(Breather) This Q&A breather episode exhibits great insights about evolving one’s approach over time from super competitive to enjoying the experience of nature and aging gracefully.
Connor writes in about the dilemma of doing super fun endurance feats out in nature versus getting in the gym and doing strength sessions that deliver better hormonal and injury prevention benefits but are boring by comparison. How to balance aerobic base building, high-intensity strength training sessions, and all-out sprints week in, week out, and in the context of an annual training pattern.
It’s much easier to slip a bit and lose your A-game with some unbridled celebrations and mindless habits. It’s much more difficult to recalibrate and get rid of body fat that was unwanted in the first place. I gained a fresh perspective on a lot of the content I communicate in books, podcasts, and videos from fighting a personal battle instead of just being theoretical. The best starting point for a fat reduction effort is to get your mind right – do you really want this goal, or are you deep down okay being just okay and giving yourself permission to celebrate life and use food as a release valve against all the pressure and expectation we face in other areas of daily life?
As you embark on achieving a tangible goal, it’s important to strike a balance between having the focus, discipline and competitive intensity to kick butt with a process-oriented approach where you don’t attach your self-esteem or self-image to the outcome. Insights from Mark Manson and Andrew MacNaughton apply here. You also have to recognize the strong influence of environmental factors, as revealed by the discovery of “clusters” for things like obesity, or happiness, in the Framingham Study.
Thanks for listening, and keep the great questions coming!
Jose is asking about his training goals now that he is not competing any longer. [04:55]
Connor Curly is trying to find a balance between running and lifting that makes him feel best. We have to apply restraint to even to things that we enjoy, to act in our long-term best interest. [10:10]
Harry has two goals: health and longevity, daily energy in a sedentary job, and getting strong and lean. If you have that aerobic base, you can survive and thrive in high-intensity training sessions, much better. [19:10]
Harry, a non-competitive athlete, also asks if he should take a month off of exercise. [29:38]
- “Lifting makes me feel good, but it’s boring; running is super fun but makes me feel bad.” (Connor Curly)
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Get Over Yourself Podcast
Uh, How you doing peoples? Let’s do some Q and A baby baby. People have a lot to say because they wrote into the podcast, Hey, Email address is email@example.com and let’s get into it right away,
New Speaker (04:55):
Jose, writing all the way from Espana (Gracias para eschuar en otra pais) he’s from Galicia in the Northwest corner of Spain. How awesome. And he sent me a link to their tourism website and, Oh my gosh, it looks beautiful over there. Lots of, uh, points of interest plan, your whole agenda with their nice tourism website. So maybe someday, man, when everything opens up, we are bound to head over there. Okay. Jose wanted to say, thanks for my show. Very informative, healthy lifestyle oriented. You help keep me on track with my journey of improving my health, physical and mental. I knew about low carb keto. You name it a few years back and at the same time knew about Maffetone his proposal for more healthy, balanced training and eating. Also professor Noakes and his great work, uh, got me on the path to setting longterm goals right now.
Jose’s 45. He likes trail running and interesting. I’m not considering myself a type, A person nor a keto guy. I eat real food. I try to minimize grains and refined carbohydrates, nice sensible approach that he’s communicating, not too dogmatic in any aspect. He says when I was younger, I had a different view about racing in the age group, and that was, uh, you know, 10 years ago. So these days I really enjoy much more being in nature, sharing trails with other people and sharing the outdoor athletic experience, being out there for two or four, eight hours and eating and resting and training appropriately. So I love that, uh, observation where you had your phase of life, where you were really into the competition, pushing your body, uh, and now gracefully entering into a different phase where your main goal is just enjoying the trails and the nature with other people and aging gracefully.
