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ZenTri 599 - Pro Triathlete Mike Hermanson

Inside - An interview with Pro Triathlete Mike Hermanson (Website, Twitter), news, audio from two kid's triathlons, and training tips!

Alright, now for this week's happenings.  First, we went to two different kid's triathlons.  This picture is from the Moxy Tri in Austin.

Kids triathlon teams are incredible.  They get to learn three different sports and never suffer the burnout or injuries of a single sport.  If you have one in your area, I highly recommend getting your kid to try it out.

We took Kona to the second race in College Station.  He was a huge hit.

We weren't planning on it, but he turned into some kind of therapy dog.  Kids just wanted to pet him and talk to him, soothing their nerves.  Kona being there made quite a few kids feel more relaxed.

You get a lot of super high-end bikes in a kid's race that makes you wonder if Donald Trump's grandkids are there, but you also get a lot of bikes that just make you smile.  This one was a real jewel.

That's seriously one of the coolest bikes I've ever seen.  "Miss Matched" has the opposite color on every single matching part.  Love it!

It's been raining quite a bit with Tropical Storm Bill here in Texas, so I was only mildly surprised when I found a crawfish taking a jog across a parking lot.

(Raise your claw if you want more Skynyrd, man!)

A coworker and I threw it in a nearby creek.  Maybe it can live out it's duathlon dreams more safely there.

Speaking of water, the Xterra board I ordered arrived!  It came in this big box.

(What's in the box? Bones? Say it's bones. It's bones, isn't it?)

I haven't taken it out yet, but I do love having a big paddle leaning against the wall next to my bikes!

And speaking of bikes, my new riding buddy and I have been out tearing up the countryside.   

We are literally the exact same speed, so it's a real blast having a new friend to chat with for three hours nonstop.

Inspired by Jamie Patrick's attempt at the longest open water swim, I posted yet another picture of my local lap pool.

It's really funny how my pool pics drive people nuts with envy on Instagram. Seriously gang, it's not that nice!  It's pretty average, really.  And it has plenty of hair and bandaids in it to prove it.  Blech!  Maybe pool pics always look awesome when it's somebody else's pool?

Ok, that's enough for now.  Off to record another show!


ZenTri 598 - Christine Lynch and Time Trial Tips

Holistic health guru Christine Lynch joins us to talk about what to eat before and during races.  We also talk about salt!  Then I take you with me on how to improve your bike using weekly time trials.

 Alright, time for some photos!  Here's some of the gang getting ready for the local time trials.  

This is when everybody gives their reasons about how they won't do well.  Sore legs and feeling under the weather top the list.  But when the gun goes off, it's ON!

Here's a good example of how I've cut back on the sugary stuff for training.

The full bottle (yellow one in front) would be how much I usually ate during a two-hour run.  The part missing is how much I actually used on a recent run.  I'm currently floating around 140 cals per hour, but I really don't even need that.  I could easily go on zero, but training with no fuel for longer stuff can lead to other problems.  Nice improvement!

We need to include a pic of my running buddy, Kona.  He's not interested in sugar, unless it's meat flavored.

(Did somebody say meaty snacks?)

I went in for blood test so we can start working on what matters most...

Chris at NurishBalanceThrive will be on soon to analyze my results with me on a show.  Just looking over the results myself, I have a major vitamin D deficiency.  Most people do.  Bummer!

Fatigue, insomnia, hormonal or digestive problems? Is your training and lifestyle suffering? As an athlete, you know your body’s health and balance is crucial. But when things go wrong, mainstream healthcare doesn't serve your unique needs. That’s why Christopher Kelly developed a science-based, personalized support program to help you regain your optimal performance. It’s called Nourish Balance Thrive – the wellness solution created for athletes, by athletes.

Finally, I thought I'd include this picture of me at the starting line of a fun run in Kingwood, TX back in 1982.

I'm the kid in the black and white checkered shirt on the far left.  I got fourth in the kids age group and was so mad that I didn't get up on the podium!  It was funny when I realized that race is the one that started it all.  #Driven!

Next show is an interview with pro triathlete Mike Hermanson.  Stay tuned!



