Race Results

95 minutes. Got my goal time and a new best in the half marathon.

This race had some gnarly hills, narrow paths, crowded packs of runners, the sun and trees along the course creating a strobe light in my peripheral vision, there were actually times I wasn’t enjoying it unlike my first race. Coming over kilometer 17 feeling really defeated and worn down (more on that in the story below) I thought I didn’t really want to do this more than once a year but then that moment when you see the clock over the finish line and it’s under -but just under and moving fast – under your goal time and you start sprinting and people are cheering and your body goes numb and your mind starts cheering for you and you get your time, you get congratulated over a loud speaker and everybody cheers and it’s all high fives and someone puts a medal around your neck and the most exciting bottle of water you’ve ever had and how good it feels to just not be running anymore and it clicks over into being excited to do it again.

The story of the race though would have be called Never Trust A Pace Bunny.

I did good off the starting line, started at the front of the pack so I didn’t have to weave through the slow people and stayed ahead of my pace bunny.

For those who don’t know or if the colloquialism is different in your scene: Races have volunteers running at specific paces so we runners can get a sense of how we’re doing. For example in my first race there was a pace bunny (with bunny ears and a tail) with a sign that said 1:50 so I knew I just had to stay well ahead of her. And yeah, I saw her at the start and then never again.

This latest race had a fastest pacer (Patrick, with gold star balloons this time yet still called pace bunnies) of 1:35 – my realistic goal time – so that’s perfect. I pulled ahead of him at the start and he caught up a few times but I never let him get ahead of me.

In fact I hadn’t seen him so long and my pace was so comfortable I was envisioning getting 90 minutes or sub. Then the turn-around…

The course was down a path and back so the people ahead of me ran passed me on my left a few minutes before I ran passed the people behind me on my right. And at one point someone, to be encouraging, said You’re catching up to the 1:35 bunny, and I though that can’t be right because he never passed me – not only did I know he was behind me, I’d hadn’t seen him at the turn-around either. But it turns out he never went to the turn around. He must have stopped at a check point and waited and started back to make sure he was on pace, maybe even to correct his pace. So I went from thinking I’m killing it, to reassuring myself I’m killing it, to coming into a straight-away and seeing this son-a-bitch bunny way out a ahead of me.

So I try to turn on the jets a little. I’m telling myself I just gotta catch this son of a bitch, and I’m watching the k markers go by and I’m thinking I’ve got 4k left to catch this son of a bitch ass son of bitch. And I’m already telling myself the story of how I didn’t get my time, and never trust a pace bunny, and I need to be better, and I shouldn’t have drank so much yesterday or had so much cake and cigars, and I’m gonna get 1:40 and let everybody down…

And then I had to keep stopping myself and telling myself not to tell myself negative stories in the middle of things happening. So I just thought about music, primarily Hatebreed – my mantra became Now Is The Time For Me To Rise.

But having run 16ish kilometers no amount of trying to get stoked is gonna back off the fatigue.

Also, the 10k race was designed to finish along the same course and time as the 21k so I found myself weaving through slow people as a hundred 10kers merged into the nice stretched out group of us leading the 21k pack.

So then the moment of darkness, passing the 19 and 20 k markers, passing slow people, just hurting, struggling, after really burning myself trying to catch my pace bunny I was watching him recede further and further ahead of me til he was around a final corner. I was just going to get an okay time, I was going to be humbled. And that’s for the best, I thought, that’s what I need. I’d be disappointed and a disappointment and I’d have to mourn; then I’d have to come back stronger. One of the 10kers had a good pace and good form and I raced her to the home stretch (because all you do when running is pick someone ahead of you, race them and only them, beat them, then pick someone ahead of you again and repeat) and that’s when I saw the clock.

I could see that it was 1:3something, I got excited, I could see that it was 1:34, I was gonna do it. I got my numb white ecstatic tunnel. Patrick the Pace Bunny was standing at the line and was the first to high five me. I felt like he was sincerely joyfully proud of me. Which is a illusion but everything you think during a race is a kind of illusion and you have to focus on the ones you like.

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Posted in fitness

Building Up Fitness Routines

My first fitness routine was running 5 days a week and resting 2. Then I had braces on both knees.

My second fitness routine was running Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and resting in between. So some lessons were learned right there.

Now my fitness routine looks like this:

20180630_133415

 

Are you even working out if you don’t have notebooks full of indecipherable hieroglyphics, bro?