Love it, man. Great little plug there. And, uh, there’s nothing wrong with, you know, going for it and getting a little intense about things. If that’s what lights you up. It’s a, you know, it’s all about, uh, being happy and stimulated and getting a payoff, getting a reward from your athletic pursuits. And on the show, I talk a lot about maintaining passion and competitive intensity throughout life and finding goals that really light you up and get you excited and turn you on and get you, uh, putting in the work necessary. But it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you get all worked up and, uh, pants in a bunch about it, right? Maybe your athletic goal can be to, uh, you know, complete a long hike. That’s not competitive in any way, and maybe not even going to tax your body to the absolute maximum, which is something that you got off on in your younger years.
And that’s perfectly all right, but it’s still nice to have a goal and a focus and a direction. And, you know, applying that competitive intensity in any way that you feel appropriate to yourself. And I’m so fond of my high jumping, uh, ambitions, uh, in recent months. And I’m really, uh, you know, enjoying training like an athlete and trying to get the most out of my body and consulting with, uh, Dr. Craig Marker and Tim DiFrancesco and trying to do it right and filming myself and analyzing my high jump technique and breaking it down and learning from other people’s videos. But all told let’s not forget that there’s no one out there. It’s like, um, it, it, yeah, it’s not of any significance to the planet and the Olympics are postponed anyway. So I’m not concerned about the Olympics. Uh, so to have everything in the proper context that I’m very passionate and quote unquote serious about it, but also having that healthy perspective that I’m just doing something for my own personal, uh, significance and not have to, uh, you know, have a bad day because I had a bad workout or feel stressed or anxious because things aren’t going according to plan.
And that’s a very common sentiment among even amateur recreational participants in sports like triathlon ultra running, CrossFit, uh, team sports where the competitive intensity is a little bit misplaced and you start forgetting the title of the show to get over yourself. So again, if I’m just bringing this theme in through as many shows as possible, the reason I picked this title is that there’s a way to do this, where you can still be highly competitive and highly accomplished and excited, driven goal oriented focused. But without that little edge where, um, it’s a potentially unhealthy perspective where you attach your self esteem to the outcome of what you’re doing, or you place, uh, excessive significance on it rather than keeping it in healthy perspective. So Jose with a very nice letter.
New Speaker (10:10):
next is my main man, Curls with one of the most profound quotes of the year. That’s right. Connor, Curly as featured in the Keto Cooking for Cool Dudes book with his Curly Boys Breakfast Muffins, one of the greatest recipes you’ll ever try. I swear, you’ll get hooked on this stuff. It’s so easy to make. You pour the eggs and a hamburger meat and a muffin tin. You can put vegetables in there to cook them up and you have these wonderful egg muffins for a busy morning on the go feed them to your kids instead of that garbage, that comes in a box. So thank you, Curly boys for contributing to the book. And now he’s contributing to the podcast from his home base in the mountains of Colorado. And he says, I’m trying to find a balance between running and lifting that makes me feel best. Hey, without a home gym, these days without a gym to go to, and without a significant home gym, it’s been kind of a bust the last two months.
So I’ve been finding myself running a bit more than heading into the gym and lifting weights. My problem is, pay attention to everybody, “Lifting makes me feel good, but it’s boring. Running is super fun, but it makes me feel bad”. Oh man, I can feel your hair, Curls. Cause I have the same exact feeling I glove going out there and especially in my new environment and Tahoe and exploring new trails and getting on that mountain bike, which has not had a lot of hours in recent years. So my fitness level is much reduced from old times when I could definitely go out there and enjoy a three or four hour ride and not be trashed. But now, uh, you get out there, you get excited and you exceed your capabilities. Or in my case, um, a couple of weeks ago, the heart rate watch was beeping like crazy.
