Saturday, November 10, 2012

Use Wish Lists for your benefit

If you are anything like me you find yourself on the website, a lot. I am on there almost daily. Not because I am a shopaholic, but I am an obsessive reviewer of products. I am only interested in professional reviews of gear when I truly don't know anything about its form, fit, function or capability. What Amazon does better than anyone online is provide a tremendous database of real life reviews. I want to know what I am getting and what is similar and what compliments it as an accessory. 

For years I just scrolled reviews and bookmarked items in my own browser folders. A few years ago I stumbled upon Amazon Wish Lists. When you sign up to sign in to Amazon you get a button next on each items page asking if you want to place this item in your Wish List. Then you can come back and look at these items later, see newer reviews, if the price has dropped since you placed it in the wish list. Its a great fast tool for holding potential future purchases. 

If you have a smartphone, I suggest downloading the Amazon application. This app has a function that allows you to scan the SKU number of items you see at a store you are in. Click the scan app, it turns on your phone camera, then line the SKU bars up in the phone screen and it automatically finds that item on their website with their price. Great comparative shopping. If its something I want but don't neccesarily want to buy it right then, I put it in my wish list. 

I mostly use my Wish list as a way to identify what I want to buy and if I haven't bought it by Christmas, I forward the list to my family members. 

I also have a separate Wish List set up for my loved ones. If my wife says she really like an author or item I find it on the website and put in that list. My kids are always telling me they want this or that toy or item. If we are in a store, I use my Amazon app to scan the SKU and put it in my gift wish list. Then if they are still talking about it later, I can decide if we are going to buy it or not. 

Don't get me wrong, I always prefer to buy from smaller local businesses but the fact of the matter is that local doesn't always equal me getting what I want and I will always include my effort to source and drive around to find what I want locally verse online. Even larger national chains don't carry items I want in their shelf items. Point in fact, the Sear store next to my house carries the Fiskar line of tools but did not carry the exact size ax I wanted. Their price to order and ship to the store was over 25% more than buying it online. That is not in my best interest. 

Simply put, I am merely stating that Amazon has a tool called Wish Lists that make it infinitely simple to store your impulse gear ideas, products you want to review and buy for yourself or others. Sharing the list with hyperlinks and prices make it so much easier on older family members in the holiday season. Or those that are still in this age, not technically savvy to shop online. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Preparation Mentality: Get out fast!

In previous installments of Preparation Mentality, foundation of recovery and hard copies of your life, I discussed how to catalog your belongings and your life history for a digital and physical grab and go. But now you need to go. Like, you should have been out of your house five minutes ago gone. How do you do that without watching your house burn down or the world crash around you in just your boxers and a tee shirt?  Here is what you do. 

I am going to assume for the moment that you and your family have an escape plan from your residence. If not, figure it out today. Don't just think you will smash a window and jump on the roof of a car from the second story. Trust me when I say I have close family members who are essentially crippled from that  type of thought process. The plate glass window they broke using the only thing not on fire, their fists, severed nerves and tissue in the lower arms. Or the feet that are forever scarred from having to cross melting linoleum flooring to get out. You have to consider the months of recovery and the years of accommodation and lifestyle correction those choices may bring. This is real life, not Hollywood. I've also seen the aftermath of not having time to execute a plan. The smudges along stuck windows, the soot covered floor, clean only wear the body laid.  

The easiest way to be prepared to leave your house in a hurry is to be a bit messy in the bedroom. Next to or under each side of a family members bed, stash a full pile of clothes, dependent on the season, in a small backpack or other fast grab bag. Warm summer nights may only require pair of running shorts and a long sleeve top and sneakers. Winter would require a heavier jacket and clothing or study track suit, shoes and gloves, hats and a travel umbrella to match the climate. Especially for kids put a old favorite toy or stuffed animal in the bag as a clutch item for stress relief. 

These bags never leave their station next to a bed. Inside is not your favorite items you will rotate during a week of wear. You put them there and they stay there until replaced by something else dependent on climate. As a rule avoid cotton clothing as it is hard to dry and does not provide much warmth. 

Also in these kits place a few small items. Every one gets a cheap flashlight that hopefully never gets used but in an emergency provides light in a dark hallway or outside in the middle of the night with maybe no power in the area.  A bottle of water and a small food item like lollipops or granola bars will get even the most finicky child through a traumatizing few hours. Parents would do well to have a long screwdriver or small hammer in their bag, to be able to punch out windows or smash door knobs. 

If you read my previous posts, one person has a small external hard drive in their bag and can easily grab a neon colored accordion file on the way out. 

If you can get dressed before rushing out, you got lucky. If you have kids, grab your bag, grab them and their bag and get out. Everyone can get dressed when they are safe. 

In non-emergency evacuation circumstances, (no fire or earthquake or storm damage), of course do what you can with what you can. Grab purses, and wallets and favorite animals. Have a leash readily available for pets. Start thinking in terms of what is convenient but realistic in your house patterns. Yes it might be easier to charge your phone in the kitchen but if you have to leave your house in a hurry do not expect to be able to get into your kitchen to get your phone. If you no longer have a hard line home phone in your bedroom and you charge your phone overnight in a different part of your house, how do you call 911 if you hear someone in your house in the middle of the night or you are stuck or forget it or can't reach it. Preparedness is not only staging for success but having a mindset willing to make changes for events that may never occur. 

What has worked for me. 

Everyone in my family knows the evacuation plan. Our toddler knows if she wakes up to smoke or smoke alarms to scream her little heart out until mommy, daddy or big brother get her. She is not to run through the house on her own if there is a fire. 

We all have a Bug Out Bag (BOB) next to where we sleep with season clothing. Depending on who it it belongs to, there are specific items in their bag.  

I also have a personal Every Day Carry (EDC) back pack that I use every time I leave the house. Day or night it holds my wallet and keys, my external drive and several other items I consider required for my piece of mind. When my phone is not on me its in the pack. If not in the pack its being charged next to it. I can absolutely get this on the way out in a hurry. 

In this installment of preparation mentality,  I review the thought process of being ready to exit your house in more than just what you are sleeping in. A small bag of seasonal clothes and simple extra equipment depending on the circumstances. It combines previous preparations of removing documents and personal histories that can help assist you in putting your life back together without it seeming helpless. In future segments I will discuss when you should bug out from your house, (retreat) or when you should bug in (hunker down) and how to get your house ready to do both. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Preparation mentality: hard copies of your life

I have lived through some amazing natural disasters and emergency's. I have been blocked into a house for a week during a snow and ice storm that crippled the region I lived in, only escaping by digging a tunnel through several feet of deep drifts. I lived in the PNW when Mt. St. Helen's erupted and spewed ash for hundreds of miles. I have been in the middle of several category 3 and 4 typhoons and one category 5 super typhoons with gusts over 200 mph. I stood on the 11th floor of a building and survived an 8.3 earthquake that split it apart. I have been without power and the ability to purchase food, water or gas for weeks at a time. My wife, as a teen, watched her home burn down and family lose all its possessions. My household understands what to keep and how to keep it safe before a personal or regional disaster strikes. 

