I can break through these mental barriers I have things will go a lot smoother for me and I will find my success.
As for my diet, I plan to stay on my usual intake of food which focuses on a lot of natural/whole foods with my twice a week cheats (donut on Friday and pizza on Sunday). I do not want to change too much because I will need the fuel for the increased work load. I also know that my current diet has allowed me to maintain my weight and body fat percentage. If I increase the number of calories I am burning throughout the week but maintain my current intake of calories then I will shed a few pounds which will be key for distance running.
My final reflection of week 1 is that I need to track things better! The amount of time I am putting in workouts as well as runs and biking. I also need to track my calories to make sure their is an increase from previous weeks/months. Finally, even though I like to keep my strength training a surprise at times, I need to know what is working and what is not so I need to track my body fat percentage, water density and overall weight as well. These will be things that I put together over the weekend to allow myself to see trends based off of my workouts and runs. Since I am doing the ill-advised and going at something massive without utilizing a coach (as I usually do) I need to approach this as a scientific experiment and track data like I never have before! This will require even more time that I really do not have, but the question usually comes down to how badly do I want to achieve my goal?
I hope this has given you an idea of how to create a rough plan for your training purposes. Remember, if you are new to this you should always consult your doctor first, then talk to a trainer or a coach and create a solid plan! If you have any questions, or would like me to take a look at your plan for free or schedule a free consultation please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below and I will be sure to get back to you as soon as I can! If I do not hear from you, good luck on your goals and I look forward to writing about week 2 of my training!
If you have followed me for any period of time, you know that I am HUGE on SMART goals. Specific Measureable Attainable Relevant and Timely. Since I preach this so often I want to set a new goal for the OCR Librarian! By the end of 2021 I want to help 5,000 people achieve their fitness goals! This seems like a lot, but between my blog, social media accounts, various races that I manage and work with, and training programs these numbers will add up quickly! 2020 has not been the year for great things, but I know many of us plan to make 2021 the best year of our lives! It is time for me to do the same!
My challenge for you! Make a SMART goal for yourself for 2021 and post it in the comment section below, tag @ocrlibrarian315 on Facebook or Instagram, email me at email@example.com, post it on your own or share it with one other person. No matter what, set a goal and then start working towards it every day! I look forward to seeing the goals and what you all are capable of!
There is way too much out there about diets and what everyone “needs” to know! To top this off I am no dietician by any extent. Personally I know basics and what I like/what makes me feel good throughout my days and while working out and does not have adverse effects on my body. Getting to this place was a lot of trial and error, frustration and pain but I am here today and I will share with you the basics of what I know and hope that you can glean from this some information that will help you.
First off there is simple math you need to know to figure out how much food you should be eating if you want to either gain or lose weight. This is all about calories. To gain weight you need a caloric surplus, to lose weight you need a caloric deficit. It really is that simple. I am not going to get too in depth with calories in food versus drinks, or empty calories, but just knowing this much is true will help you.
In order to determine how many calories you are burning in a day you need to know your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is the minimum amount of calories your body needs for essential functions such as breathing. Another way to look at it is the amount of calories you would burn in a day if you did NOTHING but lay in your bed! To figure this out I could lay out the math for you (really I would just copy and paste it) or you can click here and put your information into the BMR Calculator which we all know is much easier to do! BMR Calculator.
Now that you know the number of calories you burn in a day doing nothing, you can use this to estimate how many calories you burn throughout your day. Again you could do a lot of math, measure your heart rate which is fairly time consuming, or you can rely on the various trackers and apps that are out there. These are fairly accurate, but remember these are estimates so do not go off of them religiously! Also these usually only track your “active calories” and not your inactive (BMR number) so your numbers for intake could be substantially off! To play it safe I typically use this site to estimate your daily numbers. It seems to be fairly close to what I measure my “very active” days, but I also have to remember that my very active days are sometimes much more active than most. So keep this as an estimate!
Once you have your daily estimate, now you need to figure out if you want to gain or lose weight. I normally follow a 20% rule. Either 20% more for a gain or less for a cut. This is important because if you over eat on a gain you will gain too much too quickly and it will be more fat mass than muscle. If you cut too much you will lose more muscle than you should. Neither will have positive effects on performance or how your body looks.
This is usually where people really focus on macros. For a long time the only macro I focused on during all of these numbers was protein, consuming .8 grams per pound of body weight on a cut and 1-1.2 grams per pound for a bulk. This is usually what is recommended, but there are so many other factors to take into consideration.
