Reset: fitness

I’ve been rethinking my fitness and diet regime (again). As a dude in his mid-forties, I’ve begun to feel some of the aches and pains of middle age, and I’ve begun to think much more about how to train to be fit for a lifetime rather than fit for a specific high performance endeavor.

With that in mind, I’ve added back into my routine more strength training, more flexibility and mobility work, more balance drills. If I plan to be active and healthy well into old age, I need to focus on these essential skills now.

To make room for this work, I’ve taken the running back a step. Still doing it, but focusing on very slow MAF style runs*, and not at all concerned about weekly mileage or time. The goal is to be active every day in a production, injury free way.

Here’s the plan for the week:

Monday: The recommended routine from reddit’s bodyweight fitness group coupled with addition flexibility and mobility work and a short, extremely slow, run

Tuesday: An hour long, MAF style run

Wednesday: The recommended routine from reddit’s bodyweight fitness group coupled with addition flexibility and mobility work and a short, extremely slow, run

Thursday: An hour long, MAF style run

Friday: Off.

Saturday: a long run or bike ride

Sunday: an hour long run and an extended flexibility / self massage session.

Nothing fancy, nothing hard right now. In three months of so, if this goes well, I’ll reassess and determine if I its time to switch it up again.

*The MAF method, for those that don’t know, is the method of running developed by the controversial endurance coach Phil Maffatone. Maffatone has a whole philosophy for fitness, not all of which I buy it, but I do like the simplicity of his heart rate based training approach. It is’t simplest form, its 180 minus your age give you the highest number your heart rate should hit during training. For an old man like me, this means I never train above 138.  Clearly, this is an over simplification, but it’s one I find helpful.

David Goggins Inspired Bodyweight Work Outs

David Goggins Getting it.

070723-N-6138R-001 SAN DIEGO (July 23, 2007) – U.S. Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class David Goggins runs 135 miles through Death Valley, California in the Kiehl’s Badwater Ultra Marathon that began in the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States. Goggins finished the race in 3rd place 25 hours later on top of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Continental United States. Goggins final time was a 4-hour improvement over his 2006 5th place finish. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brandon Rogers (RELEASED)

UPDATE: David Goggins has an incredible new book out called Can’t Hurt Me which you should buy immediately. Its available here. I recommend the audio book version. 

In Jesse Itzler’s great book Living with a Seal (Amazon, my review) David Goggins shares a number of classic bodyweight workouts.

For my reference, I’ve copied some of them out. Here they are:

“Nickels and Dimes”

5 pull ups and 10 push-ups every minute, on the minute, for ten minutes

The Burpees Test

100 Burpees for time

Under ten minutes = solid.

Under 11 minutes = decent

Takes you longer than 13 minutes? = do it again

Push up Ladder I

One push up, wait 15 seconds; Two push ups, wait 15 seconds, etc. till 10 push ups

At ten push ups, wait 30 seconds between sets. Go to eighteen. For extra fun, so back down, 18 to one.

Push Up Progression

15 x 7 sets (on the minute) = 105 total

12 x 9 sets (on 50 seconds) = 108 total

10x 10 sets (on 45 seconds) = 100 total

Long-Ass Push Pull Superset

12 push-ups, every 45 Seconds for 22 minutes

15 pull-ups, two minutes rest

Twenty push ups

3 pull ups x five sets

100 flutter kicks

20 x 20 Push Ups

Twenty Sets of Twenty push-ups, one minute break between sets

Descending Push Up Ladder

12, 8, 6, 4, on 15 seconds, followed by max sit ups in 1 minute for thirty minutes.

Push Up Sit Ups for Time

10 push-ups followed by max sit-ups on the minute for thirty minutes

Five Minute for 100 Push Ups

10 push-ups on 30 seconds, for five minute

Fireman Carry Work Out

Run thirty yards with partner on shoulder,

35 flutter kicks

20 push ups

Repeat 14 times

Even more Goggins resources, including links to interviews and my favorite videos are available here. 

