Archive | January 2014

Getting up wicked early

If your day calls for two workouts, for instance my Tuesdays, assuming you have a job with normal hours you probably have to do one of those workouts in the morning before work. If you were in the military, this is the time of the day affectionately referred to as “oh dark thirty”. It can be disheartening to wake up when the morning news has its B team on, but it is a necessity.

Most of us can get out of bed OK and make it to the workout but the next person who says “Don’t you just feel so energized after your workout?” might get a slap to the back of the head. If I finished my workout the night before at 8:30 pm and I am up again at 5:00 AM the next day, by 11:00 AM I am most certainly not energized. My solution is simple, caffeine. I bought a Starbucks Verismo espresso maker as a family present for Christmas. Sarah got me a thermos which can keep liquids hot in subzero temperatures for something like 5 hours.



The trick I have found to make this very effective is to make your own “shot in the dark”. Once you pull the espresso, top it off with regular coffee. All you need is a normal coffee maker, ours is from Mr. Coffee.


This is the kind with the thermal pot so if I have to workout but Sarah doesn’t, it will still be hot for her. In case there is any question – the shot in the dark is for after the workout, otherwise you may have to run off to the bathroom in the middle of your workout, which sucks if that workout happens to be swimming.

This method can keep you somewhat normal during your job. My one piece of sage advice is not to sleep in on your non-workout mornings. Even though you could sleep in, I recommend still waking up just having your coffee and relaxing. This way the experience of waking up on your workout mornings might be a little less jarring.



Biking with Raylan Givens


Here is Sarah understandably surprised at her husband (me) who is pointing a camera at her during her trainer ride. I was watching some Top Gear downstairs when I noticed Sarah bringing her trainer, shoes, and bike upstairs. I have never seen her do this before so I was curious…moments later I heard the unmistakable sound of a bike tire rolling a CycleOps fluid trainer so I decided to investigate matters. While it looks like she is in the middle of watching some softcore pornography, in reality she was in the middle of season 2 of Justified. 

It was very cold out this night so we do what we have too! She knew she had to ride for at least an hour, so why not enjoy some Raylan Givens at the same time?

Only in Boulder

Yesterday Sarah and I ran a 10K in Louisville, Colorado called the Prairie Dog Arctic Half Marathon and 10K. We aren’t ready for a half marathon yet but the 10K is a good distance for us. Personally, I haven’t run 10K all in one day in many years…like probably 15 or 16 of them. Sarah is better off than I, she did a half marathon (Horsetooth Half in Fort Collins) a few years back. Our coach Nicole and her husband Nick were there and ran the 10K with us. Nicole, a pregnant lady, beat me badly!

While we were waiting to get on the course (the 1/2 marathoners went first) I noticed an adult Blue Healer hanging out somewhat close to me. I looked at her and smiled and she bounced right up and greeted me. Sarah and I are dog people so this didn’t bother us at all. Her owner came by momentarily concerned that her dog, Penelope, was bothering us. She explained that Penelope was deaf and enjoyed running with the crowds of people. A few minutes after I crossed the finish line I came across a an effusive Penelope with a sweaty and worn out owner. Only in Boulder (Louisville is very close to Boulder) would you find a well behaved disabled dog running a 10K!

Along with the run on Saturday Sarah and I did our long swim on Saturday and did an hour and a half trainer ride.

Respiration, Glycogen, and any time anyone ever says “Anaerobic Threshold”

Having taken a couple of advanced microbiology classes in an ill-fated attempt to get into veterinary school, I sometimes have a skeptical attitude towards trainers and their understanding of biology. So, for a brief moment, I will put on my science professor hat and I will step us through some of this jargon.

Firstly, we have to understand why we breathe. Oddly enough, this is never explained by any training material but it has an important relationship to exercise. Oxygen, as we all know, is needed to us to live. Few people can pinpoint exactly why that is. In order to understand that, we have to get microscopic. In order to for cells to do their jobs, they need to go through a process called cellular respiration. In this process (you might have some nightmares about terms like the “Krebs Cycle”) cells generate a substance called adenosine tri phosphate or simply ATP. ATP is what gives the cells the ability to do their respective jobs. The waste product produced by respiration (more properly, the electron transport chain) is an electron in the form of a carbon atom which is removed from the cell via oxygen. Now your brain is firing away connecting the dots of knowledge that you already had – you breath out carbon dioxide.

You might think – “Well that is all well and good, but what if I hold my breath?” Which is an excellent question because you can stay conscious holding your breath even after your body is starting to be deprived of Oxygen. Of course, the body has another way of producing energy. Fermentation, broadly, does the same thing except it produces lactate as a waste product which is removed from cells using completely different system.

Aerobic processes produce far more ATP than fermentation. However, it is not perfect. Some cells do not have mitochondria and therefore will never participate in aerobic respiration. The production of ATP through the electron transport chain, while efficient, isn’t exactly like a factory where it can simply work faster. If the body exceeds the ATP needs of aerobic respiration or if the body rapidly requires the use of more ATP, then fermentation is the only option the body has.

Now for the “anaerobic threshold” which is on everyone’s’ tongue. Put simply, untrained athletes require much more ATP than a trained athlete does, as a result, for the same amount of work (say, running a 5K in 30 minutes) an untrained athlete’s body will resort to using fermentation for making energy for the same amount of work. The resulting soreness in the untrained athlete is the buildup of lactic acid.