If this is the path you want to take, and have the mental capacity as well as discipline I would suggest you reach out to a nutritionist or dietician for some more detailed and personalized advice. For the purpose of this particular post I mention all of this because as you can tell it is tedious, time consuming, and borderline obsessive! This is NOT NEEDED to live a normal and healthy life. Science is needed to achieve your peak performance and I encourage everyone to keep these basic ideas in mind, but know that things can be much simpler if you just want to be generally healthy.
Today my diet consists of a lot of fruits, veggies, and yes even meat! I eat pretty much what I want and am able to stay in decent shape, the difference is I have created a life where most of the garbage that I use to ingest is gone. I stay away from sugary drinks always! I cannot tell you the last time I had a pop (soda for all my non-Buffalo people), my coffee is always black, and I really do not eat candy except a few pieces of dark chocolate once a week. I will allow myself to have a pizza with my daughter once a week with my daughter, and eat pasta occasionally. The pasta is whole wheat normally, so is any bread that I buy. I get most of my carbs from fruits and vegetables as well as proteins. There are many foods out there low in calories and high in protein that are also just refreshing (such as the cold kiwi I ate for breakfast this morning).
The rules I try to go by are simple. I avoid processed foods whenever I can and try to eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Meats I eat only 2-3 times per week and try to keep it as lean cuts, chicken or fish, I do not have anything with added sugar, and the fact that I don’t drink alcohol keeps away a lot of excess carbs and empty calories that many other people put into their body. This, plus my training has kept my body bouncing between 11 and 12% body fat for the better part of 2 years now and I feel great! From a guy that use to suck down a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper daily while on a strict fried food diet and smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day I have been transformed into a guy that runs over 30 miles this past weekend and can’t wait to get back out and hit the roads and trails again today!
The fact is if you can start by making small changes and turn your diet into your lifestyle it will become much easier for you to stick with it and get consistent results! Start by cutting out sugary foods and drinks, then maybe get away from the microwavable foods. Before you know it you will be craving some cold and refreshing fruit rather than a Gatorade after a workout and your plate will be a lot greener than it ever has been, even with the bloody piece of steak on it! No matter what, find a way to eat foods you enjoy and make you feel good and your life will change drastically!
Next week we put it all together when I create a one month training plan for myself to show you what I do and the reasons why I have certain things put into place. Until then, experiment with your food and search for the healthier options rather than the crap!
This all started with just a casual conversation between myself, a colleague from another school, and a number of boys we both either teach or taught at one time or another. We were running one of our nightly “check-ins” with our boys and the topic of training came up. “Yo… I’m doing 100 pushups a day… I have stopped doing anything else and I love it! You wouldn’t believe how it’s leaning me out bro” said my colleague. I discussed the science and logic of his statement to the boys so they understood how a pushup can and will effect their core muscles, but that was it. There was no challenge laid down or competition put to me. Just that brief conversation. Then I thought “what would happen if all I did was pushups?” This then turned into bodyweight workouts all together. As usual I did some research and found out many benefits and a few disadvantages to the pushup idea.
The first few days were tough! I could do 20 in a row no problem, 30 if I really pushed myself, but if I tried to do another set or even 2 I was struggling. I struggled so much that the I ended up not doing any pushups for a few days that first week (missed 2). Determined though, I was going to at least average 100 pushups per day for the month, so I dropped down to 10 per set and started banging them out randomly throughout the day. By the end of that first week I noticed my shoulders hurting as well as my wrists. Every muscle in my arms was sore and aching and I wasn’t really all that sure that I was going to follow through on this mission of mine. Everyday I woke up I struggled with the idea but continued to push. I ended the first 7 days with 730 pushups hitting my mark with a little extra.
I would love to tell you that week 2 was smooth sailing, but I would be lying. I was SORE but determined! I wanted to make sure I hit at minimum of my number from the week before. Day 1 of my second week I fell short of my mark with only 80. Day 2 I was so sore I didn’t do any! This meant trouble for me if I was going to hit my goal but thankfully I have a very competitive nature! The next two days I did more pushups than I ever thought I would do in a day and doubling up on my 100 per day goal. I was still sore, but I was feeling it. I related it to the feeling you get at the gym after your first few weeks of lifting. You almost enjoy and embrace the sore muscles because it means you are getting a solid workout in. The second day of my push I was feeling it so much I threw in over 150 body weight squats. Something was clicking and for the first time in a while I was excited to see how far I could push myself with this.
