Radwagon Ebike Review for a Family

The ebike market is blowing up and, although still very niche, more and more people are beginning to see this them as a valid commuting option. This additional activity has generated articles to continue to pop in up in my news feed, primarily on Mr Money Mustache and StrongTowns but also via twitter and others.

The itch to get into the game has been slowly growing. Starting with looking at pictures of ebikes online and then starting to research building a DIY version. When living in Texas, this seemed like a good solution for our town (Frisco) that was very spread out. I would pull our kids in a trailer to the library every couple months but it was a beat down at 2.5 miles each way. An ebike would have made that easy peasie.

But then we decided to move back to the North East and everything was put on hold. In the Strongtowns sense of living in a smaller, walk-able community it was a great move. The town we moved to has a nice Main Street, our kids can walk to the library and the elementary schools. Even the pool is a manageable one mile bike ride. Even better my commute is an easy 3.3 miles!

In the world of MMM, a three mile commute is a joke but I kept coming up with excuses on why I couldn’t do it. They were all terrible excuses and if they were posted on the site formums, face punches would have abound. Still, after 6 months I still had not biked once. Then someone on the site posted about Rad City’s Ragwagon.

The Radwagon is a cargo-style ebike. Not that I had any idea what a cargo bike was but it’s just like it sounds, a bike designed to carry cargo.

It turns out there are several types of cargo bikes with the two prevalent types being ones that carry their load in the front (usually heavier loads) and those that carry them in the back (called long tails). The Radwagon falls into the later category. It is a long tail but it’s tail is on the shorter end of the standard. Now I’m not expert on riding cargo bikes but I did watch about 20 cargo bike videos on YouTube and the experts seem to feel that the shorter tail improves handling but reduces the maximum payload weight.

Still, the videos of the bike show families carrying one to two family members on the back, mixing adults and children. At this point my mind is racing and I show it to my wife who, to my surprise, said “we should get that”. Even though I had been thinking about an ebike for quite some time, it didn’t seem right to buy a new bike when I had not even ATTEMPTED the super easy three mile commute to my office on a regular bike.

That was really the kick in the butt I needed to get motivated to attempt my office commute so that week I attempted it. And just like the saying goes, the hardest part of the journey was the first step. The commute was even easier and nicer than I thought with the only less than enjoyable part being a little over a mile section on a fairly busy road with a slight hill. Even the hill was shorter and easier to climb that I had originally thought though.

Into the next week, I continued to commute to the office via bike and really enjoyed it but the wife and I continued our conversation about the Radwagon and if it was really worth buying. Still holding the view that the Ragwagon would be more of fun purchase with not a whole lot of functional value but having a wife that told me to buy it, we went ahead and purchased it.

The Radwagon shortly after assembly.

We’re now 60 miles into riding it, almost completely as a family, and I can say that it is one heck of a fun bike. We have put the entire family; wife plus a 4 & 7 year old, right on the back and hooked it up to pull our kids trailer for additional hauling capabilities. The main use is to take kids to the swim club, sports practices, different parks around the town and the grocery store and has become our main method for transporting the children around town. 

The girls are ready to go!

The bike has had more than enough power (750W) to get up to top speed with everyone on back and enough to to make climbing some pretty steep hills pretty easy (although I have also peddled to reduce strain on the motor).

There is no suspension on the bike but the larger tires do a great job of absorbing bumps in the road and I’ve found it very comfortable to ride. Compared to my racing style road bike that I ride to work, the Radwagon feels like riding on clouds. It seems like the bumps are magnified for people riding on the cargo section but that increases the fun for the kids judging by how much they ask for me to go over more bumps. 

The only negative we have notices with the bike is that with my wife on the back, it becomes pretty top heavy, making riding at slow speeds, stopping and starting somewhat of an adventure. I would never recommend putting anyone on the back other than kids unless the driver is a pretty capable bike rider. Even with just the kids, I wouldn’t let my wife drive it with them back there. If she was going to take it out with the kids, she would put them in the trailer and pull them while she rode.

Speaking of which, if you are going to hook up a trailer to it, it’s not a simple switch. I needs to purchase this to make it work. If you have any questions about it, post a comment. 

In summary, if you have any desire to get an ebike for family use, jump on a Radwagon. You’ll get out riding more and hopefully save some money by using your car less!

Confused by Choosing a Supplement?

