Sporty Clobber Reviews

I’ve been sent an assortment of sporty clobber to review this spring. Here are the highlights.

Specialized Echelon Helmet

Cycleplan sent me a new Specialized helmet to review this month. I’ve had my original Giro helmet for years and was quite happy with it although I’d been struggling to get a good fit in the last few months. The foam padding must have lost much of its volume and the straps were resisting further tightening with the result being a decidedly loose and wobbly helmet.

Specialized ExchelonAll this added to the contrast when I tried on the new Specialized Echelon helmet. There is a ratchet closure on the back of the helmet which you engage with an easy access dial. This tightens and loosens the plastic cage that rests on your head ensuring a really snug fit. You can amend it while riding if you have an unexpected big hair day and I am already completely sold on this added flexibility.

I’ve used it everyday for the last month and love it. It’s light, feels secure and has managed to keep my head reasonably dry through these horrendous storms we’ve been having. I’m impressed.

JimmyCASE Phone Case

JimmyCASEWhen I was offered this open fronted case I wasn’t sure whether to accept or not. I usually go for a really crusty looking flip top case that protects every corner of my phone and I was worried that I would be adding vulnerability with the JimmyCASE.

I’m really glad I gave it go though, its such a beautiful, well-made case and as I seem to have developed butter fingers in recent weeks, I can also confirm that it is sturdy and protective and has held together for 5 quite dramatic phone drops.

It was offered to me as the ideal phone case for sporty types due to its ingenious elastic wallet on the rear of the case. This enables you to stash the essentials like credit card, parkrun token and emergency money without the need to carry a wallet or purse. I’ve got my oyster card and swim membership snuggly attached to my iPhone case and now can almost guarantee that I will never be without them.

It’s quite a pricey case $39 USD (with free international postage currently on offer) but it really feels worth it. The rear of the case is made from a lovely grained mahogany, you can choose the colour of the elastic wallet and the front of the case has a protective lip of rubber.

I’ll be sticking with JimmyCASE from now on and will be buying my own replacement when the next iPhone comes out.

TomboyX Pants

These were sent to me to review under the guise of sports underwear. I don’t really think they have features that make them suitable for sports. They have seams for instance so you wouldn’t want to cycle long distances in them and there is rather too much pant for running in my opinion.

While they may not pass as active sportswear I do really love the style of TomboyX pants. I realise I probably don’t look great in them (I will save you that visual trauma), but I do feel great in them and am always very happy to use them apres sport. They are particularly cosy after a cold outdoor swim.

TomboyX

Wild by Nature – by Sarah Marquis

If you like Wild – A Journey from lost to found, I think you’ll love Wild by Nature.

The author is true explorer, made in the mould of latter day brave folk like Scott and Amundsen. Sarah Marquis won my admiration through the course of this book but I wouldn’t like to follow in her footsteps. This particular journey was 10000 miles from Mongolia to Australia and crossed some entirely inhospitable regions. Mongolia in particular stands out as entirely unpleasant place to go for a walk.

I can’t imagine knowingly making myself so vulnerable. In Mongolia she enters an illegal vodka yurt, desperate for water but finds only vodka and no friendly faces. By nightfall the unfriendly faces are following her on horseback, intending to intimidate and rob her. She’s entirely capable of handling herself against drunken buffoons but it seems every night is to be like this, with camps chosen for their obscurity from an ever-present threat.

My abiding thought while reading this was why? Why would you do that to yourself. I absolutely wouldn’t that’s for sure but Marquis still inspired me. I haven’t booked a flight to Outer Mongolia yet but I did turn my back on the treadmill this morning so I could run round the common. Squelching in the mud, observing the trees and the moss. Just being, for a while.

Achieve the Impossible

I’m a quitter and a failure.

At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last year or so.

It came to me over a lovely paleo meal.

We were onto the second course, a delicious ox heart carpaccio and a good way into a bottle of Chardonnay when Lynn asked me what had happened to my fitness plans as she’d noticed that the training calendar was blank and I had been emotionally flat for a while.

I tried to talk but in the end it just seemed easier to sob into my Chardonnay.

I was choking up trying to explain how my last three 100km attempts had ended in failure and I now felt that I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t risk adding yet another failure to my list by aiming for an ultra but at the same time, I couldn’t think of anything, more realistic, that had the power to excite me.