It was around this time I decided to up my reps per set from 10 to 15. It was a subtle change, but it was increasing my overall load and quantity. It also made more sense. Now I was pushing to see how many I could do in a day and I was excited to do them. I finished off the week strong hitting over 100 every day. Somedays by a lot and some by a little, but each day I was making sure I did more than my goal. I finished with 950 pushups in week 2 bringing my total to 1,680.
Waking up on Monday’s I check my weight and body fat percentage. Some Monday's (especially when training) I will take a picture to note any change in my appearance due to my training. The Monday that started week 3 though I was really excited! I noticed a substantial change in my body. My mid-section was slimming down and my arms looked great. Now I was hooked! I wanted to crush my new PR from the previous week of 950 and I wanted to see just what pushups could really do for me.
Like the week before I had 2 days over 200 and another I ended at 190, but I started noticing a pain in my wrist that was sticking with me throughout the course of the day and not just when doing my pushups. I bite through the pain and kept pushing myself and by day 6 of week 3 I had already achieved 960 total for the week! I went to bed that night confident in my abilities. With a busy day and a lot of driving ahead of me to finish off week 3 I knew that I would have to squeeze in my pushups in the morning and evening, but with already eclipsing my goal for the week everything I did was just a cherry on top! Then I woke up…
My wrist was in so much pain that I couldn’t move it without wincing. I had built my daughters new bunk bed the night before and had struggled with the pain, but figured it would subside. Instead it intensified. I hoped that it would dissipate a bit before our 2 plus our venture to see my parents and I could get a few quick sets in, but it didn’t take long to determine that pushups in the morning were not in the cards!
I wrapped my wrist up the best I could, popped a few ibuprofen and set off on our ride. I hoped that by the time we got home that night I would be ok enough to get at least a few sets in. Disregarding the fact that it would be 10 hours until I got to that point, 4 and a half of which would be on the mind numbing drive across New York known as the I-90, I was fairly confident in my determination.
The entire day was spent stretching and pushing my thumb to try to get rid of the pain, but nothing I did was helping. All day long I felt like I had one hand, which makes a trip to Niagara Falls quite difficult with a 4 year old running around and then getting tired out. Carrying my princess became a painful reminder that I had pushed myself more than normal. I knew this could be an issue, but I had my mind set and disregarded warnings I found online.
By the time we got home there was no doubt in my mind, I was not going to do a single pushup that day. I was disappointed that I was unable to achieve a “perfect week” 3 weeks into this self challenge, but somewhat satisfied that I beat my goal from last week. But then the little voice in my head creeped in… “Did you really BEAT last week? 10 pushups? That’s what you call beating last week?” I know logically that a win is a win and it takes small victories sometimes to add up to massive successes, but man I was beating myself up. Week 4 needed to be better!
Week 3 ended with 960 pushups brining my total to 2,640. It dawned on me that I was well over my pace to do 100 pushups a day for a month and the thought of taking it easy had dawned on me, but I soon shattered that idea! Day 1 I took it easy and squeezed in 100 with my wrist still wrapped. It was hurting a little, but not debilitating like it had the day before. I made a determination that I was shooting for 1,000 pushups for the week this week and nothing was going to stop me, and day 2 of week 4 proved me right!
Before I left for work on day 2 I had already busted out 100 pushups. I told myself that every time I left my chair at work I would do a set (10-15) before I sat back down. This was a nice thought, but man it is difficult with how many times I am up and moving in my day. I will say however I did do this whenever I did not have something else immediately pressing. I also pulled off a solid chunk when I got home that night, even getting out of bed a few times after my daughter went down to get another few sets in. I finished the day with a new daily PR at 340 pushups in a single day! I was stoked. My wrist wasn’t hurting and I was ready for day 3 of the week to see what I could accomplish.
At this point I want to take a moment to mention something about the “diet” I am on, or rather that I am not. Currently in my training and my life I am not counting calories or macros. I am not really avoiding carbs or even some “bad foods”. I have created a lifestyle that does not involve much junk at all if I am being honest. My daughter often jokes with me that “Mommy has the best candy and daddy has the best fruits”. I also did not change anything in my diet really while doing this challenge. I still ate a lot of seeds, veggies and fruit. I do not shy away from meats, but do not eat them every day, and have had several styles of pizza throughout the month (If I do not eat a different pizza on game day my Buffalo Bills might not win). This will change next month as my training will change, but for October it was just eating what I wanted, when I wanted. I am just happy that I wanted healthier type stuff.
