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Birthday Challenge
Santa Barbara, CA
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  "When someone says you can't do something. That just gets me psyched  to try and do it, of course." 
- Hans Florine in Wall Rats

Training Diary

Objective: to use P90X as an off-season conditioning program for all of my sports: climbing, cycling, and running. Since I’ll be climbing throughout the 90 days, the schedule is altered in order to maximize my ability to climb decently on the weekends. Race season is over and biking and running will be minimal, for me. Some decline in climbing performance will happen during the program but that is expected due to excessive breakdown. If all goes well, this program will be the launching pad for my next birthday challenge, to be announced…

First Training Block 

Week 1 

The daily schedule will change from the normal P90X. In block one, it will be: 

M – Back and Chest, Ab Ripper X
T – Shoulders and Arms, Abs
W – Plyo (also climb Wed evenings)
T – Legs
F – Yoga and Yoga Belly
S, S – climbing, cycling, surfing, and running

If I don’t get outside for some reason, Kenpo X will be added. Don’t plan on doing much Kenpo. 

Day 1 – Sept 22, 2003

Used aids (chair placed way in front for pull-ups and knees for push-ups) in order to do 15 reps on every exercise. It was difficult, even doing the movements the easiest way near the end. Did manage to do 15 reps across the board. Later in the program, reps can be sacrificed to make strength gains, but right now reps are paramount. Lactic acid build-up was so severe that I spent the first 15 minutes post-workout walking around trying to keep from losing my lunch. 

Day 2

Same protocol as above. This workout is easier because the muscle groups are smaller so the lactic acid accumulation doesn’t bring one quite as close to puking. 

Day 3

For me, Plyo isn’t as hard as everyone said, but it’s still an excellent workout and I’m sure to have used some muscles in a way I’m not used to. Expect to be sore. Long climbing session in the PM. 

Day 4

Legs – Only did half the workout knowing that I’ll get really sore if I don’t. Good creative workout and none-too-easy… sheesh! 

Day 5

Yoga – Am starting to get sore, as expected. Yoga helped in a positive way. Walking has become a bit difficult, and standing up… man, what a pain. 

Climbed and hiked all weekend. Legs are sore but loosened up throughout the weekend. Upper body felt decently strong. This will get worse before it gets better, for sure. 

Week 2 

Back & Chest day was hard! Almost finished every push-up in good style but had to drop to my knees on the last few reps of diamonds. Don’t rest much between sets and do this workout in about 30 minutes. It’s friggin ugly—a lactic acid overdose! 

Shoulder and arm day is easier, again, but muscles are starting to “get slow,” which is a reaction that always happens during a new weight training program as the muscles stay pumped longer than they should, microtrauma is extensive, and fast-twitch fiber is rendered useless. This period will be a while and sports performance is going to suffer, but it’s all in the grand scheme. 

Fri – Am pretty damn sore and yoga is perfect today. 

Weekend – Second straight climbing trip with longest climbing day of the year on Sat, 9 routes (pathetic, really). Very tired and sore by the end of the weekend. Feeling pretty maxed, but that’s a good thing. 

Week 3 

Monday – Getting better at the Back/Chest day and can now finish in good style. Muscles are pumped a lot of the time right now, with slight pressure in one elbow (from climbing mainly). Need to be careful. 

Tue – Standard day of Shoulders/Arms, except added a bike ride. 

Wed – Had to do a fit test today, so got really pumped early on. After finishing the Wed night climbing workout with two intervals am pretty thrashed. Need to back off a bit or risk injury. 

Thurs – Switched legs to leg and pull-ups. Great workout but ANOTHER pull-up day is getting to be too much with all the climbing. 

Friday – Surfed in the AM, a brand new sport for me, adding to my overall soreness. Yoga sesh was abridged due to fatigue. 

Sat – 2 hour bike ride in AM, 2 hour powerhike/scramble/run in PM. No climbing due to exhaustion of upper body. 

Sun – Climbed reasonably hard. Felt better as the day went on. No elbow pain at all, so I seem to be recovery adequately.  Fell asleep at around 9PM. I’m tired. I like it. 