Cause I was up at 8,000 foot altitude on steep hills and I just wasn’t, uh, conditioned properly to do it. And, uh, what everyone deserves to, uh, respect is that it feels great at the time. It’s fun. It’s a great challenge to push your body and try to make it to the top of the hill and finish the ride. But what happens in the aftermath, uh, is very unpleasant for me, uh, on numerous occasions where I have a tendency to overdo it, I even feel fine the next day and the day after because of the stress response and the mechanisms that occur. When you put your body under exercise, stress, your body responds with a fight or flight response. And the adaptive hormones circulate in the bloodstream,. Cortisol is high so that you have improved, uh, functionality of your muscles, your nervous system, your heart rate, your respiration, everything primes you to complete the challenge that you’ve presented for yourself.
And what happens is these hormones tend to circulate in the bloodstream for a long time afterward. So that the next morning you’re still kind of awash in a cortisol bath. And you have an artificial sense of a feeling recovered and energized when really it’s the stress hormones that are contributing to your sense of wellbeing at that time. So then you go out and perform another ambitious workout, which you actually feel fine doing. That’s the important point I want to make is that it’s not like someone dragging themselves out of bed and forcing themselves onto a trail and putting one foot in front of the other until they get over-trained. This is more of a physiological deception where you make a assessment of your energy alertness, how your legs feel, your legs feel loose and supple, you feel energetic and you head out there again.
But then, uh, because of the nature of the fight or flight response, if you overtax it, the mechanisms become exhausted over time. And it’s very easy to fall off a cliff and feel like crap. Uh, whether that’s 24 to 36 hours after an overly ambitious workout or, uh, after a binge of four to six weeks of really great training where you report feeling fantastic and getting fitter and fitter, uh, you have a down period because you failed to, uh, implement the proper stress and rest balance and recovery workouts and take things easy. So I think this is where we need the revolution in the fitness industry to realize that when you walk in the door, that gym and come into the classroom and get on the bike and the music’s pumping and the instructor’s shouting and everything’s wonderful. And you’re having a great time, same with the CrossFit session, with all the camaraderie and the people clapping for you.
Or when you head over to the running group on Tuesday night and you run circles around the track, and you’re trying to keep pace and you have this tremendous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of pushing your body hard, but when the pattern becomes chronic in nature, when you do this too frequently, when you ask yourself to perform a feat that’s beyond your endurance capabilities or your strength, power capabilities too frequently, that’s when you fall apart. So my, uh, recent, uh, reference point is doing a Epic ride up in Tahoe. And then a couple of days later, I was exploring a different trail and kind of got lost and ended up doing a ride that was much more difficult than I’d planned, uh, on a day that should have been recovery and the cumulative effect of those two rides, where both of them felt fine at the time, mind you, uh, was a week of feeling, uh, pretty much subpar having some muscular tightness that wouldn’t go away.
And basically it was a, um, a mini disaster because I know better, but it still happened. And so Connor’s comment that, uh, lifting makes me feel good, but it’s boring, running a super fun, but makes me feel bad. That’s what he’s getting to. Cause once you get out there on the trail, Oh man, isn’t it exciting to keep going and going? So we have to apply that restraint to even things that we enjoy to act in our longterm best interests. And then when you talk about the lifting aspect, um, there’s the injury prevention and the hormonal boost that he’s referring to it’s though they can, by all accounts be considered healthy. If you have a reasonable lifting schedule, and if you avoid that, then you’re going to kind of increase your injury risk when you’re doing a team sports or even straight ahead sports because you haven’t developed total body fitness and functional fitness.
So Kelly Starrett’s big on this, Tim DiFrancesco. Um, he did an assessment with me DiFranscesco did, uh, over the video and asked me to perform a series of basic movements. And he’s looking very carefully to see, can I lower down, uh, with one leg elevated into a split lunge position and load my glutes properly, or have they been deactivated and atrophied from sitting too much and not doing any form of training besides running straight ahead or peddling a bicycle. And that’s so common where people have these disastrous drastic functional weaknesses and imperfections and imbalances, but they’re insisting on going out and performing more exercise and doing the sport that they have so much passion for. So, man, I know it’s boring. And let me tell you if anyone’s been, uh, using minibands lately, uh, have some, uh, videos doing the, the big bands and the mini bands of the ones that you put around your ankle and do the shuffling along.
