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Archive for January, 2010

Today was what I call a Finnish Cardio day. No resistance training (so far). Just bake a while in the hot (HOT!) sauna, take an ice cold shower. Then hit the really hot jacuzzi (finally!), another ice shower, followed by doing time in the steam room. *Then* finish off with the ice shower again. Soap up and rinse in slightly warmer water.

Note that this is reverse of my usual SOP, where I hit the steam room first, and finish off in the sauna. Hey–I like to live a little dangerously…

Cook steak and veggies. Have a beer, then–nap. Tough workout. 😀

I call it Finnish Cardio because of the back-and-forth of super hot and freezing cold, as they do in Finland and other Scandinavian countries. To be fair, I use to do that in Okinawa, too. I was mentioning going back and forth from the hot bath to the freezing cold bath to a co-saunamate. I told him that when you got into the ice bath you could feel your skin tingle as from electricity. He explained, “that’s called ‘shock’.”

I found that funny. 🙂

It’s Finnish “Cardio” because it really gives the heart a good stimulus. After a while in the sauna or steam room, when it’s really hot, I can feel my pulse finally speed up. Then when I hit the ice shower, I feel it again, somewhat. Not too badly, though. And it helps to breathe out, saying, “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Shhhhhhhhhhhh!” when you first get hit by the icy spray.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

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Revering The Reverend

Today, we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and rightly so. In remembrance, let us understand that as humans we are as one people. There is so little difference between ethnicities DNA-wise that it’s not worth noting or mentioning.

Let us not tolerate “tolerance,” but rather embrace each other and *enjoy* the differences in outward looks and inward culture that each individual brings to the whole.

Amen.

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So–I’ve been playing with looking for shoes that give the best barefoot feel for working out. Now–I’m aware of the Vibram Five Fingers, and I think they’re darn cool. I found out about them a few years ago, before anybody had really heard about them. Then recently, one of the Longsword fencers (Trey) showed up with them on. He is also a Parkour-er, or free runner, I’m not sure which. Even more recently, I visited my brother and he had gotten a pair (of Five Fingers 🙂 ).

Now–when permitted, I almost always PT shoeless. That started ohhhh, well let’s just say–when I was a kid. My parents got me Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan book series (there are 24 in the series. Betcha didn’t know *that* 🙂 ). I remember running over Christmas break in the snow, for high school wrestling (in combat boots, mind you). Later, in the Navy, I would put a few k down through the cane fields in Okinawa, finish a final sprint, then hit the gym for some weights. But I had a terrible time running unless I took the insoles out of my old, well-used, thin-soled New Balances. It hurt my feet and I got terrible blisters if I didn’t.

Later, I would run sometimes in my Dexter boat shoes. I had those for years, ’til I had to throw them away for getting moldy in my motorcycle’s side bags. Those Dexters, though, were awesome. I took them to ride subs on, and because they were multi-purpose. I could get away with walking around town in casual gear without getting a second glance. But I would also PT the heck outta them.

Even more recently, I got a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars to fence in. My Vans skateboarding shoes were pretty good for that, but fencing is REALLY hard on shoes. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m not an Olympian, or serious tournamenter, so I didn’t bother buying actual “fencing shoes.” The Converse seem to do pretty well, and I’ve run in them. I like the thin soles. However, I found that I have a hard time just walking around in them because they squeak really bad. Maybe I need to wear them more, but it’s hard to do because the way they’re constructed and the way my foot is shaped creates that really annoying squeak after a few minutes and the sock gets a tad wet with perspiration or ambient moisture. I do like the classic looks, and I might try to futz with them until I get them not to squeak.

Anyway–I’ve run barefoot on-and-off ever since finding the site Running Barefoot a few years ago, and being re-inspired to it by the Born To Run book, I thought I’d head out Saturday for a thin-soled run. I was doing a bunch of web search on the Vibram Five Fingers. I’m interested in them, and as I said, I’ve thought they were really cool. But I’ve been thinking of a way to have something like the Five Fingers, but in a little more conventional package that I can walk around in, maybe got to work in, without dealing the whole gawker phenomenon. Because they are unusual, and they do draw comment.

The other thing or two is that they’re somewhat a pain in the butt to get to. The only way I could get them is to take a day trip up to, say, DC or something, and then, maybe there would be a pair that I would like in the color that I would like. And the fitting must needs be pretty precise, or you’re probably going to be miserable quickly, and for a while. Not to mention, they aren’t free.

So, I was thinking that I really wished that someone made a shoe like the Five Fingers, but without the toes. You know, with one solid front end, so I could wear socks with them if I wanted. Naturally, I thought of my All-Stars, and was thinking about going out to the truck to get them from my fencing bag, to get ready for my run. But still wishing there was something as light and flexy as those Fingers.

