Week 62 – Training while sick


One of the things they never tell you about when you train for a major endurance event is how physically frail you actually feel.


My body feels like it’s breaking down during the two heavy weeks of exercise. On day 1 of the two week stretch, I am feeling awesome and by the end of the two weeks, I feel like every part of my body needs to go into the shop for repair.


No such luck, of course.

I thought it was just my age, and then I read about getting sick while training.

Turns out that heavy workouts have the same effect as a lot of stress on your body, they suppress your immune system.

So then you read this blog post about how while you’re feeling like shit, your body is unable to ward off illnesses … And if you have a kid that means you’re in a for a world of hell.

And if you co-workers who have small kids its worse. You’re going to be sick. A lot.

So while you’re trying to train for this endurance event, have enough brain cells to do your job, and be a quarter decent husband and father, every airborne disease is aiming straight at your weakened body to give it a kick in the gonads.

I mean, seriously. I haven’t been this sick so often in my life. And even if I don’t catch anything, I am feeling so tired that I can’t disambiguate between feeling sick and feeling tired.

And because it’s hard to disambiguate and you learn to power through the pain, you end up doing stupid things. One stupid thing is to do a workout with a fever. And if it’s a swim where you are feeling even a little bit nauseous… let’s just say it can get ugly.

This past Tuesday it took me a while to figure out that the body chills had little to do with the water and everything to do with the fever my son gave me.

So what to do? So I go read the article that made me aware that every two weeks I would feel sick, and it suggested that I avoid small sick children while I am doing heavy workouts. Wonderful. How exactly am I supposed to avoid my son while I am training? And what do I tell my co-workers who are virus vectors: please put on a face mask?

This made me realize I was not in the target demographic of the blogger.

That left me with one option, the stark realization that you train while sick, just slower and less. And hopefully when the damn race comes your body has recovered enough to finish the stupid race.

Sickness and Diets

One of the things about being sick is that my ability to control my eating is limited. My will power is told to not come to the pity party I throw…


So we had a couple of bad days where I was eating a lot of junk so I wouldn’t feel hungry.

Thankfully I acknowledged the data trend and took action.

And the good news is we are still on track …


Week 61 – Why bother with the weight loss

As I enter that part of my two weeks where my exercise program goes from the insane to the truly crazy (3 hours in a garage biking on a stationary bike – right … normal)… I started to think about weight loss and the fact that my blog seems to be dominated about discussions of food.

When I started this whole insane effort I looked like this:

And yes I look better, and yes I feel better and yes my doctor is happier but will losing weight result in better times?

Will this be  worthwhile? Or am I about to discover that I made this heroic effort and all I accomplished was to look better ..

One question I have about weight loss is how much time do you really get from weighing less?

Unfortunately there is no simple calculator on the internet that inspires vast amount of confidence. The evidence is clear, that as you lose weight your V02 Max improves and that improves your speed … The question of how much is opaque.

The best and most cited calculator I found suggests that for every four pounds you lose you improve your marathon speed by 4 minutes.

So if I lose 44 pounds, I should be able to get a sub-5 hour Athens marathon. And if we consider a less challenging marathon like the Napa Valley Marathon I should be able to get to less than 4:30 minutes.

The problem with this kind of equation is that I don’t know if the calculation correctly accounts for the fact that you’re just less tired after carrying less weight.

Last year maintaining a sub 2:30 hour pace in a half marathon was a chore but do-able. Going that hard for 5 hours was impossible and it felt like it was impossible because of the weight I was lugging around.

And the problem with this kind of calculator is that it doesn’t account for hills. There is no doubt that weighing less is crucial for going faster uphill and my target marathon has a lot of uphills…

But regardless in the worst case, every time I lose a pound I am improving my speed by one minute. Sweet.

And here’s the weight update



We dropped a few more pounds than I would have liked this past two weeks. Probably a function of the exercise and the new-found focus on eating properly.

One thing I have begun to do is pay much closer attention to weight movements in the wrong direction immediately rather than ignore them… The upward weight movements are an early signal that I am not taking my eating correctly. Too much upward movement and we declare a code red …


Week 60 – The end of the burger

Last weekend my family and our in-laws went to Lake Tahoe to go skiing.

The skiing was awesome.

One of the key parts of the ski trip, in my mind, is the food at Ikeda’s.

For those in the know, Ikeda’s makes the worlds most awesome greasy burgers on the planet. Great meat, great ingredients, a large dollop of grease and you have heavenly food.

Except …

Well it turns out that all of the healthy eating I have been engaged in has destroyed my ability to successfully digest an Ikeda’s mushroom burger.


I ate the damn thing and puked my guts out.

It turns out that your stomach produces the bacteria that you are most likely to require to digest food. When you abruptly change your diet, your stomach has to work extra hard to digest food and that causes bloating, stomach pains etc.

And in my case, vomit.

So not only has this training made it impossible to enjoy cookies, I can’t enjoy a damn burger at Ikeda’s.

Damn you.

And here’s my weight chart.


Good progress.


Week 59 – The bursting of the bubble

When I was in highschool I weighed between 78-82Kg (or 171-180 pounds). Then I went to college, and because I was exposed to the high sugar, high fat western diet and had very poor control of my eating habits I put on about 80 pounds and topping at 262 pounds around my 26th birthday.

Around my 26th birthday, I decided I had to do something. So I did. I dropped close to 52 pounds. It wasn’t rocket science, really. I ate less for 6 months. I exercised a lot. And I lost weight. My wife was super supportive. I had to start exercising, so she went on walks with me in the morning until I was fit enough to actually exercise on my own.

For the last 15 years my weight has bounced between 215-235 pounds. I never got much below 215, and I never got much above 235…

I hate going on a diet. Going on a diet is a struggle with my brain. My brain is wired to want to eat sugary, fatty foods in large quantities. I love food. I love it. Every minute of every day, I have to remind myself to not do what I want to do it. It’s like trying to learn how to be left handed after a lifetime of being a righty. It never feels normal or easy or right.

Over the last 15 years, I have had this delusion that if I could just exercise enough, then I could eat whatever I wanted. I imagined I could construct this perpetual motion engine that would always consume enough calories and let me eat without being at war.

And it was a powerful delusion. Application of even trivial amounts of common sense can demonstrate how silly that delusion was. But that delusion existed.


That delusion was my big rock candy mountain…

The power of my brain to ignore the facts was powerful. I was staring at data, but I refused to acknowledge it. I lived in this delusional world where all I had to do was amp up the exercise regime and magically the weight loss would happen.

The notion that calorie intake had any role to play was… well absurd …

Last week finally shattered my illusions. I feel like Neo in the Matrix right after I swallowed the red pill…


The discipline I need to complete my Ironman also involves going to war with my brain over my eating habits.

And for a moment, I wanted to give up this stupid quest. And then I chose not to.

Eating is a choice. I can choose to lose that struggle and not complete my goals or I can choose to win.

So to winning.

Forward progress in this week’s update.


You can clearly see the moment where I finally saw the matrix. After that point, I refocused my energy on calorie intake and returned to my weight loss.

There is no magic perpetual motion machine, just discipline and rigor.