Following our emotional dinner, I came home and promptly ordered Achieve the Impossible (ATI) by Greg Whyte.

It proved to be a fantastically inspiring book. Within a few pages it was clear that my challenge needed to be “audacious” and needed to have an emotional hold over me. Despite hating long distance walking it’s hard to find another challenge that could tick both of those boxes and I’m afraid my big challenge has to be to train and complete a 100 km event.

I wasn’t going to mention it on my blog, hoping to save face if it turned into failure number 4, but another thing I learnt from ATI was that I have to put the challenge out there and be accountable.

So here goes, in 2016 I will train for and complete a 2 stage ultradistance event. Ideally it will be Race to the Stones in July 2016.

 Back to the book.

Achieve the Impossible is written by Greg Whyte who is the driving force behind a number of high profile mega challenges such as Eddie Izzard and his 43 marathons and David Walliams with his 140 mile swim down the Thames. These and many other challenges are used to illustrate the concepts and are fascinating and inspiring in their own right.

The book is ultimately about conception and planning: “Success isn’t an accident; you plan for it”

It has opened my eyes to the level of detail required to ensure success rather than just hope for it. It’s clear in the past that I have designed a training plan focused on only one element required for success – usually running distance. I’ve then gone out there and loosely followed the plan but not checked my progress or considered strategies for the tough times ahead. That means that I arrive at the start of an event someway short of optimally prepared and then have to wing it with no clear idea how to deal with curve balls that appear throughout the course. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but it’s always hit and miss.

In management speak I refer to myself as a Starter Leaver and consider it the perfect complement to the Belbin team role of Completer Finisher. It means that I’m creative and have oodles of energy at the start of a project but I’m very quick to move on to the next big idea. It can work well in a diverse team but when you’re into the grotty half of an ultradistance event it exposes extremely unhelpful personality traits and makes it easy to be a quitter. My emotional response to hard times needs to planned for as much as my body’s reluctance to churn out the distance.

Preparing properly is quite a technical job in itself. The book provides a framework with loads of planning concepts, images and examples to help you along the way but I still found it a little tricky to see how I could put it into action, there were lots of different examples but ideally I wanted the illustration to show: overweight, middle-aged woman plans to run 2-stage ultra event in precisely 1 years time, so I could nick the Measures of Success and the meso and macro planning cycles, but I suppose that is expecting a bit too much.

I am planning an accompanying blog post that will layout my very personal example and I’ll share the Achieve the Impossible spreadsheet that I’ve developed to track and display my progression towards my training goals.

In the meantime I would recommend this as a key read for anyone in the early stages of the next big challenge.

The Science of Fitness

It seems customary to invent Janathon exercises and as I’m not well enough to even rattle off two bed sit-ups, I’ve also created my own – the sport of reading sporty books. Preferably from under a duvet.

The Science of FitnessI was recently sent The Science of Fitness, Power, Performance and Endurance and it seemed like the perfect title for my new Janathon-ercise. Perhaps it would inspire me to create my new New Years fitness program.

It all started very well, it promised to be the most complete scientific exploration of fitness to-date, and stressed the importance of mitochondria (which I like), illustrated it with the impressive story of Greg LeMond and offered me the inspired sounding BEAST program to power my mitochondria and enhance performance.

It turns out however that BEAST stands for Bicycling, Eating, Avoiding toxins, Stopping self-destructive behaviour and Training with resistance, which as acronyms go, is just a bit too strained for my liking.

I had heard of Greg LeMond, although he was a bit before my obsessive Tour de France time, so I didn’t know his full story. He was a TdF winner in 1986, then almost had his life and certainly his career destroyed by an horrific accidental gunshot incident. He remarkably rebuilt his fitness levels and went on to another two Tour de France victories only to suffer an embarrassing decline as the lead from the gunshot pellets, still lodged in his body, started to leach out and destroy his mitochondria

So we are back on to mitochondria, the unsung heroes of athletic performance. I’m particularly interested in mitochondria and their role in performance and health after following the work Dr Terry Wahls who has had incredible success treating progressive MS by adapting her diet to one that is high in micronutrients that target mitochondrial health (see The Wahl’s Protocol). Here’s her famous TED talk on Minding your Mitochondria.

