Category Page: Challenges

Tour For a Cure: 1 Month Out

Today is officially 1 month until we kick off the ride from Melbourne to Perth. We depart Perth on the 21st of September, packing our gear into 2 vans and making the presumably much easier drive across Australia. Then, on the 27th, we hop on the bikes and cycle back the way we came. Sounds a little ridiculous doesn’t it?

I’m both excited and a little nervous at the prospect. I don’t think any of us comprehend exactly how difficult this is going to be. I for one, fear I may have underestimated it slightly up to this point. I remember the long arduous days cycling the length of Vietnam and the oath I made never to do anything like that again… It’s the combination of accumulated physical fatigue and perhaps more strikingly, the mental fatigue we’ll suffer from doing an incredibly repetitive and arduous task day after day after day.

This is different in many ways, there is a huge improvement in the following;

  • I’m much more prepared training wise. I went into that Vietnam ride without having ridden a bike for a good 5+ years. I wasn’t overly fit, I hadn’t been doing these endurance activities for long. I was completely unprepared.
  • Much more multi-day/week endurance experience under my belt. I’ve now completed multiple 7 day+ endurance challenges that have had me pushing hard for hours and hours almost every day.
  • More comfortable bikes with proper equipment and
  • Perhaps most importantly, proper nutrition. The majority of my calories in ‘Nam came from sweet tea drinks and pho, a hot noodle soup dish that was both repetitive and not suited to the heat we were riding through. I didn’t get anywhere near the level of nutrition I needed.

It’s also a lot more challenging in many ways;

  • Almost twice the distance in as many days
  • Much less leisurely- we’re on a time schedule and hence we have to push every day to ensure we get to where we need to be. We can’t just take a day off or cut rides short if we feel like it…
  • Team Environment- I’m used to doing these things at my own pace. Sometimes I push harder when I’m feeling good, other times I sit back and cruise. In this ride, i’ll have to be going at the teams pace the whole way.

 

This is going to be a hell of a challenge.

The boys are all looking good. Josh, in particular, has been putting in huge km’s weekly and looks pretty set to take on the journey. Although I’m 100% confident I’ll do it, the ride definitely won’t be the relatively straightforward cruise each day that I initially pictured. We’re all going to have ups and downs and some days are simply going to feel like hell.

This has already happened on training rides, including one on Saturday. I only managed 85km and was absolutely shattered afterward, to the point where I felt like throwing up for a couple of hours afterward. I don’t really know what caused this (likely something I ate the day before) but it proved a demonstration as to what can go wrong and what we’ll all likely have to push through at some point on the ride.

This is going to be a true test of character for all of us and I’m genuinely looking forward not only to experiencing that test again myself, but seeing how all the other boys respond and push through it. This is a team effort at the end of the day and we all need to ensure we’re there to motivate and encourage each other to get through the dark patches we’re all bound to encounter at some point.

Am I really looking forward to cycling a bike across Australia? Not really to be honest. What I am looking forward to, is testing myself in a different way once more. Overcoming the struggle and the mental battle that goes along with it. Particularly getting to experience that with a great group of people.

Bring on the Tour For a Cure…

 

 

The June Fitness Challenge

I’ve started doing monthly challenges (again) to improve myself and keep things interesting while I’m based back here in Perth. You can check out last months Cold Showers Challenge and the positive results in brought.

The challenge for this month is to really step up my training and take my overall fitness to the next level.

I want to improve the intensity of my efforts and get myself mentally, as well as physically prepared for some of the challenges I have coming up.

I’ll be training 6 days per week in a variety of aspects and will post every workout I do in a weekly update. I’ll use this platform as a mini blog to keep track of what I’m doing for the month.

This is a way to keep myself accountable and to provide a little extra motivation to push myself. It also gives you a little insight into how I generally train and get prepared for the various events I do.

I have 2 key goals with this fitness challenge:

  1. Get myself physically prepared for a 50km Trail Ultra-Marathon in July (The 3rd in fact..)
  2. Get myself mentally accustomed to pushing beyond my limits.

I’m aiming to climb Mt Everest in 2018. From everything I have read and studied on the topic, the real challenge is the mental aspect, pushing yourself day after day in such an unforgiving environment. I want to ensure I’m as well prepared for that as possible.

