Monday, December 31, 2012

1.1.13 Mojo?



Just in case you were wondering what to do at the first light of the new year. Peace my friends. Live your dreams and have no regrets.

New in You?

It's here. Last day of the year, December 31. We have an impromptu session at noon to add the requisite ceremoniousness to the day, and after that, well, a chance to initiate some healthy 2013 change. 

That is the part I have always appreciated, not the debauchery. My poor system simply no longer metabolizes liquid toxins with efficiency. It is way too painful and lasts longer than I have the time and patience for. There are things to be done and heaving head, neck, back and stomach pain helps about as much as hauling an additional ten pounds over the last five miles of a marathon.  Meaning I will be in bed reading at the stroke of the new year. 

Yesterday I uncorked a rare and delightful new brick. If you are looking for a workout change of pace, try this little gem: Run-Chop. Or, as I was chuckling to myself while stacking and covering the freshly split biomass, run run chop chop. 

It's a 10K followed by two hours of chopping wood. I am sure the wackos at Cross-Fit would approve. It provided both a successful return to the running circuit after a bout of piriformis inflammation as well as a much needed augmentation to my rapidly dwindling supply of firewood. 

And this morning I feel great. That morning after muscular awareness signifying effort. There was use. Four laps and half a cord. The recovery meal at suppertime was poignantly appropriate, a baked potato on a bed of steamed kale covered by  three cheese and green chili sauce. By fireside, and with a glass of delicious Eagle Harbor Winery 2008 Cabernet Savignon. Ah, the good life, as Walden might say. 

There is change happening all around my friends. We have the power of choice. We can direct that change to fit our current and greatest needs. We have been talking about this for a week now. You have had ample opportunity to create a schematic for your plans. A strategy for success. Structured and obtainable. Transparent and honest. Something of value. Is new in you?

New like your good health and optimal fitness. Like your dedication to improvement. Like doing more and consuming less. Moving more eating (or drinking) less. Getting there.

Here.

And finally, now. 

Let us begin. See you in the House of Mirth at noon. 


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nothing changes if


Ninety minutes can create a lifetime of change. Cue. Routine. Reward. Check it out. That is how we develop dynamite habits. We become what we habitually do.

You have good habits. You are healthy.

You don't and you aren't.

Our theme this morning was on change. Again. Out of the 250 or so spin classes that I had the pleasure of conducting this year, change was present in every one. Some BIG change, some fair-to-middlin change and some tiny change. 

But we showed up, turned the pedals and did the best we could. 

We just did it. 

And today, with a minuscule two days left in the year, we have brought about the 2012 change we desired. Or perhaps not.

Maybe there is a ways to go yet. Maybe we are just getting started. Maybe this is base building. Maybe it is about things other than fitness and good health. Either way, the road to change requires change. Often radical, sometimes massive. 

Positive change. Negative change is atrophy. Like adding to your insulation rating by storing fat around your vital organs. Like losing muscle mass at an alarming rate. Like getting the same results from the same ineffective methods. Use it or lose it. 

Change. Dial it up. Make a commitment. Join a club. Hold yourself accountable. Do more. Jump in. 

Take the first step, or pedal rotation…..and keep going. 

Here is a hilarious video of all that it takes. 
Here is a cool blog about how to do….anything.
Here is a piece from Psychology Today on the same just do it subject.
Here is a blog about (good) habits

All good.

Ninety minutes this morning is our Saturday habit. Our routine. It defines us. We expand and grow together. We support each other. In its own way it challenges and rewards like one of our standing intervals. We walk away, as we should,  with a real sense of accomplishment. 

Nothing changes, if nothing changes. We have 48 hours to consider. Here is the cue. Commit to the routine. Reap the rewards. Jump in and do it. 

Special thanks to Tony for being the Cadillac of spinner subjects for the photo shoot. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Audacity & Vigor: Keep Climbing




With profound sadness he faced the reality.

What once was, is no more. 

Change takes place with relentless consistency.

You can deny, resist or pretend.

You can suffer, sob or sedate.

Nothing but acceptance and compassion will ease the pain,

of seeing loss as potential gain. 

The big date is at three days and counting. We are about to close the door on 2012 and set sail for the fair winds and following seas of 2013. Or maybe not. We may well see more hurricane carnage, more grotesque violence and the slaughter of innocents, more political hypocrisy, more examples of man's inhumanity to man, and more irreparable damage to our lakes, rivers, oceans, and their inhabitants. 

Reality can get messy. 

I have some options. There is choice. I have freedom of will. I can do what pleases me and provides value to others. I can embrace the alternative, check the none-of-the-above box and pledge allegiance to self. My freedom is tied to my cognitive ability to filter external stimuli with core beliefs. 

Meaning, I get to choose what path I will take to traverse the battlefield popularly known as Life as we know it. The modern age. Life in the fast lane. Here, now. Eve of 2013. 

Despite all the hurdles, land-mines, oppression, bigotry, angst, propaganda, scandal, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, misnomers and missed opportunities, I remain optimistic about the coming new year. 

Because i can. A fresh start. New vision. Clean slate. 

Because it is my choice and because I see challenge as a vital part of my soul's search for meaning. I will follow my heart like a gold miner follows a map. Like a hungry dog follows the scent of food. 

My soul finds meaning in my hearts search for expression. As manifest in the movement and motion of my body. THAT experience where I can connect them all, mind, body and spirit, together in a single focused, joyous act. 