The Science of Fitness is a hard book to recommend as I can’t decide who it is aimed at. It reads like a school biology book and throws in a bit of Newtonian physics for variety. I can only imagine that the sort of person inclined to spend the afternoon reading school textbooks would probably already know this stuff and everyone else would be bored to tears.

I persevered and ticked off the chapters, admiring the citations which were longer than the chapters. I wasn’t too impressed by the nutrition section which opted for very safe advice, came down on the side of the “Mediterranean Diet”, whatever that is, and cited three papers from the Diet Heart health study.

Now if you want an interesting read that discusses the history of nutritional studies and the shocking way that scientists can gang up to prevent true exploration (the diet heart studies being a great example) I would strongly recommend The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. You’ll also find an interesting angle on the “Mediterranean Diet” in there too.

Anyway I did read all the way to the end although I have to admit to skimming at an ever increasing rate. I expected the final chapter to detail some training programs for the BEAST program but it just fizzled out and left me with a rather tame, yet wordy, bullet list which I will summarise as follows:

  • High Intensity Interval Training multiplies mitochondria
  • Regular (at least alternate days) to stop mitochondrial decline
  • Build a base level of endurance
  • Strength training to build muscle
  • Avoid overuse training
  • Balanced diet
  • Enjoy it
  • Aim for iterative improvement

All in all, a tame and uninspired way to achieve BEAST status. I will be looking to the Unbreakable Runner to source my new program from, it follows a similar strategy but feels so much more gutsy and deserving of a BEAST acronym.

12 Weeks to a Sleek Body with The Fat Burn Revolution

Fat Burn RevolutionI’ve known Julia Buckley for a few years now, through the running and blogging ether. Earlier this year I decided to join in the second phase of her Fat Burn Revolution pilot scheme.

The original pilot was designed to test a program that she was planning to bring to a wider audience through the publication of a fitness manual – The Fat Burn Revolution. By coming in at the second stage I was working with a tried and tested routine and by the looks of it, it’s the version that made it into the book.

The weight loss / fat loss market is huge and it’s hard to imagine a space for yet another book on the subject. When Julia’s book dropped through the letter box I have to admit to be a little underwhelmed. I was expecting another me-too book with pretty pictures and a smattering of familiar advice.

I have to say I was wrong. The book is very pretty, really well organised and whoever was in charge of the page layout deserves a thumbs up, but the book is so much more than I expected.

Inside the Fat Burn Revolution

There is real content here. Inspiring, sensible advice from someone who comes across as a truly honest and insightful guide, a guide who encourages you to seize control of your own life by offering you the tools and the permission to be steadfast with your goals.

The tools aren’t just limited to the exercises, you will also find advice for dealing with saboteurs, the way to decline offers that intefere with your goals and how to plan to succeed.

The type of advice that resonates with me:

Always remember that it is totally up to you what you eat. You are an adult and no one can make you eat or drink anything you don’t want to.

and when dealing with potential diet and exercise sabateurs:

don’t invite unhelpful comments from others by intimating that you’d rather be doing anything else……turn it down politely, but not apologetically

As I’ve said, I have known Julia in a distant capacity for some time and having had near daily contact with her for 3 months while doing the fat burn program I can confirm that Julia is genuinely supportive and truly wants you to achieve your health goals.

The exercises and routines are very well described in the book and have full colour photos to accompany the descriptions. Just as with the program I took part in, the Fat Burn Revolution is split into 3 phases which build in intensity (not necessarily duration). There is a combination of high intensity sessions, plyometric routines and weight lifting. The weightlifting section is a refreshing addition to a mainstream fitness program but for anyone who wants to shift lard and/or develop a strong, sleek and fit body it is the secret key.

The Fat Burn Revolution is an ideal program for both beginners and more seasoned sporty types. It will lead you away from a focus on sustained endurance activities to short, sharp bursts and progressive weigh training. The ideas are likely to be new to most people.

I came to the program from years of long distance running which had initially helped me to shift about 6 stone in the early years but had allowed me to stabilise somewhere close to 5 stone above my ideal weight. After 12 weeks on the Fat Burn Revolution I had shifted another stone, much of which was fat, and most importantly I had dramatically improved my appearance and my sense of well being. If you want to see the results of someone who has completed a number of back to back sessions of the Fat Burn program you should check out Becca’s blog at From Snickers to Marathon.