On Nutrition, Zendurance, and Sugar

(Yours truly, hosting a low-sugar diet clinic at a local grocery food store in 2011. That's a spaghetti squash, which you can make non-bread noodles out of.)

Well here we go again. I hate writing posts like this, but if I don't, I'm letting incorrect information keep spreading.  

I just had a Twitter exchange with somebody that listens to Zendurance shows telling me I eat sugary stuff and to cut out the excuses. I'd blow this off, except that it painfully ignores the tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours I've spent buying and eating no-sugar-added health food for the near-entirity of my life.  And not to mention the torment from the kids growing up and my coworkers on a daily basis for eating "rabbit food" or "not having anything good to eat" when I'm eating exactly what is saving my life and hurting most of their's.  I even bought my own fridge at work many years ago and it has crazy healthy stuff inside, and a fruit and veggie basket on top, and no junk in sight.  Honestly, it's like I'm in some kind of Twilight Zone episode where I'm Jewish, escaped from Dachau, and now I have people accusing me of denying the Holocaust.  WTF?  It's truly bizzare and a real lesson on how you shouldn't believe what you read/hear/see in mass media.

From infancy to age 17, you didn't want to be at my house unless you already ate whole foods with no extra sugar.  I can tell you, that's nearly nobody in the 80's.  Friends would come over and be miserable, and then never come over again.  No cokes (I won't even dignify coke with capitalizing their name), no Lucky Charms, no nuthin'.  You didn't want to be on my soccer team the week my mom brought snacks after the game.  Cokes? (It's the beginning of a sentence, so I'll cut coke some slack.) Gatorade?  Hell no.  You (and I) got an orange...  And a lecture about "that other stuff is just sugar."  I would just hang my head as the rest of the soccer team would glare at me for depriving them of their Capri Suns and popsicles.  We had popsicles at my house, but they were fruit juice with coconut fiber and fat added... and only as a rare treat.  I was "slow carb" before slow carb had a name.  My mom fed us real cooking nearly every meal, and she was raised in a German and Swedish kitchen, using recipies from the 1920s.  Let me tell you, they don't fuck around with crap ingredients.  Still today, she tries to feed my son liverwurst all day long.  If you can stand it, it is insanely good for developing little brains with it's super high fat and nutrition content.

It is this style of eating that got me to the top in my swimming game and in incredible shape, and also a lifelong education in proper nutrition.  Well-rounded meals, no extra sugar, fat is fine, go outside and play and don't come back in unless you're bleeding or if the Sun has gone down - that's how to eat and live.

My senior year in high school, I was swimming HARD 1.5 hours a day.  So I ate some raisin bran to fuel my workouts.  Guess what - It's whole grain, I drank it with regular milk, and it was purposefully the kind without sugar added to the raisins.  That's the best we had back then where I lived.  If there was better, I'd know.  My mom would have put it in the pantry.  

When I went of to college in 1991, I started eating like crap.  Everybody else was.  Plus lots of beer.  Lots!  I eventually ballooned up to 230 lbs. from the 180 I should be at.  I was burned out from swimming, but was still lifting weights and mountain biking a lot with my buddies.

In 1998, Emily and I got married just as she was coming down with Type 1 diabetes.  I immediately threw the transmission back into "whole healthy foods" gear again, the same stuff I knew how to do and was taught by my mom.  Thanks, Mom!  When I get accused of eating sugary stuff today, I distinctly recall the time Emily was bawling, calling her mom, and near divorcing me because I threw the box of powdered doughnuts in the apartment complex dumpster against her wishes.  I was risking greatest thing I'd ever worked for to get sugar out of her life.  I've been through a lot of pain eating clean, and when people say I need to fix my terrible diet, I honestly cannot believe what I'm hearing.

By a few years after 1998, I'd gotten my weight back down to 180 lbs.  There were a few bumps figuring out how to do it without my mommy making me dinner and still having the occasional beer, (I'm a grown-ass man, remember?) but I'm all good and have been for a very, very long time.  I've hosted many podcasts and given many talks about healthy eating and how to do it right. I've been raw vegan (got down to 165 lbs.), high fat, high protein, and on and on... I can and have exercised great control over my diet, many times over, enough to be the exact same weight as when I graduated high school and have stellar blood test results for all the health indicators they've got.