Sounds so easy right?!?!? It all started because I ran out of my normal Costco vitamins and thought about switching to something better. I thought it would be easy. I mean how hard is it to choose a vitamin?!?!

There were only two hard requirements going in: (a) something that was specific to men’s health and (b) no harmful ingredients. Everything else was open to negotiation.

Doing a quick search and looking at the options on Amazon, GNC, bodybuilder.com, and vitamin.com, I was overwhelmed by the complexity and sheer numbers of options available. Each varied in price, content, and (I’m assuming at this point) quality. Price was the only factor easy to assess as the other two seem to require a doctorate to understand.

Quality is important. I’ve also always been leery of purchasing overly-cheap vitamins or supplements that could contain heavy metals or other dangerous impurities.

What to do?!?!

Cue the research montage. I began digging for articles hopefully reviewing or ranking the top men’s vitamins available. There’s no way this is a new problem. Sadly most of what is out there is garbage. A lot of the “articles” are just aggregators of purchase options (proving affiliate links of course) with little or no detail about the products. The only two decent hits were an article on Men’s Health which was pretty vague and a site called Labdoor.

I had never heard of Labdoor before but it’s pretty cool. Here is information about who they are from their site:

Labdoor is an independent scientific and technology startup. Labdoor’s investors and partners include Rock Health and Mayo Clinic, two top healthcare not-for-profit organizations, along with investments from angel investors like Mark Cuban and leading venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Aberdare

Being skeptical, the next question of course is: how do they make money? Also on their site they they explain they receive a commission from the linked sellers for each sale purchased directly through the site and also through affiliate links. They have a link for every product they review. Hey everyone needs to make money at least they are upfront and honest about how they do.

I have no relationship nor receive any money from Labdoor, only found the site to be extremely helpful and wanted to share. They have categories for multivitamins, multivitamins for men, kids, pre-workout supplements, even information on the best green tea extract. If they don’t have a ranking for what you’re looking for, you probably shouldn’t be taking it.

Not only are there rankings but for each product reviewed they offer specific information on it’s Label Accuracy, Product Purity, Nutritional Value, Ingredient Safety, and Projected Efficacy.

The information is detailed including, for example, any ingredients on watchlists for being potentially harmful are specifically listed. It does get a little confusing how these affect rankings however. Per Laboor’s CEO “… we do not treat all watchlist ingredients equally. We take into account the overall body of evidence for and against an ingredient like AceK and try to project the overall health risk. In this example, we have AceK coded as a moderate risk (better than saccharin, worse than sucralose).”

Since they form their own ranking on what is most harmful (which is not shared on the site), the rankings become a little more opaque. That’s okay though. Labdoor lists every ingredient on the watchlist for each product so you can make your own decisions. I’m just pointing this out in case so you don’t just go by the rankings blindly.

The site was beyond helpful for me and thanks to the information posted on on the site I changed my originally selected vitamin from MET-Rx Active Man to the Rainbow Light Men’s One due to Labdoor’s higher ranking of label accuracy (meaning it actually contained what it stated) and ingredient safety. And per serving, the Rainbow light was much cheaper ($0.17/serving vs. $0.37).

Definitely check out the site and look at what you’re taking. It might be really good but there might be something better out there.

8 Reasons to Do a Triathlon

Triathlon may be the most un-financially responsible ways to get into or stay in shape. According to USA Triathlon’s 2014 annual survey, the average triathlete spent over $4,000 in the past twelve months on bikes, race fees, bike equipment, footwear, nutritional supplements! Good thing the average athlete also makes over $126,000 per year.

With costs so high, why does anyone choose to participate in such a sport when there are so many other cheaper ways to exercise?

For some, it may start with catching the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on television. The event and the produced event they televise can be truly captivating and capture the imagination. Once captured, the imagination can create an aura around the sport of triathlon as a whole where people are willing to change their entire lives to achieve the goal of completing one.

Competing one then becomes a status symbol, a bragging right, to their friends and everyone they meet. There’s a saying among Ironmen (that is the longest distance triathlon consisting of a 2.2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile swim), asking how can you tell if someone is an Ironman? You don’t need to, they will tell you.

But it’s not just the super long distances that inspire. People who have finished any distance triathlon share that pride. Considering that the average age of a triathlete is 38 years old, most the athletes completing these races are people with families and full time jobs. The planning and dedication required to train for three sports while also meeting these other primary, more important needs is staggering.