I’m very grateful to Julia and her program for introducing me to the tools that my body responds to. All my programs post The Fat Burn Revolution have included more HIT and strength sessions than endurance ones and this has helped me to maintain my losses and my fitness.

If you are about to embark on this program I strongly advise you take the measurements and most importantly the horrendous before photos, these can be so inspiring to compare with at the end of each phase. Check out Julia’s transformation pages for illustrations of how the pilot groups did.

Convict Conditioning 2 Review

Convict Conditioning 2

Convict Conditioning 2Paul “Coach” Wade is back with a second instalment of his impressive body weight calisthenics routine, Convict Conditioning 2 – from the depths of San Quentin prison

I’ve previously reviewed the original Convict Conditioning and I’m still working my way slowly through the progressions to the Big Six strength moves. I’m by no means adept at calisthenics and as I’m still at the early stage of my progressions I wasn’t sure that Convict Conditioning 2 would have anything to offer me. I feared that it would be extreme gymnastics, suitable only for Olympic ring athletes.

Convict Conditioning 2 - The Flag progressionsAlthough it does include a chapter detailing the route towards a perfect flag, an exercise I am unlikely to ever attempt, the remainder of the book is accessible to all and is a perfect accompaniment to Convict Conditioning 1.

“Coach” Wade starts by supplementing the Big Six with a series of exercises covering the muscles at the extremities of the body. So we have exercise series for developing forearms and grip, the lateral chain (the flag) and the calves and neck.

Convict Conditioning 2 - The Hang ProgressionsForearm and hand grip strength is a prized commodity in the prison trade. Few muscles remain as visible as a big beefy pair of forearms and looking like Brutus can help keep you out of trouble in the prison courtyard.

The main exercise for strengthening grip and forearms is simply hanging. The progressions will ultimately lead you to single arm hangs from a thick length of rope, by which point you will have immensely strong grip and impressive forearms.

I won’t go in too much detail on the neck progressions, I don’t have much interest in thickening my neck. If you’re the sort who’d like a huge neck girth, perhaps to expand the canvas for suitable throat tattoo, you’d need to be working your way up to neck bridges – starting with the bridge progression shown in Convict Conditioning 1.

The calf routine is just a variation on the leg raise which most people will be familiar with.

The really interesting part of the book for me is an exercise routine known as the Convict Conditioning Triad. A trifecta of exercises recommended for the body builders who can’t or won’t relinquish the iron.

Convict Conditioning - Functional Triad
These 3 body weight exercises on their own are designed to develop supple-strength and focus on key muscles across the anterior, posterior and lateral chain. In order, the exercises are, the bridge, the L-hold and the twist.

I’m particularly interested in this routine as its simple, will oil my joints and protect my grumbling back and it will also be the ideal counterpart to my current training plan – the Starting Strength weight training program.

Convict Conditioning - Bridge ProgressionsAs with the first in the Convict Conditioning series, Paul “Coach” Wade offers a series of progressions, typically in 8 steps although I’ve only illustrated the first 6.
These are the Bridge progressions.

Convict Conditioning L-Hold Progressions

Here are the L-Hold progressions. At the moment I find it difficult to imagine ever being able to lift myself from the floor like this. My arms are pretty extended when I place the hands flat by my side so there isn’t a lot of room to perform a lift. I’ve started at the beginning though and can just about lift myself from the chair arms – very briefly.

Convict Conditioning - Twist Progressions

Here are the twist progressions. A series that I feel relatively comfortable with as I still have a bit of muscle memory from my yoga days.

Getting a full twisted stretch is going to take some time to develop though.

That covers just over half of the book. The latter section is more philosophical and includes sections on “Wisdom from Cell Block G”.

In Convict Conditioning 1, there was very little reference to prison life but in the sequel “Coach” Wade spends quite a lot of time discussing the perils, pitfalls and survival tips from inside a hardcore American state prison.

He isn’t glorifying prison in any way but he does include advice on staying clean, staying sane, and maintaining a healthy eating plan, drawing parallels between life on the inside and outside.

I’ve been really impressed with both books in the Convict Conditioning series. Together they offer you the complete body weight routine for developing huge functional strength and bullet proofing your body through the trifecta supple-strength routine.

Highly recommended.