The previous installment of Preparation mentality, foundation of recovery, dealt with collecting and storing your digital life and videos of your possessions in an external drive you can carry and then use after a disaster in your life. This segment will be doing the same thing for you and your loved ones with physical files you need when it counts or perhaps just once or twice a year. 

Some things just do not need to be transferred to digital but is life information that should be kept in a central location for rapid access. Items like passports, social security cards, old drivers licences, birth certificates, diplomas, bank information, home warranties, a utility statement, a mortgage statement, life insurance reports, good bondsman, all should be included in this hard file. You will also gather items like the business cards for your bank branch, the doctor and dentists offices each of your loved ones visit. The guy who cuts your trees once a year at a fair rate or the handyman, plumber, electrician that did work for you once. All those insignificant business cards that get tossed into the junk drawer or stuffed in a wallet for future use, but when you need it you can't find it. These are those items I am talking about.

The next time you drive past an office supply store or walk by the office section in a box store, you want to purchase the following items. A large legal sized accordion file with a top closure in the most garish, bright color you can find, bright orange or neon pink. Then for each family member buy a separate colored letter size folder that you can add sheet protectors into it. Buy one extra folder to complete your set. You need sheet protectors. Get a package of letter sized protectors and a package of business card holders.

Take each individual brightly colored folder and write the name of a family member on it in large letters using a black sharpie. Do this for each family member. On the extra folder, write whatever word you use to describe your house. Divide up the page and card protectors among the folders, put the card holders in the front of the folder. For each family member begin to fill it with all the doctor cards, the card for the pharmacy they use, a kids school immunization record, all the items you know you need once or twice a year but otherwise just don't want to hassle looking for or remembering where you put it when you need it.

For the adults, do the same but include the important documents and contact information that you collect with age and responsibility like your car insurance rep, card for your stock broker, accountant information to contact banks and insurances. The house folder holds a copy of the mortgage payment, utility bill, cable bill, deed, home warranty information, gardener, pool guy, maid service.  The warranty on new appliances or fixtures. The plumber, electrician, handyman business cards. Not required but it helps to print a copy of your immediate neighborhood from an online map program and write the name of all your neighbors over their house. Its a nice addition only because, who can remember all their neighbors names and if there is an emergency you can use this to assist first responders to know what houses were empty or had people in it. Or just save you the embarrassment of asking a neighbor their name for the third time in five years because you can never remember it. 

Once all the individual folders are full, place in the brightly colored accordion file. Now whenever you need to grab something important for yourself, your house or family member you know exactly where it is. You can also add any back up digital files on CD or small thumb drives. Place this folder next to your bed, under your bed, on the self next to your most likely exit from your house in a frantic emergency. The garish color will be an immediate eye catcher when you are running past or if it is dark, smokey, or the room torn apart. Some people might put this in a Bug Out Bag (BOB) or Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag that I will describe later. 

You now have a very convenient, easy to find place to locate items that might be needed only once or twice a year like records for the kids at the beginning of each school year. Or the contact information for a service required to for your home. Many smart phones allow you to download the contact information for printing. This would also be a good suggestion so if you lose your phone you can call all those family and friends that for years you have haven't needed to remember their phone number since the phone did it automatically.  It maybe a good idea to include some cash or prepaid credit cards in your folder for incidentals. 

As crazy as it sounds, I know someone who followed this system and had their house broken into. Among the many things ransacked, their bright green accordion file was left undisturbed next to their bed. The thought being nothing of value would be found in something so obviously ugly and probably just held kids papers. 

This installment describes what you can do today to put your life back together after a home or life disaster or be more prepared in a general sense year round. The life file, is a localized, grab and go, can't miss in a rush out the door file that holds everything important you need but don't every want to memorize. Of course having all your photos, music and life history stored on a digital drive will give you piece of mind that you did not lose it all. 

Future installments will go into how to prepare to leave your house in a hurry with more than nothing on your back. How to prepare a vehicle year round for emergencies and have room for groceries and sports gear. When to Bug Out of your house and When to Bug In and how to do both successfully. Of course a list of what I think every home must have year round for preparedness. 

Preparation Mentality: the foundation of recovery

The recent hurricane that hit the upper east coast in November 2012 has showed how unprepared some people are covering the basic necessities of life when the corner store and local gas station are closed. When the power is off for hundreds of thousands or millions of people. When someone can't grab an extra twenty dollars when they check out at the grocery store. When the house is without power or evacuated. Local and federal agencies can only do so much, so fast and its never fast enough. While we often think they know to much about us they are not your keeper or your babysitter or do they even work for you personally. You have to take responsibility for your own life and if necessary put it back together as quickly as easily as possible.  

It starts today. Take your smartphone, your point and shoot digital camera, your GoPro or Flip, whatever you use for taking video and walk slowly around the inside of your house. Walk through every room, open every door and drawer. It doesn't matter how dirty or cluttered the place is. You are capturing everything you own that if you lose in a disaster you have a record for putting yourself back together. If you know the make and model of items, provide that in a running commentary. "The flat screen tv is this, the game console is that, its a blu-ray player." If you own a collection or have items of true value like paintings or jewelry  make sure to focus in on those items specifically to show authenticity. Larger collections like comic books or baseball cards, china, items left in a box for the most part, at some point in the near future you need to lay those out on a bed and take very close up images of these so that the quality cannot be mistaken. If you have photographs around your house that were given to you, like family portraits, school photos, team photos, certifications, scan all those into your computer. Most newer home computer printers have this option or you can do so at kiosk at a corner drug store or several big box stores that have electronics areas, at a cost of a few coins per scan.  While you are scanning items, include drivers licenses, passport top pages, social security cards, immunization records. Save everything to a computer.

Most families have multiple computer systems. Kids have laptops, parents have smartphones, maybe a tablet laying around the house. Of course a general desktop computer, or two. Each of these will hold a vast amount of information that needs to be collected into one localized system. If you have a Cloud storage program, that would be great but not necessarily the best or only option. You have to sustain yourself. Start with backing up smartphone photos, videos and music to its primary docking system. Then using a thumb drive, memory card with reader or an external hard drive, begin to get all this information onto one source. Also include any personal files or images that have been saved. Everything that you have created or kept on a computer in the My Document area should be copied.

Don't bother backing up full programs or games. It takes up too much space on a drive and is replaceable. Only worry about what you would normally find in a personal folders area of the computer. Some internet browsers allow you to export passwords and bookmarked pages as a file to your computer library. Which is a good idea. You can also back up all your emails in Outlook (steps easily found in Outlook Help or online) with just a few clicks and store that single file in your library. Unfortunately if you lose your smartphone or it is damaged and needs replacement, reclaiming text messages and images are difficult if not impossible. Research Cloud storage for your device.

The final destination of all this information will be a compact external drive. Invest in one or ask for one as a gift for a birthday or Christmas. Become self contained in your digital data so that if you are at a friend or relatives home, using a public computer system at a shelter or library, if you are standing in a vast power outage area using a laptop sitting on a car hood powered by a cigarette plug, you can retrieve what you need.

