First half marathon diary, Week 5

Happy Monday, friends!

Baby steps, baby steps! I carried over Brother JH's advice from last week to good success. I ate like crap most of the week, and that's my next baby step: cleaning up the diet. Saturday, I finally did clean it up, and Sunday's recovery run was a PR for three miles on the road (3.05 mi in 29:00). I've done faster on the treadmill, but that's a lot different.

This week I start setting distance PRs every other week, and this week I'm changing things up a little by condensing the schedule. The schedule would have me running 5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, 6 miles for my long run on Saturday, and a 2-3-mile recovery run on Sunday.

To get a little more race-day feeling in me, though, I signed up for a 5K on Saturday. Since that's about the distance of my recovery run, I'll move things up and switch around my days off, taking my 5-milers on Tuesday and Wednesday, my 6-miler on Friday, and then the 5K as a recovery run on Saturday.

My mileage was down this week, primarily because I stayed off the treadmill and stayed on the road. My time on the road was also down, primarily because my speed and endurance are up.

Links

SaltStick PLUS Capsules
Summer Sizzler 5K
Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 16.1
Time logged last week: 2:53:15
Weeks until race: 18
Weight: 166

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-07-05 13.23.20

First half marathon diary, Week 4

Happy Monday, friends!

Little crisis of faith this week, 2.5 miles into a four-mile run on Tuesday, so I hit the treadmill on Thursday and then had a good chat with Brother JH that evening. He gave me some advice that was good for Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully that'll carry through. More in the video, and hopefully even more next week.

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 17.72 (5.72 treadmill)
Time logged last week: 3:10:26 (46:40 treadmill)
Weeks until race: 19
Weight: 165

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

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First half marathon diary, Week 3

Happy Monday, friends!

It was a really hot week, so we did a couple of runs on the treadmill, but we went longer than scheduled to make up for the softer landing. Biggest traps at this point are diet and sleep.

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 14.36 (7.56 treadmill)
Time logged last week: 2:29:05 (1:04:51 treadmill)
Weeks until race: 20
Weight: 167

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-06-20 11.33.24

First half marathon diary, Week 2

Happy Monday, friends!

After that scary reaction to fire ant bites last week, it took some time getting the cardio back, and we're moving into high heat season here in Savannah.

Today we're looking at some of the tools I use on my runs. Links are below, show and tell in the video. Cheers!

Links

Shot Bloks
Camelbak bottle with hand strap
FlipBelt
Bass Pro Shops XPS 2L hydration pack
Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 12.28
Time logged last week: 2:17:27
Weeks until race: 21
Weight: 165

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-06-13 13.15.24

First half marathon diary, Week 1

Happy Monday, friends!

Good first week, with a medical emergency coming after (but not related to) the long run, but not so much that we didn't get a short recovery run in.

Links

AppleCare Urgent Care
Bass Pro Shops XPS 2L hydration pack
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 12.14
Time logged last week: 2:12:59
Weeks until race: 22
Weight: 167

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

sweaty-josh-2
I know it's not a really sweaty image, but this came after the recovery run, which came a day after a medical emergency, so it was definitely my favorite.

Ah, the sweat: My running these days

#running #sweaty

A photo posted by Josh Shear (@joshuanshear) on

For the first time in about a year and a half, I've been putting in miles this week, and it feels great. I'd been running sporadically since I did that 31-day run streak in Oct. 2013, but lately it's been about 1.5 to 2 miles twice a week. I'm already over 10 miles this week, and I feel fantastic.

It's not real hot out yet, it's not super-humid yet, and I've been doing some conditioning and strength training. I haven't been running fast, but I haven't been crapping out at longer distances. I'm not setting any distance goals, but the fact that I can now do 5k several days consecutively is encouraging, both from a cardiovascular standpoint and the fact that my legs aren't overly fatigued.

I've been running with a hydration pack, which is a big help; I like having my hands free and two liters of water distributed over my back is not a lot of weight.

What are you up to? How's your running?

Product review: Alpha Brain nootropic by Onnit

Alpha Brain is a nootropic by Onnit. Nootropics are any supplement or drug (however you want to see it) designed to improve your brain in some way, be it processing speed, memory retention or whatever else.

alpha-brainAlpha Brain purports to be the first nootropic tested by a non-interested party to get statistically significant improvements in brain function; that's reported in press releases from the company that produces it, so take that at face value. Personally, I'm skeptical about achieving statistically significant results with a sample size of 18, but my research background is in social science, not in science as applied to actual humans.

WebMD rambles on a bit about whether a supplement could improve brain function, but focuses specifically on certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's. The not-quite-a-conclusion is that if you hit a battered brain with enough stuff, something's bound to help a little bit.

Lots of drugs, vitamins, minerals and supplements are listed as potential nootropics; here's a little more from Wikipedia.

Now, let me tell you about my own experience. I've been using Alpha Brain for most of 2015, taking a week off here and there to let my brain reset to its natural, unsupplemented state (well, I don't stop the caffeine, so, there's that). Though I do prefer modafinil; You can purchase modafinil online from Nixest to really improve your productivity throughout the day.
I will say that about 45 minutes after taking it, I feel sharper. I make fewer typos and generally fewer minor mistakes. I have a desk job that requires strong control of the English language, and I take fewer tries to get it right while I have it in my system. I'm a little curious about the stuff I found on http://pumpauthority.com/hgh-supplements-for-sale/. Is it for me? Is it good?

I do know that Onnit runs banned substance tests to make sure everything that goes into Alpha Brain is legal in most capacities, including pro sports.