Block One Overview – Great stuff. Adaptive phase going as planned. Almost overdid it a few times but backed off just enough (or so I think right now). Since it’s the first real resistance training since last fall, I think the process is going well and that the strength curve will rocket skyward during the next block. Currently in severe breakdown but not overtrained much, even with all the extra outside exercise. Considered extending the block another week but with the elbow pressure decided a week away from pull-ups might be perfect. With a “recovery” week coming up, climbing should improve a lot next weekend. I’m using recovery in quotes because our first test group, Jon, Ian, Mason, and Audra all thought the first recovery week felt harder than the preceding weeks. 

Diet notes: Started the Carrie Wiatt 50% protein diet in week 3. While not optimal given the extra exercise I’m doing, it was manageable and I can feel the normal associated feelings with a high-protein diet. It’s not nearly as hard as the entry Atkins plan would be and I’d think anyone doing P90X that needs to shed a little fat could handle it for 4 weeks. Continuing for at least the next week so should have more perspective on it then. 

First Recovery Week

This week is going to be great, I can tell. Plan to climb fairly hard this weekend. Along with the 90X schedule, will climb Wed night, bike ride, run, and surf one day each this week. 

Week 4 

Monday: Yoga X & Yoga Belly 7 
Tuesday: Core Synergistics 
Wednesday: Kenpo X
Thursday: Yoga X & Yoga Belly 7
Friday: Core Synergistics 
Saturday, Sunday:

Mon – Today I used to video instead of the notes, so it was my first glimpse of Yogi Tony. Yogi Tony’s class is brilliant, and I mean that in an Eddie Haskell sort of way. “Now relax, center yourself and breathe… Hey, Ian, you worthless piece of @#&!. You call that a %^&@#g downward dog? I should kick your lazy….” I laughed so hard a couple of times that I fell out of my pose. Genius, in my opinion, but perhaps not in a way America is ready for. 

Tue – Had Ian explain just what the hell the core movements were so that I could do it. Fun workout, and really hard if you go to exhaustion as much as the notes tell you to. Whew! Also rode my bike this morning. Have a not-so-strange craving for rice. 

Wed – Diet Note: Only one week into the Plan One high protein diet and I’m having trouble. One of yesterday’s meals must have had some slightly bad meat b/c I woke up sick during the night, then had protein issues (feel like ass but hard to explain). I am noticing the normal high-pro associated feelings in general: dehydration, fat loss, bad breath, feeling sluggish, always wanting to eat more but never feeling like I’ve had enough, even though I’m full (lack of blood sugar). Usually this last feeling wears off and the person will eat less, food boredom, which along with dehydration is a part of high-pro weight loss, the part that comes back. The other loss is real, fat loss, which really get rippin’ once my calories drop. In my case, I don’t have tons of fat to lose and am doing a fair amount of extra exercise, so I’m starting to bonk—totally normal given the parameters. But I’ve done this before in varying degrees, so it’s not exactly surprising. Self-experimentation is fun stuff, except its not always fun. I’m sure this makes a ton of sense. 

And whilst I was tossing and turning in bed a 4am trying think about something other than losing an eating contest at all-you-can-eat meat night at Earl’s BBQ, I had a revelation about how to word the caveat about the high protein cycle. I knew there was a reason I was doing this. 

Fri – Sick of protein, I didn’t eat much Thursday and felt better (and big part of the high-pro phenomenon according to studies). Lack energy somewhat but not horribly. Really wanted pizza Friday night but skipped that and ended up slacking by eating a bunch of ice cream. 

Did a lot of yoga this week, which is great. I’m have the world’s tightest hips and they’ve never gotten very loose (and won’t), but I’ve used this as an excuse not to work them, causing me to lose some of the little range of motion that I had. Feel like I’m starting to get it back. Cool. 