Athletes will tell you that one of the best things that came out of competing and training was the increase in productivity they were able to accomplish. Training for three sports while holding down a job and a family forces you to make sure every minute counts. Eliminating unproductive time becomes a priority.

Given the scheduling demands training places on the athletes, it’s also no surprise that the sport is dominated by driven Type-A personalities. These are usually successful professionals and entering the triathlon world and regional training clubs puts you in a social circle with like minded individuals. Other than good conversation, this can provide valuable network opportunities and I’m sure is at least a partial motivation for some rookie athletes.

Although logistically challenging, training for three sports brings variety into training that many athletes either need or simply desire.

Push your personal boundaries.

If you’re comfortable you’re not growing as a person. A triathlon can test who you are as a person, putting you outside what you’re normally comfortable doing and help you grow your mental strength. The starting line alone is a test of mettle as you prepare for the gun to go off. Having done dozens of triathlons over the years, I still find it hard to line up and wait for that gun to go off but each time I do it prepares me for my next business presentation or meeting.

Variety.

This is probably the number one reason people get into triathlons. They either become bored training for one sport or worse, injuries drive them into it. Training for three sports can help ease the stress training for just one sport can put on your body as the same muscles are not used every day. It can also help mentally since if you feel burned out of one sport, you can change your plan for the day and do something else. The weekly volume periodization is more important than the order so there can be some flexibility of you just feel like running two days in a row or your body is so beat up you just need to swim.

Be role model.

Training for and achieving goals can provide valuable guidance for your children. Most parenting books will agree that it’s not what you say that matters to your children, it’s what you do. Training and racing triathlons provides a valuable role model for your children that remaining health and in shape is valuable. You can’t have a healthy mind without a healthy body.

Improve your health.
The benefits of exercise are too numerous to list here. It does everything from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure to improving mental resiliency. Not a day goes by that new medical research comes out with a new benefit exercise offers. Some of the more hippy-ist journals are starting to make mention that exercise should be “prescribed” by doctors because the benefit are so great (these same journals like to theorize that there is a conspiracy that it’s not because big pharma can’t make money off that).

Less stress.
As mentioned about, the benefits of exercise go beyond just physical benefits and reach into the mind and soul. Exercise can reduce stress, improve mood, and if you tend to have an addictive personally provide a ln outlet for that. These benefits can be so great that prescription medicines are sometimes not needed.

Lose Weight.

This is obvious given the above benefits to your health but the increased training volume normally associates with doing triathlons will help with weight loss (although you still can’t out train a poor diet). The results will be a better looking body that will make clothes fit better. Much like with your diet though, if you’re personality sucks, results of your new body on members of the opposite sex may vary.

More energy.

Since you’ve been burning so much energy getting your healthier, less stressed, and sleeker body you many think you’re not going to have as much energy for other things in life. This is not the case! With increased fitness comes more energy. You’ll still need to focus on recovery and getting enough sleep but throughout the day you’ll feel energized to do more at work and with your family.

More productive.

We discussed the scheduling demands that training for three sports can place on your left but once you see what can be done with your 168 hours in each week you’ll be amazed. Your new found scheduling skills will carry over into the rest of your life. Soon you’ll be accomplishing more that you ever thought possible making each minute matter. New importance will be placed on minimizing downtime and transition time. You’ll become acutely aware of each minute wasted in traffic and may even be inspired to finally look for that job closer to home that you know you should have been doing a long time ago.

Now go sign up and get out there!!

 

 

Handstand Pushups are Stupid

Captain obvious has finally landed and crapped on me. Until this point, my ego has blinded me.

My box’s workout today was a hero WOD called JT:

For Time:
21-15-9 Reps
Handstand push-ups
Ring dips
Push-ups

It took me over year to get my first HSPUs so whenever HSPUs are in a workout, I feel obliged to attempt them and hopefully get better at the movement. And I know it’s dumb. The movement itself is dumb. Trying to do it as I approach 40 is dumb.

Everyone says so, the best CrossFit podcast in the world: The Wodcast Podcast (wodcastpodcast.com, @wodcastpodcast) is always railing against how stupid these fucking things are.

I’ve already pinched nerves in my neck three times in the past doing these things…

But today I sit at my desk not able to move my neck because I decided to do these stupid things.

I’m done with HSPUs.

That is all.

(any post is a good excuse to post the beautiful Alex Parker doing anything though)

Where are the CrossFit Progressions?!?!

