Name: Todd Mei

Birthday: April, Aries

Occupation: PhD candidate, University of Kent, UK


The Challenge

Do 700 Pull-ups in an hour

(world record)

Run 4:45 in the mile

(pr - haven't broken 5:00)





Dear Comrades:

This year I have undertaken a less conventional challenge in allowing the entire month of April for me to attain personal best records in running the mile and pull ups within one hour.  Consider April "race month".  During the month of April I must:

- Complete 700 pull ups in one hour

- Run a mile in 4:45 or less

And, because I am turning 34 years, I shall on completion or failed completion of the last event:

- Drink 3.4 bottles of wine that day

Vaya con Dios, mis amigos,


(Scroll down to begin his diary of the quest)

March 10

This afternoon I finally broke the 700 pull up barrier.  I managed 707 pull ups in 60 minutes.  The pull up portion of my challenge is completed, though I am still wondering if I should contact Guiness and go for an "official" attempt.  The breakdown:

minutes/pull ups

1-30 / 11 per min

31-50 / 12 per min

51-60 / 13 per min (within the last 15 secs I did 7 additional pull ups).

Brian says it was the Beethoven he was playing in the background.  I feel like I had a finishing kick like Roger Bannister in the home stretch.

March 6,

Well, the owners of the rubber track -- Mind and Body Gym -- asked that I pay the 2.50 pounds per use fee which I can't really afford at twice per week.  I asked the manager if we could work something out but she wasn't game.  I asked her to at least look at the bday website.

So, I'm going to have to be more like John Landy.  I'm going to find a stretch of dirt somewhere so I can run intervals.  What happened to the days when you could run for free?  I guess that's in America for cyring out loud!

Lickety Split

Feb 7, 2006

Reading stories of Roger Bannister and John Landy hasn't improved my mile times much (they were the first to break the sub-4 minute mile barrier), but I feel like the inspired John Landy of pull ups right now.

A new personal best this morning:

675 pull ups in 60 minutes.

I felt damn good throughout and was able to keep good form for the most part.  I've realized that you can't let up on your concentration throughout the enitre 60 minutes.  It's strange.  You expect the workouts to get easier as time goes on in your training, but they don't (just the other day a 30 min workout with 12 per minute felt impossible).  Today, minutes 11-25 felt the worst and hardest.  By minutes 40-60 you're just hoping your arms don't suddenly give out which has happened to me before (virtually with no warning).

Breakdown of sets:

Minutes 1-50 = 11 pull ups/min (5 and 6 every 30 secs)

Minutes 51-55 = 12 pull ups/min (6 and 6 every 30 secs)

Minutes 56-60 = 13 pull ups/min (6 and 7 every 30 secs)

The 700 pull up barrier is well in range.

Mei Fei Pao

"Soyons realistes, demandons l'impossible!"
--Sorbonne, Paris

Jan 24, 2006

So, chaps, I managed 660 pull ups this morning in 60 minutes.

The last 20 mins were very ugly, though.  I couldn't manage more than 4 in one go so I had to rest and for a split second and then do 1 or 2 more.  This decreased rest time and by the end of the 60 mins it was like I was sprinting.

That puts at 21 over the current world record, but I would like to improve my form in trying to reach 700.  Some of the pull ups were down right ugly, but in checking with Guinness Book I think all they really care about is starting the rep from a dead hang and then coming down to mostly straight arms.

I'd give it all up though to be able to run a sub 4 mile... or be Rex Kwan do...

The Spitfire

Jan 22, 2006

Gentlemen, I think peanut butter may qualify as dope.  It's been my training supplement.  It's the poorman's creatin.  I'll be pushing my body harder come these next few weeks.  My running will be moving from speed to a mixture of speed and power endurance while my pull up level will continue to push towards two goals: 700 in one hour and 400 in 30 minutes.  My body craves the peanut butter.

Tomorrow is a day of touching God's earth.  I'll be running on the track trying to remind myself that when I've got nothing left inside the shell of my body, to hold my shoulders high and square and keep kicking . . .

"A man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged.  No matter how logical his plans, he can not carry them out without physical suffering."
-- Paul O'Neil

Who do you think you are Landy!?

The Miler

Jan 17, 2006

B's back.  He looks a bit refreshed.  Glad to see his mountain bike came with him.  I may get a basketball so we can shoot some hoops.

Size 8 for the spikes.  I was on the track the other day.  I warmed up by stretching here at Patty's and then did some dynamic stretching after jogging a mile to the track.  My first 200m felt easy and nice.  Hit 30 secs which had been my fastest on previous attempts.  So I followed my routine of kicking a bit harder with each one in order to peak at interval 3-4.  Well, I kicked a bit too hard and on the 2nd interval I ran about 27, though when I hit the stop watch button there was a delay and it registered 28.  I don't think I rested enough and had kicked a bit too hard.  My next times got worse until I plateaued at 31.  My 400m was poor.  I hit 33 secs at 200m and thought I was striding faster in the home stretch but actually was 6 secs slower.  I ran 1:09.