That is me being me in the highest. And it means that I must continue to expand, grow and learn. That synergy is the challenge we can all create for ourselves in 2013. Today even. Now. Why wait? Mash them up. Improve the mind, strengthen the body and satisfy the soul. In real time. Together. 

Planning resolutely for 2013? Radical change perhaps? Continued progress? A little bit of this and a little bit of that? Everything all the time?

Yes. All of the above. Now. Today. Here. Keep climbing friends, keep climbing. 

"Plan with audacity and execute with vigor." Christian Nevell Bovee

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Family & Friends

2013 minus five. We are right down to it folks. Five days left in the year. As mentioned this morning, if your USS New Years resolution does not start and end with a vow of enhanced  health and/or better fitness, the boat has sailed without you.

In researching this op-ed I came across the number one resolution from Pittsburgh, PA. I am quits sure it shares top ranking with many other cities, perhaps all. We hear it a lot, and rightfully so, but I have a cliche killer to add.

Pittsburgh's number one resolution is:
To spend more time with family and friends.

The RCVman cliche killer addendum reads:
Do that at the gym.

Spending time DOING SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE, as compared to sitting around drinking coffee and complaining about the major media's topic du jour (if it bleeds it leads) is indeed spending time. But it is...

Hardly quality time.

Bring your family to the gym. Get involved. Be social. Be inspired. Have some fun and tune up that not-quite-firing-on-all-cylendars engine of yours. Combing an upgrade in exercise, strength training, range of motion stretching with those much needed dietary restrictions (you know what I am talking about) will result in a much improved you in 2013.

We do it this way: An indoor time trial. 20.13 miles on our CompuTrainers at the BAC. We will do it once this week and again a year from now. What happens over the course of the 52 weeks we will measure as 'progress'. Your power to weight ratio, quality of life, commitment to a plan designed to get you fitter and healthier (to say nothing of faster and stronger) is a terrific New Years resolution.

And hey, bring your family and friends too.

Family & Friends pix: Last night after a wonderful dinner, RG, Junior (with Jules) Michael, the author and Lucy in front. They all had a good time ribbing me about my new hair color. And the CompuTrainer 2013 course profile we will test out tonight at 1630.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Weakness leaving


You know, there is ALWAYS a lot going on. To use that as an excuse for NOT doing something is weak. Weakness being a key thematic element of today's ramble. It is Christmas Eve. There will be chaos. After our impromptu hour-long spin session, I will hop in my little blue Volvo, itself a gift, and drive to the mall for last minute shopping. I tried that last night, locally, after reaching a decent stopping point on the kitchen remodel project (a not so cleverly disguised attempt to cover up the leaky roof) and a run in the park. I went downtown layered in wool, cotton and gortex looking for something "meaningful" for my 10 year old nephew. He is the only one left on my list. I found nothing. 

I felt horrible. He deserves more than a football, a book or a over-priced board game. He is so mature that if I were to give him just a card and a hug, he would say something like, "I know it was a tough year, and I know you are doing the best you can, so please don't worry, we'll be OK." 

Kinda Tiny Tim all over again. 

So I take the wisdom of this fictional encounter and wonder, IS THIS REALLY THE BEST I CAN DO?

While researching disappointment strategies the other day (after the Las Vegas Bowl) I came across some tangible ideas and jotted them on my reference list. The experts suggest that in dealing with sadness, loss, disappointment, one should:

Let it go and let it flow.
Have some perspective.
Be true to thyne own self.
Accept the reality.
Trust in, have faith for, the bigger picture.
Use as an opportunity for expansion and growth.

Those all sound so familiar. Converting the weak to the strong. They say that it is a process, something that takes place over time. This fitness thing of ours, one day at a time. Building on the success of the now, moving forward with hope, with faith, and with gratitude. Trusting the voices of value that echo from our hearts, lungs, cells and muscles. 

I hear you. 

Pa rum pa pa pum.

All I want for Christmas, much like the Little Drummer Boy, is to give my best. Giving my best means I sincerely and honestly understand what that means. Have I explored, listened, worked hard, diligently and focused, with dedication and desire, to convert some of my weakness to strengths? 

Perhaps the greatest weakness of all is in not trying. Knowing that there exists a cancer and choosing to ignore. Pretending that all is well when it is far from. Denying the song of our souls. Constricting, cowering in the shadow of fear. NOT doing. Accepting weakness. 

There is a lot going on, inside and out. I am going to be the change. I am going to take one step today towards that BEST I so desire. 

We have a week to get our 2013 resolutions together. As you might expect mine come nicely wrapped in three categories:

DIET
EXERCISE
STRESS MANAGEMENT

There are others, but gains in those three would move me brightly out of the weak. 

Con brio e molto vivace. 

Happy Christmas Eve dear friends. Peace on Earth. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nice

As most of you know I am a sucker for the passionate. Regardless of subject matter, if you can show me YOUR passion, it will impact MINE. Football and war are easy. Other than those, not too many moments allow the soul to reveal itself. I am also a sucker for the defining moment, the speech that motivates one, or many, to greater deeds. Here is one of my favorites, seasonally adjusted to reflect the cold nights many of us endure at the end of,  seemingly,  every day. God Bless us All.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Become More



Twas a long day. I wrote three pages of copy and they all sucked. So we moved a pool table, rode for 45 minutes and ogled at the sunset and accumulated water volume. Good news is we are still here. Meaning (my take anyway) that we have work left to accomplish. In this first of a series video, Shelly Stockman talks about some of the more important elements in getting us all to become more.