Resources and links for Convict Conditioning

The Paleo Diet and Mindful Eating for Weightloss

As a large runner I spend quite a lot of time focusing on food and diet. My aim is to establish a diet that makes it easy for me to maintain an acceptable weight, feel satisfied and still provides sufficient levels of energy for me to live my life with abandon.

My dietary program has been heavily influenced by three excellent books that have a similar theme of simplifying food and eating.

My first recommendation is Savor, a Buddhist guide to mindful eating. This book attempts to fuse nutritional advice with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness through the discussion of the four noble truths and a series of exercises or meditations that encourage a focus on the present.

The eating messages I’ve taken home are:

  • Eat at the table
  • Avoid multitasking – so no TV, work or magazines
  • Appreciate your food by use of all the senses
  • Chew and take it slowly
  • Quality not quantity

I’ve turned to Michael Pollen for the sort of down to earth advice succinctly wrapped up with the maxim: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. Homespun advice that would make your mum and grandmother nod their heads in appreciation.

In Defense of Food, contains Michael Pollen’s manifesto for eating and attempts to find the commonsense lost in the nutritional world that has become hijacked by commerce and the food industry.

In addition to the Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants advice you’ll find tips such as:

  • Only eat food your great grandmother would recognise as food
  • Avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients or more than 5 ingredients
  • Avoid food with health claims

Both of these books suggest a common sense approach to eating and food, but slightly more prescriptive advice can be found in the next book which advocates the diet of our ancestors.

The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain

In a nut shell The Paleo Diet asks us to consider our food choices from the perspective of our early ancestors.

From an evolutionary time frame our digestive systems remain as they were in paleolithic times. The agricultural revolution has brought about many changes in our eating habits but our bodies have not yet had time to catch up.

By reverting to our ancestral food types we can achieve many health benefits and reduce a number of inflammatory or allergic reactions that are associated with modern foods such as wheat and highly processed foods. I mentioned in passing recently that I’ve had a lot of success treating plantar fasciitis with the paleo diet.

Acceptable Paleo foods:

  • All low starch vegetables (so potatoes are excluded but you can substitute with sweet potato)
  • Meat (preferably lean) and fish
  • Eggs
  • Olive Oil
  • Nuts (not peanuts which are legumes)
  • Berries and fruit
  • Red Wine (some would argue)

The Paleo Avoidance List – No Grains, No Sugar, No Processed Food:

  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Processed foods
  • Potato
  • Rice and grains (and flour products)
  • Bread
  • Pasta

The Paleo Diet really is a very easy diet to follow. I’ve already listed out the rules in the space of two paragraphs. That’s all there is to it. I find it a very acceptable way to live, I may have to plan ahead sometimes but Paleo food is quite accessible – just stick to the edges of the supermarket where you’ll find the fresh produce aisles, then snack on fruit, nuts and cooked meats.

Because it’s an easy way to live, that’s the way I see it – a way of life. That enables me to let myself off the hook from time to time. Some may call it cheating but it does mean that if I visit friends for dinner, I can join them without feeling the need to educate them on my current eating habits. I just return to Paleo tomorrow.

Many Paleo advocates call this the 80:20 rule – get it right 80% of the time and you’ll be alright. Julia Buckley would say “Mostly good, most of the time”.

I’ve had great successes on the Paleo Diet, I lost 6lbs in the first week, 3-stone in the first year and I have been on a steady decline since then. It could be considered a boring diet but it has the great effect of reducing my cravings. So while I may feel hunger I’m actually not that bothered by the feeling, it can rumble away for a while before I need to satisfy the pangs. That is incredibly unusual for me, before the Paleo diet I would say I practically lived in fear of hunger, I would anticipate the feeling and ward off the onset with fairly regular snacking.

The Paleo diet has a lot of similarities with the GI diet, they don’t necessarily recommend the same food types, as the GI diet includes whole grains which would be avoided on the Paleo diet, but they both impact on and stabelize insulin levels in the body. I think it is this that stops the cravings and the emotional highs and lows with traditional dieting.

If you’d like to kick start your Paleo lifestyle I can highly recommend the Whole 30 challenge which is a 30-day uber strict paleo diet challenge. It’s a great way to detox and determine if you have any food intolerances but its also a useful way to familiarise yourself with real foods again.