But then later that I day I left an application on a table at a cafe on campus.  So I had to run back to get it.  It's about a mile to campus and I ran at a very fast clip.  I felt good almost the entire way.  The last bit is uphill.  I thought I timed myself but my watch is very touchy.  It didn't get past .03 secs.  Shame... I think I ran it pretty fast.

But I'm not running miles for time... Just like Landy and Bannister, I'm just running to see where I can get, how good I can feel.  Still taking it easy this month since I want to increase my raw speed (fast twitch).  Did 45 mins of plyo the other day and was sore.  Didn't think I would be.

Pull ups are going well.  I think I can get to 700 no problem.  It's all about not getting tired (lactic acid), as you say.  I think alternating 6-7 reps in a 30 min workout per 30 secs and 5-6 in a 60 min workout will get me there.  Only drawback is that my back and neck get tight and I feel that hinders my running.

I've never enjoyed running so much.  Forget about distance.  It's all about the mile.  And you can't replace it.  As Landy said, the 1500m race is awkward; everything is awkward about it, especially because you start in one place and finish in another.

Glad to hear you're setting your mind to PhD work.  You could always go for the Don Johanessen workout.  Train for the mile while smoking 25 cigarettes a day.

That reminds me: I will do one week of each person's workout in this order: Santee, Landy, Bannister.  Santee, well he had that 5 day schedule (Tues - 2 mile warm up; 1 mile, 3/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1/4 and then back up; Wed - 2 mile, fast 1/2 miles followed by sprints; step downs from 1/2 to 600 to 1/4 to 200; Thurs - spee 8 1/4 miles or 12-16 220s).  I can manage this with pull up training and 1 day rest in between.

I mentioned Landy's run one lap fast and run the next slower for about 2 hrs;

Bannister if I recall did 10 440s at one point at 63 secs and 2-3 mins of rest.  Christ that's a second slower than my best time and as much rest as I take between 200m intervals!

I may hit Santee's training as early as late February since it's pretty broad.  Landy and Bannister's training ought to give me that focus.

Only two more sessions of long endurance (16 miles).

The Canterbury Cannon

Jan 12, 2006

So my diet pretty much consists of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Having no money and no market nearby, I stock up on bread, organic peanut butter and organic jelly.  Although the other day I had a plate of fish and chips which was very tasty.  Disaster is looming, my supply of cheap French wine is dwindling and I'm not sure when I can convince Dave to make a trip to Calais.

I'm thinking more about applying to the Guiness Book.  I was on their website and they require a minimum of 4 weeks to review the application.  My concern is how straight my arms have to be.  If I have to lock at the bottom then I don't think I'll apply.  As it stands now, I stop just before locking.  This morning I did 631 pull ups in 60 mins, but the last 10 mins were desperate.

My running times are improving.  I'm running intervals of 200m x 6 with one 400m afterwards.  I'm slowly dropping my 200m times by a second (now at 30 secs, and I think I can get to 29 no problem), but the key is that I've learned to start at about 80% and then sprint the last 50 meters.  My 400m time has been plateauing but my ability to relax more during the run has increased.  So I think this is good.  On the other two days: I run about 16 miles very slowly (pretty damn boring) and on the last day I do about a 30 min plyo workout.  I think with spikes I can break the 5 minute barrier without much difficulty, but of course 4:45 will be impossible for me.  I need more time for that kind of improvement.  Yes, and when I get a proper stop watch (one where the start/stop button doesn't stick) I should be able to drop another second-- my pace at the beginning is distracted since I have to make sure the watch has started properly.

In February I will alter my interval workout, decreasing the 200m intervals and working towards more 400m reps.  Then add a day (taking away plyo) where I run 2 800m or 1 1200m distance or 4 300m.

I'm reading the Perfect Mile.  It is fantastic.  John Landy's training strategy of running one lap fast and resting and doing this over and over sounds tempting to try in March.

The local track (the only track) technically requires a 2 pound fee each time it is used.  So far they have never asked me to pay, but if they do I was thinking of trying to work out a swap.  Would you be up for placing an ad banner or something on the challenge website so I can use their track for free?

The opening scene to Chariots of Fire was shot in Kent, on the beach just before a town called Margate.  It used to be a holiday resort for the English, but now it is an absolute shit hole--everything is closed up and the people are grim.  But I may have to participate in a run along the beach just for hell of it.  I am also wondering if the track at Motspur still exists.  I'll have to have a look, and what about the Cambridge clocktower run?

If it weren't for ordinary people, none of this would be possible.  Tell that to the Repo Man.

Lickety Split

Jan 9, 2006

Maybe I should video tape myself doing pull ups.  I did 621 without too much hardship.  I think more than 644 would be no problem.

Dec 27, 2005

I met some old guy at the track.  All he runs are 300m and 400m laps, three times a week.  He warms up, runs that distance once or twice and then runs home.  Alternate workouts for him are on the 200m distance.  He gave me a bunch of ideas for training and even timed me on a lap at 400m.  He said some of the best runners he knows at the mile don't put in much mileage, just getting incremental times down.

I ran 4 400m laps the other day with lots of rest in between each one.  My two best times were 63 and 62 seconds.  I think I can break 1 minute without much difficulty and will try to get my lap times down to 55 secs for the mile push.  I also like the idea of running 1200m at a fast pace.