I am all in for that. Peace.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Champagne with You


I have been thinking about this for a while now. The ONE thing I would do should the Mayans be right, and the end of the world be 24 hours away. 

I am not interested in a juicy fillet mignon, Dom Perignon 1955 or even a double banana split. There are no material items that would fit. Because you can't keep 'em nor take 'em with you. Same with legal tender. Might as well light a Cuban cigar with a roll of Franklins. 

Experience. I would want to be in the moment deeply with one that I love. That is about it. That beautiful Bruce Cockburn line from Last Night of the World, "except for champagne with you." 

I would want to take that emotional truth, sincerity and love with me to, well, wherever. To use the end as a beginning. To a higher light. A cleaner vibration. More love without the weight of the world continually dragging me down to the muddy depths of societal conformity. 

This is metaphor. There exists nary a reason why we can't take the idea of the last night of the world and apply it to each of our remaining days. Give me naked truth. Give me unfiltered emotion. Give me freedom so raw it hurts.

Listen to Will Smith, Steve Jobs and Tony Robbins talk. There is a commonality they share. They are passionate about sharing their truth. They know from experience that if they can persevere, create, inspire and transform, that we all can. They also have a quality that keeps many of us from the achievement of our goals and aspirations:

They work hard at it, relentless in pursuit, tireless with infectious joy and a clear sense of destiny. 

I find this particularly inspiring. I find it immensely empowering. I find it true.

If this is the last night of the world and there is no tomorrow. It has to be about love. Champagne with you. 

Pic: None required. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not in pill form


Life could be so easy. Successful brand managers (or higher) could call and request my services. Beautiful (and talented) women could call to inquire about my dinner plans. My brothers construction company could show up with a crew (or two) carrying enough lumber to repair my pitiful excuse for a home. 

Yes, life could be so easy. 

'Cept it ain't.

Depending on your religious or philosophical bent, it is mostly labeled as somewhere between suffering and hardship. No one ever said it was fair. No one likened it to easy. We (most of us) were never promised rose gardens. 

Life is hard. Life is suffering. 

Now that we have THAT out of the way, we can begin. Because as soon as, the very moment, that we accept this fact, it is no longer suffering and it is no longer hard. Kind of a metaphysical catch-ah-22. Additionally,

IT IS WHAT WE DO. We live. We endure. We work. We learn to suffer in silence and push past pain. We sustain, grow, love, assist, contribute and find all types of ways to lighten the load and laugh in the face of torment and torture. WE DO NOT GIVE UP.

Ever. Under any circumstance. And no matter what. 

And that is why, dear friends, we work so hard at suffering. We even practice it. The more we do it, experience the nuance and the propinquity, the longer we can stand the relentless assault on our senses by a world seemingly gone berserk, the better our chances of survival. As individuals and as a group. 

And that is the goal, right? To stick around long enough to see grand kids get married, to pay off the mortgage, to break par, to retire to the lakefront house, to write our memoirs, or to race Kona. 

So we practice the art of the suffer. We make it hard. We do things that only a very small percentage of the populace are willing to do. And we do it often. I will walk WAY out on a limb and suggest that the results of this strange behavior is the single most important element in endurance. Another name for endurance?

Longevity. One's ability to endure. To outlast. The last man (or woman) standing. Me & YOU. 

I think there is value in that. I also feel that it needs to be matched with some definition of quality to be truly noble. We talked this morning about the two types of people who participate in Ironman: Those that race it and those that just want to finish. I want to race. That adds the last 10% to the 90% equation. There has to be meaning. There has to be challenge. I have got to earn it. I have got to understand at the cellular level what pain, suffering and hardship is. What it feels like. How it tastes. 

Life would be so easy it it came in a pill.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Joke



We have covered a lot of ground. Point A embarkation a success. We are underway. This is it, and IT is not a drill. This is not a dress rehearsal, this is not practice, preparation or preview. This IT is IT. This is your life. You can do with it as you choose. Until you lose the power to decide. When abuse, sloth, ignorance, apathy or circumstance takes away the keys to the car. When you lose the vehicle, when your body gives up and gives out. At this juncture Point B has almost always been reached. 

At which time there is a review of sorts. How was the ride? What did you accomplish? How much did you love? How did you help? There are a lot of Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates jokes, but this is not one of them. Instead I will try (once again) to knock-knock some sobering realities onto the doors of your perceptions. 

Knock-knock: The clock is ticking. Time is short. The message is clear: Do it now. The duration and quality of your life is your responsibility. NOT the .gov's, not big pharma, not your insurance company. It is yours. You are responsible and accountable for you. There is no-one to blame other than thou. Do you see how comically immature it is to blame McDonald's for your diabetes? You are a saturated fat-head if cost is the sole criteria for your food choices. Look folks, I LOVE doughnuts, I would ram a dozen a day IF THEY DIDN'T MAKE ME LOOK AND FEEL LIKE ONE. 

Knock-knock: If weight management is your biggest priority, all the spin sessions in the state won't help if you sabotage them with a habitual deep-fried diet of poly-unsaturated crapola. A (somewhat) secret of the health & fitness industry is that 80% of diets fail. Weight removed (miraculously) is soon replaced. The 20% understand that the combo is diet & exercise, not burger & fries. Further, if you are involved with a group exercise program and DO NOT change your diet, you are missing the call. YOU NEED BOTH. And AT THE SAME TIME. Spinning to burn 300-600 calories builds an appetite. If after class you rush to the bakery and replace that with 300-600 calories of buttered, fried in 100% animal fat, sugary, yummy dough, what have you done? 