For those that know me, I usually run quite a bit. This was not the case for the month of October. I actually ran substantially less! Instead of my typical 30-40 miles per week like I was doing over the summer I was running between 10 and 15 throughout the month. So the only reason for any changes in my body and appearance that have taken place throughout the month of October is directly due to the fact of simply doing pushups! Towards the end of the month I noticed the impact this would have and my legs felt much weaker when I would try to do my longer runs, fortunately I did not lose much speed!
I would end my final week of pushups averaging 165 per day. Towards the end of the week I began getting a sharper pain in my left shoulder and figured I should slow it down a bit. I would only do my minimum of 100 per day for the final 3 days rather than pushing myself to destroy the previous week. I would boast my biggest week however and put up 1,155 pushups total for the week making it my strongest week yet!
What I Have Learned
The thought of doing 100 pushups a day for an entire month is a bit hard to grasp in the front end. Sure it seems doable, but when you have not been doing pushups regularly the first few days are tough! Much like many other endurance style activities or longer duration challenges, this was as much mental as it was physical. I do have to admit, I did not do pushups every day! As I stated above there were days of injury and life that prevented me from accomplishing this goal, but finishing the month with 3,795 total pushups I made sure to average the 100 per day and accomplish my mission.
The effects on the body were impressive! As you can see from the pictures I have added in this post, doing only pushups with minimal cardio has really leaned me down! It was not just the arms, but my midsection that had the biggest change. I can only say this has to be from the plank style pose of the pushup form. Knowing that doing all these pushups every day has had an impact on my shoulder I will not be continuing with them every day, but I will continue to plank every day now since that will not have an impact on my shoulder (no rotation in any way) and still help me to keep my midsection where it is if not improve it!
Since I have always wanted to be the more lean and muscular type rather than the guy with massive muscles, I am quickly becoming an advocate more so of body weight workouts. As soon as this blog is posted I will be working on the designs for my new training regimen that involves more running, biking, and yes body weight strength training! It is undeniable that this was effective with no real change to my diet. When I take my training more seriously and focus more on my dietary needs I can’t imagine what will happen. I will make sure to track my stats a bit more closely for the month of November and what types of workouts I am doing and fill you all in once the month is over!
I have had a few struggles with injury as I have stated. Mainly my shoulder and wrist. This is because of repetition and repetition only. This is why you rarely see anyone (never anyone serious) doing only one workout everyday, or the same routine everyday at the gym. As much fun as I had with this I will encourage anyone that is doing this to at least alternate days and maybe do 100 pushups and 100 squats. This way you are spreading the love to multiple parts of your body and hopefully avoiding the injuries associated with repetition.
I hope you all enjoyed this experiment and the lessons I have learned. Stay tuned next week for the next part in my series “Finding the Right Training Program” where I will be focusing on diet. Until then, keep pushing yourself!
This is where things start to get confusing! There are SOOOOOOOOO many different training plans, methods, ideas, and approaches out there that it is easy to get lost. The worst part is if you are training in a way that does not match your goals you could be setting yourself up for failure!
I personally experienced this during my first attempt at an obstacle course race. I talked to 2 people about the race and how to train. One was signed up with me and the other had no previous experience with OCR (great starting point), but I took both of their words seriously and trained as if they were the Gods of training. I focused on a weight lifting regimen that was great at building muscle and losing fat and ignored cardio completely. I was told if my legs were strong enough I would have no problem with the hills on the course.
I spent several months training and was feeling great. I was in better shape, which is never a bad thing, and I felt confident that I would do well. And I did do well, on the obstacles that involved upper body and leg strength. The obstacles that required more explosive movements, the running and the hills (aka MOUNTAINS) absolutely destroyed every fiber of self respect I had. I finished and had a smile on my face, but I was demoralized at my time and knew that I could do much better! I knew I would want to try one of the OCR things again someday, but I was in no hurry and felt I deserved a break! If it wasn't for sheer dumb luck I would have not ran another OCR for an unforeseen amount of time and missed out on so many experiences and changes that have happened in my life because of my participation. This is what I want to help you avoid, missing out on something you enjoy just because you trained incorrectly!
