Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Killer Workout

Day 1 of my little 7-day goal of eating primally and working out hard:

Food was dead-on. Coffee in the morning, a salad with some tuna at lunch, bacon, eggs and salad for dinner, and some walnuts and blue cheese for a snack.

The CrossFit workout yesterday was a killer. We warmed up doing some form work with medicine balls. Then, we did ten minutes of rope jumping, trying to focus on "double unders", where the rope crosses under the feet twice per jump. I was able to get into a decent rhythm of 1-2-1-2-1-2, and 1-1-1-1-1-1, but not 2-2-2-2-2-2-2. The number means the number of times the rope crossed under each jump. It seems odd to me that 1-2-1-2 would be easier than 2-2-2-2 but that's how it worked last night.

Then came the main workout. We did 10 thrusters followed by 10 push-ups. We did this 10 times, as quickly as possible. A thruster is essentially a front squat followed by a push-press, finishing with the barbell overhead. With a total of 100 thrusters, I kept the weight fairly low. The push-ups were harder than the thrusters by the end of the workout. This workout was more of a muscle failure workout (for me) than our typical main part of the workout. Typically, I'm limited by my ability to go very hard - my heart rate and breathing rather than muscular ability. Last night, I got to points where I simply had to rest before I could do more push-ups. The very last finisher (he did a harder variation of the workout than I did) was reduced to a single push-up at a time as we cheered him to a finish.

My time was 17:15, but I didn't do the workout exactly as prescribed. Each day on the board, there are four variations on the workout - Rx'd, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. As you move farther from the prescribed workout, the amount of weight will drop, the height of a box for jumping will drop, or the type of push-up you do might change. Right now, I am mostly doing Level 2. Until I get more of these workouts under my belt and I drop some weight, I'm not going to be doing the prescribed workout. When we do workouts for strength, I'm one of the stronger guys in the group, but add in the speed and high number of reps, and I'm one of the least fit people there.

Today, after skiing over the weekend and the workout last night, I pretty much hurt everywhere, but the shoulders and triceps are the worst. If tonight's workout hits the shoulders much, people will be yelling at the coach!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holidays, skiing, some exercise

Last week was a busy week. I was hosting more than a dozen people for Thanksgiving and I'd been out of town the previous weekend. On Monday, I opted to shop for food rather than workout. On Tuesday, I had to deal with my wife's car, which needed some major repair work, and I again missed the gym.

On Tuesday evening, I also started cooking for Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, I managed to get in a weight workout and I enjoyed it. After that workout, I cooked until about 2:00 a.m. But, at least I had a workout done.

Thursday was all about cooking and spending a fun day with family. Don't even ask how many bottles of wine 8 adults drank that day. Friday, I tried to clean up from all of my cooking and watch some football. And, all of a sudden, it was the weekend and I'd only done one workout for the week.

On Saturday morning, I had a meeting at the ski resort. It was a meeting of the trainers, getting ready for how we will be training other instructors the next few weekends. After the meeting, a few of us managed to sneak out for a couple runs, but the skiing wasn't really fun for me. Snow from snow guns made it difficult to see. Limited open terrain put a lot of skiers onto narrow trails, and some people simply don't emphasize safety in their skiing. After just a few runs and one close call with a customer, I decided to call it a day. I went home and watched some football and fell asleep early.

On Sunday, my wife and I got up somewhat early so we could go skiing together. This day, I switched to some skis that I knew had solid edges and I had way more fun than on Saturday. My skis held the snow and ice very well, I started to feel more comfortable on moguls, and I started to remember how this whole skiing thing works.

After skiing for two days, I fell asleep on the couch at 7:00 last night and then went to bed well before 8:00.

Today, I'm feeling rested and ready to get back to CrossFit. My goal for this week is two-fold:

1) Work out every day Monday through Friday, plus ski on Saturday.
2) Follow the dietary goals of the Primal Blueprint exactly - no grains, no sugar, no legumes, no beer.

After a week, I want to evaluate how I feel from a week like this.

No grains? No beer? If you think it sound's crazy, there's more info at this link:

If you think it all sounds crazy or ineffective, read the success story here:

Now, I can just get my butt in gear and follow something that works for me, when I do it right...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bit by Bit

I noticed at my Tuesday night CrossFit workout that my fitness is definitely improving. It's happening slowly, but there is change going on. I still have a long way to go, but I got through a tough workout on Tuesday with a consistent level of (hard) effort - no puking halfway through.

I also did a CrossFit workout on Monday, and then yesterday morning, I did a pure strength workout - 7 x 1 of three different lifts - back squat, barbell strict press, deadlift. My heaviest lifts for the first and the last were well off my best lifts from last winter, but not impossibly far away. I did my best ever on the strict press at 125#, mostly because I rarely do that lift. And, some recent form work on that lift at CrossFit is clearly working.

Tonight, despite being tired from the past three days, I'm going to do another CrossFit workout. Then, I think I'll take a rest day tomorrow and see how I feel on Saturday morning before doing another workout.

The ski resort where I work (Sugarbush) had originally hoped to open this weekend, but that is certainly not going to happen. Right now, even next weekend is in jeopardy, although colder temperatures are one their way today and tonight. Many of my skiing buddies have made some turns this year, either by paying for limited terrain at a mountain that has opened or by hiking to make turns in natural snow. Right now, I'm hoping to be on the snow no later than 12/4, but that's mostly up to the weather.