There are many models of thumb drives and external hard drives that come with password protection or encryption. This is a smart choice for controlling sensitive data like social security cards, bank information, online passwords. There are also very good programs you can download online that accomplish this. You can research file encryption options at sites like The Kim Kamando Show and cnet

What has worked for me.

I prefer 16 and 32 gigabyte micro SD cards to regular sized SD memory cards. The reason is that the price is modest and a micro card is more versatile and preparedness is not about specialized equipment, its about multipurpose. They often come with a full sized SD card adapter so that it can be used in smartphones as a micro card or more standard digital cameras or put into slots on a card reader, laptop or desktop computer where full sized SD card slots are more common.

A useful tool for basic media swapping is a card reader. These devices accept every standard sized card storage device from propriety digital camera memory sticks to compact flash cards, XD cards, SD cards and several others styles and transfer that information to your computer via USB cable. No longer a need to carry the cable for this camera or that device. You can take photos or movies from a friends camera or some smartphones and view on your desktop monitor, newer television or laptop. 

After using the various hand-me-down external drives I have collected over the years, with various levels of storage capability, I finally researched and bought my own a few years back. Based on my needs for preparedness and everyday carry, I choose an external drive that is waterproof and shockproof, eliminating the need for a bulky case but small enough by itself to be carried daily. It is also powered by USB, meaning it did not need to be plugged into a wall outlet. The single USB cable powers the unit and transfers data. Many other types use a split USB cable requiring two ports on the computer system, one to power the unit the other to transfer data.  Stay away from external drives that require a wall outlet or do not contain its own driver files to work on all types of computer systems. These are usually large units and in an emergency you will not take the time to unplug or retrieve the unit. 

My choice was a 1 Terabyte drive from a company called Silicon Power. Some people prefer more well known and trusted brands and there is nothing wrong with that. Except I can carry my external drive in my backpack, swim across a body of water or drop the pack from a second floor and it will still work. 1Tb holds hundreds of DVD's, every digital photo I have every taken, all my music and every single document I have every created in MS Office or scanned or saved over an entire career of living and business, with room for more. I think a terabyte is plenty of space for the average person.

This post is just a primer. To prepare for a loss of comfort items, home damage,  lost heirlooms. It is also to collect all your digital files, scans, family and life photos, music, phone videos and movies in one small storage device that can be grabbed quickly and you can take to a safer place in a hurry. Not to mention, use it when you need it.    

Next installment, putting your life to paper and answer the age old homeowner question, "Where did I put that?"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Skinny Fat

I was at the grocery store checkout counter last weekend. At a counter directly across from me I watched a woman, about my age loading her cart onto the conveyor belt with the help of a little boy. My first thought was, "Wow, she has really good hair." She did. Really. Followed by a shift down in vision to think, "She looks really good in those blue jeans. She is a really fit mom." Then a tall man with a rather large belly pushed a cart up and began talking to her. Husband. 

From that point, I stopped looking at the woman and started looking at the man. He did not have good hair. He did not look good in his extra baggy in the butt cargo shorts. His 2X torso covered by a 1X shirt. What I was really drawn to was his stick thin, noodle like, utterly toneless biceps. Skinny fat. 

Skinny fat is just so nauseating to me.  It assumes that this man, probably my age has never really truly exercised in his life. I have more respect for those that are overweight and working out than those that are skinny or skinny in specific parts of their body and have absolutely zero muscle tone. 

'Now wait a minute,' you might say, 'The fat person doesn't have any muscle tone.' True but the fat person is at that moment, trying to. That person cares. A skinny fat person, they don't care. This particular specimen before me with the wife who looked good in her jeans, stretched out the bottom of his shirt but not the shirt sleeves. His dead fish, limp arms, flapping in the excess fabric. 

I am the first to admit when I look in the mirror I see the before picture of a Biggest Loser contestant. Its a horrible trick my mind plays on me because I rationally understand that is not the case. I had more than one person tell me I looked very fit, as I walked around an expo this weekend.Of course they were probably trying to soften me up for a sales but nevertheless, take it were you can get it, right? Then again, I looked at my scale this morning and thought about how many far I could throw it, rather than stand on it. Which again, I did not. 

Now even in my body dismorphism, I know, I know, I don't have skinny arms. I have always had large biceps, large shoulders, broad chest. Even when I was trying for two iroman triathlons in six months. 

Enough of me. Back to skinny arms. Skinny arms are so unappealing. Nasty. It shows a complete lack of fitness. To me a lack of respect for yourself. So whether you are head to toe, skinny fat or just skinny fat in your arms or ass or legs, do something about it. Please. Creeps me out. And I matter. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Completed the 100 Day Burpee Challenge.

This week I completed another 100 day burpee challenge. This personal fitness challenge lasts 100 days and depending on how many repetitions you complete on Day 1, most people just start at one repetition, you add  +1 repetition to your total. Day one is one rep, Day one hundred is 100 reps. The key in completing this challenge is that the person actually does their burpees every day for one hundred straight days. No missing days, no too hungover, no family events, no travel days can interrupt the streak. It is hard enough for a person to do something for just thirty days straight, the length of time many use to describe needed for creating a new habit, let alone one hundred days. Thus less than 5% of those that start this challenge, complete it. 

The greatest aspect of this challenge is the social media aspect of it. Find or create a group page and then invite all your friends to join. Get the competitive juices flowing. It is much easier to finish this challenge if you have people to motivate you and hold you accountable. Yet in the end, everyone has their own reasons for attempting this challenge. Some have never done a burpee before and consider it a way to return to a fitness lifestyle. Others understand how the burpee can be a transformative exercise. 

Most people see it as an event to complete that does not require an entry fee. It does not require hours of training in preparation. No travelling, no special shoes or spending money on gu's and chews. It can be done anywhere, a living room, a park, a hotel lobby, the grocery store, office hallway, even as a groomsman at your best friends wedding when you are all up front waiting for the bride to make her entrance. 

A denominator is that over 90% of the people that start, do not finish. What invariably happens is people float away, stop posting results. Those that continue, do so with with the same motivation and enthusiasm, but the page starts to get quiet. Whereas dozens of people posted and communicated back and forth several times a day in the beginning, towards the end almost entire days lapse where there may be a solo entry from the one or two or three people still involved. Necessary but perfunctory gestures.  

The best way to finish this challenge is find a group on a social media platform or start your own and invite your friends. I have seen groups of over 800 people who barely know each other online start a group and I have seen small very familiar groups of close knit friends numbering in the tens and twenty's. The common denominator is that everyone try's to communicate their daily results to the group and keep the motivation in there high. Having burpee picture days and side challenges help contribute to a fun and vibrant group. 

Honestly, I didn't give myself a pat on the back after I finished this challenge. Well maybe a little bit that day. Considering I have done weird fitness challenges my entire adult life, it was just another thing I did and did well for myself. Looking back at the start of this challenge, it was only one of four I began in July and I still feel the 30 day running challenge was the hardest to complete. Full disclosure, I ended the Ab challenge in week 6 when my back began to act up and it affected all other events. 