 

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Some of the Key Activities:

-Running (Specifically 2x high intensity & 1x long endurance each week)

-Strength Training (With Weights)

-Muscular Endurance (Circuits, bodyweight etc..)

-Hiking

-Yoga

-Recovery (Beach swims 1x per week, foam rolling, stretching)

-Recreational (climbing, swimming…)

 

I will be sure to test out a few different training methods during this fitness challenge- Crossfit, Anarchy etc.. will probably get a trial. If you’ve got any recommendations, let me know!

Most importantly, set yourself a challenge and find a way to keep yourself accountable. That could be via blog, social media or simply by telling your friends. A friend of mine had a trainer at the gym who used to take underwear clad photos of all his clients at the beginning of a transformation. If they didn’t stick to the program or if they went about it half-arsed, he would print out the photos and stick them around the gym. Brutal but effective!

Find your own motivation..

 

LOG

June 1

Strength Training (47 mins)

Romanian Deadlifts- 60×10, 80×8, 100×8

Barbell Rows- 60×6, 60×6, 60×6

Db Clean & Press- 26×5, 26×5, 26×5

Pullups- 8,7 ,7

S/S

Dips- 8,8, 10

Core Circuit

Trx Rollout- 10, 10

Russian Twists (10kg Kettlebell)- 30, 30

Leg Changes- 30, 30

Side Planks- 30sec, 30sec (ea side)

Notes: Had a cold so took it pretty easy.

Foam Rolling/Stretching (20 minutes)

 

June 2

Labouring Work (3 Hours)

Tempo Run (25:09)

5.2km, 4.49km Pace

Notes: Cold interfering with my breathing. Couldn’t catch it at all from about the 4.5km mark. Felt asthmatic.

Cooldown Run

1.5km

Walking (8km)

 

June 3

Walking (4 hrs)

Foam Rolling/Stretching/Core (30mins)

Planks- 1:30, 1:30, 1:30

S/S

Bridges- 1:30, 1:30, 1:30

 

June 4

Labouring Work (4 hours)

 

June 5

Kokoda/Run Workout (1:21)

5 Laps Kokoda Trail

2km Run

4 Laps Kokoda Trail

2km Run

3 Laps Kokoda Trail

Notes: Ran out of light.. Couldn’t see the path.

 

June 6

Foam Rolling/Stretching (40mins)

 

June 7

Personal Training (1 Hour)

High Intensity supersets/circuits consisting of exercises such as:

-Burpees

-Lunge Presses

-Sandbag Carries

-Core

-Sprints

Notes- Killed me! Crazy cardio workout that relied heavily on muscular endurance and a bit of strength. 

 

June 8

2 hrs walking

5km Casual Run

Foam Rolling/Stretching (25 mins)

Notes- Sore as hell glutes after yesterdays workout

 

June 9

Treadmill Intervals (6.4km, 33:40)

5x Intervals- 800m @ 15.5km/hr (3:52 Pace) -> 300m @ 6km/hr

1km Cooldown

Strength Training (1 Hour)

Romanian Deadlifts- 20×10, 40×10, 60×10, 80×5, 100×5, 120×5, 130×5

Military Press- 20×5, 30×5, 40×5, 50×5

Barbell Rows- 40×5, 60×5, 65×5, 65×5, 65×5

Dips- 10, 10, 10

s/s

Lat Pulldowns- 47×10, 54×10, 54×10

Plank- 2:00, 2:00

Trx Rollout- 10, 10

s/s

Bosu Ball Mountain Climbers- 20, 20

2.5 hours walking

Notes:  Felt great Back to 100% after cold

 

June 10

REST DAY

 

June 11

Moving Furtniture (4 Hours)

 

June 12

Indoor Climbing (1:30)

Strength Workout (1:20)

Squats- 20×10, 40×5, 60×5, 70×5, 80×5 (stopped there as lower back tight and sore)

Renegade Rows- 16×10, 16×10, 16×10

DB Clean & Press- 16×10, 16×10, 16×10

Rowing Machine (lvl 10)- 500m Intervals- 1:42, 1:41, 1:38

5km Run- 25:30

 

June 13

Foam Rolling/Stretching (25:00)

 

June 14

Trail Hike/Run– (20km, 2:34)

Hiked first 45mins then ran the rest.