I take it, and I recommend it.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the Internet. Talk to your doctor before taking supplements – they are largely unregulated by the FDA. Also, if you buy this product using my link, I will get a small percentage of the sale. This product was not provided free of charge for review; I pay full price for my Alpha Brain.

End-of-summer-to-Thanksgiving fitness challenge Week 9

2014-weight-loss-009Not much this week. It was a high-creatine, high-caffeine, high-stress week. I wound up taking two rest days, but by and large managed my food well (though I had to muscle through a 10-minute street workout and run one day).

It turns out this challenge might wind up coming up a couple of weeks short of my original plan; we have some personal scheduling going on that may preclude things going all the way; at any rate, I've learned something about the difference between wanting something and being motivated to get it. For all the times I've tracked and/or gamified my fitness, I think it's now enough of an ingrained habit that I'll only do it again if I have an extended period away for whatever reason.

I find myself hating rest days, getting cranky when I can't get at least a 15-minute workout in, and I don't need to convince myself I'm capable of a run, even on a crap day.

Anyway, onward.

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 161.6 10.03 N/A N/A
9/8/2014 160.2 13.41 72 30
9/15/2014 159.6 9.5 N/A N/A
9/22/2014 159.4 20.63 79 34
9/29/2014 158.8 4.74 N/A N/A
10/6/2014 158.8 5.24 71 31
10/13/2014 157.6 8.4 N/A N/A
10/20/2014 156.4 9.11 78 35
10/27/2014 156.2 5.47 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss: Books that will change your life, and how to use them

Tim Ferriss is, by now, well-known for the 4-hour franchise. His first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, was famously rejected by dozens of publishers before becoming an overwhelming hit, having been translated into thirty-something languages (as of this writing) and sending a lot of people into entrepreneurship.

That book was basically a collection of productivity hacks for people with a product to sell, giving them the opportunity to cut down drastically on the amount of work they had to do while keeping their revenue streams up.

The message for me from The 4-Hour Workweek that sticks, though, is not the main message of the book, which is essentially how to get rich while other people handle the tough work for you. It’s that it’s an instruction manual for stuff that Ferriss tried himself, using his own business to experiment on.

And so we pick up Ferriss’ second book, The 4-Hour Body, a 600-page book about changing your body. Ferriss writes about losing fat and gaining muscle, both quickly and over the long term, including doing so while more or less ignoring every dieting “rule” you’ve ever heard. He writes about having better sex. He writes about supplementation (read: drugs). He draws from the experiments he’s performed on himself (and a few other willing subjects).

That brings us to the punchline, about how this book really does change your life.

The takeaway: It’s OK to experiment on yourself.

Sure, it’s nice to have a physician available, especially if you don’t understand the chemistry at play in your body and in certain drugs. And if you are trying new stuff for the first time, having an urgent care or emergency medical facility nearby is a good thing (and maybe you want to have a ride available, just in case). But to be honest, while the body can be a fragile thing, it’s also really resilient, and it lets you know when you’re taking it too far through pain or other reactions (like swelling, for example).

But in general, you should really learn to be comfortable trying new things, and also observing how they affect you. This applies to food, activities, sleep and pretty much any part of life you want to apply it to.

To observe correctly, however, you must measure and document. Ferriss has done pretty much all the work for you. If you want to lose 2% body fat in two weeks, he’ll give you the shortcuts. If you want to put on 18 pounds tomorrow, he’ll let you know. But he also lets you know how to measure and document your progress, so you can see for yourself, and that’s the part of The 4-Hour Body that’s most interesting to me.

Why it’s important: It makes you the expert.

You don’t need a personal trainer, or a dietitian or a scientist. You record what you eat, you record how you feel, how it changes your weight, etc., and you do it again under the same conditions at another time to see if there were any extraneous factors (that is, to see if it’s replicable).

You would be the best expert on you, if you were to pay attention. And, the punchline here, is that you can extrapolate all you learn to other parts of life. The observation, data collection and other skills certainly translate outside of eating and running.

How to use it: Ferriss himself leaves instructions for how to use the book. Pick a couple of chapters that are relevant to you, and read those first. Utilize the tips. Do your experimenting. Then read the rest of the book if it’s interesting to you.

End-of-summer-to-Thanksgiving fitness challenge Week 8: Finding a groove

2014-weight-loss-008Well, turns out the higher-carb, moderate-fat diet is working for me. I've regained some of the energy I'd lost a couple of weeks ago that eventually led to some declines in my "fitness test" weeks — and, to be honest, this week was tough. We have some stuff going on at home that entirely blew one or more of my workout, eating or sleeping plans at least three times this week. And I still lost some weight.

Onward and upward. I'm looking forward to some chill time this week. I've pre-written some of my other writings, I've planned an afternoon and evening just hanging out in a different town, and I have a bit of a presentation to do tomorrow that I think will be really fun.

And then, charging ahead. Later in the week, I hit high gear. I'm not going to talk about it here, it'd be way off-topic for this series, but WOW, so much spinning in the old noggin. Runs might get longer to give me some time to think and architect.

Until next time...

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 161.6 10.03 N/A N/A
9/8/2014 160.2 13.41 72 30
9/15/2014 159.6 9.5 N/A N/A
9/22/2014 159.4 20.63 79 34
9/29/2014 158.8 4.74 N/A N/A
10/6/2014 158.8 5.24 71 31
10/13/2014 157.6 8.4 N/A N/A
10/20/2014 156.4 9.11 78 35
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014