If you are anything like me you have already opened a separate tab and googled "types of fitness training" or something along those lines. Doing this might also add to your confusion. "7 Types of Fitness Training" followed by "The 4 Types of Fitness Training You Need to Know" and so on. So many different perspectives on something that everyone seems to be an expert at yet no-one can agree on many of the best practices. For easy reference I will share an article that I feel is concise as well as accurate and you can refer to along the way.
This is where everyones mind goes when they think about packing on muscle. The first image for me still is the bench press. You do not have to be a muscle head to weight lift though, and weight lifting is actually a great way to help you lose fat, strengthen bones and so much more. You do not have to lift heavy either! Again it depends on your goals.
If you want to lift to gain power and strength you absolutely need to lift heavy, but you should also do a low number of reps per set with a longer rest between sets to allow your muscles time to recover! Performing 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at 85-95 % of your 1 rep max rep is what would be suggested to build power and strength.
Now if size is what you are looking for then you should change things up a bit. To build size and strength you need to be shooting for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps at 70-80 % 1 rep max. This I would still recommend a few minutes between sets (2-3) to allow your muscles time to recover especially since you are pushing more reps per set!
For muscular endurance (which is what I SHOULD have been training for) you want to perform 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps at approximately 60 % of their 1 rep max. This will be a lot lighter, but the number of reps is much higher! You will feel much more tired from these, but you will be allowing yourself to lift for longer sessions. Many people only do a short 30 second rest with lifts like these, but I always encourage a solid 2 minute rest minimum!
You should also notice that with all of the different lifting methods they reference 1 rep max. This is the max amount of weight that you can lift with GOOD FORM! If you cannot lift it with proper form, then consider it too heavy! You will need to spend some time at the gym with a spotter to accurately determine your 1 rep max before you can do this. In order to progress you should also increase weight as you lift regularly. If you can hit more reps than the maximum listed above for whichever method you are using, add 5lbs on and push yourself. Add 5lbs every week or two if you are unsure and try to hit your target rep number.
When it comes to cardio, most people think about getting on a bike or treadmill and going for as long as they can. While this is a type of cardio you can do, it is not the only one! Let's take a look at the different types of cardio workouts you can do and what some of the benefits/disadvantages of each are.
First is Continuous Training. As stated above, this is what you see most people on treadmills or running through the park. Many friends of mine that are lifters HATE this however. They feel that they never should need to run and do not want to do anything remotely close! Running, and even moving at a fast pace is not the key to continuous training. The main things you are looking for would be 20 minutes or more without rest and keeping your heart rate in the 60%-80% range of your max heart rate. This can obviously be done by running, but it can also be done walking at a STEEP incline, or using the stair master. For me, my max heart rate is 183 (220-age). That makes my target zone 109-146. I can hit a heart rate of 109 easily on a stair master or a treadmill on an incline and so could you! This is a great way to train, especially if you love running, biking, or other activities that take a longer period of time but it can also be a bit boring if you are as impatient as I am! Even with my impatience I will usually try to fit in 30-60 minutes of continuous training per day in a variety of forms. Just make sure you are getting your heart rate up and you are good to go.
Fartlek (speed play) training is often confused with interval training. Even though it can seem similar, it is more along the lines of continuous training because you do not fully stop and rest. Fartlek is continuous training, but you vary the speed, terrain, and/or elevation as you go. Something like a warm up jog (5 minutes) followed by a 30 second full out sprint, then another jog for 90 seconds, then a sprint at about 75% for about a minute with one more jog thrown in for 90 seconds would do the trick. Do that 6 times without stopping and you have a Fartlek style training. This is one of my favorite/most dreaded workouts to do. It will completely drain you by the time you are done but you will also be building a lot of muscles to help with both distance and speed. It also will break up the monotony of long runs so it does not get as boring. This is something that is difficult to do daily, but building it into your routine once a week is easy and will be very beneficial. You can also take similar methods onto the bike with this, but I prefer it as a running activity.
Interval training is often called HIIT for High Intensity Interval Training and is a great way to drop weight and feel like you are completely out of shape no matter your skill level. Like Fartlek you go as hard as you can with an exercise for a short period of time (30-90 seconds) but then you completely rest for a period of time. The rest is the important part for Interval Training. You could do a 1:1 ratio (work for :30 and rest for :30) a 1:1.5, 1:2 or a 1:3 depending on your ability, but you normally do not want to go much more than that in my experience. Typically 8 to 10 rounds of the workout will be done before you have completed that exercise and by the end you will be dog tired and you will feel it, but finishing it is always a great feeling. The "trick" is to allow your heart rate to recover. Doing this spikes your heart rate numerous times throughout the workout encouraging your body to burn fat faster. The down side with this however is that there have been some studies that show potential heart issues with doing extended HIIT workouts over the course of several years. This basically means do not do this every day. This, like Fartlek, is something I like to incorporate a few times a week. 15-20 minutes as a warm up to whatever it is I am doing that day. This will usually wake me up and get me in the right mindset for my workout and not push the envelope or my heart too much.