 

That’s 17 planned work outs (of which I skipped 2) in a week plus swimming laps whenever possible before work. It becomes like shifting puzzle pieces around; need a lot a space between back work outs, can’t put leg stuff before sprints, how do rest days effect weekends and work schedule, what do I do before breakfast vs after… it’s an eternal process.

Except for the breakfast thing – the answer is you do abs before breakfast, not after.

A common idea is that a fitness routine is doing 15 sit ups a day, or jogging every morning, or some other single constant. This is wrong, it arouses contempt in the well trained powerfully vascular heart.

Even something as simple and beginner as strength day/cardio day/rest day will put you light years ahead of the 15 sit ups every morning person, it may not even be possible to quantify how little benefit they’re getting.

Variety is key. Not just for all the legit training reasons like differing stimuli but because the boredom factor is a real factor. Thinking that athletes are immune to boredom, or that fighting through boredom is a gift they have that you don’t, is plain stupid; stop thinking that immediately.

You’d never say I love movies so I watch the same movie everyday at the same time ’cause I’m hardcore and then movie-flex. Enjoying movies means enjoy lots of different movies and shows and even reading about movies or other auxiliary things. That’s what it means to be into something.

Even with running there’s tons of variety to build into a routine. Long run, sprints, outdoor or treadmill, time trial or form focused, you can have a totally different running experience focusing on your footfalls or your breathing.

You can do all the same work but it’s never the same work out twice.

Working out is a big, big, big world and you’ll never be able to do all of it but don’t think that you can break off a teeny tiny piece like 15 sit ups every day and then dust your hands. Take a big fucking bite. Do 3 sets of 3 exercises everyday for a week and try to never repeat yourself, you’ll be forced to learn a lot and do a lot, find what you like and what you need to work on (answer always: external rotation), and I promise you you won’t get bored.

And you won’t get overwhelmed either. Some routines on paper seem like a lot but it’s really still only two half hour sessions in a day and it gives a structure that makes you do things like eat breakfast and shower and not lose your whole morning to scrolling your phone in bed.

I don’t think anyone could stick with one routine every week for a year. But by experimenting to find a routine that I could I caused myself to work out every week for a year.

Posted in fitness

Shame is now a broken tool

Back when social groups were small and exclusion meant death shame was a useful tool; you could make someone better by shaming them.

Shame is, oddly sounding, an act of love. It is the step before the loss of acceptance. If someone in your tight social group is doing something that lowers the value of the group as a whole then before exclusion comes little jokes and barbs meant to correct their behaviour without being too sincere. Without any scary real talk.

But that’s in tight knit social groups with actual bonds.

Now it’s barely even possible to embarrass someone. Twitter can get you fired but it can’t change people.

On the big, big scale we are all anonymous, our shamers aren’t real people whose opinion we care about. They’re caricatures of silly putty enemies we knock down to feel big and bond with the people who agree with us. We don’t even form groups of our own we just group everyone we don’t like together and assume whoever’s left is a good person who agrees with us. Until they aren’t when they don’t.

On the small and meta scale though people don’t need people enough to be shamed by them anymore. Whenever someone doesn’t support you and fill your voids completely and utterly without question you just go talk to someone else; first and foremost about how shitty the person you just talked to is.

Friendships are transient now, if someone bothers you you just become less friends for a while. We don’t feel accountable to one another, we don’t feel pride or shame in our friends because we’ve been trained that how we individually feel about ourselves is paramount. More than paramount; exclusive. We are lone social actors.

Of course the word shame gets used all the time now and like all buzzwords it has no real meaning anymore, it just sort of means everything. Commenting on a fat person’s photo “You’re Disgusting” isn’t shaming, it’s just being cruel; you’re in a position to inflict harm without consequences so you do. The people who accuse you of fat-shaming are actually using shame because fat-shaming is a negative trait that you have that we don’t therefore you’re not one of us better people.

Which is good by the way, we should shame the cruel.

But also we should be willing, ready, and able to feel shame ourselves. Rather than retreat or defense when we feel shame we should let it compress us like a spring from which we’ll rise.

If you’re in a situation in which you feel dumb or fat or less-than in anyway don’t laugh it off and say at least you own it, don’t medicalize it and blame it on a buzzword mental illness, don’t go running to a group of people guilty of the same thing and bask in the judgment-free bottom of the barrel – take that feeling and decide to get better.

I’m 33 years old, I’ve been working in kitchens for 10 years, and I cringe internally before every time but I’m still always willing to say can you show me again how to do this the smart way?