Training Totals – Week Ending 10-20-2013

Ran a little, biked a little, climbed a little.  Enjoyed myself for the first time in months.  Sore as hell from my return to climbing and body weight training — which is nice.  Looking forward to doing a little more of each in the coming week.  I’m a sucker for the feeling of a sore muscle.  Its the feeling of getting somewhere.

The Numbers.


Run: 8.5 in 1:20:10
Bike: 18 in 1:32:49
Climb: ~1:45
Strength and Flexibility: ~00:45
Total Exercise Time: ~5:30
Hebrew: 1:15:00


Friday Inspiration – Learning the Handstand

Handstand training begins in earnest this weekend.  To figure out how I should go about the progression, I’ve been watching some youtube video.  Despite the low budget quality, I think this is one of the best.

Dude’s advice on using a doorframe to practice the free standing handstand is genius.  I wonder what E is going to say when I’m kicking up to a handstand in the doorway to our closet?

2013 Goals – Bodyweight Exercises

In order of priority the three kinds of physical activity I am focusing on are running, body-weight work, and rock climbing.  Being me, there are  of course tons of other types of exercises I dabble in, including cross country skiing, cycling, tennis, swimming, boxing, lifting, the list goes on.  But I’m not taking any of those particularly seriously.  The only activities I’m setting goals for this year are running and body-weight.  I enjoy climbing immensely, and hope to do more of it in the coming year, but I am also realistic enough to know I am never going to be able to give the sport the time needed to get truly good at it.

I’ve already written about my running goals, here are some thoughts on body-weight training.

Body weight training has always appealed to the minimalist in me, I love the simplicity, and I aspire to have the grace and strength to weight ratio of people like Jim Bathhurst from Beast Skills.

How to get there?  I’m taking a four pronged approach – research, strength building, increased flexibility and skills training.


First, I’m researching, thinking, watching and reading.  Soon I’ll be doing a lot more writing.  I’ve been dipping into Overcoming Gravity, the best book I’ve found on body-weight training.  I’m watching tons of youtube videos and I’m pestering Joe at movementmovement for help.  I have a lot more to learn. For now I’m going to focus on building strength at the major body-weight exercises, improving my flexibility, and developing two skills – one upper body and one lower body.


For strength, I’m going with  four foundational body-weight exercises – push ups, pull ups, dips and squats.  I’ll be doing these every other day with goals of 100 push ups,30 pull ups, 50 dips, and 100 squats in single sets.  I’ll be doing all four exercises in a single session three times a week, tentatively on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays.  Lumping them all together in a single day will likely slow my strength progression, but such are the breaks.  For the push ups I’ll be using the 100 push up challenge program.  For the other exercises I’ll just be slowing inching up the reps.  This program starts tomorrow.  I’m excited.


There is substantial debate about whether increased flexibility is good or bad for endurance athletes.  This is what I know – stretching feels good and the more flexible I am, the better I feel.  When I was coming back from Achilles injury last year, flexibility played a big role in my recovery.  I’m going to keep that up and make a commitment to extensive stretching every evening, with special attention to my hamstrings, hips, ankles, and shoulders.  I’m still toying with this routine.  I’ll post more details at some point.


Finally, this winter I’ll be working two longer term skills – the free standing handstand and the pistol.  I chose the handstand because its foundational for so much else that I want to do, and it’s a fucking bad-ass move to pull out at picnics.  The pistol is an incredible test of strength, flexibility, and balance.  Plus, it is supposed to help my rock climbing.

For these skills I’ll be using the tutorials Jim has on Beastskills, plus some guidance from my good buddy Joe.  For now, I’ll be working these skills at the start of my body-weight workout sessions.  Once I have some strength, I’ll probably start working the handstand and the balance aspects of the pistol every day.

I know what you’re thinking – “Geesh Sean, that’s a lot. How are you going to fit all this all in ?”  Here’s how I’m thinking it will break down:

It could be I am biting off more than I can chew, I’ve been known to do that.  If I have, I’ll regroup.  But for now, this is the schedule.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
AM Easy Run AM

Easy Run


“workout” Run


Easy Run


Easy Run


Long Run


















Climb/ Bodyweight/


Although they are boring, and no one reads them, I’ll going to be bringing back to weekly training total posts to track my progress.  Here’s to a year of injury free fun!