Tawnee's show is a bit on the extreme side, but I'm OK with that.  Some people need to be hit upside the head with the no-sugar hammer.  But in contrast, I don't agree at all that I should take all grains out of my diet.  Too many health experts (probably 99%) say they're fine, just eat whole grains and not too many.  I've been reading the ingredient labels looking for added sugar probably since I was 12 just like my German great-grandmother said to.  She lived to be 90, and so did most of my relatives.  I'm not worried about the grains I eat too much. But Tawnee and I agree on so much, it's incredible.  One of the first interviews I ever had on my own show back around 2007 was Christine Lynch, talking about the dangers of added sugar.

What has concerned me and the reason I started working with Tawnee was the carb-dependency while working out.  It's weird stuff, and something that has only recently popped up in society with the combo of ultra-endurance training and sugary shit like Gatorade being pushed on everybody all the time.  While my daily diet of healthy whole foods that got me back to my high school weight, completing 14 ironmans, and lots of other fun and happy stuff was great, I lately couldn't seem to go more than twenty minutes in a workout without needing a sugar boost.  And also I run out of gas at the very end of really long stuff like Ironmans.  We should all be so lucky to have a problem like that!  Lol. 

Coming from my super-healthy background and being no dummy about nearly every problem being food-related at its source, I knew something was up in my diet somewhere.  Tawnee and I realized she could help me out with her awesome knowledge about carb-dependent athletes.  In just a month or so of working with her, I figured out that I had let simple sugars creep into my pre-workout and early-workout ritual and that was totally screwing up my metabolism.  In spite of making nearly zero changes to my daily diet (which I'm already very happy with, and you are now painfully aware of... sorry.), my bonking has gone away and I'm having the best race and workout results of my life.  

Ok, so long story short and the way I need to summarize it is like this - If you tell me to eat better, I can barely contain my frustration at how insanely wrong somebody could be and how twisted my life has gotten received on this Zendurance show.  I lost a lot of friends growing up and have denied myself tons of tasty foods to stay lean as an adult.  It hurts.  And it's hard work.  And I'm both glad and sad I've had to do it.  I'll probably live longer, but it's not as fun as everybody else is having and the teasing sucks.  Just last week, a meeting at work was brought to a complete stop as my boss made fun of me in front of the rest of the staff because I was eating carrots while everybody else was eating kolaches (greasy, cheesey, crap-food wrapped in white bread.) It hurt, but I just smiled and ate my carrots, and remembered what my mom said - "White bread is not real food. It's cake. And cake is for special occasions only."  I heard that plenty growing up, while also being chased around the house by my grandother trying to get me another spoonful of cod liver oil. 

I deal with enough diet torment in the real world already.  But to have somebody on Twitter that I don't even know tell me not to eat doughnuts, when I'm the one that threw them out of my house against the will of my crying wife, that's nuts (almonds?). So here I sit, writing something again...  

The biggest lesson I've learned from this is to never think you know somebody unless you actually know them.  The stuff you think could be way wrong.  

I also want to add something about excuses.  My parents sent me to U.S. Marine Corps JROTC military school when I was only 14 years old.  My drill instructor had just retired as the head drill instructor of Paris Island (Full Metal Jacket).  If you started with an excuse, they smacked it out of your mouth before you could finish the sentence.  I haven't made an excuse for anything since my first day there.  No excuses is one reason I love Ironman so much.  You either have done what you have supposed to or you have failed.  There's mission success or mission failure.  Respect yourself and believe in what you do. If I don't do what Tawnee says, it's because I haven't gotten to understanding enough why I should... yet. I'm simply taking extra steps and time to try to explain my mindset so the audience can see what I'm thinking and why, wrong or right. 



ZenTri Podcast 597 - IMTX 2015

Welcome to the Ironman Texas review show!  There is a lot of info in the podcast, so no need to repeat all that here.  BUT... we've got some pics to share!