They’re very painful. They light up the glutes right away. It’s basically a pain and torture session. And I always was averse to doing them cause I’d get sore the next day, cause I wasn’t used to it. Uh, but I realized now that the source of my main recurring injury of this, uh, hamstring glute strain that’s been coming and going for several years now, such an annoyance. When I start to sprint a little bit, uh, ambitiously or high jump ambitiously, I’ll get that reliable, uh, soreness, pain and sciatic acting up on the left side. But if I commit to doing my mini bands every single day and work in those things pretty hard, I can’t say it’s fun at all. But knowing that this will open the gateway to more fun and excitement and especially injury prevention, which is, uh, the most important thing. If you really want to have fun, you don’t want to get injured. And so to have that guarantee that I’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. What I want to do that is sufficient motivation to do stuff that’s quote unquote boring. So there you go. That’s how we’re going to balance the fun stuff with the boring stuff, to have your total athletic experience and avoid injuries and also optimize hormones. Right? So great points made there by Connor.
New Speaker (19:10):
Thank you for listening. Harry says, I just listened to your Primal Endurance book, uh, recognize the voice that you also narrated Dr. Doug McGuff book, Primal Prescription, a great book there. So thank you for a thank you for listening. I love audio books. How about you guys? I think it’s such a, a great way to consume the information. I’m a huge fan because a lot of times my eyes get tired of reading words on a screen since I’m doing that all day anyway, but cranking up an audio book and going out there, sometimes I do it while I’m exercising or driving or whatever, a really great I can.
I believe I can consume more books in general, uh, accessing that, uh, platform as well. And I really enjoy, uh, reading the audio books that we’ve published over the years. I’ve done it several times now. And boy, it’s a great way to connect with the information, especially if you wrote it reading, it has a whole different, uh, perspective that helps you realize when you’re redundant and I’m kind of cursing myself when I’m in the recording studio going, Oh gosh, that doesn’t sound right. So maybe before the next book, I’ll read the whole dang thing aloud just as an editing exercise. Uh, but anyway, it’s also another way to process the information in a different modality than just reading with your eyes. I think it kind of keeps you alert when someone’s talking to you in your ear and maybe picking up the information in a different way.
Okay. So Harry says, um, uh, I already like, uh, high intensity interval training and I’m wondering now how I can combine the traditional, uh, high intensity strength training approach recommended by Doug McGuff and others. He has a great book called Body by Science McGuff does and the primal endurance approach where we’re talking about slowing down, emphasizing the aerobic base period. Don’t doing not doing any intensity during the aerobic base period and those things that are potentially at odds and unless you understand it and all of course explain it and I’ve done so on other shows too. Um, so in, in this case, Harry’s primary priority, can’t say primary priority, man, just pick one or the other. Okay. My primary goals are health longevity, daily energy in a sedentary job, I guess this translates to improving metabolic health and avoiding sarcopenia. That’s the muscle loss associated with aging.
That is such a huge mortality risk factor and diminished quality of life. It’s losing that muscle mass is a bad deal. Uh, my second priority, you can’t say that either priority is a priority. Okay. My secondary goal is getting strong and lean. I don’t compete. I don’t really care about endurance performance for its own sake, except in the sense that it’s useful in the rest of my life. That well said, I like them. I do however, want to focus more on endurance than I have in the past. So the Primal Endurance book speaks to me and things are finally making sense.
Speaker 4 (22:08):
I have the idea of doing mostly base-building light aerobic exercise year round, and then doing sprints from time to time. Doing one or two, uh, high intensity strength training sessions a week. So how can I combine these three in a way that doesn’t end up being counterproductive? Uh, I think if you look at that term base building and the literal definition of it is to, uh, build and nurture that fitness base from which you can launch all other forms of athletic activity, including high intensity workouts, including sprinting. Uh, I was just emailing with Dr. Maffetone this week and he was explaining that, uh, you know, I’m talking about my high jump goals and I’m transitioning away from any endurance goals, but he says, you know, you keep doing that endurance work because keeping those aerobic muscle fibers healthy, those are the oxygenating muscle fibers that run through your muscles.