Nothing, yet. The damage comes after. The rest of your day. Armed and confident with the effects of endorphin flow and the support of your group, you spend the remainder of the day in a self-congratulatory state of denial. Need an inventory? OK. That Subway sandwich and chips not only swayed the scale, it almost broke the chains. And that was lunch! The 'healthy' snacks you enjoyed carried enough sugar and simple carbohydrate to jet propel an ultra-marathon. Dinner? OMG. Too much, too rich, too late and too tasty!!! But hey, you did 60 minutes of high-intensity at oh-dark thirty. So let's celebrate with a couple of 200 calorie per serving barley pops! Yea us!!!! Go team. End of the day totals: Calories IN: 4,500. Calories OUT: 300-600 plus metabolic, so let's just say 1,000. 

Knock-knock: Who's there is a net gain of 3,500 calories, or one pound. IN ONE DAY! No wonder people complain about exercise actually causing them to gain weight. You spin, you get hungry, you eat, you gain.

NO MYSTERY. Not rocket science. Once understood, it is a simple matter of creating a new routine. Finding some discipline, wanting the long term more than than instant gratification. Is this hard? HELL YES IT IS. Can you do it? 

Knock-knock. Only if you want to. And then, YES YOU CAN.

As I mentioned yesterday, one cannot out train a bad diet. Unless you are seventeen. Anybody here that age? 

So let's take close look at the way we eat. Portions, combinations, habits. 

Make the same bold statement you once made at Point A with your fitness today with your diet. Substitute carrots for chips, apples for those delightful peanut M&Ms. Drink more water. Get off sugar. 

I want to see you get to Point B with high quality and your life's goals met. For no other reason than I feel it is the right thing to do, a responsible and worthwhile endeavor. And I think it can be fun, too. 

No joke. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Locker Room




It was like the good old days. We sat around on benches with draped towels and in varying stages of dress for re-entry to the civilian world. The locker room. As you might expect it has its own culture. There is a de-brief transitional element to this space. One day you could leave the locker room as hero, the next, as smelly goat. There was a day when the ritual included cheap American lager. We played the game, then shared a few cold ones in the dissection, analysis and recapitulation of it. Nuance, detail and strategies analyzed and shared. Team chemistry changed through tales of the war. Powerful social bonds forged by post-battle camaraderie. Sometimes beer healed wounds better than aspirin. 

Yesterday after a particularly heuristic 90 minute spin session, designed to promote a deeper level of attention and awareness, we sat and talked. About the bike. About riding. About training, and about the many routine drills we practice in order to promote neuromuscular and cardio-vascular adaptation. What we call in the locker room of the cycling world, power. 

Because power is where it is at. So we talked about how to get it. How to increase it, how to refine it, and how to perfect it. Several topics were isolated, many stories shared and a few antidotes offered as testimony. 

All of them good. And all of them leading to the same conclusion:

IN ORDER TO INCREASE PEDALING POWER ONE MUST PROGRESSIVELY INCREASE RESISTANCE. 

One must dedicate oneself to the structure required to bring about physical adaptation. One must commit to three times a week sport-specific training, and one must master the techniques, include the required tangential skills; properly fueling, resting and recovering adequately, and developing a keen ability to measure objectively and manage appropriately. 

Over time (maybe years) you will adapt and become stronger. That time is what we call the process. It is crucial that you learn to, as we say, 'enjoy the ride'. It is a 'one day at a time' thing. You cannot have it all at once, you must earn it. One pedal rotation at a time. There are a thousand little victories along that path. Each session is its own reward. One second, one watt, one deep diaphragmatic breath or one endurance extending motivational thought is proof. That you are heading in the right direction. We have your back. This is a team. We are community. We support. I will help you up that hill until you can help somebody else. 

In locker room terms. YOU GOTTA SHOW UP. YOU GOTTA WANT IT. AND YOU GOTTA GIVE.  Master, achieve and succeed. You must demonstrate that you are here, ready, and in this moment prove your understanding of the meaning and value in this. You must relax into the awareness of your increasing power and let it inspire your soul. That, in turn, will inspire others. 

Then you can have a beer and try to put all that into words. 

Good luck. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hey friend


Attention, then:

1) Alertness
2) Applied capacity or reserve (span)
3) Selectivity

Once has the choice. To stay attentive, or not. That is the only question. Not, how fit, how fast, or how fat. Not how far or how hard. Not anything else. 

How long can you maintain your focus. Hills, wind, traffic, pot-holes, impaired drivers, hungry dogs, disgruntled ex-employees, broken glass, smog, cigarette butts, butt-heads, bubble-headed bleach blonds, runny noses, watery eyes, rubber burning, diesel exhaust, road kill, gnats, billboards, stop signs and signs of fatigue. All distractions. 

Spice Girls, Christmas Carols, deer in the headlamp, the fiscal cliff, fingernails on the chalkboard, inflation, $5 Starbucks lattes, your hair, global warming, gun control, same-sex marriage, Iraq, Syria, MEXICO, Monsano, Blackwater, Limbaugh. ALL DISTRACTIONS.

Choose your distractions wisely. 

Stay alert.
Increase your capacity and extend your reserve supply. Broaden the span.
Select what you can control and jettison the rest. 