1x lap of Eagle View trail then 5km return-run to ‘Swan View Tunnel

 

Wednesday 15th June

Foam Rolling/Stretching (30mins)

 

Thursday 16th June

Personal Training Session (1:20)

Stretching & functional strength Training

 

Friday 17th June- Sunday 19th June

Stirling Ridge Walk.

Around 21 Hours Hiking Total over the 3 days. 15kg Pack and rough terrain.

 

Monday 20th June

Stretching & Foam Rolling (20mins)

 

Tuesday 21st June

Strength Workout (45mins)

Stretching 

Bench Press- 20×10, 4010, 60×8, 65×7 (first time doing these in a ages, took it easy)

Pullups- 7, 7, 6

Lying Leg Curls- 35×12, 45×10, 45×10

Db Rows- 20×12, 24×12, 24×12

Bosu Ball Mountain Climbers- 20, 20

S/S

Bosu Planks- 1:00, :45

 

Wednesday 22nd June

High Intensity Cardio (40:00)

Treadmill (4.6km, 22:39)

Start at 9km/hr. Add 0.5km/hr every 300m. Got to mid 16.5km/hr

500m Rowing- 1:42, 1:48

Stretching

 

Thursday 23/6

Strength Workout

Squats- 20×10, 40×10, 60×5, 70×5, 80×5, 90×5, 100×2

Dual Cable Pulldown- 33×12, 40×12, 47×12, 54×10

Military Press- 20×10, 30×5, 40×5, 50×6

1arm Cable Row- 8.75×12, 11.25×12, 13.75×12

Ab Rollouts- 10

Bosu Situps- 20, 20

Stretching

 

Friday 24/6

3 Hours Casual Walking

Cold Shower Challenge Update: 15 Days In

First off, Perth water in May is a hell of a lot colder than I expected.. It seems to have gotten colder and colder, as the days have shortened and night-time temperatures have dipped to 4 or 5 degrees.

Having said that, I’ve been really enjoying the cold showers, starting to actually look forward to them even! I guess that’s the mental aspect as much as anything, enjoying the challenge. 

I’ve certainly become more tolerant of the cold water, when I first started it took me at least a minute to stop hyper-ventilating and get over the initial cold-blast shock. Now I hop in, take a couple of deep breaths when it hits me and I’m all good.

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Onto the Benefits I’ve noticed..

  1. Alert & Alive: Nothing is more refreshing to the mind and body than hopping under a cold shower. You feel amazing when you step out, so much more alert and alive.
  2. Reduced Soreness: Even though I’ve been running a hell of a lot more than I’m accustomed to, I haven’t been getting much soreness. This is probably a combination of a few different factors; improved conditioning, foam rolling/stretching and nutrition, but I have a feeling the cold exposure therapy has definitely played its part. 
  3. Improved Energy: I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my energy levels, particularly in the period directly after a cold shower. Again this is probably due to a few factors, although I would bet on a positive correlation between the cold showers and my energy.
  4. Cold Tolerance: As the outside temperatures have been dropping, I’ve hardly noticed it. I tend to prefer cooler weather anyway, although I’ve definitely noticed an improved tolerance to the cold generally.

 

I’m only halfway through, so it will be interesting to see if these benefits prove themselves even further as we go along.

A friend of mine, Emmett, is joining me in this challenge. If you’re looking for a personal trainer or performance coach, he is your man. You can find him at www.emmettjohnpugh.com.

Here is his biggest takeaway from the challenge so far..

 

Week 1

“I found the greatest benefit was in achieving my daily habits with ease… 

Ive been working on building a SOLID list of daily habits that are just automatic. So when your first learning a habit there is A LOT of resistance in starting the new habit your forming. The cold water challenge helped me burst through that initial step and get started on the habit i was working on.”

 

Week 2

“The biggest takeaway from this challenge has been the flow on effect to how i overcome challenges throughout the day.

Before, i would let the voice in my head talk me out of overcoming small challenges. Now that voice is drowned out by the experience of a cold shower first thing in the morning. Making everything else i do during the day seem easy.

Training my will power like a muscle has seen HUGE benefits in my daily habit formation. Finished a book in a week, good considering i was never a big reader. I have taught myself to touch type in a week. Incorporated the Wim Hof breathing method into my morning routine (must check this guy out)*. Most importantly i have been so immersed in making the most out of every minute of the day that I cant waste time.”