I challenge all of you to enter or start a burpee challenge. You can easily find the common rules and set ups reading the general information area of each groups page. What their standard burpee is, how competitive or close knit the group is. It is not important to start on Day One with everyone else. Coming in late to the challenge can infuse new motivation and enthusiasm. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Magic Morning Runs

Most people enjoy a sunrise looking through the comfort of home window, pleasantly surprised they caught it. Or suffer it's beauty driving to or being at some sort of work, cursing their early rise. Few truly enjoy it based on their own rules. I was able to do so today, like I do many days a year, with running. 

When I walked out the door an hour before sunrise, the stars still bright. The sky not totally dark, it is morning twilight after all. It holds a purple blue like technicolor like a hue added to a old black and white movie. I heard insects chirping and clicking but this time of night the noises are not scary. That time has long past on the clock. This is life waking up. Getting at it. Like me. 

The loudest noise is the main street a quarter mile away and hidden behind rows of houses. Parallax, reverberation and echo make four cars sound like faraway patter of tire on road. Neighbors yards have dew drops on them, from sprinklers or Mother nature. Mostly sprinklers. The streetlamps shine on them making the yards glow with a light better than the ceiling light in your family room. These glittering lights don't want you to stare, they want you get on your way. 

There always seems to be the same cloying smell when I run through certain areas. I think its vegetation giving off a scent that is much different than the middle of the day, baking in the heat or smothered by rain. Its a natural musk that I can never place, don't really want to, but I know when I smell it, I am doing something special for myself. Being out here alone. Looking for something in me. Building something in my life that will lead me to another great adventure. 

The level of blue sky increases, the yellows and pinks and red do to. I'm lucky, from where I am, sun rises over a mountain range. One I have been to the top of and looked down at my domain. When the orb does crest, for just a moment, it outlines a ridge line many people wonder if they could find time to get to and a few people can say they have been on. But its still not daylight yet. 

The sun is up but the ground is still covered in shadows. The chill, what there was, still seeking dominance for a few minutes longer. It seems to get colder in the shadows before they are overtaken by the light of the new day. The sun almost caught me. But I reach my front door just as the rays creep up my yard. Like a game of grade school tag, I have run back to home base. Safe. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Videoes make you stupid idiots with no clue about life. So, there!

I interact with a younger guy, he's 21, I'll call him 'John'. Good person for the most part. Naive, maybe a bit innocent.  Something interesting happened this week that has made me think about just where I see men from his generation going. 

John is not much of a fitness guy. Has a membership to a big box gym. Plays some team sports like football and basketball with his pals. Own the Insanity DVD series but never finished it. But he is not nor ever been on a long term fitness program with a defined goal.  He really wants to do a Tough Mudder or obstacle race and to get ready he would do 10 push ups every time he swore in front of me. I thought about this for a moment and then said sure, but its 10 burpees instead. He gulped hard, but agreed. By the end of us being together he owed me 30 and said he would do them by the end of the day. He didn't do them. At least he was honest. I can work with honest. 

Now I didn't curse, but I did something I felt I could do again better and when I was going back over it, John says I owe him 10 burpees. Now this is nowhere near our deal together. I did tell him I had already done exactly 90 burpees that morning but in order to motivate him to do his 30 from before I did 10 right in front of him. 

His response, "You didn't jump high enough." I just laughed. I said those were good burpees. He seemed to think I wasn't using good form. I said, "Did you expect me to do 2 push ups, a box jump and then hand clap?" 

All of Johns real world experience with burpees comes from watching videos, not doing them himself. Of course if you watch a few minutes of Insanity, you would logically think all extreme athletes train like that every day. It's no different than the people who base their perception of all Ironman athletes based on NBC's Kona coverage show each December. I have friends that weigh over 260 lbs that have finished Ironmans. The reality is so much different than the hype. 

So I simply told John to be sure to do his 30 burpees with the exact form he is convicting me of not using. I related to him if he wants to find his stride in burpees than do 300 burpees tonight instead of 30. Doing is the only way to know what is right. And maybe my form is poor, I don't give a crap. I did 100 of 'MY' burpees, (which I think are fine) as opposed to someone who didn't do any at all but felt compelled to critique mine. Isn't that just like life today?

So here is my 'crotchety old man rant'. These freaking kids have no clue about real life when all they do is live through web video and PlayStation games. Some of these kids think they are bad ass mother effers and know all there is about combat because they grew up on Call of Duty and Hollywood movies. Young men have told me they were going to join the Marines but it wasn't 'as cool' as Modern Warfare. I can't make this stuff up! Some of them want to criticize the reality of exercise because all they know is what they got from the production value of a DVD or freak ability of a viral video. In their mind there is no difference between an Obstacle Course Racer and a Ninja Warrior athlete. Must be one to be the other. Its insane. Gyms are for maxing your bench press, the only number that matters. Running is stupid.  Guys my age grew up on Playboys and Penthouse forums when we could steal them. Now a smartphone streams 24/7 and young men think sexual acts have to be a marathon of ten positions and of course the woman has to have fake boobs, no body hair or an ounce of fat or she is a pig. Because thats what porn (ie. video) has done to our society rather than actually learning to have a real relationship with someone. Good grief. Ladies I honestly and sincerely feel sorry for some of the utter unrealistic nonsense young men are developing today.  

So today I will run my miles, do my burpee, (only a few weeks left of the 100 day burpee challenge), swing my ax, put on my 40 pound ruck, do some bear crawls with it, some low crawls with it. Probably, hopefully, get some mud on it and myself. My only hydration warm water from a tube. Then when I am thoroughly wrung out, stink to high heaven, light headed, bruised, probably some grass stains, and sweating my ass off, I will come home and dream about doing it again tomorrow. John....John probably will sit in front of his flat screen, drinking Code Red Mountain Dew, playing the new Call of Duty expansion pack, resetting his last mission ten times because he didn't get the perfect kill shot or wants a faster finish time using cheat codes.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

GoRuck GR1 hydration mod

I don't think I have ever loved a backpack more than my GR1 made by Goruck. Of course there was a lot of blood, sweat, and not quite tears, but serious emotions involved in our first night together, Goruck Class 113. For those not familiar with how a Goruck class works, each person carries 6 bricks inside their rucksack. Depending on what size ruck is used, the fit can be quite tight to get the remaining gear you would need to survive a class to fit inside with the bricks. 

As much as I enjoy my GR1 I can not help but tinker, to try to make it more comfortable, more specific to my ruck patterns, my inclinations. Make it mine. Thus I have been working on schemes to modify or 'mod' my ruck. Specifically how to carry a 3 liter (3L) hydration reservoir without zipping it into the hydration/laptop compartment that faces the back of the carrier. When I zip my 3L into this compartment it does not allow the pack to sit flush against my back and depending on how I jam everything inside, the zipper may not close all the way and I have gap at the top by the carry handle. Now, many Goruck alumni have figured how to overcome this challenge using their own ideas. But this one is my own. Before I explain how I did this mod, let me show you the results. 

from the back

side view, flush to the GR1
To do this mod, I used the following items:  Camelbak Thermobak AB, 4 feet of inch wide webbing.