Too tired for another road trip so weekend climbing plans have been altered… 

Sat – Had a ‘sports day,’ in order to burn off the ice cream. Here’s how it went: 

8:30 – 10:30 – surf (don’t know how to surf so this consisted of lots of paddling and getting thrashed by waves) 

11-12:00 – mtn biking. Got shut down on trail because of my dog, so sesh was shorter than planned. 

1 – 3:00 – rockclimbing. Easy day, 3 moderate routes all 5.10 (quite easy for me). 

3:30 – 4:30 – trail run. Loop from Topanga over to Will Rogers and back. 

5 – 6:00 – beach volleyball. Hadn’t played in years (though I used to play a lot). Still will be a little sore from moving in sand. 

Watched “Bend It Like Beckham”. Can’t finish off a sports day without a sports movie. Great film, by the way and you'd have to be one cynical bastard not to think so. 

Sun – “ Get the crap kicked out of me day”

Went “surfing” at Santa Cruz Island on a board that was way too short and narrow for me to navigate. Also somehow missed the reef warning orientation and ended up being hurled towards some rocks and thinking, “I’ve been withheld some critical need-to-know information!” My “wonder if feet work like anchors” solution had the right effect on inertia except that it looked as though I’d been lufa-ing with a cheese grater, making me the slowest moving bleeding thing in the water amongst one of the highest concentrations of White sharks in the world. Switched to a boogey board because 1) it was far easier to catch waves and avoid rocks, and 2) sharks apparently don’t like the color yellow, which happened to be the color of my fins. Trying to learn some technique, I starting watching Dogtown and Z-Boys but fell asleep on the couch about 2 sips into a beer and dreamt about sharks biting my feet. 

Second Training Block 

Week 5 

I feel like I’ve spent the last 4 weeks doing absolutely nothing within’ my comfort zone. My body is so sore that I’m can’t even begin to point out any particular sore areas, as it’s one big numb blob (except for my feet, that look as though practicing Wu-Tan on Freddy Krueger). For 8 months I did almost nothing but ride my bike, run, and eat pasta. Now I’m doing everything but ride my bike, run, and eat pasta. Can you say “adaptive phase?” You betchya! 

It’s fascinating to observe oneself going through this, especially since brain power—exacerbated by lack of carbohydrates, the only proper brain fuel—falters as well. My friend Andrea summed this up so creatively I’m going to borrow her comments. She’s been following a similar overtraining schedule since the surf came up. After spending more time in the water than sleeping this weekend, comments on our ride home last night began with, “I’m having delirium,” progressed to “…becoming defunct, “ when finally she became “a lump of human flesh melting into the seat” just before I poured her into her apartment. 

So, alrightly then … here’s the schedule for the next three weeks: 

M – Back and Bi’s, Ab Ripper X
T – Chest, Shoulders, Tri’s, Yoga Belly
W – Plyo (climb Wed evenings, of course)
T – Legs and Pull-ups, Ab Ripper X
F – Yoga and Yoga Belly
S, S – climbing, cycling, surfing, running, v-ball, boogie board, swim from sharks, get hurled into rocks, etc…

Diet: Moving into 40/30/30. Hoo-friggin’-ray! 

Mon - Recovery week did its job. In spite of overall fatigue, the upper body is looking forward to today’s lactic acid bath. 

Back and bi’s isn’t as hard as back and chest but it’s no picnic. Creative and cool, it lacks one aspect—a proper warm-up (note: add this in!) I pulled a muscle at my first set of pull-ups. No biggie in the long run but it affected today’s workout so that I couldn’t push as hard as I’d have liked. Oh well. 

Tue – The pulled muscle also affected my sleep because it woke me up every time I moved. No exercise today either. Grrrr 

Wed – After my first day with no exercise in a long time I woke up feeling really stiff and sore. Certainly, this has an aspect of overtraining associated with it. But it’s not P90X to blame, its days like Sat. But other than my feet and back, which are healing, I feel pretty good. So good, in fact, I've begun thinking about a birthday challenge. 

Did yoga CAREFULLY and the back is getting better. Will ride my bike easy and maybe skip climbing tonight… maybe. 