 

*Check out this article on the Wim Hof Method. The guy is legit, holding some 20 odd world records related to cold exposure and other crazy feats of endurance. His breathing technique is probably a challenge I’ll take on next month.

 

I will do another update at the end of the month to review the whole process and to let you know if I found the cold shower business to be a worthwhile endeavour!

Check out a few of the benefits of cold showers.

30 Day Cold Shower Challenge: Month of May

During the month of May, I’ll be undertaking the Cold Shower Challenge. I encourage you to join me.

Cold exposure has been long-renowned as a recovery enhancement tool used by professional athletes (mainly in the form of ice-baths, recently cryotherapy). It’s only been more recently that the health benefits of cold showers for the everyday person has been bandied around.

I’ve known about the concept for a good couple of years now and even tried a few cold showers myself sporadically. Now’s the time to give it a real crack. I’m doing a great deal of training at the moment, particularly running, and need as much help with recovery as I can get. Training recovery has traditioanlly been the key use of cold exposure so it will be interesting to put the theory to the test. Enter the cold shower challenge..

cold_shower_challenge

The Benefits..

Fat Loss

The heat generated by your body in attempt to warm you up produces a metabolic effect that burns fat.

Energy Increase

The linked study shows the effects of cold exposure on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It appears to work for the everyday inidvidual as well.

Relief from Symptoms of Depression & Greater Stress Tolerance

“Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”

Healthy Skin & Hair

Cold water helps to close pores. Closed pores keep your skin looking smooth and healthy, without drying your skin out as hot water can. The cold water helps keep your hair shiny and your skin soft, rather than itchy, ashy, and dried out.

Testosterone & Fertility Increase

A 1993 study conducted by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England showed a link between having cold baths and having high testosterone levels.

 Improved Breathing

If you’ve ever been exposed to cold water, you’ll know the feeling of hyperventilating initially. This boosts oxygen intake and expands the lungs, mimicking the effects of exercise.

Lymphatic Movement

“Your lymphatic system takes waste away from your cells to help you fight disease. It’s separate from your blood vessels, but it’s moved around by the contraction of your muscles. Cold showers cause your entire body to contract and this forces your lymphatic system to push lymph fluids throughout your body, stopping them from pooling in one part of your body as they would if the lymphatic system were compromised or inefficient.”

Reduce Inflammation

Well known among the professional athlete community..

Improved Circulation

Over time, cold water exposure improves circulation. Since exposure to cold causes your blood flow to be redirected to your vital organs, your body is forced to circulate your blood more efficiently.

Improved Sleep

More so anecdotal evidence from what I’ve read. Particularly applies to night where a reduced body temperature would invoke sleep.

 

Yeh.. That’s a fair list of potential benefits. Well worth a few minutes of discomfort to reap all those rewards don’t you think? I imagine another benefit would be increased discipline & mental fortitude, it will almost certainly get easier as we go along.

 

The Cold Shower Challenge

A 5 minute cold shower everyday during the month of May, ideally first thing in the morning.

The protocol is simple..

– Turn the shower to its coldest setting

– Get in

– Stay in for 5 minutes

– Voila

 

There you have it. Give it a go for yourself & tell me about your experience. I’ll post my results and thoughts at the end of May.

 

If you want to read more, these are a few of the sources I used in this article

http://www.fastcompany.com/3043767/my-creative-life/the-scientific-case-for-cold-showers

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/01/18/the-james-bond-shower-a-shot-of-cold-water-for-health-and-vitality/

http://impossiblehq.com/cold-shower-health-benefits/

http://gettingstronger.org/2010/03/cold-showers/

http://highexistence.com/the-wim-hof-method-revealed-how-to-consciously-control-your-immune-system/

 

How to Hold Your Breath for 3+ Minutes

This is another article, ‘How to Hold Your Breath Longer Than Houdini‘, I’ve nicked from my old site Deadat30. I think it’s a gem and one I’ll certainly revisit in the future. (Maybe with the addition of water this time..)

Harry Houdini, probably the most well known magician of all time, famous for amazing feats of escape, deception and illusion. Despite performing in the early 1900’s, his name is still as  synonymous with magic today as it was in his prime.  I’m sure everyone’s heard of the disappearing elephant.. Perhaps what put Houdini into a class of his own however, particularly in his day, were his acts of physical endurance.

