Hunger is funny


Went with the wife and kid to the park.

Around lunch time I got hungry.

Since we were near Los Gatos, my brain became focused on going to Icing on the Cake. Which is weird. I don’t like eating pastries because it throws my training completely off.

Since we were with the kid we got lunch first. After a good lunch I no longer wanted to go to the pastry shop.

what had happened, I presume, is that i was so hungry that my body was looking for the highest concentration of calories it could find.

Week 17 – Why is there no cyclist high?


cycling_highRunners High is this thing that runners talk about all the time. This perfect moment where running feels as natural as breathing.

You never hear about cyclists high. In fact if you do a Google search the number one hit for “cycling high” is an article about a different kind of high while cycling…

Cycling is this brutal, painful and annoying activity. Unlike running, cycling makes this promise that you’ll never injure yourself unless, you know, you hit a car or fall off.

After a week in Hawaii where I ran and swam, cycling was a pain in the ass. Literally. And my muscles felt horrible while cycling. And yet I was able to move faster and stronger than I had in a while. Which was confusing. Here I am making real progress in my ability and performance and simultaneously it feels worse.

What is going on?

Well the Scientific American has an awesome blog post on the topic. And if you read through the comments, you’ll find this theory:

Dulling the pain is only part of the evolutionary rationale, Scicurious. The main reason for runners’ high was to amply reward ancient long distance running hunters for engaging in this vital yet highly taxing pursuit. (Sex is so gratifying for precisely the same reason.) Many athletes who are both runners and cyclers/ swimmers (like myself) insist that while all sports can provide equally strenuous workout, nothing compares with the euphoria induced by running. If cycling and swimming had played similar role in our evolutionary history, they’d also produce comparable highs…

I like that. The reason is there is no such thing as cyclist’s high is that our ancestors believed in running not cycling.

So there you have it, runner’s high is an evolutionary response. Which means the reason Pheidippides ran the Marathon was because he was in a drug induced haze. And explains why the Ironman finishes with a run… we need that drug induced high to make it through the pain…




Week 16 – Back from Hawaii


Last week I went to Kauai. And I trained. I really did train. I ran twice. I swam in the ocean and I swam in a pool.

The picture above is me between feats of exercise and tourism.

Yes, I really did exercise.

In fact my first run was epic. I ran up and down the hills with my heart rate monitor under-reporting my heart rate. And so I kept pushing my poor body harder and harder.

My swim in the ocean was awesome. I swam 1500 meters in open water. It was more like 150 meters one way followed by 150 meters the other way, but still awesome-ly epic. Nothing like pushing your body in the open water.

And then my last run was a thing of beauty. An excellent pace, awesome form – nothing but the best.

Of course, no one will ever see that data. Because my GPS, once again, failed to record my awesome great athletic performance while on vacation. First it was the Garmin in Greece and now it is another Garmin in Hawaii. Actually, the Garmin 910xt successfully captured the data, but then – possibly because of the salt from the sea, it was unable to recharge successfully. Following useless advice on the internet, I hard reset the Garmin  only to discover that I had also deleted all of my data.

Damn you Garmin. Damn you to hell.

So everyone will look at the picture and conclude that I am lying hiding behind the excellent robustness and stability of the Garmin GPS …

For those that care… The solution to the problem was rubbing alcohol. Since I had no rubbing alcohol I used vodka. Strongly recommend vodka as a better choice because you have something to drink after the rubbing.

Week 14 – Mental Focus


A couple of weeks ago my coached asked me to do a swim sprint to get a read on my endurance swim rate. The sprint was an interesting experience. I learned that losing mental focus was actually a bigger drag on performance than my physical fitness. If you lose focus on what you are doing on every stroke, your form breaks and you’re losing speed with every stroke.

Which got me thinking about mental focus on the here and now.

When you start running there is this mindlessness to the activity. You move your body in a generic running style and calories get consumed.

Running requires so little thought, that the biggest challenge is  motivating yourself to be bored and hurt while training.

When I was training for my first marathon, the Athens Marathon, I endured this acute boredom. To relieve the boredom, I listened to a lot of music.

As a result of my new-found focus on training, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in how I run. I no longer take my music with me. In fact, I find myself increasingly concentrating on what I am doing during the entire period of the exercise. That instead of being bored, I am exhausted from thinking.

That running, instead of being this mindless boring sport, is this very precise sport with very precise actions and objectives.

And if you think running is precise, cycling and then swimming take it to a completely different level.

I am finding that the sport of triathlon requires a lot of concentration. A lot of focus on what I am doing in the right here and now. That it is very easy to make small mistakes that over the long distances compound themselves catastrophically.

So I have to focus on what I am doing. Which is new.

For most of my life, my body hasn’t been something I thought too much about. I never really spent time thinking how it’s moving in space and time. Mostly I’ve been living in my head and the ideas in my head. This sport is forcing me to think about how I am moving in the real world.

And that is a wonderful blessing.