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At the end of my 12-week SL5x5 routine, I did a strength test, in the form of a mock powerlifting meet. 

Excruciating Mongo-Smash detail... )

Where next?  Well, I'm still on for the thousand and more: this is working for me, and working nicely.  I'm going to give Madcow 5x5 a go.  I respond well to pushing this 5-rep point -- much better than I respond to training to failure or repping out. 

And perhaps more importantly: those lifts are handy enough that I'll look out for a novice/masters powerlifting meet next year and try my hand in competition.  Yay!
andygates: (Default)
Coming to the end of the 12-week Stronglifts 5x5 program and it's been ace. Challenging and rewarding - and I'll get some test numbers out in a couple of weeks when it's done. For now, I'm looking at the future.

I've got a couple of programs in sight for the next quarter: Madcow 5x5, and Wendler 5/3/1. Madcow's a continuation of the 5x5 exercises with pyramid sets and a heavy-light-medium staging; Wendler has other exercises and heavy singles and a powerlifting-dedicated plan. I enjoy heavy singles. I enjoy 5x5 simplicity. I'm not sure I'm advanced enough for Wendler, but then I wasn't sure I'd survive squats every session with 5x5, either. A dilemma I'm sure will resolve itself by the time I get around to choosing.

Does anyone have any other recommendations? Strength program for an intermediate lifter.
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I've been wondering about how good you need to be before attending a powerlifting meet, so I had a look at the GB Powerlifting Federation's local results page.  Not so much looking at the front of the pack where the barbells bend like Dali noodles and Very Big Men With Legs Like Trees* rule, so much as seeing what sort of level a dabbler should be without embarassing themselves. 


I remember doing this with triathlons too, looking at the results to see if I could expect to come in at the back or two sigmas off the back.  So: this link is a recent master's, junior and novice meet -- noobs like me. Looking at the athletes who are close to my bodyweight... I'm not there yet, but damn, you know, I might well be there next year. That's invigorating!


Just gotta unsuck this bench press... :)






* Dale Clark, The Squat.



Classic gym poetry :) )


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I'm in week 9 of this 12-week Stronglifts 5x5 programme, and things are starting to stall out a bit.  It's taking several goes to make a weight, and the progression is losing its relentless linearity. According to my stats, I'm as strong as I've ever been, and all at once. 

The 5x5 rep/set structure and big compound lifts have, very effectively, taken up all the muscle memory I laid down in the past.  This is awesome for a re-starter, but I think it means SL5x5 isn't a lifetime plan.  Well, it was never meant to be: I'm looking now at cutting the number of sets to 3x5 in the monster lifts, where the volume (weight x reps) gets absurdly huge and hard to recover from.  The warmup weight starts to be considerable, big enough to factor into recovery, so it's not "air squats then 5 x 60kg" (which is how my SL started, cripes!) so much as "60, 100, and then 3x 127.5" (this evening's bar-bending fun).

Itching to do some heavy singles, too, but that's for week 13, which is "Let's Pretend: Powerlifter" week, chasing PRs.  Chasing that thousand.

What comes after that?  I'm considering an actual (gasp) intermediate strength program -- something like 3 full body workouts with Heavy, Light, Medium instead of linear progression, sawtoothing the max up once a week).

I'll call SL5x5 a huge success for what it is: a beginner-to-intermediate strength program that's really hard to screw up, and well suited for restarters who can gorge on muscle-memory newbie gains for a couple of months. 
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I've been wanting to get back in the gym for ages; just as I was getting set up for it, LEJOG prep and now a triathlon have got me with their beams of shiny.  Once Burnham is done and dusted...

A shift all-out to some focused lifting.  I looked at a strength assessment a while back and it reminded me (bigtime) that I'm a fair squatter, a really rather good deadlifter, but a novice bench-presser.  It's been an avoid-training-weaknesses-because-they-suck thing.  Well, balls to that.  I'm going to go with 12 weeks of the 5x5 programme, which has a good reputation and satisfies my urge to pick up heavy things and put them down again.   

One thing I got from LEJOG was a grok of the idea that repeat small stuff makes big results.  I think that reflecting that on the winter's deadlift goal -- where it was less structured but still solid -- I have a mental toolkit for plugging away at this and not letting myself get derailed.  Bored, distracted, or whatever, yes, but almost a degree of detachment that should keep me on track.  Less "this sucks" because there's always an hour of suck, so just ignore it; less "ooh shiny" because shiny isn't going to get the miles in.