Below, these are my brand new shoes covered in mud from the race. 

That's a lot of mud.  It had rained off an on for weeks before race day, and all the people setting up their bikes turned the grass into a real pit.  It was still manageable, though.

Many days after the race, I went out for my first ride.  It took a lot of effort to get out there, so I was a bit bummed when I got this - 

There was a sidewall cut in my tire.  The latex tube I used ($19 a pop, literally) poked through a blew out... Again.  I had to throw this newish tire away. Bummer.

I waited about a week and a half and then set out to have some fun at our local time trial (TT) races.  They are on Thursday nights for 20k, which is 12.4 miles.  Turns out, it's a great way to build and test your FTP watts.

This graph that Strava Pro makes from my race data shows that my FTP was 292.  That's even higher than I thought!  I'm very happy with that.  And I won the TT for the first time ever!

I swam circles in this pool several times before IMTX to simulate open water.  It worked really well.  30 minutes of getting dizzy in this made the hour of swimming straight(ish) in Lake Woodlands seem like a piece of cake.

I was the first one in the pool that morning, so yeah, all the water on the deck is from me. lol. 

 Kai went with me on an easy trail run, riding his bike to make keeping up really easy.  It's something we've been doing for many years.

The trails are around the lake where I will be holding the Ultrababy (self-supported Ultraman) in October.  They were really muddy with all the rain.  We even saw some wild boar out there.  

Taking a turn in the trail, I slipped on some mud and fell, ripping open the healing wound from my bike wreck way back at Galveston 70.3.  It was pretty gruesome -

It hurt.  It hurt really badly.  REALLY BADLY.  Kai's eyes were huge and he couldn't believe that I kept running.  I said there was no other option; running the trail was the fastest way back to the car anyway.  If he's not scarred for life, maybe he took from it a lesson to keep going if you still can.  

The next day was perfect weather for a ride, so went out for a jaunt on the bike across the countryside.  It was such a great environment to get the wheels back under me for more than just a few minutes.

Lots of where I ride look just like that.  I'm really lucky to have access to such great roads.

Lastly, our new house is under construction.  Here is the "Training Cave" above the garage.

I wish the ceilings were a bit taller, but I'll take a dedicated room over using the guest room anytime!

Alright, that's it for this episode.  Work the uphills, cruise the downhills, and keep the rubber side down more than I do!


Clearing the (Smoky) Air

I've been spending a little too much time debating with a small selection of voices on Twitter lately, so I thought I would write something helpful to make things a little more clear.  It's not to create a forum to explain myself or defend a position, but rather to just create a simple link that I can send somebody to when they try to start telling me what they think they know about me.  I'm 41 years old, (A "grown-ass man" in technical terms) and I quit worrying too much about what people think a long time ago.  This is more just to save us both some time.  

Around age 14, I started smoking about a pack of cigarettes a day for almost a decade.  And through the end of high school and into a good chunk of my 20's, I was drinking heavily and doing "other stuff that shall not be named" at a world-class level.  I even worked my self up to being nice and fat, too.  I never landed in jail, but only because I never got caught. (Breaking the law, not being fat.)  I am very lucky to be here and writing this today.  And even though there was no jail, there were some extremely unhappy events that I don't want to go into.

The stuff I did long ago is possibly in same ballpark as Rich Roll's, Lionel Sanders', and Tim Olsen's stories.  I'm not sure; we've never compared notes.  You might notice that people with such histories are really vague about the past. It's an ugly place that we don't like to visit, even in our minds.  And we all change over time.  I'm not the same person I was back in 1992, and hopefully, neither are you.

I mention those legends' names only because they are recognizable enough to illustrate my point.  Like them, I also turned myself around by realizing that working out was a constructive use of my excess energy, energy that was getting myself into trouble.  I have none of their athletic talent (I'm not sure I even could after how I've fried my lungs), but people like us share a similar gentic trait.  We're like border collies; we need a job to do or we will destroy your house.  No sheep? We'll chew the fence and attack the chickens.  Sheep? We'll run in circles around them all day.  It's good for us and good for you to keep us busy.