Friends don't let friends win hollow. They insist they earn full-bore results.
My race is with me. I have no issue with you, or that.
Let's be friends. 
And please remember that we are friends when I kick your butt. It is nothing personal, just racing. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

THE


Fresh of the bike. (Double) protein smoothie in the can. Electronic communications updated. Progress initiated. Time to call for a time-out and fit together random bits of input collected over the last few hours. The task is always how to prioritize. What is the most important, the most potentially profitable or the most time sensitive? Then there is separating ego from real, short-term gratifications from long-tern goals and the creative from the energy-draining. Over the sixty years of this project I have rendered this process to a simple algorithm: 

DO WHAT MUST BE DONE, REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT. 

The problem being, of course, that sometimes what needs to be done is a very small component of the larger picture, the grand design, the primary directive. Creating another level of chaos management altogether. 

Because I have always insisted that the goal of life is happiness. Begging the immediate question, "What makes me happy?"

Problem solving at its most basic. With today's lesson centering around the concept that happiness can be nurtured by our attitude towards winning. As in competition. And even more precisely about being the best. 

Stay with me. 

That puny three letter word article just got in the way. THE best. It causes LOADS of problems. Because there are now over 7 billion people in the world. Can you imagine a better way to set yourself up for failure than to want to be THE best of them? No wonder why we drink so much, I am a miserable failure right off the bat (doesn't help that I am half Irish either). We even narrow the results in the attempt to level the playing field: Age groupings, gender divisions, handicaps, seedings, categories, classifications, weight allowances, restrictions, etc. All designed to make whatever competition is being managed (leveraged) more fair, and therefore a victory available to a greater audience of participants.

I have no issue with this. I only question the millions of innocent people who take away the wrong message. Who feel like losers as a result of missing the message. Of falling prey to THE.

Because it isn't about being THE best. It is about being YOUR best. You don't have to win the Tour de France to be a great cyclist. You don't have to be Adele to be a great singer and you don't have to be Superman to be super. DO YOUR best. Period. It isn't complicated. Do THAT right now as part of your decision making process. 

Do what needs to be done to head daily in this direction. Example?

I got my butt kicked this morning in a 10.03 mile indoor time trial. Interestingly, in that process, I went almost a minute faster than my last attempt on the same course. 

I was the best I could be this morning, and still lost. 

I will do better. I will do what I need to do to become better. Now, as part of that process. THAT makes me happy. I have a goal. There is meaning. A quest. 

That, IMHO, is THE bigger win. Keeping that dream alive. 

Here is an outstanding autobiographical recap of Bradley Wiggins' TT to seal this years TdF.  I have had some of these thoughts. I trust one day I will again, because they contain my deepest understanding of the priorities that create a rich, satisfying and rewarding time trial. And by that I mean this life. See if you agree.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Respond and Resist


After a rather rollicking 2x20 set last night, I took the opportunity to expound upon this Training by Power phenomena. Apologetically, I began by citing my many past failures to adequately describe the myriad benefits accrued during, and after this demanding training protocol. Everybody recognizes the 'after' benefit. There is endorphin flow, elevated heart rate, skeleto-muscular satisfaction and an overall feeling of hubris and accomplishment. 

It is the the doing that gives us some grief. Understanding why this exacting scientific protocol works, why it is so demanding and why it is so valuable. Let's take a look at the how.

The CompuTrainer is a precise electronic ergometer capable of creating varying loads (resistance) and measuring your (the cyclists) response to the load. First we conduct a FTP (functional threshold power) 20 minute test. This gives us an accurate measurement of your current fitness and ability to sustain a power level. We conduct  the 20 minute (all-out)  test and note your average power output, as measured in watts. Your FTP is 95% of averaged 20 minute power. 

Here is where it gets interesting in a hurry.

We then set up twice weekly sessions to execute the 2x20 protocol: A five minute warm up, twenty minutes at 85% of your FTP, a five minute break and another twenty minutes at 85%. You then have as long as necessary to recover. Thankfully, as this protocol isn't a fanny kicker (like a time trial) you can cross train, ride intervals or go long as part of your regular schedule. All sounds fairly straightforward, no?

No.

Here are the two most common questions I get via our feedback loop mechanism (the post workout chat):
How fast should I be going? At what cadence? 

The answer that I have developed over time, and it changes every day, goes something like this:

Doesn't make any difference.

 I will explain.

There is a law of physics that states that objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless something causes them to slow or stop. The inertia (energy) you create by the application of force to pedals is work. Part one of the work cycle. Part two is in maintaining that inertia by a constant output for the duration of the protocol. The experienced and/or aware cyclist will quickly notice a dramatic change in perceived exertion between a high cadence/output, as measured by MPH, and a lower one. The tipping point routinely mentioned is 15MPH. Further, as we fix the load (at 85% of FTP) your sole requirement is to find that sweet spot combination of cadence, MPH, gear ratio and focus that gets your ass from zero to twenty twice. 

We fix the load, you respond to it as best you can. The result is physical adaptation. You get stronger. The load, in watts can also be seen as controlling a variable. You get maximum power benefit from doing whatever is necessary to get you through the set, and sometimes you just don't have it and are thusly forced into a slug fest grind at 10MPH, other times (say you rested, ate and managed stress well for the days leading up to your set) and spin through them at 25MPH, with a smile on your mug and a song in your heart. THE WATTAGE IS CONSTANT, WHAT ISN'T IS YOUR RESPONSE TO IT. 