IMG_4158The Camelbak Thermobak 3L-AB was the linchpin to this mod. I don't think I could have done it without it. The Thermobak 3L-AB uses a special system built into the pack for the use with military issue combat vests. Side Buckle clip lines are situated at the top and bottom to clip onto standard MOLLE systems, which the GR1 rucksack has along the bottom of the pack. There is also 6 D-rings along the outside for other types of attachment to packs. There is a civilian version of this model called simply the 'Thermobak 3L' that does not have this strap attachment system or D-rings. If you try this mod be sure to use the model with the AB designation. As you can see in the photo, right, I have extended the straps so you can see the location of the straps and the special side buckles that come with it. The female clips, which go on the rucksack,  (and seen as set asides in the photo) have a design that allows them to be clipped onto and off MOLLE very quickly.


The actual modification to the rucksack involved double backing the inch webbing, and sewing it onto the GR1 as a new strip of MOLLE. I noticed to late that we were using a dark blue thread rather than a black. Yes it bothers me, don't make the same mistake if you do this, but I am not going to redo it now.

In the final photos above, I do have a full set of six bricks inside the pack. So that profile is what I will expect in my next class.

Obviously I did not use four feet of webbing to create a pair of MOLLE attachments along the top of my ruck. As I put it all together I realized that the top side buckle strap that came withe Thermobak would not be long enough to clip into the new MOLLE mod. A longer one was made using the extra webbing.

I touched on it in the beginning of this post that I didn't like the bulge my 3L reservoir created along the back panel when I wore the ruck. Attaching the Thermobak in this manner, not only do I have a very flush and low profile hydration platform, the GR1 is now tight against my back making my bear crawls and buddy carries less bothersome.

Another benefit of the Thermobak AB model is that it also has shoulder straps which allow you to unclip it from the ruck and wear it as a solo item. When worn attached to the ruck, the shoulder straps and the side buckle straps all tuck into cleverly designed pockets built into the unit. This additional benefit makes the Thermobak AB ideal for longer runs when I wouldn't want to wear a heavy backpack and for obstacle course racing. The low profile design of the AB which is wider than normal camelbak models, makes it easier to navigate under low or narrow obstacles like barb wire with a design less likely to snag. But the real beauty of the mod is that when I do ruck, I have an external hydration for my favorite rucksack and can also be used externally on all my other rucksacks if I so desired.  

I have another modification I made for my GR1, a modest hip belt. A portion of that can be seen in photos near the bottom straps. It did not involve any permanent modifications to the pack, just some possibility thinking during long rucks.

Time to step it up.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Its a consecutive day challenge not a rep challenge

I am in a social media group for 100 days of burpees which we just hit the 50 day mark. There is over 800 people who said they would do it but only about two dozen who haven't missed a day yet, myself included. There is about another hundred who post regularly who started later and not missed a day or started on Day One, missed a day and started over to attempt the streak again. There are also quite a few that have missed a day, mostly for being lazy, hungover, otherwise 'too busy', and make up those missed burpees at the next earliest point. The longer this challenge goes on the more frustrated I am at this last group. Why?

Maybe I am becoming an old curmudgeon, personally people accountable to the spirit, well actually the title of the challenge, of 100 Days. Its a challenge of straight days, not a challenge of repetitions done during that 100 days. I put a lot of personal integrity into my own personal struggle to make it 100 days straight. I get ticked off when I read people listing that they missed a day, BUT they made it up on another day and everything is A-OK now. As if to say, "We are equal and the same and all worthy of being finishers of the 100 day burpee challenge." 

I don't think we are equal. When I get to Day 100, I can look at the world and say, "I did 100 straight days of burpees, adding one rep each day." The people described above will look at the world and if honest would say something like, "I finished the 100 day burpee challenge. I only did burpees on 97 of those days but on the 3 days I missed I made those up later that week. High 5!". 

I think you missed a day, you should recycle back to Day 1 and try it again. 

I understand the need to get back on the horse. We all have bad days. Yet I would rather see someone reset to day one than quit something like this. It is a transformative challenge. And the real mental paradigm comes from accomplishing 100 days straight, not making it up. 

I should also make the case that people have to deal with real physical issues to get through this. The wrists will start to hurt. Maybe an old shoulder issue flairs up. Then the knee might be bad or the lower back aches. Of course in and of themselves, burpees just plain hurt to do as a cardiovascular and muscular exercise. You gasp like a fish and you flop on the floor and you sweat like a pig when you take the shortest of breaks. And if someone is truly injured, I wouldn't have them do that challenge. No challenge is worth months of physical discomfort (above the action of burpees themselves). Do a different fitness challenges. I have no problem if someone had to stop because of an injury. 

My problem are those that can't find ten minutes in their 15-17+ hour day to do what they promised to themselves to do, burpees for 100 straight days. Most common excuses, survey says, "Hungover, work sucked, hung out at the beach, too busy." 

I see this challenge as a microcosm to how you treat your life. You put in the hard work, the consistent work and you find success in the end. Not, do what you can, when you can, do a little bit more later, feign like you are sorry about the whole thing and then blow it off like nothing happened. 

I have mulled in my mind, just leaving the group because the disconnect feels so strongly on my end. That I am thinking too much into this. I should be more supportive of people attempting to get better. Instead I have to sit on my hands to not type a note suggesting they should reset and try again because they were lazy. I've been doing the 100 day burpee challenge for a long time, this is my third one. I do burpees 4-5 days a week whether I am in a challenge or not. I am the first to admit I hate them, I can't do nearly as many as a few, they certainly look worse than most. 

I respect a challenge. I respect people who 'honor' an agreement to do something like 100 days of burpees. I respect people who admit they missed a day and start over, maybe more so than anyone because I force myself to do them so I don't have to start over. I wouldn't want to make it to day 51, miss the next day and then start looking at 100 straight days again. No way. That scares me like nothing. I like my 4-5 days a week. I don't like 7 days a week for another three months. 

So I will sit on my hands for a bit longer. Praising those that need it, and trying to stay my typing for those that don't deserve praise in my opinion. But I had to get this off my chest. So there you go. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Abs no more

I have decided to stop my personal 10 week ab challenge. This is week 7 and I am performing 700 repetitions per day. I have struggled mightily to obtain my daily numbers the last two weeks and having to force the numbers. To my physical detriment this is aggravating my lower back and making me uncomfortable performing the exercises and tight the rest of the day. I will continue to do my usual & modest 200-300 ab reps a day in my morning routine and continue with my 100 day burpee challenge as well as my normal my endurance and fitness pursuits. 

I never enjoy having to quit a challenge, especially so close to the end, only three weeks remaining. But a more dramatic injury at this point to my lower back would severely harm the efforts I am putting into a number of other areas, huge goals that I feel are much more important. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hike Hard, lessons learned

I prefer to consider myself an Adventure Hiker. Maybe some of my adventures are nothing more than enjoying the scenery but often times it includes some sort of pucker factor. My hike yesterday with my training partner would describe that. We decided to pick up the 40lb rucks and hit the Coon Bluff Rec Area off the Salt River.