Thur – all I did was bike about an hour and do yoga and I’m STILL sore, especially biceps from Monday’s back and bi workout, which is killer. Hope to do more today, though I can still feel my back and don’t want to take any steps backwards. Did Yoga Booty Ballet—umm, no comment, but I HAVE to do it since we're going to market it and it's definitely an estrogen thing—to warm-up and then did the chest, shoulder, tri for the first time. Really creative and fun and a serious hammering, especially for the shoulders and tri’s.

So, I AM doing a bd challenge on my real birthday that comes in the middle of this program. That means more cool testing, since I'll try and have a little peak, then his it back up again after. It will extend the overall program a few weeks. No problem with that. It's a blast.

Fri – My friend Leigh made a comment something like, “when do you do any housework or chores with weekend’s like that?” My answer is that you should see my place right now and you’d know, I don’t. Okay, so maybe I will tonight. 

Sat was climbing day, except that it was ridiculously hot and got cut short when my partner got heat stroke. I wasn’t far behind. We still got in 6 routes—a full day for most people—plus two-hours of hiking in the heat. 

Sun was sports day and I was up before dawn and loading my van with apparatus to surf, road bike, mtn bike, run, climb, or boulder. The morning started with what was supposed to be an easy to moderate 50-mile group ride but turned into a 70-mile reasonable hard training ride. The “no drop” policy got thrown out the window and near the end I found myself off the front with 3 other people out of a group of 40+ starters. After nearly two months off, this was much more than I needed—and riding through the smoke and ash didn’t help. Pretty worked, I opted for an afternoon surf. My legs were cramping each time I tried to get up on the board but the water was by far the most comfortable place to be in yesterday’s 100-degree smoky weather. 

On my drive home I was hammered (theme for my weekends, it seems), even though it doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing as much volume as normal. Blame it on 90X, perhaps (or for sure). Certainly, this morphing process I’m going through is going to pay dividends once I’m adapted to it! 

Week 6 

Although I’m tired going in, my back feels okay today so I’m back on the normal schedule. 

Diet notes: I ate way more than Carrie’s food last week. It is simply not enough food for my schedule, which isn’t exactly surprising. I can’t say that I did a good job of swaying, as I ate anything that was around. Considering I went to a birthday bash and a wedding, this generally wasn’t near the pinnacle of Michi’s Ladder (Beachbody's "foods you should eat" list). 

Mon – Did the “gun show” workout. Can still feel my rhomboid muscle I tweaked last week but there is no real pain. This workout is awesome, especially for, well, the guns. Not nearly as physically painful as the chest/back combo, it does pump up your biceps beyond belief. These meathead friends of mine in school used to always say, “12-inch arms don’t drop nobody.” They would have loved this workout. Practiced apnea for the first time in ages. Did 2 minutes post workout sitting at my desk, so I should be able to get 2:43 with a little work. Also, I feel better right now, post workout, than I did last night. The Gun Show as a recovery workout? Must be the endorphins. 

Tue - just did 13 yoga poses for 43 sec, and 2-minute breath hold (a way off still), and 430 push-ups, 430 crunches, 430 leg-lifts and 430 jumping jacks in 45 minutes. That'll work just fine for my bd challenge. It's just all that pesky other stuff...

Now I’ve got to go fill-in the shoulder and tri exercises to round the workout off. Really like the no repeat workouts. Very un-boring.

Tonight rattled off 14 routes at the gym in a couple of hours. This isn’t too impressive, really, especially considering how pumped I was at the end. Glad I’ve got a few weeks to go.

Wed - The little back muscle pull has become a slight irritant. Maybe I need more than one day off. Only did some yoga and bouldered in the backyard tonight. Really feeling stiff for some reason, but what's new?

Thurs - Since I'm working on my film all weekend, I altered the schedule that had my climbing again tonight since I won't get a chance over the next 4 days. This is the first time I've climbed three days on in ages (years maybe). Only did easy routes at the gym, got incredibly pumped, my fingers are pretty stiff, but at least I'm not injured. Woke up in the middle of the night with a calf cramp. Weird, in that I haven't cramped much in years but this year has been full of it, in all different conditions. Weird. I could absolutely see this as a limiting factor of the challenge, so I'd better get serious about sorting out the problem.