You can make it a piece of cake or you can spin like a rusty gate. UP TO YOU. Science and art meet at the crossroads (and hoist a frosty one)

Next session try more diaphragmatic breathing. Test pre-drill meals. Hydrate more. Sleep more. Convince yourself that you will bring the focus of a Jedi Knight to the set and refuse to be distracted, by anything. 

We are in the process of a very magical sequence folks. We are changing not only the power in and of our bodies but developing an equally strong mind-body connection as well. This is big time stuff. There is guaranteed to be additional resistance, stress, in our lives, indicating to me that the sooner we learn to deal with it, the better we become at measuring and managing it and the stronger we become as a result of this practice, our overall chance to succeed is greatly enhanced. Towards mastery. Towards achievement. Towards a confident future. 

The beauty (and the truth) rests in your response to the resistance. 

Here is a very good analysis of the same scenario by Paul at Erg Video

The pic is Trixie in the park. She doesn't care about FTP, she responds to beauty, texture and touch. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Now Hiring


 Admit it: You have always wanted to be a screenwriter. You have always felt that deep inside there dwells a starving artist, lurking in the creative realm of your acute understanding of the human situation (comedy), and ready to unleash a masterpiece on civilization. This, of course, to serve the higher purpose of heightening the consciousness of mankind as well as to completely satisfy our collective thirst for witty dialogue and ironic plot twists. Oh, and with a happy ending. With a chase scene. And a love triangle perhaps. And tension. And drama. And conflict. And challenge. And an unsuspecting hero. With a pinch of pathos and a dash of the diabolical. And a killer sound track and eye-popping special effects. I will help you out with a simple template, so that all you have to do is fill in the blanks.

Act one. We meet the hero. He is lost, lonely and searching. For what we wonder. 
Introduce the challenge. Boy meets girl. Challenge accepted. 
Act two: The journey begins. The hero accepts the challenge head on. In doing so he loses girl. There is the moment of truth. Big time shit in deep kimchee. New girl appears swearing eternal love and devotion. Cue the chase scene. 
Act three: Hero does the dirty deeds dirt cheap, pummels the bad guys and gets the (right) girl back. Reconciliation as justice is wrapped up with a silver bow. The triumphant hero returns home. There is a parade and birds sing as credits roll.  

See how easy it is? 

So today I offer you the opportunity to be a screenwriter. I have exactly one week to script, create, edit and produce my annual video tribute to the year. That's right, it's time for 2012 with the RCVman. Today I am feverishly assembling stills and video from all that we did these past twelve months. The idea is to mash them together and Kung Fu a one hour highlight piece to use for visual entertainment during our last spin of the year in the House of Mirth, Saturday, Dec 29 @ 0730 and again on Monday, Dec 31 at a time to be determined later. (Check your local listings)

Here is how to hone your craft and motivate that inner writer referenced in the opening paragraph: Share one, or as many as apply, magic and mirthful moment(s) from 2012. You need not embellish or sugar-coat. No double spacing, no brass page binders, and in any font you like. Remind me of all the good stuff that we did in 2012.

Because there was too much for me to recall on my own.

                     ###END###

Pix: For ten bonus points (each) ID these two famous writers. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

!!!!!

Running out the door last Friday, confident I had packed everything necessary into a single carry-on backpack (my favorite custom-designed Timbuk2), I froze mid-stride in the realization that I missed reading material for the flight. A paperback. Somewhat of an old-school item. Electronic gadgetry having conquered yet another new realm. But I like turning pages and I like taking notes, underlining key phrases, juicy quotes and using what I call the advanced heart-of-the-matter side column notation comment. There is an acronym for this as you might expect, but mostly the AHOMSCNC is rendered to a single punctuation mark. Further, the two most common by far are the question mark and the exclamation point. In recent years this has expanded to icons as well, sometimes leaving a happy face, dollar sign or star scribbled in the white space. I am quite sure the electronic gadgetry offers this handy feature in binary form, so I am not telling you (the smart, efficient and upscale of you that travel with a reader) anything you don't already know. 

However, in illustration of my analog technique, here are a few highlight examples from my most recent trips that I thought you might enjoy. Which is somewhat ironic because 100% of you are reading this on an electronic device of some sort. 

"It's the moment when some tension is erased. So the happy life has its recurring set of rhythms: difficult to harmony, difficult to harmony." * David Brooks 

"Neurotic obsessed suffering is essential for greatness." ** David K. Reynolds  

"All of life is the exercise of risk."  <  William Sloane Coffin  

"To dispose a soul to action we must upset its equilibrium."  :) Eric Hoffer  

"The three goals of exercise: 1) Rejuvenate the body and cultivate the mind, 2) Remove stress, 3) Develop mind-body coordination."  $$$ John Douillard 

"In order to satisfy the deepest desires of our heart we must embrace the taboo."  &? David Deida  

"If evil comes from God, there must be something good in evil. Listen to me because you are a man, and men are not used to thinking in the right way of everything that is."  ? Umberto Eco  

"Go all out or all go home." RCVman (8,220 Google results) !!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tucson Endurance Performance Center


Five minutes to show and tell. A quick video snapshot of the fantastic Tuscon Endurance Performance Center. Brian Grasky tells us about how they set up and operate their CompuTrainer Multi-Rider studio in downtown Tucson. He also shares with us why it is such a potent and powerful training tool, even when it is 72 sunny degrees one step outside their door. More at GEC and RM1.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mt. Lemmon Video



Tomorrow, or more likely on Monday, as we have a shoot scheduled tomorrow for 0600 at the Tucson Endurance Performance Center and, with any luck at all an Urban TT after, I will expound in somewhat operatic terms on what whent down, besides the riders, on that closing curtain aria grand finale descent. If it appeared to you like a quartet of elite cyclists at a record-setting 26 mile pace, you know half of it.

