…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

Archive for November, 2011

Road to Ironman: Day 1

Yesterday was the first training day on my road to Ironman Florida 2012 (3 November 2012).  Day 1 of 400–399 days to go.  I kicked it off with 200m repeats at the local high school track.

The last day of my 2011 season was the day of my Augusta 70.3.  Since then I’ve been in a serious recovery mode.  I suspected, and now definitely realize, that I was severely over-trained post-Augusta–Potentially, on the road to chronic fatigue.  My weight going into the race had plummeted to levels I haven’t seen since I was actually starving.  Post race, I couldn’t get enough sleep for weeks, and my weight only creeped up following the race, despite very low training volumes.

However, I think I have definitely gotten past the over-trained state.  Recently my weight has picked up significantly, a sign my body is ready to train again.

I’ve been reading Tim Ferris’s newest read The Four Hour Body, and will be incorporating some of the ideas he presents in this coming year.  We’ll see how that comes along.  Namely:

  • The slow carb diet
  • My modified version of the the 5k to 50k program, and
  • Polyphasic sleep

On top of that I’ll be maintaining my strength program, and going into a 20 week program for the final push going into November.

Between now and the New Year will be a strength and conditioning phase.  Yesterday, my power cleans just exceeded my pre-Augusta levels (after 3 weeks).  My power lifts (squat, deadlift, and incline bench) are also back up to pre-Augusta levels, although it took 5 weeks for those.

With the New Year, I will begin Basing, and will divide the time between then and November equally into Basing, Speed, and Race Specific phases.

It should be interesting.  I am super excited.



Comments welcome below.  Also, find my on Twitter.




Now That’s a Riot!

Saw this on SillyReverie’s site

The OWS objectors may want to rethink attempts to minimize or dismiss the protests and their gripes.

Tell me what you think. . .

Running Shoe Ruminations (to this point)

Orange Vibram Five Finger KSo Trek minimalist running shoes

I recently read a post by balancedcleveland on her disappointing new running shoes and reflected on my own running shoe progression, and ongoing barefoot running transition.  For the few years, I’ve been progressing towards barefoot running.  I was initially inspired by an article I read in Men’s Health magazine by Ted MacDougal.  Still not quite there.

Old pair of Nike Free 5.0 ultralight running shoes

my original Nike Free 5.0

My initial impulse was to give a long description of my barefoot running journey, but I’ll limit this to my shoe selections–with a better debrief on the whole experience in a later post.

Historically, I buy the lowest cost, quality running shoes I can find.  This is an odd set of criteria, but cost is a major factor.  As a result, I’ve never had any real running shoe convictions or consistent experiences.

However, with my interest in barefoot running (an its connection to warriorship),  I’ve taken a decided turn.  I still do search out clearance items, though.

My first move was to switch to ultra-light running shoes.  At the time Nike Frees were still fairly novel, actually not selling too well, and hard to find retail, but I found a pair on clearance.  Running in those required a major change in my running stride.  No details here, but I will say take the recommendations about to working up to running in  ultra-lights and minimalist shoes seriously.  I took the progression seriously, and it still required some time to adjust.

pair of Zoot light weight triathlon running shoes

my Zoot lightweights

Shortly after, I found a pair of Zoot running shoes at Marshall’s.  Whereas, the Zoots were not technically ultra-light, they were, let’s say, very light.  Additionally, they are designed specifically for triathlon racing, with special modifications for the bike to run transition.  These have proven very handy in sprint distance triathlons (see my Georgia Vets Sprint Triathlon report).

My first pair of Nike Frees finally became super-stinky and nasty after a week of canyon running at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas–brutal runs, by the way. So, I found another pair of Frees.  The Frees had become popular as a style statement amongst non-runners, and were now more easily found in retail shops (also at regular retail price.) I was able to find an out-of-the-box pair for a discount.  Those shoes are still in service.

newer model of black Nike Free 5.0 ultralight running shoes

my updated pair of Nike Free 5.0's

In fact, all three pairs of ultra-lights are still in service.  As I mentioned to balancedcleveland, I severely question the typical 30o mile guideline for replacing running shoes.  I find that 300 miles comes awfully quick, especially when training for longer distances.

I have repurposed each pair.  My first, rather stinky pair, I keep at my office, for those days when I need to go run, have brought my shorts, gym bag, but have forgotten my shoes (I guess that only happens to me), or those days when the weather is already particularly nasty.  My second pair, I ran with  recently in the Augusta 70.3 Half-Ironman, and now use for cross training & gym workouts.   The Zoots I use in shorter distance races, where the zip-ties and other tri-specific features are especially helpful for quick transition times.