Those will help to, uh, nourish and supply oxygen to the fast twitch muscle fibers, which are non oxidative. So when you have a strong endurance base, it also supports the functionality of your fast twitch muscle fibers. Uh, in contrast, I suppose you could think of a sprinter or a power guy in the gym who doesn’t do any cardio whatsoever, the workouts are going to be, uh, make the person more winded. They’re going to get tired just from doing their own high powered workout. And I can certainly relate to this because in the tail end, my high jump sessions where I’m doing a lot of jumping drills and explosive jumping off the ground into the pit. Uh, it doesn’t seem like much, but it takes a tremendous amount of energy to jump up in the air as high as you can go ahead and try it if you don’t believe me.
And if you’d start doing that five times, 10 times, 15 times, you are going to feel that cumulative fatigue just from something that, you know, only takes a few minutes total, right? So if you have that aerobic base, you can survive and thrive in high intensity training sessions, much better. So they definitely compliment each other. And I think the place where we go awry and screw this up is when that aerobic work becomes too stressful and you exceed your maximum aerobic heart rate and get into the glucose burning heart rates. The workout is a depleting and exhausting. And then you’re thinking that the next day you’re going to go in the gym and throw around some heavy weights and then go back into an overly stressful aerobic training session. That’s when you get into big time over-training cause there’s nothing like combining overly stressful aerobic activity with what’s already stressful, uh, anaerobic explosive power activity.
And then in many cases, people that are doing this strength training sessions are doing them in a manner that’s too strenuous. And the workout lasts for too long. Guess who’s this especially guilty of this? It Is the endurance athlete where the endurance that comes into the gym and applies that endurance mentality to their high intensity strength training session. In other words, they do a whole bunch of sets with short rest, right? Cause they have such awesome endurance and uh, oftentimes using low resistance, like lighter weights because they think that’s, what’s going to contribute to their endurance performance because it’s similar and really what you should be doing. I knew this 20 years ago and I didn’t really say it out loud. It just made sense to me that you should be counter balancing all the endurance work that you’re doing on the road, by going into the gym once in a while and doing something that’s truly powerful and explosive to work those different muscle fibers and those different energy systems and compliment your already awesome endurance.
So it’s like if you already have an, a plus and endurance, if you’re an ultra runner triathlete marathon runner, and then you’re coming into the gym and you’re doing a workout that requires endurance, that is mostly endurance based. Cause you’re lifting a light amount of weight doing 15 reps and then doing another set and then doing another set. Uh, basically you’re just tiring yourself out with a, another endurance training session. Uh, I forget who gave me this quip back one of my friends or if somebody said, yeah, I have a great, um, high rep, low resistance workout, uh, for a runner it’s called running six miles, or it’s doing a mini lunges for six miles of a training run. Right? Cause every step of running is technically a mini lunge. Right? So that was pretty funny to think about it that way. Uh, so I recall when I was a triathlete, I didn’t do very much strength training cause we were pretty much tiring ourselves out with, uh, all the aerobic workout.
But when I did go in and do an upper body strength training session, let’s say in the winter I would push the heavy weights and do short reps and try to get stronger and more powerful so that when it was time to go jump in the pool and swim laps, I had a little bit of extra. So, uh, that’s a plug for people to do, um, that disparate forms of training that the primal blueprints talking about. And the ancestral example of doing brief, high-intensity truly explosive strength, training sessions, uh, all out sprints with a lot of rest between them. So it’s a true, uh, explosive sprint rather than an exhausting depleting workout where you’re doing a whole bunch of sprints with not enough rest and getting really tired. And your quality, your degree of difficulty goes down as the workout, uh, proceeds. That’s just not the way to do it.