My legs feel recovered.  I realize how much I was over training in one particular area, something that I can't help due to wrestling training.  I went on a 10 mile hike yesterday to the coast and felt very good throughout when usually my legs get very sluggish.

Anyway, did a 60 minute pull up workout this morning.  I managed 621 pull ups in that time.  So I am well on my way to 700 in 60 minutes.  I felt good throughout, save the last 2 minutes.  It's a strange workout because although you feel good at many points, you fear that moment when your arms will crash and no longer be able to pull up your weight.  Of course, you have no idea when that will be.  So you live in fear the entire 60 minutes, or at least until the last 5 minutes when you know you can push through despite loss of strength and stamina.

That's all.  Hope the Edwards family events have been memorable.


Dec 20, 2005

You should do a lottery style challenge.  Place all the award winners in a hat.  Pick one.  You can do everything according to your age.

I just completed 370 pull ups in 30 minutes.  It was damn hard.  I think fore arm hanging might be a good training addition since towards the end my fore arms get pumped.

Tomorrow I start a very slow run.  Jackie Robinson is taking me out on his favorite run.

The Cannibal

Dec 17, 2005

Well, I've been plateau-ing at around 5:20 a mile.  I've run a 5:20 mile so much that I feel like I'm on a hamster wheel.

I think for this year's birthday challenge, I will attempt 700 pull ups in one hour and a 4:45 mile (different days, obviously).  So put this in the books.  I turn 34, and really these numbers and times have nothing to do with my age.  I could have went for 680 pull ups in 60 minutes, but might as well make it a round 700.  And a 3:40 mile?  Well, give me a bike.

I feel pretty good with pull ups at the moment, and that is part of the reason my running times are slow.  My torso cramps up on the 4th lap.  I try relaxing my arms while running but somehow the cramps then move to my forearms.  It's really weird.  But pull up-wise I can usually do 45 mins of 10 pull ups per minute without too much torture.  The other day I did 340 pull ups in 30 minutes.  I think with some effort I can accomplish 700 in one hour.

I don't have a set date for the challenge, but I will try to do this some time before the end of April.

If any one can donate a pair of spikes, I wear a US size 8.  Tell Josh and Dave to start developing a FiveTen pair of spikes.

Nov 11

Well, I manage 600 pull ups in 60 minutes. I am not sure it counts as I did all sets of 5 pull ups every 30 seconds.

Afterwards I tried to finish up with my usual push up and stomach workout and puked a little.

I was listening to the radio. Only stations that come in are soft rock and classical rock. This morning I opted for soft rock. During the last two sets a version of God Bless America came on. I felt myself get considerably weaker and had to shut it off.

I attribute my success to the glass of rye I had last night.

Amen, brothers!

The Church of Todd

I write this neither for the Germans, nor for the other wild or barbarian people, nor for bears, lions, wild boars or other wild animals, but for Greeks and for those who may have been born barbarians, but who strive to attain the qualities of the Greeks.
--Galen, 2nd Century AD

Oct 18, 2005

After a day of Aristotle's Four Aitia I decided to hit the bar.  I mean the pull up bar.  Lack of funds prohibits me from drinking much anymore.  Damn tax on alcohol in England is outrageous.  A bad bottle of scotch costs as much as Knob Creek for crying out loud. 

Anyway, I've figured out that doing sets of 5 every 30 seconds is easier for me.  Today I was able to do 450 pull ups in 45 minutes.  I could have eked out a few more sets but I was starting to get a blister on my fingers.  That tells you how sad of a state my skin is in. I am certain that I would not have been able to do this many in sets of 10. 

I heard about the Badger game.  It's been crazy in the Big Ten with the teams beating each other up as usual.  Can't wait to stop by Madison and hang out with the mullets, drinking Miller Lite. 


Oct 15

Finished the following: 

5 p/us every 30 seconds for 10 mins; 
10 p/us every minute for 20 mins; 

After the 30 minutes of pull ups I did: 
10 sets of 30 push ups, 20 v-ups with about 1 minute rest time in between each set. 

I was struggling mighty hard during the last 5 mins of the pull ups.  I had to hang on pull ups 9 to 10, and the last minute was desperate, using my lower body to help me. 

I found myself naturally locking at the elbows when lowering after a while into the work out because my arms were to tired to catch me at the bent arm position.  I would like to know what Semper Phi Guy means by not swinging because when you're arms get tired, you can't help your body swinging a bit; momentum naturally builds as one gets further into the reps unless he is really locking off and stabalizing when lowered.  If that's the case, I can't imagine much rest time within that minute. Also, I used a bar--don't have rings.  I find the rings better since it can accommodate the elbows, but no elbow pain yet. But if Phil's running sub 4 mins, then perhaps I'll drop my Heidegger and read some Atlas Shrugged. Time for some fried bread, so I have read.  

The bigger the waistband, the deeper the quicksand. 

Nigel Tuffnel

It all started the day before when a guy from the Bay Area announced his intention to break the Guinness Book record for pull-ups in one hour by doing 600 in January.