In particular, the ability to hold his breath for long periods of time. He incorporated this advantage into many of his most notable stunts  (the milk can escape, buried alive and the underwater box escape) allowing him to outdo most of his competition.

I recently came across an article on Houdini, which claimed his personal best for holding his breath was 3 minutes 30 seconds. After a bit of further investigation, this did indeed seem accurate. My curiosity was piqued. Orignially I thought this would be next to impossible for me to beat, I figured 1:30 was a decent time and even that was a struggle..

I did a bit more research into how free-divers and the like manage to hold their breath for so long and found out that David Blaine formerly held the world record with a ridiculous time of 17 minutes and 4 seconds. (This was oxygen assisted, meaning he inhaled pure oxygen for upto 30 minutes prior to the attempt.) He has done a TED talk on the subject and goes into detail about the technique he used to break the world record, explaining anyone can use it with a degree of success (relative success, dont expect to beat that record…unless you’re this guy).

I decided to give it a crack..

 

Baseline

I attempted, as a baseline measure, to hold my breath for as long as I could without any sort of technique or training. I managed 1:20.

 

Attempt 1

I got Russell to time me so I could focus on keeping relaxed and keeping my mind off the ridiculous challenge I was doing.. The result: 3:02

I was involuntarily heaving towards the end, my body attempting to breath despite no air being inhaled. Bit disappointed I didn’t get it, despite holding my breath for more than double the amount of time I had ever managed previously.

 

Attempt 2

Woke up at 2am. Nothing much to do at that time so decided to attempt this foolish endevour yet again. My time: 3:35

I believe being so relaxed, with a lowered heart-rate from sleeping helped me big time here. Add to that the fact I had tried it before and knew moreso of what to expect when you deliberately trick your body into thinking it’s going to die..

I could have potentially gone a few more seconds but I felt a tremendous pressure in my head and my right ear started making funny sounds..

 

The Technique

*This is the technique prescribed by David Blaine. There are plenty more out there but they all appear to involve a similar process and essentially the same breathing exercises.

 

  • Deep breathing: 1:30
  • Purging: 1:15
  • Hold breath for target 1:30 (After 1:30: Take 3 semi-purge breaths)

 

  • 1:30 deep breathing
  • 1:30 purging
  • Hold breath for target 2:30 (After 2:30: Take 3 semi-purge breaths)

 

  • 2:00 deep breathing
  • 1:45 purging
  • Hold breath for as long as possible

 

Deep Breathing

Before holding your breath, inhale and exhale slowly from deep within your diaphragm. By doing this, you’re ridding your lungs of low-quality air. Spend five seconds breathing in, then hold the breath for one second, before breathing out for ten seconds.

Purging

Exhale forcefully, pushing as much air out of your lungs as possible. Puff out your cheeks as you do this, and imagine you are trying to blow a toy sailboat across a stretch of water. Once you have exhaled completely, inhale quickly and repeat. Try to keep your body as still as possible while you do this, to avoid expending any of the stored oxygen from the previous step.

*If you do this too hard you’ll feel like you’re going to pass out. If you keep going, you probably will. Slow down and take it a little easier..

 

Additional Pointers

– Make sure you’re seated comfortably (not lying down) and move as little as humanly possible.

-One thing David himself does when he does his record attempts is mentally move through each muscle in his body and ensure it is completely relaxed.

-Personally, I found leaning forward a little rather than leaning right back helped when I started struggling at the 3min mark.

-Another recommendation from Mr Blaine that I certainly found useful was running through the alphabet, naming a celebrity/famous figure for each. You may find some ridiculous names pop into your head..

Challenge of the Day

Life is all about progression & we all need to push & challenge ourselves to achieve that progress.

In between big challenges (i.e tackling the 7 Summits), I always set myself smaller goals to stay motivated and keep things interesting. I want to start sharing some of these with you and hope that you’ll join me and challenge yourself at the same time.

We first came up with this idea over at Deadat30 where it was ridiculous ideas such as eating the Michael Phelps Diet for a day.

 

About 3 times a week I will try and do a challenge to test myself physically & mentally. Todays is a simple plank. I managed to hold the plank for … beating my P.B of 5:00 flat. That HURT. Give it a try and see what you can do. Push yourself through the pain & you’ll be suprised by what you can achieve. Let me know how you go!

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