Issue #1:  on my last ruck I broke a buckle on my WarHammer pack. Nothing like a fifty cent side release buckle making a $250 pack unusable. As I didn't realize this until I was already a few minutes late leaving the house, I had to madly repack my GR1 with a bundle of 6 bricks, a recharged hydration reservoir and transfer some survival gear. Ruck in hand, off I went. 

We hit the ridge line and then followed an established trail. Then we lost the trail and decided to bushwhack to the river using a wash. The time of day required constant scanning for rattlers and luckily or by throwing a ton of rocks in front of us, we didn't see any. There was some made scrambling down canyon walls and we had to navigate around some standing water sumps along the wash. Man wish I had my gopro for that. 

Issue #2. Rucking in the desert in the summer is hot. Like 105* air temp. But get inside canyons that have soaked up solar heat all day and the ground and side wall temps easily hit 125+ degrees. We sweated our asses off. 

We finally got to the river but realized we had to cross a bamboo swamp to get to it. We decided to tack around it and through an old flood area of downed trees along a cliff face. We hit the river, realize there is no trail, enclosed by cliffs and have to wade up or down stream with our heavy rucks in fast moving water. Eventually we found an egress site, wrung out the socks but had to then climb back up to the ridge line to find a trail. Back to bush whacking. In the desert you don't really bushwhack, its more like avoid cactus. And this time I got nailed. Some teddy bear cholla grabbed my calf and went deep. 

Issue #3. Pulling out fine cactus needles really really hurts. I was able to get about a dozen of the surface barbs and the body off my calf. There remained another dozen of fine barbs still imbedded in my calf and I decided it best to find the trail before a final clean up. Twenty minutes later and each step not feeling great we created a hill and I went to work. What was cool was I had prepped for this for years but never had to do it to myself. I pulled out my Leatherman and used the pliers to pull the barbs from my calf. These were all about a 1/4 inch deep. There remained a few short barbs that I just couldn't clear so I ripped some duct tape off my flashlight, slapped it on, that freaking stung, and ripped it off like a mad waxer. Totally worked. 

(This is not me, nor was the piece I encountered this big. But the
 results were the same. I also wearing shorts. This stuff is no joke)

A bit more bushwhacking to the next ridge and we found the trail which overlooked the parking lot. SAVED. 

Issue #4. We both forgot to bring a celebratory beer for the event. So we drank our now warm water and planned to bring dry socks to all further events. 

Another success adventure. Step it up!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July Challenges completed

July has come and gone.What a month it was for fitness. To read my weekly recaps link HERE. I honestly had my doubts about completing 31 straight days of running and yet I overcame a lot of mental obstacles during the month and honestly a serious injury with only two days left. 

Today, the first of August. I did not run. The unintended consequence of running every day was that I could not recover adequately for the next run. By the second week my distance suffered significantly. Conversely for those few miles I did run every day, my pace improved. While I am glad to have hit this milestone I can't help but think that I did myself a disservice sticking with it. I cherish my endurance ability. Knowing inside that on any day you can go out and run a half marathon is empowering. I don't have that mental edge today. 

Finishing the pushups early helped me get through the dog bite injury. One less thing to worry about. I have still been doing around 100 push ups a day put not the usual dropping at random moments to knock out a set. 

This week is 500 abdominal reps. Which has become easier than doing 300 or 400. Funny how that works. Add doing them in less time. 

Burpees are coming along, haven't missed a day, the 37th now I believe. I don't think I will ever have the flexibility or fluidity to make burpees look like a beautiful or effortless movement. So I do my clunky and ugly burpees knowing that every rep I do is one more day to the awesome Day 100. 

Going to take a couple days to sort out what I will do for a challenge or focus in August. I have a few ideas but I need some time to decompress from doing four challenges last month. 

To quote an old friend, Stay Tuned...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dog Bite On Run


Get a text from my workout partner to meet in our new training area. As I pulled up next to his vehicle I didn't see him so I started running along the river towards an area he and I had scouted the week before as a swimming hole. I thought maybe he started over there. As I ran along the trail next to the river, I passed a few isolated little areas that people used for enjoying the water. The last area had two dogs playing in the water. 

I slowed down to a walk, not wanting to scare the dogs. I smiled at the owner, we exchanged pleasant words of passing and as I got to the other side of their site I started running up the trail again. That's when one of the dogs came up behind me and bit me on the calf and then ran away. 

I looked down and saw several areas that were bleeding. The owners came over and started to ask how they could help me. Surprisingly I wasn't mad. I should have been furious. I should have been scared. I suppose had the dog latched on and shook I would have had the time and reaction to defend myself. However the dog was far away by that time. 

In my pack I carried a small med kit. I kicked myself for taking half of it, the larger items, out just before coming to the workout. I knew I was going to get the pack wet and just didn't want to pack more stuff in ziplock bags. 

I pulled out my kit and the dog owner used some of my prep wipes and bandaids to patch me up. We exchanged information, I asked some questions about the dogs health. They offered ice from their igloo chest and I asked for a beer instead. 

I ran back to my vehicle and saw my training partner and his wife and they helped me with a second and third cleaning.. I had a half gallon of water that had sat in my the car for a couple days and was probably 150 degrees. I pored that over the wound area and used a towel to clean scrub the skin. Pored more water, used some more alcohol wipes, snapped a photo, wrapped it up with gauze and duct tape and attempted to continue with the workout. When I got home I showered, scrubbed the wound area again, applied hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream, more gauze and some ice packs. 

Its a couple days later now and it appears so far to be healing okay. Last night was a rough night of sleeping. I think every time I rolled over to that side it bothered me. Mistress says that I screamed a few times in my sleep, something I don't normally do. My running has been difficult but doable, my gait has been slightly off due to the obvious damage the muscle took from the trauma the bite caused. 

The owner did call me, left a message, asking about how I was doing. It was nice gesture. I was clear at the time of the incident I am not a litigious person but if I ended up going to the doctors I expected them to pay my expenses and they agreed. So far I haven't seen a reason to go to the doctors, not a popular position in my family and peer group. I think I am still within that window that an infection could be incubating so I am being cautious with how I this could end up. 

Bled in a workout. Got a free beer. (shrug). If I don't end up with an infection and the bite area heals, I could say I've had worse workouts...

(after third cleaning, appox 15 min after bite)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Push Up Challenge Completed

I was able to complete my 10,000 push ups in July challenge six days early. A lot of effort went into those 10,000 repetitions. As I counted out my last ten I thought back to all the days a shoulder would ache. I thought of the week I suffered a bruised bicep when a log fell off my shoulder; a knot of muscle fiber in my lower bicep that with each push up would pinch or snap over neighboring muscle fiber. 

Using my daily calendar as my guide, I knew that I was ahead of schedule for the month. Doing some final calculations on the 25th I realized if I did 956 push ups I would be done. So I went after it with the goal to be done before midnight. Which I managed to do with a quarter hour to spare. 