I need to enjoy this coming weekend, because it will be the last weekend I won't be working at Sugarbush until April or so.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another long break

We're living in puppy time, it seems. Puppy time is a weird place in the universe that requires hyper-vigilance. It can take mere seconds for a puppy to eat a pair of eyeglasses, shred a dozen socks, or manage to go to the bathroom inside seconds after you took him for a walk. There is no human capable of really effectively keeping up with a puppy. You just do your best.

So, our defective Ridgeback, Johnny Rotten, is truly a puppy. He is sweet, but he has sharp teeth and he's not afraid to use them. He doesn't care that his ears are crooked, his tail is crooked, and that he has too much white to ever be a show dog. He just wants to be a puppy, and he will be a Grand Champion at that by the time he grows up.

The cool thing is that he loves people. He hasn't seemed to miss his old home at all, because he's got four people, two cats, and an older Ridgeback to play with. The other pets are still wary, but he's slowly making progress with them. And, the puppy is really dominating things for us, it seems.

Since we got the puppy, I've gotten in four good workouts - stacking firewood, CrossFit, and lifting on my own. This week, I'm determined to get in another good week. Ski season is just around the corner and I'm still not as fit as I'd like to be. To be honest, I'm far from that point. But, the only option I have is to be more consistent, don't miss workouts, and take advantage of a November that seems intent on delaying skiing season.

Plus, since I'm not skiing, I have more time to watch over that little dog, and stop him from eating every sock I own.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where does the time go?

A week ago at this time, I was on the verge of arriving in State College, PA, to hang out with my brother for the weekend, and see Penn State play Michigan in football on Saturday night. I look forward to this annual weekend with my brother, and as usual, we had a great time. The fact that Penn State pounded Michigan in the first half and then held off a Michigan comeback was a nice added bonus. I had never seen Penn State beat Michigan in person, so it was very enjoyable for me. The game marked Joe Paterno's 399th win as the head coach at Penn State.

Then, after not much sleep on Saturday night, I started driving home - an 8+ hour solo drive. By the halfway mark in the trip, I was not happy. I was being hit by intermittent snow squalls, my car still had soft-rubber, summer-only tires, and I was sleepy. I pulled over at a rest stop and called home, and my wife suggested I just get a hotel room for the night. That was a great suggestion, but it meant I started my work week a bit late on Monday.

But, after a few late evenings this week, I've more than made up for that time. It seems like the work week has flown by. I managed to get in two CrossFit workouts, but I skipped yesterday because I'm still fighting a residual cough from an illness a couple weeks ago. It seems like I didn't get nearly enough done at work this week, so my weekend is probably going to involve a lot of work.

But, tomorrow, I'm taking the family on a brief road trip. When my dog Rocket died a couple months ago, I let Rocket's breeder know about his unexpected death. We talked back and forth, and I mentioned that my kids were very interested in getting another Rhodesian Ridgeback. Having never lost a dog this way before, I asked the breeder's opinion on when would be the "right" time to consider getting another dog. She said it's very variable - some people need a long time to grieve and others, especially people who have multiple dogs in their household, find that they (and their other dog(s)) are ready fairly rapidly. My kids had made it clear that they would love another dog.

So, I asked Rocket's breeder when she was planning her next litter. It turned out that she had just tried an artificial insemination using the frozen sperm from Rocket's great-grandfather. She hadn't publicized it yet, so we got on her waiting list fairly early. It was odd thinking that we might purchase the great uncle of our recently deceased dog, but the idea of a dog related to Rocket was very appealing. Regretfully, the artificial insemination failed, so we started looking at some other options. One local kennel had an older male - about six months that needed a home. And, a kennel in MA had two pups left from a gigantic litter of 16 pups. We checked into both options, and found out that the older dog had recently found a home. So, we started researching the kennel that had the two pups. It turned out that the puppies were the great-great-grandpuppies of Rocket's great grandfather - the same dog whose frozen/defrosted sperm had failed.

If I can figure out how this works, these two puppies are something like third cousins, once removed of Rocket.

So, tomorrow, we are taking a trip to meet the breeder, see her kennels, meet the puppies, and in all likelihood, we will return home with a new puppy. We've got our sights set on the male given that we already have a female dog in the house. He's a cute little boy at the moment, but one of those puppies with huge paws that remind you that he won't stay little for long.

Serious specialty breeders are really nice people to work with. Both previous breeders that we've worked with have been very helpful when we've had issues with the dogs. For example, our female has had ear issues since she was a puppy, and both breeders helped us to dissect her diet to see if we could find a cause. Eventually, we discovered that she simply couldn't eat grain of any kind and stay healthy. And, they serve as references when you are talking to another breeder about a dog. Because we have now had Rhodesian Ridgebacks in our house for almost a decade, and we've taken great care of them, the process with breeders is getting easier. When we got Rocket, the interview process was more daunting than most job interviews.

But, with the new breeder we are visiting tomorrow, the process has been less formal. Rocket's breeder vouched for us, and after almost ten years of living with the breed, the breeder knows that we know what to expect.

So, if all goes well, tomorrow evening, our female Ridgeback will be introduced to her new "baby brother". We can't decide if she'll try to adopt him or kill him, but we are obviously hoping they become good friends.

The breeder has been calling this dog Johnny. My son is a big fan of punk music, so we're thinking of calling him Johnny Rotten, the name of a member of the band The Sex Pistols. Then, when we register him with the AKC, we might use the name "Shabani's God Save the Queen". Shabani is the kennel, and God Save the Queen is an amazing Sex Pistols song.

Or maybe, if we meet the little guy and the breeder, and things don't seem to click, we'll come home empty-handed. But, I'm guessing that by tomorrow night, we'll be living with a puppy. Yikes. Put everything that can be chewed on above head level!