Don’t conceal your flaws and don’t embrace them either. Don’t try to cleanse the world of shame, cleanse the world of things to be ashamed of.

Posted in Pragmatism

Favored belief structures

We’re gonna look at two big tents of beliefs, actions, dress, ideology, etc: Islam and punk.

Both have a spectrum from harmless to posers to complete rabbit-hole nutjobs. Both have ideas about what a person should eat and why. Punk being more rigid and ethically based if you’re a straight edge vegan, and Islam just being silly superstition; although occasional fasting is good for you no denying. Both are utopian idealists whose utopias no one would want to live in. Both have ideas about how to treat woman – from the sycophantic male feminist anarcho punk drinking from his Male Tears coffee cup to the Muslim who keeps his wife in a bag and daughters out of school – that don’t seem to line with any individualism or agency. And both tend to wear a bunch of silly shit for identity purposes.

 

Both have ideas about peace that lead to acts of violence but let’s be honest one drastically more so than the other.

Punk though was born out of youth disenchantment in the post hippie era, it has collective roots that can be explored. Islam is a sex-slave-having warlord’s guide to life from an era when people didn’t know where the sun went at night.

What’s odd though is that one gets special treatment on the basis of being sillier. Punk is a culture with a point, religion is factually inaccurate statements about the universe, yet the former will get you condemned and the latter will get you coddled.

And I think it’s because we know religion is silly shit, we sort of feel sorry for ones who have to cling to it even though it’s not useful, whereas punk is (closer to) grounded in reality so there’s a pretext of shared facts with the rest of the world, facts that can be argued.

When it comes to religion people have this idiotic live-and-let-kill idea because we couldn’t possibly presume to understand a different culture and we’re so terrified of seeming unenlightened. People are more worried about not having an opinion in common with racists than condemning rape gangs.

If punks riot on a college campus no one get all #notallpunks about it, where are the Punk Is A Subculture Of Peace t-shirts? No one claims it’s impossible to understand, and therefore unfair to condemn, leftists; in fact people are willing to jump to any conclusion and conflate veganism, communism, drum circles and poi together any time.

We as a culture give preferential treatment to worse things because they’re further from true, doesn’t that strike you as crazy?

Posted in Gender, Pragmatism

Fitness and Social Media

It’ll be easy to say that it’s ironic that I’m posting on social media to criticize posting on social media so I’ve got to ice-break this moment for myself and declare that no it isn’t and that’s a dumb thing to say. Thank you, onward.

I’ve been thinking about something Tim Ferris said in The Four Hour Body, he talks about – when trying to lose weight – taking a picture of everything you eat. If you’re trying to lose weight and everybody knows it you’re going to feel really stupid taking a picture of a bag of M&M and posting it online. I thought that was brilliant and I’d have like to see someone do it. I didn’t need to because I was so on lock. Now that I’ve been slippin’ pretty bad on the diet stuff I might have to try it.

Problem is I pride myself on being stronger than stupid motivational tricks and I especially hate it when people use social media to do so; that’s why I’ve never posted any type of before-and-after, I don’t post work-out selfies (although by god I’m getting more and more tempted), and I don’t want encouragement. If you can’t find strength in solitude then you don’t really have it.

I really enjoy sharing the results of working out and race training with people but the key is actually sharing – not showing. I learned this when I got tattooed 5 years ago and it was the last time I posted a new tattoo photo despite always having the urge. What happened was the photo went up, everybody saw it, and when I saw people in person and wanted to share the excitement they were like yeah, I saw that. It was really deflating. Sharing happens between (at least) two people. It’s a we-thing, an us-thing. It can’t be an I-thing, as in: I shared it and you later say I saw it. You want the feeling to be mutual not experienced independently, you can’t independently share something you can only show it or see it.

And sharing something is deeply rewarding. It’s different than showing off. Sharing is saying I think this is cool and I think you’ll think it’s cool too and then we’ll think it’s cool together and that’ll enhance the feeling of thinking it’s cool! Showing off is saying I think this can make you think I’m cool. 

So I get a giddy little thrill flexing my bicep for people but it’s more like an excited kid showing you his new bike than an adult smugly showing you his new car. I share things one on one so I can read the mood and share my excitement if it’s okay. Posting on social media means you’re going to catch someone whose dog just died and they will fucking hate you will you just wanted feel good about the hard work you put in getting abs.

