An Evolving Experiment in Fitness


My lungs are raw from gasping for 7 minutes solid. My vision has only now returned from the blurry and wild eyed stupor I was in just a few hours ago, when I crashed on the gym mat in an effort to get my heart rate down to a safe level. I still haven’t fully recovered from tonight’s workout as I write this and reflect; slightly sick and slightly satisfied feelings mingle with one another and I cannot predict if I will wake up with an upper respiratory infection or the desire to push myself to this upper limit again. Probably both.

It’s been almost a year since I first wrote about my experiment in fitness. I had to some extent forgotten about it until Labor Day of this year, when I ran the 10K Classic in Marietta GA. Before the race I realized that I hadn’t really spent much time running in the past few months. Since July maybe? I got to thinking that I might not run well given my lack of preparation. “Oh well”, I thought, and pushed my way through the herd to the front of the starting line. “Why not go for a PR”.

I finished the race well, with a time that put me in the top 200. Afterwards I began to ask myself “If I haven’t been running and I still finished well, what the hell have I been doing?”. I certainly haven’t been running long distance; that goal in the original experiment was almost entirely forgotten (though I will be running the Southern Odyssey 200 mile relay race in early October). I got out on the bike several times over the Summer, and I’ve only seen the pool a handful of times, but I know I’ve been training…where have I been?

I guess I keep a training log for a reason, time to check it out.

Winter – Spring 2010: Staying the Course

In my previous post, I mentioned that I would execute the following:

  • Workout 8-12 times per week.
  • Select 5-6 workouts from one of the sources listed below:
    • Crossfit
    • Optimum Performance Training
    • MEBB
    • Catalyst Athletics
    • My brother, James.
    • Make something up (keeping HILV in mind)
  • Perform 1-3 workouts each on the bike, swim, or run using the the same HILV methodology (Crossfit Endurance was my main source for these latter workouts, sometimes substituting old sprint and time trial workouts).

Based on my logs, I continued to work this way throughout most of Winter and Spring of 2010. I slipped from time to time, but I got out around 8-12 times a week, usually focusing on running but throwing in a ride or a swim from time to time to make sure I had the triathlon covered. A look at my personal records during this time doesn’t yield any change from the PR’s covered in the previous post. I stayed the course, making no gains but experiencing no losses. I was fine with this. Then in the middle of July, I made a change.

Summer 2010: CFK

My brother had been asking me to check out a new gym that a friend of a friend had opened up near Kennesaw Mountain called Crossfit Kennesaw. I was obviously  familiar with Crossfit, but had never been able to get over and check out one of the gyms. Either the workout times were inconvenient, or the gyms weren’t anywhere close, or I had already planned my training for the night. Finally I had an opening on a Thursday evening and headed over to check it out.

CFK is your standard warehouse gym: no machines, no nonsense. The gear you need, none of the stuff you don’t. There is a workout on the board. There is an alternate workout. These are simple workouts, much like the ones I was following with my earlier prescription, and I picked right up on the philosophy. It’s greenhouse hot in the Summer, and without a doubt it will feel like a fridge in the Winter. You’re going to be extremely uncomfortable when you start the workout anyway, would the AC really make you feel better?

The workout the evening I came in was a creation of Chris, the proprietor of CFK. 4 rounds: 15 Thrusters and a 400m run. There were 5 of us in the gym that night, 3 of us brothers, so naturally it turned into a friendly competition. I won. “Will you be open tomorrow?” I asked before leaving.

Looking through my logs I have been training at CFK almost exclusively since then. I’ve gone from 8-12 tough workouts a week to 5-6 brutal ones. I spend about 6 hours a week training, give or take, down from the almost 10 I was committing, which is leaving more time open for other things (namely work). I intend to continue training like this, throwing in the occasional 5K, 10K, day on the bike, or swim as I feel like it.

The Results

On the Run

5K time 10K Time
Pre 10/10/09 21:01 44:03
Post 02/15/10 20:36
Post 09/06/10 45:52

This is where the results become hard to decipher. My 5K time improved early in the year, when I was on my old prescription, but not by much. My 10K time is slower, but the results are deceiving. The course between the two times are much different, and I find my time on the recent September run much more respectable.

Other Indicators

Old Max Current Max
Deadlift 335 lbs 355 lbs
Bench Press 205 lbs 225 lbs
Squat 215 lbs 225 lbs
Shoulder Press 135 lbs 155 lbs

Again, not impressive numbers, but still an improvement as I’ve moved through the year. That is the only goal I’ve set. I’ve learned a lot about the squat since joining the crew at CFK, and hopefully the empowerment of my posterior chain will begin to show in the upcoming months.

Also, I can do a proper muscle-up. On the rings. Good enough for me.

Now What?

Here we go with another year. My workout time is down significantly, my performance results are the same if not better. My weight has not changed, my strength to body mass ratio has improved. I will continue to monitor my results.

New goals? I will set them in the future, right now I intend to continue training like I am to prepare my body for…whatever. Next challenge: The Southern Odyssey 200 Mile relay. We have 9 runners right now. If we get up to 10 I only have to run 20 miles. I hope we have 12 team mates…