Keep in mind that I drastically simplified this process so it can fit into a blog length post. I use the word “fermentation” instead of “anaerobic” because technically anaerobic means not in the presence of oxygen. Although it is splitting hairs, fermentation and ATP production using oxygen happens at the same time in the cell. Therefore oxygen is present and is not technically anaerobic. Fermentation is the chemical process used to produce acid from sugar whether oxygen is present or not.

50 Meter Pool available in Thornton!

For those of us that want to experience swimming in an Olympic size pool, the City of Thornton has one available at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center. This pool is not open to the public but it CAN be accessed as part of the Masters Swim Program. The program is free but you need to pay admission to the pool itself.

Here are the fees and the Masters Swim Schedule.

Practice Schedule

Monday/Wednesday/Friday     5:30 – 7 a.m.
Tuesday/Thursday   8:00 – 9:30 p.m.
(Weather permitting, June 4 – August 15. Tu/Th practice will be moved to Park Village Pool 6-7:30p.m.)

Practices are subject to cancellation due to School District holidays and closures.

Punch cards are available for purchase ONLY at the Carpenter Recreation Center, you must bring your punch cards with you in order to swim at the Natatorium.  No admittance will be given if you do not have your card.  You may also purchase a one-time daily pass at the Carpenter Recreation Center if you are just wanting to try the program out before purchasing a punch card.

The cost for a daily pass is $46 for adults (18 – 61 years) and $5 for seniors (62+).

20 Visit Punch Cards
Adults (18 – 61 years): $76
Seniors (62+): $52

10 Visit Punch Cards
Adults (18 – 61 years): $51.50
Seniors (62+): $38

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New saddle new tire

This weekend Sarah and I took care of some items related to our bikes. Firstly, we got fitted for new saddles. Sarah has a new Trek Domane with the stock Bontrager saddle which was apparently hitting her in the wrong spots. I have no trouble believing that because on my saddle was rotten as well. We went to a local bike shop (Wheat Ridge Cyclery) and got new saddles. Odd that we would ride specialized saddles on Trek bikes but hey, let your undercarriage go numb once and see if you care about mixing brands.


We tested out our new saddles on our trainers…which aren’t new. We bought them used a while ago and quickly found out that regular road tires and trainers don’t mix. It leaves rubber shavings all over the floor and causes the tire to take on a flatter shape. Talk about a newbie mistake. We bought Continental trainer tires which are supposed to be better and largely, they are. Mainly, I am just happy I am not ruining my new Gatorskin tires.

trainer tire

What I am up to this week

If your typical week starts on Sunday (like I was taught in school)

Sunday – 1 hour bike (spinner or trainer) I chose spinner

Monday – 35 minute run

Tuesday – TRX strength train, 40 minute swim (1800 m)

Wednesday – 1 hour bike, 35 minute run

Thursday – Run (5K time trial), strength train

Friday – Have a nap

Saturday – Team swim (typically 2200 to 3000 m) for one hour, 45 minute run. I think I will substitute the run for some cross country skiing.


New Years Resolutioners

It is the first week of the new year, and the for the past three weeks or so a common topic of conversation regards how weird it will be at the gym from about January to April. A time when the gym balloons with members, all the classes are jam packed, and the lap pool is always three to a lane. Normally we are complaining about this when we are at the gym at some ridiculous time (like 7:30 on New Years Eve) when no one else is around. This isn’t a new complaint, there is a collective groan at this time by gym regulars because we know the pain we are in for until late spring.

A few days ago I ran across a blog from someone complaining from the other side of my scorn. After I read it I realized that I was that person, I was the gym rat causing enough annoyance that she herself wrote a blog complaining about us gym regulars being, well, unwelcoming. Before I get to that, I will share some statistics from the gym I attend. In the beginning months of the year my gym will grow by 4,000 members. Of those people who sign up, approximately 20% will retain their memberships. Form a purely mathematical perspective, I win, my irritation is justified by statistics. I have been at this particular gym (4 years) long enough to see this cycle play out over and over again.

On the other hand, I read the “Note to Gym Rats” and I have to admit that us regulars are probably not particularly helpful to newbies and if you just showed up to a gym after years of being unhealthy, you are already self conscious and out of your comfort zone, my cranky attitude is a huge turn off. Of course, I am only one person and we don’t meet up with each other to discuss how to make life miserable for new people so there is a shared experience among us that can’t be ignored either.

There are a few times when someone’s perspective really knocks you off your line of thought and this person’s writing did exactly that for me. So I thought about it for a little while and I have relaxed my stance on a few things. I put myself in the newbie’s shoes and thought of a few things.

1. Fitness Centers (mine included) are especially slimy to new members, hard selling things like personal training (I have issues with personal trainers), cardio assessments – what do you need to asses them for, they know they are fat and out of shape, and supplements with dubious benefits.

2. Signing up in January is a terrible idea, the place is packed, all the classes are packed, and daylight is in short supply. Summer is a much better time, classes have slimmed down, and many people who work out at the fitness center as a matter of necessity (runners, bikers, etc) are outside instead of inside.

3. For as much money as gym memberships cost, the least one could offer is a FREE packet on the basics of cardiovascular and resistance training, as well as proper gym etiquette.  Most people don’t need a personal trainer at $70 an hour to jump on a treadmill.

4. 20-30 minute free weightlifting seminars.

5. Most importantly, for the newbies. Welcome to the gym. You might think that we all look at you and are collectively disgusted by your physical appearance. What I am actually thinking is some combination of “Look he/she is hitting the treadmill, good them him/her” or “He/she is making positive change, hopefully they stick with it”.