In the last fitness post, one of CrossFit’s weaknesses was reviewed: the lack of periodization in CrossFit. But the sport is also wanting in another area: progressions. What I mean by progressions is providing a roadmap to gain new skills.

Usually when a CrossFitter lacks a certain skill, such as muscle ups, the coach (who I believe are mostly well intended and awesome) give the athlete a few drills to work on. These can be as simple as doing sets of ring rows to acquire the requisite strength to start doing pull-ups or doing knee push-ups on the way to doing full push-ups. Some coaches are better than others and most are better equipped to provide progressions for the simpler skills since these are often what they see for beginner athletes and therefore encounter the situation over and over again as new members are constantly joining.

The athlete is then left to determine how much of the drill to do. Either the drill will work or the athlete is stuck. Sometimes, the frustrated athlete will decide to work on a different skill(s) getting stronger overall in the process and the original skill being focused on will magically happen. Or it won’t.

What the sport needs is a more formal progression roadmap. I have yet to see a CrossFit coach put together a multi-week program to get the athlete to a point they can do the skill. Finding a guide on how long to do each progression or a yardstick to measure if they have acquired enough strength to move on to the next step of the progression does not exist.

For athletes without a gymnastic background, which includes about 99.5% of all guys and 80% of all women**, the best single book to read is Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength.

So far, it’s the only book I have read that actually provides a progression for the complex CrossFit movements revolving around gymnastics. The book explains each gymnastic movement in literally graphic detail including diagrams and pictures for each, explaining the strength requirements to perform. It even provides a letter grade ranking the difficulty of the movement. Each movement is explained in enough detail for the book to pass for a college text book, which I’m sure it is if you’re studying exercise philosophy. If you plan to carry this book around, go for the digital version of the book; your back will thank you.

Not that the entire book is over the top with detail, the appendixes provide simplified charts to aid in focusing on weaker movements and provide guidance on moving forward (these start on page 519 of the book). Then they even have a page at the end titled How to Construct A Workout Routine In One Page. Talk about making it easy! I wish a book like this existed for everything I wanted to do in life.

Back to CrossFit though; the lack of a skill roadmap will hurt the sport of CrossFit in the long term as frustrated athletes leave because they are not progressing. Frustrated, they will instead find other more established sports such as running, where many, many books and other guidance material has been published to help get the athlete from a beginner to a veteran without having to figure it all out on their own.

Eventually as CrossFit matures, this will all figure itself out.  More and more people will participate and decide to write about their successes and failures. As they do, it will create the missing road map and form the foundation of sport’s pyramid. Trial and error combined with passionate participants will fill in the lack of initial progression theory in the sport.

Right now the higher level, regional athletes & pros already understand general CrossFit programming will not get them to the next level. They fill in this gap with progression programming provided by sports specific coaches such as gymnastic and swimming coaches. These coaches come from a long history of training progressions for their specific sport and are experiences in passing along these skills.  

Most day-to-day CrossFit athletes don’t have the time, money nor the desire for this. At this level, they blame the local coaching or programming for their lack of progression when what they really need is to educate themselves on the proper progressions for the skills the are lacking. The singles best option for them to do that would be to read Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength.

**95% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

 

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Periodization in CrossFit

 

When it comes to endurance training, the bible was written by one Mr. Joe Friel. And by bible, we’re talking about the The Triathlete’s Training Bible. Although the title says “triathlete”, it’s really the single best starting point to get into ANY endurance sports or build a training plan.

Joe does a fantastic job explaining the key concept of periodization which in its simplest form is breaking down your training into segments to focus on different things.

The book provides a solid foundation for athletes to either properly evaluate training plans written by your coaches or to create your own. Fair warning though, if you are interested in only the basics the book goes well beyond this as about a third of the book is about periodization. If you read the book, you’ll soon find yourself in the deep rabbit hole analyzing heart rates, training loads, recovery, acquiring the proper mental edge needed to race and so much more.

Periodization is in stark contrast to my other favorite sport, CrossFit, that at least at the local box level, seems to emphasize a complete lack of periodization. It instead sells itself as preparing the athletes for the “unknown and unknowable”. Sounds great but the athletes themselves get frustrated after a few years when they plateau and get stuck at a certain skill level.

At the higher level, there has been recognition of this issue. Even CrossFit HQ has presented the issue in a nice article Periodizing for the Games By Ben Bergeron where Ben comments “We’re no longer training for the unknown and unknowable. We’re no longer training for ‘a constant, ready state,’” adding: “We know when game day is. It’s the middle of July.” July is the date of the CrossFit Games, the sport’s highest level event. This is what most people see on ESPN and envision when they hear CrossFit.