I didn't do this challenge to learn anything new about myself. I didn't have a spark of inspiration or transformative moment. I know how mentally tough I am. I know what my limitations are. It was hard. It was a challenge. It was a goal to work towards. Sometimes thats all the inspiration needed. 

In my last challenge update, I had not decided if I would continue my daily quota and run up the total till the last day or just acknowledge that the race is over and rest up. I've decided on a compromise. 

I am going to continue with my pushups as part of my morning routine, a circuit of push ups, abs, burpees and air squats, done continuously until I complete my biggest challenge number of the day. This will help split up my ab and burpee challenge exercises that continue through October. As those reps increase, so do the sets. I could very easily be doing 300+ pushups a day just to take a break from something else. 

Last days push up total. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July Fitness Challenge Recap Week 3

This is part of an on going series of reports for the month of July 2012. To read previous updates the links are provided, OVERVIEW, WEEK 1, WEEK 2

Honestly, juggling all four challenge's on top of my normal training and daily routines is starting to take its toll. I am glad that this upcoming week will see the end of two challenges. Lets get into the details. 

100 Day Burpee Challenge. Haven't missed a day yet during this challenge. The reps are not difficult to handle yet. What I have found myself doing is breaking the numbers up into sets of 15 or 20 at a time. This fits well into a continuous speed circuit I do of push ups, abs, burpees and air squats most mornings while I loosen up from a night of sleep. I am still not happy with my foot placement on the way back to the start position but doing the reps faster helps with more of a pop up than normal. 

1,000 Ab Rep Challenge. 300 daily reps this past week has not been as big an adjustment as I thought it would be. Like it has been in the past. By rearranging my sets to a more familiar rotation, mentioned above, I can easily get my numbers in. I have already noticed a bit more striated muscle around my ribs and diaphragm. If I could get to a two and half pack by the end of the challenge I would be happy. While that seems absolutely paltry, let it be known I have never had well defined abdominal walls even at single digit body fat training for contests. For the vast majority of  us average folk, noticeable abdominal muscle has very little to do with exercise and everything to do with genetics and long term nutritional considerations.  

10,000 push ups in July. I am on track to hit my total around the 26th or 27th of the month, way ahead of schedule. Last week I had not decided if I was going to continue with the daily quota all the way through the month and just keep running up the total or not. I probably will not. Instead of averaging almost 400 push ups a day I will probably go back to my standard 100-150 a day as part of my morning circuit. 

30 Day Run Challenge.As I predicted the run has been the hardest for me to keep going. There have just been so many days where fitting it in has been a burden or chore instead of something to look forward to. In fact the lack of rest I am giving my legs has caused me to cut back on my overall distance for the month. I believe the continuous fatigue from the burpees is playing into it. The good news is I haven't missed a day of running in three weeks. The bad news is my long runs have suffered significantly due to lack of proper recovery of my legs or my normal ability to remove certain exercise to prepare for longer runs.  I look forward to having to a run rest day on August 1.

july week3 challenge
Clockwise: Run Challenge, Burpee Challenge, Push Up Challenge, Ab Challenge

What has really frustrated me at the end of Week 3 is that my normal daily workouts suffered from staying on track with these four added challenges on top of it. I missed a couple of longer runs and performance drills so that I can recover my legs and shoulders. Especially hamstrings and calves. I do not normally do this many challenges concurrently. As I said, I do a circuit of pushups, abs and burpees almost every day but just not in this type of concentration. The completion of the push up challenge will be in a couple day during Week 4 and the culmination of the run challenge the beginning of Week 5. I think it has been good to push myself with all these events but the experiment finds me longing, especially for, longer runs. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Decided to surprise my neighbor by working out in his yard

The other day I saw my neighbor cutting back some bushes in his yard. Not uncommon to see in Suburbia, USA. A few days later I saw he had cut them all the way down down to the stump and was frantically using a come-a-long to try to pull them out, to less than ideal results. Now, my neighbor is not young and had a fairly extensive neck surgery last winter and to see him doing this was concerning, I didn't want him to hurt himself, so I went to talk to him. He said the project had taken more time than he had for it and was mad he couldn't get back to it for couple weeks. He was pulling the stumps so he could lay more grass. So I decided when he went to work the next day, I would go over and pull the stumps for him. Without telling him. Surprise.

It wasn't all that hard to do. I used my ax, a Fiskar x27, to break up the ground and split the main root system of the four stumps. Unlike my palm tree stump removal last month this was a typical root system so not all that difficult to accomplish. As I pulled the stumps out by hand, I used a reciprocating saw to cut any small roots that where holding it in underneath. 

I didn't start with the reciprocating saw until after I cleanly sliced through my neighbors drip system pipe with an ax swing, man that was too easy. I realized I needed a little finesse when it came to working around the pvc pipes so I started using the saw to churn up the hard soil and map out the pipe line. I debated on running up to the hardware store to get a new pvc pipe to glue in a repair, but I am not a perfect neighbor, he can fix the damn pipe himself. I did the dirty work. Even though he didn't ask me too. Okay, so I am still a bit conflicted over the cut. 

It didn't take long to pull the four stumps out but it was a lot of good swings with the ax during a typical Sonoran Desert summer day. I was glad to be done and even more glad to not get caught doing a good deed. 

When I told Mistress what my plan was earlier in the day, she was very point blank in her response, "You're going to pull those stumps so you can use it as a workout.. Aren't you?" Gulp. Guilty. Who says a good deed can't benefit the person doing it too? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Don't forget to do the simple things differently

Am I the only one who does uniform repetitions for a workout?  I once road my bike a little over 97 miles but because it wasn't exactly 100 miles or what in parlance is known as a 'century' ride, I rode in a circle around the parking lot until my cyclocomputer read exactly 100.00 miles. When I run I don't stop at some random distance that perfectly aligns with my car door or driveway. Oh no. I will run past or stop short so my GPS sport watch has a specifically aligned number in American or Metric standards. Running 3.1 miles is acceptable because its a 5k, but  running 3.3 miles is not because it doesn't equate to a quarter, half or full  increment. When doing cardio on a machine it's a debate to stop on a rounded off distance or a rounded off assessment of calories burned. 

Here is photo of a recent day of push ups. Notice those sets are perfectly rounded numbers. I do my pushups in sets to 50 to track them while out and about. When I get home I tally them up on my dry erase board in the kitchen. But always done in sets of 50. You can see that when I finished them up watching tv at home that night. 

I realize that even as difficult as it is to knock out regulation sets throughout the day I am doing myself and my fitness a disservice by conforming to an arbitrary number. It makes adding up the reps in my head easier but my body and mind get to a point where 50 is the expected number and I am putting the result before the effort. 

I have now started to push my repetitions beyond 50 per set. No specific number, just as many as I can do without injury and able to continue with more later in the day. My body is ready for it and my mind is not. The perfect storm for improvement. 

