From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 1.3

The first Commandment is to Stay Inspired. This video deals with what to do when your inspiration is drained.


You need to be able to see the heroic version of yourself in – let’s make up a term – future hindsight. Keep in mind that you are at the beginning of the training montage, you are a walking before photo. When you feel like quitting don’t tell yourself I won’t quit, listen to your future self say I didn’t quit.

The book is already written, your best self is waiting on the later pages and you just have to keep turning ’em to get there.

And, this is weird for an aspiring woo woo fitness guru to say, remember that you’re not special. Meaning that you’re not different than millions of other people getting in shape. We have a terrible misconception of thinking our suffering is unique, our wounds are only our own like no one else, that everyone else is a normal person and we’re battling something unseen that’s much bigger.

And you’re just not that special, kid.

There’s no such thing as other people. Just people. Doing difficult, unseen things everyday, and you’re one of them. The belief that one is uniquely flawed is an excuse.


Race Report

Melissa’s 2019. Colder, but less snow so I’ll take it.


Time: 94:35

Place: 33/733

Race nemesis: the Grey phantom.

Here’s the TL;DR if that’s your thing – I ran a good, solid race but I also feel like I ran a no-risk-no-reward race.

Now here’s the chronological summary, with some foreshadowing right off the bat – I got up in the morning and blew my nose and it bled a little bit. Oh fucking great I thought, just don’t bleed during the race.

But back to the beginning… the race isn’t til 10:30 so I had time for a huge breakfast, hampered slightly by the fact that all the food we brought froze overnight in the hotel fridge. Still, I had some fiber and some protein 3 hours from the race and some carbs 2 hours out. And I think that contributed a lot to my sustained energy through the whole race.

Liv bought me a toque, I caught the shuttle and listened to Frank Turner.

I checked my jacket at bag check and kept warm by moving and watched the thousands of people running the 5 & 10k take off for over 20 minutes. Then it was finally time for the real runners.

I took my caffeine pill. My hypothesis being that if I take it at race-start then it will get into my blood stream mid-race or later and keep me consistent – which again, seems to have worked.

Me and two other guys were the only people with the balls to toe the line. But of course some people burst out and fade, others burst out and don’t fade.

The leader pack thinned out and I was leaving people behind but I couldn’t catch up to someone in full leggings and a grey jacket with their hood up. So I called them The Grey phantom and assumed they had no gender. Eventually they were stopping at water stations and Porto-potties so I was passing them periodically though and it turned out to be a dude, probably in his early 40s. Seems my race nemesis is always someone with an intermittent style, I guess because anyone else consistent like me will have found their place in the chain by mid race and we all move relative to each other.

I saw some caribou again this year, just a whole family of ’em chilling on the golf course. Not as cool as last year when one went across the race course in slowly falling snow silent as a ninja but better than not seeing them.

So around 12k I got the first great endorphin rush but I told myself not to get cocky – I remember how bad the last 4 k were last year. If I could gift anyone my neurology for a moment it would be the testosterone, endorphin, and whatever else cocktail the brain gives off around 12k. The body feels powerful and running hard feels great, your brain fills with war movies and Rocky and hip hop lyrics and it’s fucking rad. You start trash talking other runners in your head and picking people off to leave in your dust. It’s wonderful.

Like I said though, this year and told myself not to get too into it – remember how bad the end of the race crushed me. So I kept it cool, chatted with a few other racers too. We were all taking off our hats and gloves and stuff to cool down then putting them back on when they dried and bit and we were cold again. But it’s not a hassle.

After k15 is when my nose started bleeding. That’s a fucking hassle. And with my blood pressure up it really bled. My gloves got soaked but I did okay keeping it off everything else. Of course it was still caked into my beard though. I didn’t let it worry me though, nothing to be done about it and I didn’t want to lose any time. The body is in fight or flight mode anyway so it’s going to patch up any leaks as best it can pretty quick.

I felt like I was doing good and I was primarily waiting for Cork Screw Hill.

Cork Screw Hill is what killed me last year… because last year after mid-race I was running on fumes, holding on and just telling to not slow down.Which works by the way. You can just pick a pace and not let yourself dip below it for hours. You gotta keep your internal drill sargent firing and just let your body go through the motions. But what happened last year was I forced myself not to lose any pace up the hill. It was a knock-down drag-out fight but I got up Cork Screw Hill at the same pace. Which of course means I’d doubled the power-output needed and when I finally crested the monster I was fucking dead. And the last loop around the park was a death tunnel of me begging for mercy.

Fearlessly fast, fearlessly slow. That’s my motto when need be. So I slowed down up the hill and it was such an emotional test. I did not like doing it. Instead of an internal drill sargent it was internal yoga instructor. Just breathe, just relax, just be here now, trust that this is part of the plan, yes you look like a giant pussy but that’s okay… But I crested the hill feeling fine and at the top caught up The Grey Phantom again – who was dying. And we laughed about the Hill and I told him how it killed me last year as I passed him.

I started the final loop around on the gravel path, still feeling good and still saving some energy expecting to be dead at the final push.