Orange Vibram Five Finger KSo Trek minimalist running shoes

my current "minimalist" running shoes

I now have a new pair of shoes.  A few months ago I bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger KSO Treks.  (I found them on clearance from REI, hence the wacky orange color.)  Again, it took a train-up period to adjust to running in them.  My calves were smoked for about three weeks.  I dropped my mileage way down, and rebuilt about one mile or so per run.  I’m still sort of adjusting.  I did not race Augusta 70.3 in them.  I trained  in them, but went to my Nike Frees for the race.  The 70.3 was a new distance for me.  That distance run off the bike was too big of an unknown, and I didn’t want to chance it.  Turns out, that was the right choice.

Alas, I am not quite barefoot running yet.  But I am almost.


— Jalal

Your comments are very welcome.  Also, please find me on Twitter @Old454.

The Game is So Much More Than a Game

natasha kai u.s. women's soccer national team celebrates after a goal on the road to the 2008 Olympics

Natasha Kai, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

Sometimes the game is just a game.  Sometimes the game is so much more than a game.

This soccer season closed out with three ‘W’s for the weekend for our family.  My philosophy and approach is that winning is a secondary goal.  An eventual by-product of training the fundamentals.  Also, particularly in the younger age groups, a coach can win games, but not develop his players.  This has the near-term feel good payoff of bragging rights, but as the kids grow, if their skills don’t grow as well, they’ll be left behind.  The memories of those wins will fade, and they’ll fall out of the sport.

This isn’t some new-age, feel-good, self-esteem, non-competitive mumbo-jumbo.  I’m hyper-competitive.  I reel emotionally for days after a less-than stellar result (let alone a loss.)   This is a cognitive view developed from years of competition, and understanding what the real goal is.

It is critical, above most else, that the kids learn to love the sport.  This love is developed through positive reinforcement, encouragement, and a sense of mastery.  It is essential they feel that they, themselves, are actually mastering the sport or skill set.  Simply being a one-dimensional cog in a winning machine is not enough to hold them.  I’ve seen plenty of these teams dominate in early years, only to become irrelevant when the game advances.  Pick your sport, this is the case across the board.

After all the player development and fundamentals, sometimes you and your players just need a good old-fashioned Win to validate my your stance.   My girls closed the season out with that win.

It’s a pretty simple thing.  We work primarily on individual skills, we do some small-sided work.  We do very little set-play work, minimal team tactical work.  Plenty of time for heavy tactics later.  I know this approach will help the girls develop.  However, it is risky.  They are encouraged to take chances.  I play them out of their comfort zone.  There is a cost sometimes on game day.   We have wins, losses, and draws.  We improve against teams game-over-game.  My approach sometimes struggles in a world of wins and losses.

This weekend the girls started out flat, and we got behind.  I struggled to find the right adjustments and substitutions, but we were fairly far behind in the second half.  Finally something clicked.  I got the combination right.  More importantly, the girls started actually applying their fundamentals.  They started executing their 2v2 and 3v3 situations.  They started using their skills.  They made passes to the right spots.  They started scoring.  The successes encouraged them.  The opposing coaches scrambled.  They subbed.  They swapped out the whole front line.  My girls brought the score even.

The last (winning) goal was a free kick, a perfect kick.  Over the top of the wall, just under the cross-bar.  A set play.  Not a set play we practiced ad nauseam, but fundamentals we practiced ad nauseam, then executed, under pressure, at the whistle, in the last game of the season  (In this case striking fundamentals.)

In the end, the Win came from the fundamentals.  Validation.

Sometimes the game is so much more than just a game.



Find me on twitter

Please comment below.


Triple Nickle — 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion

555th Parachute Infantry Battalion logo--depicts panther atop a T10 parachute

555th Parachute Infantry Battalion unit patch

In honor of Veterans Day, I thought I would post some info, or really a list of links about the Triple Nickle Airborne Battalion, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, an all-black airborne infantry (paratrooper) unit from the World War II era.  They were later integrated into the 82d Airborne Division.