With that revelation, a bridge can be built between random WOD programming and Friel’s periodization principles. Although not citing Friel, Bergeron proposes a simple block periodization training plan:

August: rest and recovery.
September and October: strength.
November and December: speed strength.
January: solely dedicated to weaknesses.
February and March: met-cons.
April and May: Regional prep.
June and July: Games prep.

This is what most serious – ie regional and games athletes, are and have been doing for some time. There are articles online dating back to 2009 outlining the need for periodization.

The average CrossFitter seems to have their head in the sand about periodization though. They expect the local box’s year round programming to have programming that will magically make them continuously better and heading towards being closer to a regional level competitor. I think most of them are crazy to foster any dream they will ever be regional level but I can understand their desire to constantly improve.

The local box however is not training games athletes.

The average box sets a fitness program for the mass public and is not set up to have athletes “peak”. They can’t follow a periodization schedule to make everyone at the gym happy. I’m assuming that over half of the average box is just interested in general fitness.  

For an informed athlete (like someone reading this), the solution to the lack of progression is fairly easy but it requires doing something other than just showing up to the box six days a week and doing classes.

Adding a periodized weight training plan concurrent with the box training plan, where they do the periodized weight training plan for 2-3 days a week using Bergeron’s focus areas, will take the average athlete a long way towards training for their Open goals. I’m very lucky because at our box that we have a weight training specialist who writes custom programs and it’s included in our dues (the high dues that they are).

If the coaches at your box won’t write a program for you, all is not lost. There are some super-simple programs out there to help build strength that are free as well. One I’ve tried in the past is GetStrong. There are a limited number of movements with some simple periodization but the site even provides an excel calculator to really dumb it down. If you want more detail on the program, you can even go the extra mile and read the entire explanation book, Get Strong: How to build strength & lift double your bodyweight. Working this program in will not get you to the games but replacing some WODs with this strength program during the September/October periodization phase will take you a long way.

Another super simple weight training progression program that can be used is the Wendler 5/3/1 program. It’s been around a while and there are several good articles on the internet about it but if you need a quick link to one, go here. There is also a very good iOS calculator for your iPhone called Wendler Calculator By Daniel Ohrlund. I used the phone version for about six months and hit my best ever back squat.

I still prefer the training programs written by our coach because they tend to focus more on the Olympic lifts which I need all the help I can get at but this year I plan to use one of the basic plans for the first period to improve raw strength and then move to his programming for the speed strength period.  

Education and planning appear to be issues for the average CFer but they have a bigger issue that comes even before that. Most don’t know what they actually want to do. The targeted peak date of July is probably not realistic. Should it be rolled forward to the Open since most CFers will be stopping there? Should it be the Regional date since even that would be a stretch goal?

While doing triathlons, it was easy to mark the “A” race on the calendar and build a plan moving backwards from that but CFers want to peak all year with no downtime. This maybe the single largest reason they are not progressing.

Although it could also be the lack of progressions in CrossFit training….

(that’s called a cliff hanger)

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A 5K Training Plan built on “Power Speed ENDURANCE” Principles

The first time I read Power Speed ENDURANCE: A Skill-Based Approach to Endurance Training by Brian MacKenzie was when I was a strict triathlete (AKA pre-CrossFit) and although the book was a good read – I hailed from the endurance camp known as long slow distance (LSD) so immediately dismissed the book as gimmicky. The book attempts to dismissed the notion that high training volume is needed to be a competitive endurance athlete, instead it stresses that intensity is key in much the same way as CrossFit does (I’m not sure of the history but Brian MacKenzie subsequently started CrossFit Endurance with these principles).  

Then I started doing CrossFit and began toying with the idea of trying CrossFit and triathlons at the same time.

That took me back to this book and reread it.

The book touches on almost every training aspect in the endurance world: strength, running, swimming, biking, and mobility teaching. Not just building a plan but attempting to teach each of them as a skill. As a former swimmer, this jives with the old notion that fitness is technique practiced.

The book isn’t crazy technical however and many hard core athletes may find it too basic but it provides a good foundation and some actionable items for each area to enhance everyone’s training.