The Whole 30 food list is even simpler than the Paleo one from Loren Cordain’s book:

  • NO milk
  • NO alcohol
  • NO bread
  • NO sugar
  • NO pasta
  • NO grains
  • NO pulses
  • NO flour

It may feel strange to avoid grains which have for a long time been touted as a health food pillars but they are relatively recent intruders into our diet. If you look at the Paleo Diet with its lean meats and fish, its abundance of veg, salad and the delights of fruits, nuts and berries, you can rest assured that you are eating healthy and nutrient laden food.


Playing at Paleo Fitness

I was in the park last weekend, playing frisbee with Will, an 8 year old.

He ran me absolutely ragged.

Paleo Fitness Animal Walks

When I could run and leap no further I had to feign urgent business near the picnic blanket. My young friend followed me and while I flopped into a heap, he relaxed into a perfect example of the Primal Squat. I admired his squat and demonstrated my best Crab Walk. He wasn’t particularly impressed with my ungainly attempts and scuttled off across the park performing a high-speed Duck Walk.

It seemed quite a coincidence that only a week after I’d finished reading my copy of Paleo Fitness by Darryl Edwards, I’d be careering around the park impersonating an assortment of creatures with another aficionado of animal gaits. I wondered briefly whether Will had also read the book but I suppose it is more likely that Darryl had been inspired by children at play when he designed his functional fitness routines.

Darryl Edwards (Fitness Explorer) offers personal training and primal boot camp sessions in and around the parks of West London. With my recent focus on the Paleo Diet, I was quite tempted to explore the world of Paleo Fitness and was happy to give the book the once over.

Paleo Fitness focusses on whole body movements (as opposed to isolation movements such as bicep curls), encouraging mobility and strength in a way that prepares the body for everyday activities. It has a heavy emphasis on fun and if you embark on this course you’ll be fit enough to run your own 8-year old ragged.

The book covers the Paleo Diet in a satisfyingly succinct way and then moves on to describing the exercises and weekly routines.

I’ve been adding the animal walks to my current training plan as a warm up. I find that Bear Crawls and crab Walks loosen up my back like no other stretch and puts me in a great place to start the rest of my routine.

I don’t feel quite brave enough to join Darryl in the park for a session in Primal Fun but I’m sure if I did, it would enhance my mobility and strength no end. This is a program that would set you up for leaping park benches, climbing trees and hopping over walls. It would certainly prepare you for a session of frisbee in the park.

Darryl Edwards Paleo Fitness
Darryl Edwards Paleo Fitness

Convict Conditioning

I’ve long held the fantasy that the only thing between me and a perfectly honed physique was a long stint in solitary confinement.

I was obviously inspired by prison movies in my youth and still have images in my head of physical transformations behind bars.

I’ve been tempted to buy Bronson’s Solitary Fitness book before but having skim read it I found it a bit too brutal and couldn’t bring myself to support him. Paul “Coach” Wade’s book, Convict Conditioning, is different, I haven’t a clue what he was incarcerated for as he doesn’t mention it. Given his long spells in high security establishments and his focus on survival strength, the author is clearly no stranger to violence but it’s refreshing to see that this book is about exercise only.

The point about Convict Conditioning is that it’s old school. Trapped within the four walls of worldwide penitentiaries is an underground body of experts passing on the skills of progressive calisthenics. It’s an arena that remains isolated from the fads coming out of the swanky gyms in LA and where money hasn’t been lavished on high-tech equipment. It is a place where physical fitness and strength matters and where a commitment to progressive body weight exercising can either save your life or at the very least, your dignity.

It’s a simple book based on 6 key exercises that are all you need to achieve phenomenal functional strength: pushups, squats, pull ups, leg raises, bridges and handstand pushups.

20120730-093710.jpgI’m far too weedy for pull ups, cripple myself with attempts at a full squat and lord knows what would happen if I attempted a handstand, however the book is all about progression. Each exercise set has ten progressions leading to the ultimate body weight exercise:

One Arm Pushups
One Leg Squats
One Arm Pullups
Hanging Leg Raises
Stand-to-Stand Bridges
One Arm Handstand Pushups

So for one arm pushups I get to start with incline pushups against a wall.
I can do those.
I’m not yet at the 3 sets of 50 required to progress to the next stage but that’s all part of the program – slow progressions give my strength chance to build so that maybe, one day, I can wow the world with a one arm press up.