I will whet your whistle by saying that the cast of supporting characters on that ride include two wild turkeys, two ninjas, the local Sheriff, The Garmin team and Giuseppe Verdi.

All for now. Goodnight.

Back in Tucson

 Last time I was in Arizona was to film for the 2007 Ironman Arizona Real Course Video. At that time the camera mount and rig was heavy, cumbersome, obtrusive and required a two-person team, a driver and camera operator. I was the latter and hired the former. The course, by popular opinion and as proven by my trusty Garmin 305 is, as they say, flatter than a pancake.

Today, on the other hand, we go to the other extreme in filming the infamous climb to Mt. Lemmon, a few miles outside of Tucson. My rig today was carried aboard flight 2824 on my back, utilizes three cams, two forward and one rear, and allows single user operation. It also captures better images, cleaner, sharper and direct to disc.

All this meaning that you get product quicker, with less time consuming and costly post production and in higher resolution.

Today is December 8. I will have today's work (two files) to the home office on Monday. The idea is to get YOU the RCV in time to impact this training season. That means by the end of January.

And folks I want to tell you that there are good reasons why so many coaches choose this area for winter training camps. You will see a few of them tonight when I download media.

My hosts today are the fine folks at Grasky Endurance. Brain Grasky and teammates will lead us up the mountain and then back down again. We hope to get three separate stage shots over the 26 miles. The weather looks to be perfect, in the 70s with little wind.  All systems are go.

It is before 6 in the morning and I have to get to the meet point, rig the rental and establish a choreography. I think it is going to be a great day in the Saugaro National Park.

Yesterday was a travel day. Had my Mojo socks on during the two flights and mapped out shoot location over a couple of Negra Modelos, the first since Lanzarote, after arrival.

Shoot report later tonight. Have a good ride. Adios.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Magic

Yesterday was amazing. Magic. I don't precisely know what made it so, but there was something that bound the day's thread of awareness together like a taut double-bowline. To coin the popular vernacular, cool shit happened. And happened often. 

I didn't win the lottery because I don't play. No bright, talented, stable and athletic lady asked me out for an Italian dinner. I took no drugs and enjoyed a single glass of malbec late in the day. There was little call for hubris from the weather. I did not beat my nephew at chess. 

What then?

You. The magic of you. It seemed to me that every interaction, almost every conversation, each exchange contained a tiny wisp of wisdom. It was as if all I had to do was prime the pump and the anecdotal fountains would flow. Experienced shared, efforts compared, lessons learned. All day. And, perhaps surprisingly, not all of the same subject matter. 

Although maybe because of it. When we quoted Gandhi yesterday about Good Health being True Wealth, is started a flow of consciousness that spiraled outward, under its own power and with massive momentum. It was presented in class as a suggestion, an option, something to consider as we evoked endorphin flow to stimulate physical adaptation through intervals of high intensity and subsequent recovery. To this there was an immediate, electric group response. I will tell you this from my experiences as both a lecturer, a comedian and a group leader, that NOTHING is more satisfying (and nerve calming) than a unanimous and spontaneous group laugh. The opposite of that is what is known as death on stage. I have been there and let me tell you folks, root canal sans novocaine is more fun. But yesterday it all worked. We rocked, we rolled, we worked hard, toasted some K-cals and we laughed together. There was undeniable value for all. Even the staunchest of the reo-cons admired its social-ism. 

That positive momentum we generated stayed with me the entire day. We talked about the hero's journey, of valor, of inspiration, of responsibility, the value of community, team work, the subjectivity of perceived exertion and the objects of our desires. We talked about the zen of washing dishes by hand. We traded the secrets of commerce. We pitched ideas to the gate keepers of the deep pocketed hoping they would be caught in high-towered board rooms. We adjusted our creative caps, twisting them till the angle felt 'just right'. We flirted a little, tossing compliments just for fun, returning smiles and sharing reckless joy. We paid bills, our dues, and sighed in relief that the cost of living left us with enough for a last laugh. 

You can take my money. You can take my house. You can take everything I own. 

But you cannot take my health and my spirit. With those two I will rebuild, I will return to the fight. I will be back. Stronger than before. More experienced, wiser and with an army that is likewise ready to rumble. Ready to live. Ready to love and ready to laugh. 

That army would be you. 

This is a call to arms folks. I need you to be strong. To commit. Now. Let's do this thing. Let's take charge of our health and fitness. We can control that. It is our destiny. 

And I dare to call that Magic. 

A sampling of video collected yesterday as we ran the gamut of emotion.