Using this book and some templates I found online, I prepared the following workout plan to prepare a PR attempt at a 5K:

Week 1

Monday: WOD (here and with all the WODs below, I just used the class at my CrossFit and did the prescribed workout there so there was no correlation to the 5K goal)
Tuesday: 8 x 200m w/ 2 min rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 2 x 800m w/ 3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 5k Time Trial (TT)

Week 2

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 10 x 200m w/ 2 min rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 3-4 x 800m w/ 3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 5k @ 85% of 5k TT pace from Week 1

Week 3

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 10-12 x 200m w/ 90 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 4-5 x 800m w/ 2:30 rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 5 miles(M) @ 5k pace from Week 1

Week 4

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 4 x 400m w/ 2 min rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 3 x 1000m w/ 3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 10k Time Trial (TT)

Week 5

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 6 x 400m w/ 2 min rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 6 x 800m TT’s w/ 5 min rest…(This means SPRINT!)
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 5k @ 10k TT pace from Week 4

Week 6

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 6 x 400m w/ 90 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 2 x 200m w/90 esc rest, 2 x 400m w/ 2 min rest, 2 x 1000m w/ 3 min rest
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 7 mile (M) @ 10k TT pace from Week 4

Week 7

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 6 x 400m w/ 90 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 4 x 1000m w/ 2-3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 10 mile (M) Time Trial (TT)

Week 8

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 4 x 200m w/ 60 sec rest, 4 x 400m w/ 90 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 4 x 4 min efforts w/ 3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 5k @ 10 M TT pace from Week 7

Week 9

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 6 x 400m TT’s…w/ 3-4min rest…(This means SPRINT!)
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 5 x 4 min efforts w/ 3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 2 x 5k @ 90% of 5k TT pace from Week 1

Week 10

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 8 x 300m w/ 60 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 3 x 1200m w/ 2-3 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 10k Time Trial (TT)

Week 11

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 5 x 400m w/ 60 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 2 x 1 mile (M) w/ 5 min rest…
Friday: WOD
Sat or Sun: 3 x 5k @ 10k TT pace from Week 10 w/ 5-10 min rest…

Week 12

Monday: WOD
Tuesday: 6 x 400m w/ 60 sec rest…
Wednesday: WOD
Thursday: 3 x 1 mile (M) w/ 5 min rest…
Friday: Rest
Sat or Sun: 5k – 15k TT depending on length of upcoming event (test race day fuel sources if using any)

So how did it go? Mixed.

I missed the PR by about 1:30 (time realized was 19:40 verse a PR of 18:05) but there was some positives. 

Why didn’t I PR? The CrossFit.

Since beginning CrossFit and giving up my all-in training for triathlons, I’ve put on about 20 pounds. Let’s just say that’s all “muscle”, I honestly think that most of it is but it’s still weight that needs to be carried around and messes up your power to weight ratio. If you want to be truly competitive in the endurance world, sports specificity remains relevant as does keeping your weight low which, at least for me, it much harder while doing CrossFit. There is a quote by Tyler Hamilton in The Secret Race that to be more competitive, he would rather lose a pound than do EPO (a performance enhancing drug). I’m not sure if that is actually a fact but he believed it. 

On the plus (not talking weight here) side, I had a lot more fun going through the training program than doing purely running plans in the past. And at some point enjoyment of the training has to be a factor or it’s going to be impossible to stay with any plan. Also, what is the point? I’m not going pro at any of this so I want to have fun.

I don’t know if would use this method to really train for long course events but I think it’s a great plan for short races. I also messed around with a more informal plan that mixed in each triathlon discipline twice a week to train for a sprint tri. Again, I was somewhat disappointed by the results but the training was enjoyable.

After the CrossFit Open ends again I’m going to give this training plan another shot to get back into running shape and go from there.

Either way, read Power Speed ENDURANCE: A Skill-Based Approach to Endurance Training by Brian MacKenzie and get a different perspective on endurance training. Go to your local library and borrow it or if you prefer to waste money and own books, it can be purchased here from Amazon here (and that would help support this blog!).

 

Is the CrossFit Open a community building event or a games selection event?

 

Being a slightly above average CrossFitter for three years now, the CrossFit Open and I have a complicated relationship. It is has both been a source of motivation and frustration. The first year, it motivated me to do my first double thanks to the increased pressure of a competition and someone right there judging me. The second year, 2015, however the open was an extremely frustrating experience.