Once I found triathlon and ultrarunning, it was like a miracle to me.  It was challenging enough to wear me out, relax me, and then allow me to actually focus on being a productive citizen.  I'm now married with job, a house, a kid, a podcast, and some coaching, I've got a nice balance going that works for me.

As a side note - If you have somebody in your life that is always getting mixed up with the wrong crowd, causes endless trouble, or is self-destructive, consider that they might have more energy than what our sedentary society considers "normal".  Encourage them to go do something constructive with that energy.  Running a half marathon burns off the same amount of calories and gives the same high as running from the cops... I know.  Make the right choice and you get a medal instead of handcuffs.

I'm saying all this because a few of the comments I've gotten hint at an exercise addiction or overtraining and or not listening to Tawnee.  I have three replies to that:

1. I've had an exercise addiction and got overtrained before back in 2011.  I know what that feels like.  And since then, I'm hypervigilant to stay away from that level of training.  I thought more was better, but I kept getting worse and worse.  I was blessed to have Rich Roll himself call me and walk me back from the brink.  I'm eternally grateful for him for that and also will always point to that as an example of how real he truly is.

2. There is a level of exercise that I've found that is the "sweet spot" for me.  It flows and ebbs, and I listen to my body and mindfully follow it.  It's a beautiful thing to learn.  You can find out more about how to do it yourself by listening to the ZenTri podcast.  Or not.  It's either for you or it isn't.

3. If I'm not active enough, my life starts falling apart.  And I spent too much of my life rebuilding myself from the mess I was long ago to let it all that work come undone.  You're not me, you don't know me, and you probably don't want to be me (It's tough in here and my clothes are usually kinda dirty.)  Truthfully, I don't care if it's a level of exercise that gets me a sub-10 Ironman, to Kona, or running 100 miles below 24 hours.  If it is, that's great.  If it's not, that's great too.  I actually do what I do to stay sane, productive, and off meds.  It works wonderfully for me and my life has ended up pretty OK doing it.  In a different life, I'd be a farmer or goat herder, on my feet all day and constantly working on something.  I'd be so happy like that!

Tawnee and I will probably always argue about workouts that I do, and I'm sure she knows that I'm listening.  But things have to go through a lonnnnnnnng checklist in my mind before I do them.  When it comes to how much to do and when, that's where I have a massive backlog of knowledge about what actually works for me and what doesn't.  It's a mental scroll all the way to 1987, unfortunately.  Hopefully, she's got the patience to keep remembering that it's not her with the issues, it's me.  Keep that in mind when you're dealing with older folks; we've got a lot of baggage to sort through.

On the flipside, I'm a total new kid on the block with fat metabolism and all that stuff.  You can tell, because I still call it "stuff."  I hang on her every word when we go there.  I love it!

If you made it this far (Iron-reader!) and still feel the need to hurl away on the Twitternets about how I'm training or doing something wrong, let me add a couple more details.  First, some people said I didn't know my FTP and overbiked IMTX.  But then I did an FTP test (30 minute time trial) that showed my FTP was 10 watts higher than what even I had thought.  Then another rock star started giving me shit that I was exercising too much too soon, but then I turned around a few days later and hit the highest FTP and TT time of my entire life, another 9 watts higher than the week before.  I feel petty pointing to those two examples, but they are strong indicators that I know far more about what I'm doing than you might think.  Sobefore you hit send, realize that you just might be armchair quarterbacking and your opinion is possibly both wrong and annoying, no matter how right you think you are.  Tawnee and I are my coaches and we've already got our hands full, thank you very much.

On the other hand, I'll get some tips with some encouragement and I love those.  For you folks that have done that, thank you!  That's great.

Ok, I admit... I do care what people think. If I didn't, I wouldn't have written all this.  Maybe there is a little bit of kid still left in me.  There is one in all of us.  Just remember,  How you help is more important than if you help.  Keep that in mind when dealing with others.

And if you don't like how much I exercise, that's ok.  You'll be fine.  You were fine before you heard of me, and you'll be fine long after I'm gone.  Just let it go. :)