Will Gadd’s Tips for Maximising Performance

I pinched these excerpts from a recent post on Will Gadd’s blog, cos I wanted to save them. Will is a paraglider, kayaker, rock & ice climber, and general outdoor adventurer – yet most of these tips seem to apply to pretty much any athletic endeavour, or indeed life in general.

Move.

Eat well.

Attack your weaknesses. If you don’t know what your weakness is, that’s your weakness.

Be ruthless about distractions.

Avoid “performance boosters”.

Avoid any book with “Diet” on the front cover.

Hang out with people who do what you want to do, are stoked, and are better at it than you.

Go do your sport with love, intensity and meaning.

 

 

New shooooooooes

Krista has new trail running shoes. Salomon Speedcross 3’s, no less. Better traction than an M1 Abrams tank, and under 300 grams per foot. Not exactly “stealth” colour scheme though. To mark the occasion we went for a run in Crother’s Woods. The Don Valley is a fantastic place to run. Although mountain bikers make most use of the trails, the mix of single- and double-track trails, steep climbs, winding downhills and the triumvirate of roots/rocks/rubble makes for good running.

Crossfit junkie hits up gym in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Having a few days to myself whilst Matt was out and about in mountain school, I decided to hit up a CrossFit gym in Jackson Wyoming. I emailed them asking to drop in and they welcomed me with open arms. My first day was pure olympic lifting. I gotta admit, I got hooked. It was a small class of 4 (only chick present!) and we spent an hour slowly working our way up on weights and technique on the power snatch. I can’t help but be a bit smug as i was lifting heavier than one dude.

The next day I hit up a proper CrossFit class. I won’t really get into what I dealt with.. Ill just post the workout.. it speaks for itself as does my aching muscles:

Warm up:

  • 400m run
  • 1 min at each station of:
  • Double unders
  • Wall squats
  • Kip Swings
  • Box Jumps
  • Sit ups
  • Skin the cat
Mobility warm up:
  • Runners lunges
  • plow
  • pass throughs
Tabata  – 8 rounds of:
  • Knees to elbows
  • Toes to bar (alternate between the two)
Weight lifting:
Snatch Balance – I got up to 35kg. Dumped it a few times but with working on my technique and encouragement and high fives I did it 🙂
Workout of the day: AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)
  • 200m run
  • 7 snatch blanaces
  • 7 hang snatch
Oh.. we’re not done 🙂 Cool down consisted of yet another 200m run and some stretching. Total time was 1hr 15min workout. I enjoyed the setup , the people were awesome, made some friends and left with a tshirt and aching muscles. Thank god for hot tubs.
If you are ever in the Jackson Wyoming area.. I strongly recommend this gym. Thomas (oly coach), Meg and Ryan (crossfit trainers) were awesome! I Didn’t manage to get photos of the gym itself, but you can hit it up www.crossfitjh.com  As such I will post a pic of myself working on my jerk split.. in a trailer park. BAD ASS!!!!

CrossFit Bootcamp Wrap-Up

Krista and I finished our 4 week CrossFit Bootcamp today. 4 weeks of being out of bed at 5:30am every weekday. 4 weeks of sore muscles. 4 weeks of being booze-free Sunday-Thursday. 4 weeks of early nights. 4 weeks of sweating, profusely.

So what did our blood, sweat and… more sweat get us? Well, the benchmark test is what we use to assess our progress, and the results speak for themselves.

Week 1 Benchmark

Matt – 21 mins 37
Krista – 14 mins 41

Week 4 Benchmark

Matt – 14 mins 52 (=6 mins 45 faster)
Krista – 9 mins 41 (=5 mins faster)

To put a single number against our improvements, in the space of three weeks Krista and I both improved our times by about 1/3. Pretty epic really.

And it wasn’t all miserable, either. Sure, we’ve both found ourselves reviewing what we had for breakfast after a particularly rough workout. Yes, I had two mornings where I was sick of how mutha$#%*ing hard the workout is and wanted to give up, go home, f$#% it all. But we both came out the other side grinning, every time. And at the end of the month, we’ve turned into a tough little team of adventurers. We’re not quite Spartans yet, but give us another year or two…

Things I like about CrossFit (Numbers 1-3)

As the summer hiking/running/camping/mountaineering season came to a close, Krista and I decided we needed something new to keep us going through the winter. We pondered a few options, but decided to try a CrossFit Bootcamp through November to see if we got on with it. We’re both fairly decent at running but we’re well below-par at anything strength-oriented, so it seemed a good way to round us out a bit.

Today is day 15. Already it’s been a revelation. If I write down everything I like about it, this will be a very long article, so here’s a select few things that are most important to me today.

I like our instructor. Ryan’s easy-going but still pushes us hard, especially when we need it the most. He’s also one of the many success stories that I keep coming across – someone who wasn’t especially fit before he got into CrossFit, but now looks like he could pull the ears off a Gundark. Consequently I know that he’s not asking me to do anything he hasn’t already done himself.

I like the people in the gym. I see the whole cross-section of society in the gym including men, women, young adults, not-so-young adults. People of all builds. People of all different colors. Even puppies/babies. What you don’t see is slackers, show-offs and glory-boys. Or if you do, you only see them for a few days, then they disappear. I couldn’t understand how CrossFit has a reputation for being elitest, and yet our gym claims to be very inclusive. I guess it would be fair to say that CrossFit invites everyone in, but only holds onto those who want to work hard.