Also: that 74-year-old gymrat grannyAwesome.  My inner transhumanist wants to see Aubrey de Grey all buffed up and greybearded, so it does.  Between her and Jack laLanne and the inevitable wonderful old gimmer plugging round every club tri circuit, I think Yoda needs updating: "When this old you are, look this good you may well."
andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
This year's go at Burnham Triathlon in two weeks' time is going to be a spectacular ass-pull.  I haven't run since winter, haven't swum all year, and all my cycling has been of an entirely different character (super low effort, super long duration); my high-effort cardio fitness is somewhere back with the autumn leaves, I think.  The Auld Knee is another factor: it hates torque, and TT riding is torquey spin. 

So, some tests before actually racing:

Swim: Can I actually remember how to swim crawl at all?    If I can, can I get back to the required 20 lengths without puking up a lung?  Get in the pool and JFDI.

Bike: Does riding hard hurt?  And more importantly, does the hurt matter?  Through LEJOG there was plenty of hurt, but ample ibuprofen meant it shut up an went away; also the first ten miles hurt worst, so a warmup may be indicated. Torque hurts more but if it's just a rubbish signal from complaining gristle, I can pill and tune it out to a degree.  Get the road bike fettled and hammer some commutes.  Do Science on it.

Run: Can I actually run?  Apparently yes I can -- if I can do 20 minutes now, I can do the 30-35 that Burhnam's sandy 5k offers, on race-day when the gumption is high.  Cardio effort is extreme though, and my feet and calves are like "wat?".  Test passed, though it's going to be ugly. 
andygates: (Default)
There's an interesting series of articles in Science in Sport covering the pros, cons and history of barefoot running, running shoes, biomechanics -- the whole deal.  In particular: barefootin' keeps the foot arch active, which is good for keeping arches archy; different running shoes for, eg, pronators have no effect on injury rates (voodoo science ftw!); barefootin' is over-reported because it's all cheerleaders and none of the people who mullered their calves and then gave up (as I did on my first pass: second time around, more methodical, and it's taking).  Also this, which is very relevant to the 'jogging explosion' , my personal running history and mass-participation sport in general: a 200lb+ non-runner just wouldn't have started to run at all before the modern cushioned shoe, so even if he ends up on minimal shoes, the journey would have warranted some nice plush stuff initially.

Kneehab

Dec. 29th, 2009 08:12 pm
andygates: (Default)
Guess what?  I CAN RUN AGAIN!  A wardrobe malfunction meant I missed the gym, so when I got in I suited up for a little easy jog - 17 minutes with a few dashes.  Knees: GOLDEN.  Calves cramping, feet aching, glutes startled, shins tweaking, but that's just conditioning.  The bad knee is not bad!

Jack's back, baby, Jack's back. :D

So for reference that's 8 weeks off running, most of that time off the bike as well, for running through an obvious Something Wrong for several hours.  I've put on over half a stone too.  Let that be a lesson to any macho types - when it goes sproing you stop.  It might have healed a bit faster if I'd been a tad more religious about the physio, too...

Now to re-learn to run with lots more medial glute action.  But hey, the gym is 2km from work, perfect warm-up and warm-down distance (on nice days!).
andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Next Sunday is the marathon run.  I hear that one carb-loads for such things, and that carb-loading isn't just a big bowl of pasta the night before.  Edumacate me!

(psst: www.justgiving.com/andygates)

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I don't usually do the charity fundraiser thing - I'm awfully shy about asking people for cash and it seems rude and slightly weird when I'm having fun.  But this Druid Challenge muddy marathon is different - it's keeping me awake with good old existential dread. 

So the charity thing is a hook.  It's the big ol' "you can't back down now, boy" that's going to keep me going at mile seventeen when the end is still out of sight and the sleet is coming down.  Yes, I'm exploiting cute little orphan children to push me to the finish.  No, of course I have no morals.

What charity?  Red Cross - "unconditional care in a crisis" is as close to universal good guys as you're going to find.  www.justgiving.com/andygates

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After falling on my head, I've signed up to race the Druid Challenge.  Not all of it - it's an 85 mile ultramarathon - but the last day, along the Ridgeway from Wantage to Avebury.  Near as dammit a marathon.  In seven weeks' time. 

I think "WTF" covers everything.

So, training plan.   I love me some plans.  Looking around, all marathon plans have a taper between 2 and 3 weeks, and most don't go up to race distance for noobs like me.  Runners World's Basic Marathon Plan peaks at 16-18 miles; the alternative FIRST Plan peaks at 20 miles and tapers longer.  The rest of the week is variously structured, so the traditional "long run at the weekend, couple of short runs in the week" rough outline ought to do.  Build up the distance to a peak leaving 2 weeks to taper down. 