I posted an image of the 24th Infantry Regiment (one of the original four Buffalo Soldier units) earlier, a photo I took during a visit to the Infantry Museum in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Regardless of your feelings about war and militarism, many groups have paid high prices in service of the United States, yet have had they’re memory relegated and marginalized.  It is a terrible insult added to injury.  I will try to post information on these groups periodically, as it relates to my personal interests.

Whereas I’m not personally aware of any family members who served in the Triple Nickle, my ancestors have fought and bled for this country since 1745.  In that vein, Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day, for that matter, hold a special significance in my heart, even if it’s not your run-of-the-mill style patriotism.

E. Mann: Joining the Triple Nickels – Part 1

555th Paratrooper / Atlanta Chapter #4 Rudy Cohen — gives a more detailed history of what happened to the Triple Nickle soliders after the unit was disbanded in 1950.


Find me at Twitter.com/Old454

Comment and Share below, please.

9 mindfulness rituals — by Leo Babauta

Visit Leo’s original post on Zen Habits website . . .

9 Mindfulness Rituals to Make Your Day Better

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist monk

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Are you simply moving through your day, without fully living?

I did this for many years. It was as if life were just passing by, and I was waiting for something to happen. I always felt like I was preparing for something later.

But today isn’t preparation for tomorrow. Today’s the main event.

Fully live today by being mindful. I realize this is easier said than done — mindfulness is a habit that’s not easily picked up. And so I’ve decided to share with you some of my favorite mindfulness rituals to help you appreciate every moment.

You don’t need to do all of these, but give a few of them a try to see if they make your day better.

Mindfulness Rituals

Ritual isn’t about doing a routine mindlessly. It’s a way of building something good into your life, so that you don’t forget what’s important. Done mindfully, a ritual can remind you to be conscious. Done mindlessly, a ritual is meaningless.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Sit in the morning. When you wake up, in the quiet of the morning, perhaps as your coffee is brewing, get a small cushion and sit on the floor. I will often use this opportunity to stretch, as I am very inflexible. I feel every muscle in my body, and it is like I am slowly awakening to the day. I’ll also just sit, and focus on my breathing going in and out. I’m an absolute beginner when it comes to meditation, but this always starts my day right.

2. Brush your teeth. I assume we all brush our teeth, but often we do it while thinking of other things. Try fully concentrating on the action of brushing, on each stroke of each tooth, going from one side of the mouth to the other. You end up doing a better job, and it helps you realize how much we do on autopilot.

3. Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV, put away the computer and mobile devices, even put away the book or newspaper. If you eat with any of these things (most people do), eating without them will seem boring. And yet, unless you do this, you are not truly appreciating your food. I like eating my oats (with nuts and berries — see my diet) mindfully, paying attention to each bite. It makes the food taste better, and I eat slowly and with gratefulness.

4. Wash your bowl. When you’re done eating, wash your dish immediately. Do it while paying full attention to your washing, to the water and suds. Read more.

5. Drink tea. There’s something ancient about the tea ceremony — and when you drink tea as a mindfulness ritual, you’re connecting with millions of others who have done so over the centuries. Make your own tea ceremony — prepare the tea carefully and mindfully, pour it slowly, sip it with thoughtfulness. See if you can set aside one time each day to do this, and it will transform your day.

6. Walk slowly. I like to take breaks from work, and go outside for a little walk. Walk slowly, each step a practice in awareness. Pay attention to your breathing, to everything around you, to the sounds and light and texture of objects.

7. Read in silence. Find a quiet time (mornings or evenings are great for me), and a quiet spot, and read a good novel. Have no television or computers on nearby, and just immerse yourself in the world of the novel. It might seem contradictory to let your mind move from the present into the time of the novel, but it’s a great practice in focus. Also, I love a good novel more than almost anything else.

8. Look at someone gratefully. Each day, find someone you care about. Instead of just seeing what you always see, really look at the person. Try not to do it creepily. See this person for the miracle that she is, and be grateful for her existence. If you’re feeling generous, tell that person how thankful you are for her.

9. Work with focus. Start your workday by choosing one task that will make a big difference in your work, and clearing everything else away. Just do that one task, and don’t switch to other tasks. Single-tasking is a great way to find focus. Increase your Monk Mind.

These rituals aren’t the only time you should be mindful, but they’re great reminders. Today, try a few of them to fully live and fully appreciate this wonderful day.




Registered for Ironman Florida 2012!!

Ironmna Florida Logo I am officially registered to compete in Ironman Florida 2012!

It’s somewhat surreal committing to such a big event a full 12 months out.

That is all.