Here are the 6 starting exercises:

I can just about to make it to the bottom rung of each but the shoulder stand requires a lot of refining and I may have to find a fat person’s intro to the head stand as I’m too scared for that but who knows where I may be after a few months of Convict Conditioning.

Online Convict Conditioning resources and links

Blogs: Al Kavadlo – to see an expert in action. A Convict Conditioning Journey by Nell Bednar.
Video technique: YouTube channel dedicated to convict conditioning.
The book: Not easily available in the UK – try Amazon for used copies or go direct to Dragon Door publishing
The kindle version: Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness-Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength
Kindle version of Convict Conditioning 2: Convict Conditioning 2: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss and Bulletproof Joints: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss, and Bulletproof Joints

**UPDATE** The sequel is now available and I have posted my in depth Convict Conditioning 2 review.

Born to Run

I’ve just finished Chris McDougalls “Born to Run” and feel bereft now it’s all over.

I’m in the market of writing about running and so long as I steer clear of treadmills I can usually knock up a paragraph or so on the trials and tribulations of the activity but I was awed by Chris McDougalls skill at telling such a gripping yarn. I was arriving at work late and extending lunch breaks just to find out the outcome of the trail races he was describing. These races were between 50 and 100 miles long and I never expected they could be quite so tense.

The author was on the trail of the Tarahumara Indians an ancient and very private running tribe and gave some fascinating insights into their way of life and running style. Chris had his own personal interest beyond the obvious sporting intrigue, relating to his ongoing foot problems and his desire to find a practical solution that would keep him running. He refused to accept the prevailing view that running was inherently bad for humans and sought to find evidence to the contrary. Interspersed between the race commentary are some extremely interesting discussions on the potential conspiracies within the running shoe industry, he quotes one study which suggests that running injuries increase in proportion to the amount spent on your shoes which makes me look at my Asics Kayanos in a different light.

A number of barefoot running aficionados appear in the book including the Tarahumara Indians and Barefoot Ted and the almost evangelical tone has made this book a bible to the barefoot movement. The book made it onto my reading list quite accidentally and I was surprised to find myself reading it just as I’m deciding that barefoot or minimal shoe running might offer some solutions to my plantar fasciatiis pains and knee wobbles.

Reading the book I was tempted to fold over corners and make notes in the margin – there was so much I wanted to follow up on. I’m afraid I’m too anal for that sort of book-defacery so you’ll have to read it and find your own excitement. It is currently available at Amazon from £4.48: Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

Dean Karnazes – Runabout

I read Dean Karnazes’ new book the other week, “50 50 Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days”.

I’ve already flogged it on ebay so you can be sure that I am not going to recommend this as a good running read. It’s full of trite running tips that you all know already, stuff along the lines of never do anything new on race day.
Yawn.

It’s sold as a “fascinating story” and how can it not be? The guy is pretty much a wonder, he ran back to back marathons and covered off most of the US in less than 2 months. He should be shot for producing such a dull account. Out of the almost 50 race reports not a single one could hold a candle to the daily reports coming from the blogs over there on my sidebar ——>

He kept going on about the “feminisation” of the marathon world which made me picture hoards of men with man boobs jiggling around the course, and then sang the praises of the AMAZING women (who were also mothers) that managed to find the time to run a marathon.

I don’t want to be too mean about the book, there were two positive things that I took away with me, the first was not to be such a baby when I get a cold – you can run with a snotty nose and the other was the concept of Runabout.

Runabout is Dean’s take on the Aboriginal Walkabout. It’s the kind of free running that he is famous for and does so well (see Ultramarathon Man which actually is a fascinating read). He’ll open his door, take the decision to head E, N, S or W and then just keep running until he can go no further, at which point he catches the train home. When he goes on runabout he may run for days before deciding he can go no further but he recommends that a similar toned down tactic might work for those in training for marathons.

So the plan is to head out running in any direction and then keep going until you need to walk, then run again and keep the cycle going til the day has gone and its time to head home. The trick is not necessarily to run the whole time but to just stay on your feet and keep moving, so if you stop to pickup drinks and food, you must eat on the go.

I’m off on Runabout today, heading in a north westerly direction. I’m hoping to pick up the Capital Ring a 75m loop of London – lets see how much I can cover before collapsing.

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