Now, where the hell can I find long offroad tracks to train on? 
andygates: (Default)
Took the FiveFingers out for a proper run (albeit a short one) for the first time just now, on mixed surfaces, mostly pavement.

They're really going to beast / build my soleus and tibialis - the columnar muscles in the calf.  After two miles / 15 minutes I have the most preposterous lower-leg pump and not much else, so further results will come when the lower legs are up to spec!  I'll definitely be feeling that tomorrow.

I can feel my toes trying to grip the road and, unlike when that happens inside a shoe, they're actually getting purchase and data.  A bit too grippy, I think, but give me time to acclimatize.  Running on grass is a childish delight; sprinting on grass is silly-grin stuff.  Running on dirt is interesting.  Running on pavement isn't as bad as you might think - there's some skill in getting the heel dab right (not too much or you jar, not too little or you're on tip-toes all the way round). 

The feeling of "foot euphoria" was back, and I was scampering across surfaces just to see how they felt.  Yes, scampering, it's that kind of vibe.

There's this notion I have for gear, a sort of "enhanced nakedness" - gear that powers you up but doesn't take away from the essential human animal making it all work; the power-ups can be trivial or paradigm-changing, but they're all forgettable to the user, blending in.  Or something.  There's a riff on superhero outfits and bicycles here, but it needs refining.  Anyway, the fivefingers fit into this class of kit: they're just a buff for bare feet.  Compare to the Nike Rift, which is all split and clever, but still boingy. 
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Carlates?  What is this?  Why, it's pilates in your car, of course.

Babylon, mon.  Babylon.

Marine!

Oct. 15th, 2008 07:13 pm
andygates: (hellboy)
I stumbled across this while surfing fitness resources: it's the US Marine Corps physical fitness rules.  The first half is procedural chuff.  A sign of how far the world has come?  There are rules here for handling the physical fitness testing of pregnant Marines.  That's just so cool.  In a war-machine "service guarantees citizenship" kinda way. 

The actual tests and grades come in about halfway through the document. 
andygates: (hellboy)
The benefits of early morning swims are many, but the following should not be underestimated: returning from the pool to one's vehicle, and being bounded past by a tanned twenty-something athlete with legs up to her armpits, in rainbow hotpants, carrying a pair of spike patent-leather heels; the entire spectacle illuminated by golden morning light.

Whether the benefit of which I speak is that fine and carefree athletic carriage, or just the view, I shall leave up to the reader.
andygates: (Default)
Has u seen mah bukket?The river today was much warmer, and we put a thermomomometer in to see.  Ten degrees (fifty to you yanks).  Okay, it took the best part of ten minutes to get comfortable, but the temperature was fine for actual swimming.  So any swim that there is, isn't going to scare us because of the cold.  I'm glad on that count alone that we made the effort to get wet.

Of course there had to be an issue.  I swim well only on an empty stomach, and I mean empty.  2 hours from a light snack, 3 from a meal.  Hungry works.  Fasted first-thing works well.  So a big late lunch and a pasty grabbed on the drive over was dumb -- and yea, verily was the price paid in spades.  From this are revealed three things:
  1. Barf chunks in your beard are bad, hm'kay?  But the swim washes them out.
  2. Never underestimate the bloodymindedness of a guy who knows how bad it would be to bail on the swim.  Even if he has barf in his beard.
  3. There is no shame in brainlooping the verses of Rocky 2's Burning Heart if that's what gets you to the end. 
andygates: (Default)
Very serious-looking photos of [profile] fialta and me from respective half-marathons are hiding behind the cut.  Sorry, [profile] xeeny, it looks like you were just too bloody fast for the camera!
Clicky! )
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Bloody hell, I aten't dead.  Despite the illness, injury, turned ankle, storms, utter lack of training, the Somme theme park and plagues of locusts, I somehow managed to pull in a 2:22 finish.  It's a par with my personal-worst, but this time I was 'training through'.


Time for a nice glass of red.
andygates: (Default)
As reported on the Beeb, a small study of long-distance runners shows that probiotics reduce the number of reported sick days.  It's not clear whether the effect is on endurance athletes (bolstering a stressed immune system) or on skinny people (normalising an unusual gut flora) -- but as a walking sicknote who runs and is planning on doing a fair few long things this year, I'm probably going to give it a try.

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