Fri - Did legs and pull-ups and drank too much at Carl's Halloween party.

Weekend - Not much exercise, for me. Sat did an easy ride to map a good bd challenge running course then ran 4.3 miles at a 6:20 pace. Sunday did a hard group ride of around 50 miles. Diet sucked.

Week 7 

Mon - Did the "gun show" early and my lat is acting sorta strange. Supposed to climb tonight. 

Long session at climbing gym. Finished it with 160 leg lifts and dips. Tried to add pull-ups but didn't have enough skin left.

Tue - not feeling too well, so a day off. Worrying a bit about some stiffness in my hip joint. First noticed it a few weeks back and it seems to be getting worse. Especially today, and all I've done is lay around Hmm, doesn't feel serious but won't go away. Irritating.

Wed - Hip was really bad tonight. So bad that I kelp waking up. Ended up doing some self bodywork and found a trigger point that released some of the pain and stiffness, at least through the night. A slight irritant has turned into a big concern, but it just can't be a real injury... can it? Bad training day. Did a little yoga and climbed a little in the backyard. 

Thurs - Hip is much better, so whatever trigger point I found must have been on the right track. I'm now pretty certain that I can correct this problem if I can just find time to get a massage. Tonight climbed in the gym for a couple of hours, then did 30 sets of: 4 pull-ups, 4 hanging straight leg raises, 4 bar dips, 8 push-ups, 8 supine leg raises, 16 crunches. That's 360 of the 430 pull-ups, etc, and it took a little under an hour. Not bad, though I realize this may prove different during this event....ummm... yeah....

Fri - Planning to test some of the challenge events this weekend to work out logistics. Hope access still  exists to MST3K (climbing area), otherwise my scheduling has some serious issues. Yoga today... Yes!

Weekend - Had to work during the middle of the day Sat, which facilitated a ridiculously early start. Drove out to Conejo Mountain and recon'd the area. Did 8 pitches of climbing on routes I'll do during the challenge. Also, sussed out the mtn biking in the area, and it should work out pretty well. Was very tired Sat night. 

Week 8

Sunday we'd planned to surf and climb but it rained (you don't want to surf near LA after a rain!) Plan be had us driving to the desert, where I did 22 pitches and faired pretty well. Granted, quite a few were low-angled granite, and not the same test the Echo will offer during the challenge. Still, I'm feeling a little more confident.

Mon - Less than two weeks before the challenge so the entire training schedule is now challenge specific. This week I'll test a bunch of stuff out. Time is an issue, I'm swamped! Oh well, it's not birthday pretty hard... yadda, yadda, yadda....

Wed - Overdid it a bit the last couple of days, especially after all that climbing on Sun. Did at stack of push-ups, pull-ups, bar-dips, leg lifts, etc and did mileage in the climbing gym on consecutive nights. Last night I physically had to stop due to strain on a tendon. Hope I didn't injure anything, but it feels like I stopped in time. Other than that, things are going okay. A bit tired but I have two easy days ahead, whew.

Fri - P90X filming has kept me pretty busy. For training, I watched a lot of exercise as opposed to actually doing any. It's okay, I needed the break.

Sat - Did a bunch of routes at Echo, around 15, that are all the problematic ones in the challenge and many of the harder routes. Ended up changing the schedule a bit because of it. Hard day and everything worked okay. No problems from the wrist. 

Sun - More test-run stuff at Mystery Science Theatre. Added an 11b but decided that two 11d's were too sharp and hard so scrapped em. Mapped the bike course. 

My real training is finished. The hay is in the barn, as they say. This week will focus on recovery, hydration, and logistics (which can't be underestimated). Not too upset with my progress and fitness level. I'd like to have more recent endurance training under my belt but, well, I don't. So be it. Engrams can go a long way.

Week 9