It’s important to measure progress but measure it on your own. If I were writing a song and I posted the first verse because I thought it was so good and it got a few likes I’d never end up finishing the song; I’d already cashed in for faster, lesser reward. Instead wait til the song is done, be excited on your own that this is going to blow them away, then play it for people with no explaining or excusing or asking anything of them and take pleasure in their pleasure. To impress someone is to have made an impression, to give a sense that something matters.

And you can’t do that by doing some [X] Days of [X] Challenge on social media. No one gives a shit; you’re just part of the noise. And it’s insincere, another case of social media syndrome where you leave out the sad bits and just gloss an acceptable face over everything.

Ultimately, as always, you gotta use your feelings-barometer and ask if something is bringing you joy. When I finished my first half-marathon I wanted to share the experience and how I felt but I was alone in the crowd. Everyone was there with someone, big groups laughing and hugging, and all of my friends were literally still asleep. And I was glad I had my phone. I took a selfie with my medal and it soothed the feeling and logged the accomplishment in a timeless way. It didn’t bring me joy though. But then I got a text from one of my fitness buddies asking how the race went – about 20 minutes after I’d finished – and even via text I was able to share how well it went and hoe excited I was and he was able to ping that excitement back to me and I felt joy. I felt that someone else was valuing the results of my effort and therefore I was able to value it too and that enhanced the value and it was cool.

 

Posted in fitness, Pop Culture

Race Week Stuff

Just an off-the-cuff fitness update.

My second half marathon is on July 8th, a week away.

My first race I was afraid for months and that fear made me diligent. Fear made me diligent and diligence made me strong.

This time round I haven’t been afraid and that lack of fear is making me afraid I haven’t been diligent.

Objectively though I have been training my ass off. I didn’t do many long runs but my cardio and strength training were way up from any previous point so hopefully it balances out.

So I’m deloading right now, going for the super compensation effect, I definitely over-reached these last few weeks, especially on deadlifts, so my body is ready for a break.

I’ve got to stay focused on getting up before race time and staying acclimatized to activity so I’m still getting up at 5:30 but instead of working out or running I’m doing stretch routines and yoga.

My next fitness goal is to do a good gymnastic hand stand so I’m going to start training for that this week too.

Gotta keep the diet clean and lean in a week when I’m not training as hard so the daily ice cream sandwiches and beer have got to go.

Despite that I’m ready. Like I said I’m worried that I’m not worried enough – I’m worried that I’m overconfident which should mean explicitly that I’m not. Let’s just agree that I’m the right amount of worried, shall we?

Posted in fitness, Pragmatism

Training fasted

I loved training on an empty stomach, running or weights. I just felt cleaner, leaner, more sure I wasn’t confusing my body or messing it up.

Exercise draws blood away from the stomach and the digestive process so it’s natural to feel a bit sick if there’s lumps of food sloshing around your gut during a work out.

In fact both times I’ve taken carbs in gel form during a run I’ve gotten cramps.

So I figured; okay training fasted is for me.

Then I read someone in Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body who said you have to train your body take carbs during a run, you won’t just do it automatically. It’s not a yes/no, on/off, you can or can’t thing.

And I’ve done a bit of an experiment with weight training that suggests training fed is better. I get more reps with the same weights and breaks if I’ve eaten.

So what should one eat before a work out?

Light, digestible things. A pre run meal for me is an egg, a banana, and some walnuts.

During the work out should you use gels? One of my work-out confidantes says for any race under 2 hours don’t bother. My experience is that gels make you sticky, gross, thirsty, and crampy during a run but I’ll start training myself to take them by doing some very long runs at low speeds or maybe even in intervals and get my body used to it.

Training fasted is more comfortable for some people, including me, but training isn’t really about comfort is it…

And be sure to eat after. Within half an hour of a good work out have some carbs (but not fructose) to replace muscle glycogen and have lots of protein.

Here’s a fun fact: Most people are eating too much meat. Block Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) aren’t any good for you if you’re not tearing down muscle and building it back up. But if you’re working out, or literally growing from a child into an adult, then eat all the meat you want.

In fact if you’re working out you can eat all you want all the time (that’s an exaggeration, don’t go nuts nuts). If you don’t work out you probably want to be eating about 1500 calories a day, that’s like 3 muffins. At my training volume my maintenance calories is like 3500, I have to eat four meals a day to stay at a healthy weight.

As always Food Is Fuel, most people’s tanks are already full and they’re spraying gasoline all over the back seat then blaming genetics for the vehicle being too fucked up to drive but if you burn tons of fuel you get to consume tons of fuel. So get out there you gas guzzling muscle car you.

 

 

But also avoid dairy.

Posted in fitness