There are many other types of training out there and it is best to consult your doctor and a trainer/coach to determine which is the best for you, but this guide will help you get a little more insight into what you might want to consider. You need to find something that will fit your goals and allow you to gain the most from you training. For me and my goal of the Ironman and my body fat percentage I will have a combination of many of these. If you are just starting out and want to lose some body fat the perhaps you focus on a weight training regimen and some interval training. It is good to have variety in your workout to ensure you are getting the most out of each workout and your body while all working towards the same goal.
Next week we will start talking a little about diet. I am not a dietician so I am only able to go off of personal experience, but I feel confident I can help point you in the right direction to get started! After we have hit all 3 points of the training plan (goal, training, and diet) I will script out a new training routine for myself for you to show you how I do this for myself and my clients. This will give me a day by day workout routine, based off of my schedule and goals. Things may also change for me between now and then due to a few experiences I am currently working on for future blog posts (early to mid November). Once I discover the results of these experiments I will gladly share them with all of you! As always, thank you for reading and feel free to comment on here, my social media (OCRLibrarian315) or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be sure to get back to you!
Everyone starts with the best of intentions when they start working out for the first time. Some are shooting for weight loss, some are trying to gain muscle, some are trying to run their first marathon, and so many other ideas. Then you see them walk into the gym and start going at a workout like their lives depend upon it. Great enthusiasm and energy, and you can see they really desire a change. This is so common in January when everyone is making a variety of resolutions, but once mid February hits the gyms are empty and people are no longer working out. Why? There are many different answers to this question, but in my opinion and personal experience it is lack of a real plan that matches a persons goals.
I cannot express how many times I have seen someone walk into the gym, obviously new, and do a routine that makes no logical sense. Hitting machines that target different muscle groups, using different rep and weight schemes, and having no consistency in rest time between sets. There is one guy that sticks out to me from a few years back. He would be at the gym every morning at 5am and he would bust his ass but in a way that made absolutely no sense to me. I had just begun learning about the different types of lifting and the benefits so I chalked it up to me not knowing everything and I watched. I watched for months as this guy would come in and basically play weight machine roulette every morning. Sure he would sweat, probably be sore, and lose a few pounds because this was a MUCH better alternative to sitting on the couch, but he could have done so much more!
After almost 3 months of daily training this guy, like so many others started to fade away until I no longer saw him at the gym. I do not know him nor did I ever talk to him so I can only speculate why he stopped, but I assume that it was due to a lack of results. Today I wish he trained at my gym because I would have gladly stopped and talked to him and tried to help him out, but I cannot. This is my inspiration for this article and I hope that it helps anyone out there either just getting started or who wants to change things up!
To find the right training program the first thing you need to do is know what you want out of it. Just like it is not a smart move for a mother of 4 to buy a 2 seat sports car for day to day use, it is not smart to go at a training program you found online without knowing for sure that it fits what you are trying to do! The easiest way to do this in all reality is to sit down with a personal trainer or a coach (it won’t take 3 weeks of reading my blog and can be done in an hour), but if you are like me you want to save a few bucks and so lets go over the basics.
Set a goal
This sounds easy, but a lot of times people fail because they set horrible goals. “Losing weight” is not a goal! “Getting bigger” also is a horrible example of a goal. Pretty much anything that can be summarized in a 2-4 word sentence should not be considered a goal if you are serious about changing yourself! I tell my middle school students and clients the same thing when it comes to goals, you have to create S.M.A.R.T. goals! For those that are new to this concept SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
Without going into depth on each one, using this system is a great way to hold yourself accountable and hit your mark, or damn near close! I have set many SMART goals in my day, but the one I have always struggled to do correctly is the “Attainable” piece. I usually think I am able to do more than I can and I set this too high. For example, 2 years ago part of my SMART goal was to hit 10% body fat over the course of 4 months. I was at about 18-20%. This is not unimaginable to do, but with working a full time job and being a full time parent I found that it was kind of unattainable for me at that time. I failed at 12% body fat and was really upset with myself. This overshadowed the huge progress I did make and let me get in my head about what I was capable of. Avoid the same mistakes I made in this regard. Make your goal challenging, but doable at the same time.