When you think about it, 97 miles is a pretty awesome distance to ride. 8.8 miles is a pretty awesome distance to run. 64 push ups is a pretty awesome number to do all at once. Why add more OCD to my life when the effort provides its own reward? New lesson learned, don't get bogged down in symmetrical distance and repetitions. Just do. Just be. Just act. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

July Fitness Challenge Recap Week 2

Week two went better than I expected with all metrics met or exceeded. If you don't remember the physical challenge I set before me for the month of July, you can read those HERE. And a recap of week one, HERE.  No fancy photos this week I am afraid. I'm impressed I included two hyperlinks in the opening paragraph.

Sit Ups. I always feel like weeks one and two are the easiest, not just physically but mentally.  Doing 200 abdominal repetitions isn't all that difficult and take almost no time. I've been getting by with just a couple different movements to fill this quota. Today starts Week 3 so my reps are now 300 per day. To me 300 a day starts to equal real effort. I need to start adding different ab exercises, doing at least a couple more sets a day. In a couple more weeks I'll be too numb to care if its 300 or 600 reps but today the jump seems to affect me the most. Probably because I have to think about it now. 

Push Ups. No stopping on this one now. The momentum has been created and the body does these automatically. Even if I wanted to I couldn't miss completing all my reps this month.  Yesterday everything seemed to come together and I was able to complete 1,000 repetitions over the course of the day. As I totaled up my numbers for the month I was only 15 away from 6,000 push ups so I completed those just to put a nice fat '6K' on the calendar. I am split on how to end this challenge. My projection is to end on the 25th of the month but mentally I am committed to doing it for the entire month of July. I've done both in the past. 

Running. The weather cooperated with me this week and got most of my runs done outside. A heavy downpour started during one of my runs which allowed me to do one of my favorite things in the world, run in the rain. I stretched out my run by an extra 30 minutes just to enjoy the experience here in the desert. I predicted this would be the hardest of the challenges and its turning out to be true. My legs are not used to day after day of running along with all the other exercises and training. My glutes and hamstrings have been fatigued thus more effort put into stretching and taking care of them. One day last week I was particularly tired and decided to do a mile on my home treadmill just to get it out of the way. After 5 minutes of occasionally putting my feet on the belt but mostly having it roll away between my legs while I was distracted doing three other things, I got seriously P.O.'d with myself, reset the unit and made that mile a true speed test. I don't like half-assing my workouts and hold myself accountable. 

Burpees. I don't treat burpees with any great reverence. I do them and I get them out of the way. I am not scared of them, I don't try to ignore them. We co-exist. I have never liked my form though. I can fairly easily perform a squat thrust and complete my push up (not counted in my other challenge by the way) but bringing my legs back under me I have to constantly work to improve. In my mind to do the exercise correctly when the legs retract both feet are facing forward, knees facing forward, like a gymnast sticking their triple flip from the high bar. For my efforts, my feet plant under me as if I was standing at military attention, heels touching, feet at 45* angles. This forces my knees to shoot out at angles as well. The standing and hop  are as I want. Luckily with the next 78 odd days remaining I will have thousands of opportunities to work on this aspect of my form. How that is different from the last 20 years I have done burpees I have know idea, but perfection is always desired. 

The effort continues. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I won't be defeeted

When it comes to endurance pursuits and most adventures, it comes down to the condition of your feet. Wear a pair of ill fitting or inappropriate footwear and simple walking becomes a chore. Shod your feet correctly but wear the wrong socks, hot spots and blisters are assured. Yet even when you do it correctly, and have the right sock and shoe combination for the job, all you have left to think about is, "How tough are my feet?"

Wearing the perfect footwear, socks, even after market or corrective insoles still can't help our feet if they are not toughened up by repeated abuses. Wearing your perfect foot gear still doesn't address the actual foot in terms of abuse some events put on it with constant movement compounded with hours of being stuffed in wet, muddy, silty, hot constrictive devices.  

(scene from movie Die Hard)
So I am working on toughing my feet. The actual soles of my feet. Regardless of the fact that I am a lifelong hiker and spent a decade of my life in Combat Arms carrying heavy packs in standard issue boots, I am somewhat of a tenderfoot to be honest. I don't usually get blisters or hot spots from my longer runs or events and I am good at changing my socks and treating my feet but my bare feet are still in my opinion soft. I do not ever enjoy walking around outside in my bare feet. Every little pebble is a sharp rock, every twig a thorn. Sand is always too hot. Grass is always to prickly. I will continue to wear some sort of footwear where ever I go, thank you very much. Yes even in the hallways of a carpeted hotel on a lazy vacation. I feel that I have watched Die Hard far too many times. Okay, okay, I don't always were slippers or house shoes in my own home. 

(oh God, no. Creep me out)
This week instead of a WOD of run drills and conditioning, I decided to run a mile barefoot. Nothing fancy, nothing fast, nothing on my feet. I found the absolute greenest, most lush park area of grass in my neighborhood and took off all my clothes below the ankles. I felt naked and exposed. I would have rather ran nude in just my shoes rather than the reverse, which was what I was going to do. 

I can't say I was looking forward to this, by comparison, very short training session. Just run a mile. Slowly even. A 'sing a song ten minute pace'. As I left my shoes and socks in a pile, all alone in the grass, I felt as if I was leaving kids for a one year deployment overseas.

When I finished my mile, my feet were feeling surprisingly fine. I had not stumbled or been jabbed, stabbed, poked, itched, bite by ants or run into any snakes. (Its an irrational thought I know. Honestly and rationally there were no snakes I could have ever run into at the park but it was the same feeling and instinctive thoughts I get whenever I swim at the lake and think to myself, "There are no sharks in here."). I put my footwear back on and headed home. 

A little later, showered and walking around my own house the aching started. The hot spots I picked up but hadn't presented now started to affect me. Crap they started to hurt. It was a good lesson. It was a good workout in that my feet will learn to adapt. Distance be damned I am toughening my feet up. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Juggling 4 Fitness Challenges

To hold myself accountable I will try to post each Monday where I stand in the four challenges I am attempting in July. These are above what my normal workout is for the day. Luckily, two will be completed by the end of the month which will make my daily regime feel less like a part time job going forward. Though it would be pretty cool to be paid to do this all the time. 

The first box is July 1, the last July 8. 
I took the family wall calender in the kitchen and divided each day into four blocks, one per challenge. Clockwise, is my Run for 31 days straight challenge, a 100 Days of Burpees adding one rep per day, 10,000 Push Ups in July averaging 325 per day and finally a Ten Week Ab Challenge doing 100 reps the first week and adding 100 reps each week.  I wrote a more thorough description earlier this month. 

So far so good. I haven't missed any days and on track for all to be done on time. The burpees have not been uncomfortable though if I go too fast my breathing is labored. The abs, which increase a hundred reps today to 200, are the easiest to complete. Push ups I know from experience become an accumulative strain on the upper body and the strategy becomes doing more sets rather than larger rep numbers. 

I still think that the run challenge is going to be the hardest of the to complete. The rest can be done anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Running at least a mile a day involves some planning. 

My normally scheduled training, be it a WOD, cycling, running, Death Race training or hiking is not listed on the calendar. As that never has an end date or need to be tracked for reps or streaks.