An excellent study on the value of high intensity intervals in cycle training.
An outstanding video of the Brownlees and their coaching staff. 
One poignant scene, among many, from Godfather III. This last one comes with my editorial footnote that Vincent is doing his duty, being loyal to Michael, and trying to protect Mary. When he closes his eyes (pic) he is opening his heart to her. That is what makes his next line so powerful and devastating. That and the cut-away to Michael. Magic of the Movies. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Listen up



With the passing of Dave Brubeck yesterday, I would like to do a double-shot post and present this smoking hot version of his standard Take Five. Please, please please, pay particular attention to the vintage 1964 clip as it shows very clearly the one single trait that separates great musicians from the merely good, (or in my case the occasionally wretched and mostly horrid), that of LISTENING. Watch as drummer Joe Morello keeps constant eye contact with the band, and then, in turn Dave does a 180 swivel to enjoy Joe's sizzling solo. The quartet maintains a subtle vibe (in titular 5/4 time), allowing bandmates to artistically and seamlessly stretch into their interpretation of the piece, a soulful exploration of, yes, the power of passion. Take Five. Where speed and cadence converge in a graceful and elegant jazzy harmonic. Thank you Dave. We may have lost the hard drive but the memory of your music will last forever at the cellular level.

Passion IS Power


Back to basics. Building blocks. The foundation. I would like to start with two powerful quotes from two people for whom I maintain great reverence and respect. The first is from Gandhi:

"Real wealth is good health". And, 

David Olgivy, The King of Madison Avenue, who is quoted as saying,

"Don't bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals."

I like both of those quotes. Each has an intensity and singular focus that brings a larger picture to view. That being the importance of passion. Because it is crucial, dear friends, that we pack this ingredient into every lunch box. Without passion every sandwich is going to taste like styrofoam on rye. A lot of baloney on white bread. If the time has come for you to make a monumental decision, as that time has come for me, then passion needs to power to pick.

You can keep what you have always had by doing what you have always done. Or, as cited by the Gandhi example, if you have felt the empirical effects of the journey we refer to in a politically correctly manner as the 'aging process', and suddenly realize that he is 100% dead solid right on target, you need to do something outside of the status quo. One must embark on a hero's journey. One must have passion for this cause, or else it simply WILL NOT work.

You will quit.
You will accept mediocrity.
You will fail and fall.
You will seek the comfort of convenience.
You will dummy down.
You will buy a flat screen plasma 80" TV.
You will give up.
And then you will die. 

You health IS the only real wealth. Make a daily deposit. Compound your interest. Add passion.

Is there honestly a more noble quest? You aren't going to get much done in your pajamas. We train (and train hard) at oh-dark-thirty because we have lots on our plates. There is much to do. This hero stuff is 24/7 non-stop action. You snooze you lose. I want to be passionate about everything. Every pedal rotation, every watt, every cup of coffee, every conversational exchange, every kiss. 

You can have ho-hum. You can keep your convention. I have no time for quaint, normal or average. The pedestrian can walk, I am going to run. I will accept status quo when its status is perfect. Our chain of events are oiled by it. I want passion. 

And I want it now. 

There, that's better. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Buy the T-Shirt?

It was a great way to give a little something back. The International contractor I was employed by also maintained about a thousand general laborers. Many of them worked directly under my supervision. The company, in a rare moment of forward thinking, initiated a program called Alternative Education. Simply, any managers or directors who wanted to share their experience, education, special skills or talents with the work force, mainly Filipinos and Mauritians, could do so. It was pretty cool with syllabus ranging from Electronics 101 to Advanced Polka. Coming into this position I had been sales and marketing manager for a publishing company, so chose to offer my experiences and lessons learned in a class called The Basics of Successful Marketing. To my surprise about 50 people signed up for the free, twice weekly sessions. And we were underway.

Although it required a lot of my time for class preparation, the hour sessions themselves we of high reciprocal value. By the second week we had created a powerful and positive group bond, fostered by a technique, known in the motivational speaking circles, as anchoring. It is a Pavlovian tactic designed to create a response from a signal. This is important in sales. The old getting to yes idea. I smile and you smile. I create a atmosphere of trust and you agree to my suggestions. In this particular case we used the anchor of awareness. I was big on that at the time. Still am. The thinking being that if you are 100% in the moment, cognizant of everything surrounding you, accidents are (significantly) reduced. This was an important theme at the time with the military, for what should be obvious reasons. My strategy was to build awareness first and everything after that would be OK. It was, I felt, a solid foundational concept with which to build a successful marketing plan upon. 

I asked for daily practice. Our anchor was to be a right hand tug on the right ear lobe. Whenever one of us passed in the Admin building, in the mess hall, on the ballfield or on the way to church, the power of the present moment was reinforced by the lobe tug. It bound us in camaraderie, and pretty soon there were a hundred of us acknowledging each others presence and strengthening our commitment to the power of the now. That exclusive club went on to achieve a level of performance and safety soon to be the company standard. We won awards and provided an outstanding service to our customers, the men and women of the United States Navy. 

Somebody asked me one day what all that had to do with Marketing. I replied  that marketing was the manifestation of paying attention to the needs of a demographic group and creating solutions to satisfy their wants, needs or desires. We were simply practicing paying attention, the first phase of the curriculum. 

"Oh." 

I share all this with you today because yesterday I felt a quart low on focus. My membership in that small but powerful group of special forces felt more like a bored game of solitaire. Distraction came seemingly from all directions. My back hurt. The check in the mail is lost. More rain is the forecast. No call came from someone just wanting to say hi. Worse, I felt barraged by media. An assault on my anchoring. Some silly global event that in my cynicism I find grossly irrelevant. One of those events that we will get updates on for what will seem like forever.

And here is my response:

Starting today, every time you hear about the Duchess of Cambridge carrying her royal baby, please anchor with the thought that you need to ride your bike. 

Kate = Go spin

That should get us some serious training miles for the next nine months. Cheers!

By the T here