It is essential to have a specific goal when you are trying to figure out your training program so that you know not only what types of workouts you need, but also what types of rep schemes and how heavy you need your weights to be. When my goal was to lose 25 pounds of body weight and to increase definition in my muscles (a very loose goal at the end there) I knew I needed to lift heavy weights for shorter reps and longer rests. ***Yes lifting weights is one of the best ways to lose weight… not cardio*** But now my goals have changed, so my training needs to change.
My current goal is to complete my first Ironman in the summer of 2021. This is something that I feel is attainable, has a time goal, is very specific, is definitely measureable, and is relevant seeing as I want to push myself to a new level in racing. Things need to change fairly drastically for me. I need to run longer, bike more, and swim. Two of these things I do not do as regularly as I would like to right now.
I also need to cut back on my weight lifting. Sure, big bulky muscles can look good, but they will just increase the weight I need to haul around with me for a very long event. At the same time however I need to ensure I am not loosing a substantial amount of muscle (some will be lost like with any cut) because I will need a lot of strength for this event.
I need to increase my ability for endurance rather than just strength. Now that I have my goal set in stone I need to start the plan. Over the next few weeks I will go over how I determine my training plan and what I my diet will look like, as well as discuss different ways to determine what your diet and training should look like. But before we get there, YOU NEED A GOAL! Take this week and put some serious thought into what you want your goal to be. Make sure it meets the SMART requirements. This will set you up for success next week when we discuss training methods and what each one will do. Until then go and be active in anyway you can and start your process, even if it is just a walk. A bad workout is always better than no workout at all!
As you can see from the picture, I have made quite a few changes over the past 6 years. This article is not to pat myself on the back, but rather lay out a basic frame work of what I did, how I did it, and how others can change their lives by changing their habits, because it really is that simple.
About 7 years ago I was in the worst shape of my life. At 6’2” tall I was weighing in at about 250lbs and 30% or more body fat percentage. I was smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day, eating McDonalds for breakfast, random fast food for lunch, and everything I could get my hands on for dinner. While writing this I started to think about my old breakfast, a number 10 (steak bagel sandwich) with the hash brown, 2 breakfast burritos and a Dr. Pepper. That is how I started every day!
Because I was an athlete in my younger years I was completely offended when a doctor (at my first yearly check up in YEARS) told me that I was obese. Other than that I seemed to be healthy, but that comment stung and stung hard. Not hard enough immediately however because I continued living the same way for a while longer. It wasn’t until I moved half way across New York that I started to actually change anything.
My move to Syracuse was what really got me going. A lot of things changed very rapidly. The place I lived (obviously), a new job, a falling out with an entire group of people that I came to love, and really a bit of boredom in my new home. I decided that I was going to start by quitting smoking.
I didn’t want to be that guy that quit smoking and gained a bunch of weight. The doctors horrible diagnosis of being obese still rang in my ears and I did not want to add to that problem so I also decided to take up running. I should point out that when I say running I really mean “running”. It took me over a month to be able to run 1 mile without stopping. I would run as far as I could then I would walk. I repeated this process every night until I hit my goal of running 1 mile, then I started pushing for 2. I had always wanted to run a 5k so that was what I thought my end goal was.
*** For those that are just starting out, a couch to 5k program is a great way to get started and ease you into things***
By the time I finally hit my 5k distance I had discovered a discouraging injury. I had planter factitious in my right heel and it quickly became debilitating. This was probably due to the fact that I ignored it for months because I did not want to stop my momentum. It didn’t matter too much at this point however, I had quit smoking and was down about 30lbs in a matter of months and was feeling good! I knew I couldn’t run for a while so I began to research how to properly weight lift.
Throughout my running and lifting journey, I was embarrassed. I thought that these trainers at gyms would look down on me, make fun of me behind my back, and that I would never be able to achieve the things they did. This hurt me more than I can describe. If I would have worked with someone at either of these points in my journey I probably would have avoided a few injuries and sped up the timeline a little, but with my loaner mentality coupled with my embarrassment I just went at it alone, but I read A LOT of books, articles, and blog posts to go at it the best that I could.