Due to complaints that some athletes who do well in the open fail to perform at those same levels at the regionals (because the open stresses low-skill high cardio movements whereas the regionals test high strength for shorter durations), CrossFit decided in 2015 to create two separate divisions, a scaled division for the everyday CrossFitter and a Rx division for the competitors hoping to make it to regionals.

What that took away from the Open was the feeling that every CrossFitter had a chance to compete against the top people to see where they stacked up. A lot of what I’ll call participation sports;  running, triathlons, weightlifting, jiujitsu (and the variations), cycling, rowing – sports where a majority of the revenue is derived from people actually participating in it, have some aspect of competitions or “opens” where even the beginner has a chance to compete against the pros.  

This is contrast to sports like baseball, football, basketball where a major of the revenue in comes from viewership (primarily through television dollars). In these sports the trend is not have a chance to compete against the top athletes and in most, it’s hard to even interact with them.

As of right now, a majority of the revenue generated seems to be generated from participation fees either by members joining affiliates (CrossFit is privately held so information is difficult to find but here is a good article on the speculated numbers) – funneled back to CrossFit HQ via affiliate fees or by paying to participate in CrossFit-like event.This would put in in the participation sports camp although it could be trying to build its future model after golf which seems to be squarely in the middle.

Why does it matter?

Participation sports growth is driven by the participants, they need to believe in the dream and sell it to other people (think about the endless stream of marathon stickers you see on the back of cars). If the CrossFit open becomes strictly a selection process for the regionals and therefore the games, it will begin the lose the appeal of the everyday CrossFitter and soon they will detach from the dream. When that happens, they will be a lot more likely to move to other dreams and take the growth with it.

So back to golf. For golf, the middle area seemed to work well for quite some time – namely during the rise of the Tiger Woods phenomenon. Tigers mass appeal (at least then) sparked growth for the sport for many years but with Tiger on the decline the story is less rosy. According this article by Forbes and many others, the sport is in a state of decline. And CrossFit does not have any decade long starts that it can hang its hat on. Rich Fronning is phasing out and the people behind him have not generated much star appeal. For CrossFit to hope for the golf model to pan out seems overly optimistic when it hasn’t even worked out for golf itself.

Random aside:

If you’re looking to relate this all back to business and money as well, you can read this piece on Inc.com called What Failing at the CrossFit Games Can Teach You About Success.

 

Organizing a Half Marathon

13.1A friend of mine decided to start a charitable trust and one of the trust’s first events is to organize a half marathon, the longest endurance race to date in the town I live in. God bless him for deciding to do this and raise money for charity (the primary benefactor is the Tug McGraw Foundation).

Although a fit and active guy, he did not have much experience in the endurance world so he reached out to me since I’ve done more than my share of races, 5Ks, marathons, ironmen, ect. Then he took it one step further and suckered me into helping him under the guise of providing the “racer perspective”. I told him upfront that I have no idea what actually goes on behind the scenes of actually running a race but he convinced me to him anyway. My specific task is to help run the Finish Fest area – the part of the race it happens immediately after the runners finished the race.

This race is shaping up to be pretty big deal but I am utterly amazed by the lack of experience everyone on the board has running races and what they are able to accomplish anyway. So I have begun talking to people and scouring the internet. What I have learned so far is:

  • There are several companies online that sell race management software. The most well know is Active.com which has a nice article called How to Organize Your First Race which at first seems to provide a nice overview of the process but when you dig into it, the goal is really to sell their own proprietary race management software. A competitor of Active is Race Entry which also has a similar overview article called How to Organize a 5K. You’ll have to gauge if going the software path is the right path for you.
  • So assuming you’re not going the paid software route, what I have decided to do is start a checklist. The goal is to outline every single task you think might need to be accomplished to make my task go off without a hitch. My portion is only the Finisher Fest but if you need a good checklist to use as an example for an entire race, check this out.
  • People and connections are the most important part. You had better be on the phone talking to people, emailing, making as many new friends in this area as you can. If this is hard for you, you’re really going to struggle. It’s not my favorite thing to do but I’m enjoying this reason to work on my skills.

The race planning is still in its infancy but I am getting a bit of good luck in that the sponsorship committee has a lot of talented people from the town to gather up sponsors and vendors so they are filling in most of my vendor requirements for the finisher fest without much work from me. My main responsibility is securing the tents, allowing for their arrangement, and ensuring there is enough post race food and water. Wow, that does seem like a lot more now that I just typed it!

We’ll see if I F this up and updates will be posted either way.