Then I had my aha. Finally it dawned on me that I have these el cheapo water socks, or aqua socks, or whatever you all them that I *never* use, because they failed me in their stated mission: light shoes to protect your feet from objects while you’re in water in the wild. My brother Dahood and I got them somewhere, I don’t remember where or exactly what outing they were for, but both of us had heard about these type of shoes, and wanted to try them out. For me, I’d always been a Teva guy, ever since Dahood had brought some back from Jackson Hole, but the problem for me was that Tevas would slip around laterally on your feet even with the straps tight, so that if you put pressure in a sideways direction you could be slipping off of the sole of the sandal which was uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

Also, there was the problem with sand and objects getting in between your feet and the plastic sole. Verrrrrrrrry freekin’ uncomfortable to me, anyway. It seems so easy for stuff to get in there, and then never come out. Very frustrating.

So we heard about these “water dogs” or something like that and decided to get some. Got some pretty cheap ones somewhere–again I don’t remember the where or when right now. Anyway, they turned out to suck–literally. They seemed to suck in the sand, and then would weight down, and then got pretty easy to suck off of your feet. Well, that was my experience anyway.

Back to the present. They had been lying idle for a while now, but I suddenly realized that I had been wanting something like that in an athletic shoe–something with just enough protection so that I wouldn’t be ripping the skin off of my feet. All those years ago I had been fine running around literally all summer barefoot with nothing on but a pair of running shorts, a belt and a belt knife (yeah, I was a weird kid), but the thing that stumped me was when they finally paved our road, the asphalt would burn my feet if I ran on it a bit. I don’t mean so much by heat, but something about the surface made the soles of my feet feel like they were burning at the end of the day. I could handle the dirt/gravel from before, but the new road surface bothered me. I don’t know if it was the consistency, or the chemicals in the material that made it burn so much. My dad and brothers seem to have always had sensitive skin issues. My dad and middle brother’s skin always reacted strongly to touch; they’re skin would swell with just easy impacts, scratches, etc.

I didn’t have that condition so much as extreme discomfort with certain materials against my skin. Wool–ick. Makes itch like crazy. Plastic against my skin almost immediately gives me a slick of sweat. I’ve stopped worrying about Gore-Tex-type materials unless I have a bunch of layers on because they don’t breathe very well for me. I was wearing a Gore-Tex jacket during the summer a few years ago and I was wetter on the inside than I would’ve been from the rain. Same with poly-pro socks and underwear. I’m better off wearing cotton and getting wet, because at least that’ll dry out shortly.

Anyway, I grabbed my water socks, and was excited about my new idea and decided to do some more web research on it. Turns out a few people have hit upon this idea as well. The benefits seem to be pretty good. Not the least of which is that typically, these things are cheap. I’m gaining an appreciation for the the idea of cheap consumables, even though I really admire good craftsmanship normally, and really hate the idea of a throwaway culture. But I’ve noticed that a lot of my good stuff is technically only good for about the same amount of time as the cheap stuff. So that’s something to think about.

Add to that the correlation that Christopher McDougall made in Born to Run that the cheapest shoes (or the oldest shoes) cause the least injury. Now, I’ve been able to keep my shoes a long, looong time. I’ve never replaced them at the recommended times. They seem to last on me–except for fencing. When I fence, it really tears them up. Anything else, though, and I’ve can use them forever. Those Dexters I mentioned before were still usable up to a year or less ago. I got them in… 1993 or so?

Well, long story longer, I found a nifty page from one of the water shoe proponents here. I took the insole out of the shoe, threw on my Smartwool running socks, then the water shoes (“Laguna” is the name on the insole). And went for a run/walk. Not a huge run. But I did a road out here, then around the neighborhood. Because of the constant traffic, and having no paved shoulder or bike lane, I spent a lot of the time in the dirt on the side that has large, sharp gravel in it.

Have to say, they did fine, and so did my feet. Really nice run. I ended up getting a fairly sore achilles tendon on the right leg, but I awoke this morning and it was fine. My left big toe ball joint hurt after I went out that evening and was wearing my Keen sandals. They have a think sole that not flexible and kinda clunky. I love the looks, but they aren’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn, and it does seem like sometimes my feet hurt after wearing them. Today, the ball joint seems to feel okay.

With the Smartwool socks on, it was very comfortable–temperature-wise, and no blisters. I did it very unprogrammed, varying between fast and slow running, and some walking, finally kept to a walk when my achilles tendon started stiffening up. No need to push it, as this was an experimental run with a new type of running gear, and I know that I need to adapt to it. I know there’s good technique in barefoot/thin-sole running, and I’m going to play with that and make sure I’ve got it down.

The shoes are as flat as can be (no heel at all), but had a nice aggressive tread. They are glowing neon green with some blue piping and a white sole. Basically, they look like a Nike Free or some other high-priced “barefoot” running shoe. Read the article for all the benefits versus downsides.

Today’s PT, though, was all about being stationary. I did a typical three rounds of five minutes of kettlebells, with one minute breaks in-between rounds.

Round One
5 minutes
– Snatches, changing hands when needed (16 kg)

Round Two
5 minutes
– LCCJ, changing hands when needed (24 kg)

Round Three
5 minutes
– Jerks, changing hands when needed (32 kg)

Recovery
Systema Active Stretching

You’ll notice that the complexity went down as the weight and elapsed time went up. Just an FYI. I like to play with that variable as well as the time and resistance.