Once I found a weight lifting program that made sense to me I started going to the gym 5 or 6 days a week and really started pushing myself. I started modeling my weight lifting habits on those that were body builders, even though I really did not want to be a body builder. I learned what a compound lift was, what lifts hit each muscle group, and how to properly alternate the muscle groups throughout the week. After about a total of a year I was down about 40lbs total (210 range) and I was feeling more athletic than I had in years.
Now I would love to tell you that it was all training, and that is all I had to do to cut some weight, but that is not the case. I needed to change the way I was eating daily, which sounds obvious. I was fortunate that ANY change to my diet at the time was a healthier move, but again I started researching ways to go about this. Realistically I should have been seeking help for this, but this is all hindsight.
I went through a variety of different phases during this time. High protein and low carb, calorie counting, macro counting, fasting, and so many other variations that my head and body where spinning. Finally, through lots of reading and “experiments” with diets I learned that food is not bad! It is just the types of foods that can be bad and I needed to learn to stay away from them. Today, and for quite some time now, I am just mindful of what I eat. I eat a lot more natural foods, watch my portions and try not to obsess too much about them. I want to be comfortable and healthy, not obsessive. It has turned into a nice mix of foods that I enjoy and I do not hate myself completely when I do spoil myself with the occasional pizza.
It would be wonderful to say that this has been a consistent way of life for me over the past 6 years, but it has not. Life happens. When my daughter was born she became my focus, not so much working out. My healthy habits of good eating had an impact though and I did not revert to type. I would make my family healthy meals each night and even made my daughters baby food from the veggies I grew in my garden.
Now that my daughter is a little older I have been able to embrace training on a new level. Now it is not a struggle for me to reach a mile or two while running. I ran a 5k this morning before work and in a break from writing this. Weight lifting is something I truly enjoy doing and now I am setting goals for doing things that once seemed impossible for me to do!
Even more important is the impact my healthy lifestyle is having on my daughter. At 4 years old she has already ran her first 1 mile race (a 15:59 time that beat her fathers first 1 mile “run”) and we have plans on hiking her first mountain. She regularly lifts her toy weights while I lift my real ones and her favorite snacks are grapes, oranges, cucumbers and carrots. Because of the changes I have made, she stands less of a chance of falling into the hole I was in. The girl doesn’t even know what pop (or soda for all you non Buffalo folks out there) tastes like! It is truly a beautiful thing to see her grow up and not feel bad that I am teaching her unhealthy habits. Instead, she knows the basics of how to live a long healthy life and really has not seen a different option!
If you are just getting started like I did just a few short years ago I am writing this for you. I want you to know some of the mistakes I made and changes I needed to make in order to make this a permanent change and not just another yoyo style diet.
First, stop looking for the quick fix! Too many times I meet people that are starving themselves to drop 30lbs for a few months just to go back to the life they were living and gain it all back. Consistency is key and you need to change your daily habits to make permanent changes! Start small and progress so that you do not get defeated easily.
Do not be afraid of asking for help. Trust me, I understand what it means to be self-conscious about how you look. I spent YEARS away from the beach and the pool because I didn’t want to take my shirt off in public. This is actually something that is still nerve racking for me because of how embarrassed I was years ago. Now that I am a trainer and a coach I am able to understand where clients are coming from with this self-conscious feeling. I also know that there are many other trainers out there that have a similar experience. There is nothing to feel embarrassed about when it comes to changing your life! Reach out and people will be there to support you and hold you accountable. The more you surround yourself with healthy people, the more likely you are not to slip back into your previous state.
Lastly, when things do not go your way remember why you started or how far you have come. I am not where I want to be, but that is because I have pretty high expectations and goals today! It is easy to get down on myself and think I should just give up. Seeing the picture of me from 7 years ago was a huge kick in the ass to never quit! Be proud of what you have done and where you are at and strive to improve! If I can do this so can you.
I genuinely hope this article has helped at least 1 person, and I thank you all for reading. In the upcoming weeks I will cover some other topics that will include things like healthy eating, best ways to train, what 100 pushups a day can do, and so much more. If there is anything you want me to cover, you are curious about, or you have an interest in feel free to leave a comment below!
Starting in the month of October I will start posting weekly articles discussing what I am working on, what I suggest working on, what I am learning, or anything I can find that will relate to all around health. Subscribe for weekly updates and comment if you have suggestions or experience with anything I discuss. This is not meant to be a place for me to preach, but rather a place for all to learn!
First official post will be October 1st!