I like the structure that CrossFit imposes upon my life. I’m going to the gym every morning at 5:45am. I’ve committed to that, paid my fees, it’s non-negotiable. Everything else logically falls into place around that. I don’t know what the workout will be until I get there, so I can’t psyche myself out of it. We get home from the gym at 7:15am, and eat a hearty breakfast (together, which is nice). I shower, change, and get to work at 8:30am. After work, my evenings are completely open and I can be as active or as lazy as I want without guilt, so long as I go to bed at 9:30pm. The structure might seem constraining but for me, so far at least, it’s actually quite liberating.

This is just the start…

Running in the Heat

It’s been uncharacteristically warm in Toronto the last week, to the extent that the heat has been one of the main topics of discussion in the papers, in the streets, and of course on Facebook. Unfortunately this heatwave coincides with our training ramp-up for the Midsummer Night’s Run on August 20th. I’ve never been particularly strong when the temperature rises, so I’ve been doing a bit of digging into how to improve my performance. Obviously things like staying hydrated, running early/late in the day, and picking a shady route will minimise the punishment on your body, but my gut instinct said “the only way to get better at running in the heat is to run in the heat”. It turns out my instinct is about right. Lillian pointed me to an article on The Globe and Mail website which discusses our body’s (sometimes excessively cautious) response to heat adaptation, and how you can acclimatise to heat. I dug a little further and turned up another good article on iRunFar.com which goes into more detail on heat adaptation. The highlight was an extract from a chap called Greg Loomis, copied below…

Human’s ability to sweat allows us to cool our bodies even when running in extremely hot environments. However, the need to circulate blood out to the skin periphery for this cooling draws this much needed blood away from working skeletal muscles and causes a lower cardiac filling and stroke volume leading to higher heart rates at any given work load. The loss of electrolytes and fluid via the sweating (without adequate replacement) will lead to a decreased blood volume and add additional demand on an already taxed heart.Heat acclimatization is one way to improve ones ability to run well in a hot environment and in extreme cases is necessary for survival. Heat acclimation is merely when an individual has been conditioned to maintain a higher blood plasma and volume level, increased sweat rate, a decreased salt amount in the sweat produced, decreased fatigue rate of sweat glands, and quicker onset of sweating when placed in the heat. These changes are all needed to meet the demands on the body mentioned above. Heat acclimation is produced via repeated exposure to heat sufficient to raise body core temperature. This is most effectively done by exercise (skeletal muscle contractions) vs. sitting in a hot room. Only a few sessions of one hour of moderate exercise in the heat will produce an effect in un-acclimated individuals with changes being seen in a few days.

Some interesting highlights to acclimatization:

  • One can become acclimatized to heat and cold at the same time. Even with training bouts being on the same day in the different environments.
  • Most of the improvements in heart rate, core and skin temp, and sweat rate are acquired in just ONE week of heat exposure. Heart rate adaptations are seen in just 4-5 days! However increases in sweating and a feeling of “ease of walking” in a hot environment can take up to one month to occur.
  • More is gained from a 100 minute bout of heat exposure exercise than one 50 minute bout, but adding bouts beyond 100 minutes of exposure did not quicken adaptation.
  • Heat exposure adaptations have been studied to disappear as quickly as one week if the subject is not re-placed in the heat, but may last as long as 3 weeks in some individuals.

All facts taken from “Human performance physiology and environmental medicine at terrestrial extremes” Pandolf, Sawka, Gonzalez. ISBN: 1-884125-02-6

So the conclusion is that I need to suck it up and go run in the heat some more, and if I do I shouldn’t suffer too badly on race day.

Final Prep for Mt Whitney

Four days from now we’ll be getting on a plane bound for California, to have another go at climbing Mt Whitney. I think we’re pretty well organised this year. I’m about as fit as I was last year, but a bit more experienced with altitude. Krista’s a whole bunch fitter, and way more confident on dodgy terrain. We’re definitely both a lot more relaxed this year too.

The last few weeks, on top of the usual running and climbing, we’ve been down to the Adirondacks again to hike Mt Marcy and hiked the Seaton Trail end-to-end again, this time with big packs. Marcy was a loooong day, but we got to the top quite comfortably and both felt good by the time we got down again. The Seaton Trail was a lot easier than when we last did it, despite lugging 85-ish pounds of gear with us. It just goes to show how much stronger you can get without even realising it.

So now we just need to pack our bags, get a good night’s sleep and hop on a plane to LAX. We’ll try and post a few updates while we’re away, but for those of you who want to keep track while we’re out of contact here’s a rough schedule (subject to change depending on weather and conditions!) and a map of the route.

Tues 28th June Acclimatization hike
Tues 28th June Rest day and final gear check
Weds 29th June Hike from Whitney Portal to Outpost Camp, set up camp.
Thurs 30th June Leave Outpost Camp at 3am, summit sometime around noon, get back down to Outpost Camp before dark.
Fri 1st July Reserve summit day in case of bad weather, or else hike out if we’re done.
Sat 2nd July Either hike out if we used our reserve summit day, or a rest day in Owen’s Valley (maybe incl a bit of bouldering near Bishop.)
Sun 3rd July Drive to LAX and fly home.

The Great TTC Expedition Part 4

Today is Family Day in Canada, and we had nothing much planned so we decided to knock a few more kilometres off the TTC Expedition that we started last summer. Today we hiked from Lawrence to Finch which finished off the Yonge-University-Spadina line, then got the subway back to Sheppard station and hiked across the Sheppard line to Don Mills station. In total we visited 8 stations, covered 12.5km and were on our feet for about 3 hours. Good fun, and great exercise. The highlight was Krista summiting Mt Bayview. Check the photos for evidence! [smirk]