And there’s more to say on the water shoe front. I’m looking around for thin-soled shoes that usable in every day type of garb. We’ll see how that turns out.

Cheers.

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I’ve actually felt pretty good this trip out to Colorado Springs; no massive headaches or super-plugged up sinuses–things like that. As I left Virginia, it was just getting above 7 degrees F. Last couple of days here in the Springs, it’s been gorgeous; yesterday in the high 40s, today in the 50s, maybe above. I’m still a little dry in the sinuses, but nothing too terrible. I also haven’t PT’d until today. Don’t know if that has anything to do with the good health.

Or the fact that I took one of those fake pseudofeds the morning of my flight, then a couple prophylactic Nyquil liqua-gels the first night I got here. In any case, it was time to hit the little gym here in the hotel.

Nice little workout. I’ve been reading the Born to Run book by Christopher McDougall, and now that my ankle is so much better, I was inspired to do a little running. Just in socks, naturally, on the treadmill. Just a relaxed little jaunt about 10 minutes. It was nice, getting back into the swing of things. Ankle turned out fine, feet were just fine. At first I was concerned about my feet not being used to barefoot running anymore, but when I thought about it, I remembered that I almost *always* PT barefoot. So actually, my feet are pretty strong and had no problems at all. Felt great. And I only did 10 minutes, varying the angle of the treadmill and the speed at which I was running. Never made it a chore, just kept it enjoyable. So, that was nice.

After that, I did various bodyweight activities; pull ups, pushups of various flavors, v-ups, skipping (really), and some other stuff, built more around an interval, “play-style” of effort. Got a little out of breath there in the altitude, and a little sweaty, but it wasn’t a grind, do-or-die type session. Got some goodness with it though. Feel great now, and I’m on a fasting day.

Cheers.

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This morning’s goodness came during a coffee break, whilst working from home. Literally. After last night’s PT, I wanted a keep things going and have a little mini-workout in the morning. Not enough to disrupt my working day, but something to energize and get the blood flowing. I certainly appreciate Rob’s take on that.

So–a real simple PT:

– 10 single hand kettlebell swings, each hand (24 kg)
– 10 single hand kettlebell jerks, each hand (24 kg)
– 10 single hand kettlebell LCCJ, each hand (24 kg)

There ya go. Keeps the fires burning, and adds to the fasting state for today.

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… which I was glad not to see again. For lunch, I had mussamun curry at a local Thai Palace. No bell peppers (blech). “Medium” hot. Pretty good, though I’m still stuck on pad thai. I love that stuff, which makes it hard to try anything else when I go Thai.

But I was feeling a really good PT session coming on, and I was worried all that good food might go to waste. Fortunately, I was so busy working out that I didn’t even think of puking, this time. I did have a little numbness of my front teeth, though, which tells me I’ve been going a little hypoxic in the workout. Good training… 🙂

With my recent emphasis on sustained strength, I thought it was high time to up the ante a little bit. I did the usual three rounds of five minutes, but added another three rounds of five minutes. At first, my thought was to do the first three rounds, recover for an hour, then hit it again for the second three rounds. If that sounds a little strange, bear with me. What I’ve found, by accident and to my amazement, is that often when I’ve had a decent workout during the day, sometime later I feel *really* good and can exceed my performance from the earlier workout. In either the same thing, or doing something different. I’ve done that fencing, where I just ran out of time, wasn’t worried about the performance whilst fencing, hit the workout anyway, then went fencing–and totally rocked there.

So that was kinda my thought this time. However, what actually happened is that as late as it was getting in the day, I decided to pack it all in there together, and just do a longer workout than I have been doing normally. I want to make sure I can perform over a longer span of time as well as just the short span.

So the protocol was: 3 rounds of five minutes, then 1 five minute round of recovery, then back to 2 five minute rounds of activity. Rounds being separated by one minute recovery rounds. I know–sounds like a lot of recovery. My main effort was kettlebell swings; when I was comfortably fatigued there, I dropped into pushups of various flavors–incline, decline, flat. If I needed to get my breath back I’d recover during the round with light jogging or walking, then right back to the swings. A few times before or after the pushups I’d hit the “over-the-line” run in place SEAL exercise. All rounds were with the 24 kg bell, except for Round Five wherein I used the 32 kg bell.

Round One
5 minutes
– Two handed kbell swings, until winded (24 kg)
– 10 Pushups (first set declines, second set flat, third set inclines)
– Recovery walk/jog
– Repeat as time allows

Round Two
5 minutes
– As above
– 10 count aggressive run-in-place

Round Three
5 minutes
– As above

Round Four
5 minutes
– Recovery (water, lumbar stretching)

Round Five
5 minutes
– Two handed kbell swings, until winded (32 kg)
– 10 pushups (variations)
– 10 count aggressive run-in-place
– Recovery walk/jog
– Repeat as time allows

Round Six
5 minutes
– As above (24 kg kbell)

Recovery
Systema Active Stretching

Good stuff!

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