It’s just exhausting fatiguing. And you’re never going to build that top end because you’re not conducting the workout properly. So, um, do your, uh, do your aerobic stuff, make sure it’s actually aerobic rather than in between, right? And then when it’s time to throw some intensity in you do something truly explosive. Uh, so the conflict for a lot of people is the primal endurance approach is talking to an endurance athlete with prominently endurance goals. And the maximum return on investment for that athlete is going to come from doing aerobic activity at aerobic heart rate. And once in a while, you can have these little phases where you go in and do some strength training for a three week block. Let’s say he’s throwing some sprint workouts. You reduce volume during those times. And then you get right back into another phase where you’re emphasizing over distance based, building things like that, and then going into competition.
So you don’t have to go in throw weights around like a, like a CrossFit person or a team sport person who has a goals that are more toward explosive rather than a prolonged endurance. So to mix that up depends on the nature of your goals. And so Harry’s asking, um, uh, how do I, I blend those all those together. Uh, if you, if you’re just trying to be a total fitness like you describe yeah. You can do base building, uh, all the time and then throw in your high intensity sessions. Uh, as recommended we say, you know, one to two strength training sessions a week, one sprint session a week. It’s not that much. And I also like to expand that perspective beyond a week, cause a week’s an arbitrary block of time. Uh, just do the workouts that, uh, come when your intuition tells you that you’re ready.
And, uh, uh, an average that frequency is just fine. So, you know, uh, six to seven sprint workouts every two months, right? Looking at the big picture is a little different than trying to be regimented and stick to this weekly pattern weekend and week out. And speaking of that, Harry says, should I, as a non competitive athlete, take a month off of exercise in a certain year. Is it really necessary since I don’t do taxing endurance competitions, I don’t go into the black hole hardly ever. Uh, and I don’t want to overtrain either. So if, if you feel like taking a break, um, then you deserve a break and you’d go ahead and take one and just forget about your exercise routine for a month. I think that’s really refreshing sometimes. Athletes, for sure, should do something like that, where they just get away from it, get away from the obsession with times and distances and training logs and training partners, and just, uh, pursue other hobbies, like cleaning up around the house that you’ve neglected for the entire season while you’ve been obsessed with exercise.
But if you’re not competitive and you haven’t gone into overly stressful periods, then there’s no, uh, need to, uh, just step away for the purpose of taking a break. Uh, so they may, may be better coming, uh, haphazardly spontaneously throughout the year where you take a week off here, you take a week off, there you take three weeks off here, cause you went on a, a big vacation or something. Or if you had an illness of some kind of course, those are great times to just cease training and allow your health to recover, uh, you know, to feel great at rest, I think is a prerequisite for resuming, uh, any form of, uh, devoted, uh, training regimen. Okay. So if you’re feeling like crap at rest, for whatever reason, maybe it’s a stressful period of your life. Things are difficult with job, relationship, family. Uh, it does not go hand in hand with the stress that you put your body under, even in a routine workout or what seems like a routine workout when life’s normal.
Okay. So, uh, blending all that stuff together, uh, can work really well if you’re doing everything correctly and not getting into these, uh, chronic patterns and a very nice letter from Harry’s doing a lot of things, right? Getting a sun and nice that you mentioned all that stuff, uh, trying the carnivore diet out, uh, eating a lot of nutritious foods and trying to drop his body fat. So good luck with that. Cause I think carnivore will be really, uh, helpful to do that it satiates, but it also has that, uh, little or no carbohydrate content. So you’re going to be tapping into accelerated fat burning mode, a right, good luck, Harry and everyone else listening, uh, with that total body fitness plan, sensible approach, good stuff is catching on all over the world. People be doing it right, having more fun, fewer injuries, less frustration. Thank you for listening.
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