Then I looked up and I was at the final turn and I was like oh shit and started booking it to the finish. I could suddenly hear the finish line announcer and he was saying someone had just finished at 94 minutes on the dot and a volunteer was telling me I had 400 meters left and I just had no idea how I zoned out that hard. The thing is about the end of Melissa’s is there’s a lot going on around you. When you get onto the gravel path there’s straight up pedestrians walking around, there’s cars trying to park, there’s golf carts and tractors and you’re just following the feet of the runner in front of you to not get lost.

I had a lot of energy left in the tank so I got to the line nice and strong and fast but already feeling like I should have pushed harder sooner.

But the real obstacle isn’t the race, it’s immediately after. Last year, you may recall, I just about blacked out from suddenly stopping exercising and being cold and damp in the freezing wind.

So Liv and I had a plan for her to meet me at the finish line with fresh, dry, warm clothes. I crossed the line and started feeling the glassy-eyed darkness and I was like stay moving, Spartan.

I ripped my shirts off and put my sweater on, and something in me was like this is a lot of work just take a lie down brah… but no, this was the true test. I started coughing really bad.

And once I was changed I started feeling better. Next was cleaning the blood off my face. I should have taken my medal selfie first but it slipped my mind until we were actually back at the hotel. I got my medal, my shirt, my beer, and then it was freezing so we had to take off. The weather was supposed to be worst around noon and it was.

Which is a bummer, I hate leaving the festival atmosphere after an event but there really wasn’t one this year. It was cold, and dark, and getting colder and darker. And snowing.

Thing is though, leaving so quickly added to the impression that the race was just a thing to get done. We executed the pre-race plan, I executed the race plan, and we executed the post-race plan. The whole thing kind of went by on paper. We had quite seriously done a completely frivolous thing.

Naturally, I chased the feeling of celebration into complete hedonism. After we got cleaned up and changed we hit the English pub, I got my usual prime rib at Park Distillery, and then we went to the official after-party then toddled off to bed.

Dealt with a garbage breakfast and a slog of a drive home and that’s Melissa’s 2019. Will there be a Melissa’s 2020 for me? I had said no before this race but when Liv and I were talking we agreed that we need some reason for Banff weekend every year, why not Melissa’s?20190928_131135.jpg

Videos I Liked This Week

This is first because it’s what I’m listening to right now. Literally as I wrote this sentence. And possibly – but not guaranteed – when you read it.


And there’s a trailer for the final season of Bojack that came out an hour before I wrote this. I’m glad it’s the last season, I’ve been saying for a while that as enjoyable as the show is Bojack needs to get healthy or die because stories only have meaning because they have endings. If he circled forever then the underlying message that life isn’t like TV would be moot.


Since we’re still talking about entertainment and somewhat frivolous things – I obsessively watched all the video CaptainSauce did on this game. And I still think of myself as someone who hates “Gaming YouTube”


Okay, actually fitness stuff for a minute – one, I like this Sea Saw Press. And just the advice for getting a connection to your lower pecks, it’s a difficult area to feel when working out.


Now the much more important video. I want to say a lot and I want to say nothing at all. Like, it’s all there, she tells her story with complete sincerity. I guess what struck me was walking the line of building a better body to feel better actually working but also not solving underlying issues.

Fitness should be part of a recovery plan for literally everything but it’s bad if it’s your only plan for everything.


Followed by another body issue. It’s a topic I’d never thought about or even noticed until 3 years ago when a girl told me I wasn’t tall enough to date and we were the same height. I was confused because I’d never thought of myself as short or as tall. And she said it so obviously, like it was just clear as day – not like she wanted to date me and this was in her Cons column, this was complete ineligibility. I was shocked how much it hurt. And I was shocked that for weeks after I was suddenly aware and resentful of guys around me who were taller.

Like Shoe says, people are allowed to have preferences, people shouldn’t be shamed for things they can’t change, everybody is somebody’s type, people are more empathetic and people are more shallow than ever. All those things are true at once. It’s weird for me because I grew up in the 90’s when shallowness was a cultural death sentence and everything was supposed to be love conquers all. But then I watched admitting to shallowness be considered a brave, even deep, introspective thing and then it all gave way to the acceptance and encouragement of everything superficial once again. And it’s worse than ever before because if enough people treat the vapid as important and the vapid has consequences then the vapid is important. And I hate living in a world where the vapid important.


And then we’ll end with a video that really did make think with a smile “yeah, I do miss Li’l Jon…”

Videos I Liked This Week

Just nothing to do with fitness… not sorry though.

Let’s open with something cheerful before we get to Contrapoints and then a video about Contrapoints.

You should watch videos like 5 Minutes Of Gal Gadot Laughing or cute puppies or whatever just to stay sane.


And on to Contra’s (aka Natalie Wynn) amazingly honest video about incels. Sympathetic and condemning, identifying with and admitting that they are a black box.


Followed by Blaire’s video discussing Contra’s brutal dismissal from the sacred woke halls of Twitter over sharing a thought. And Blaire takes it to a personal place too and shares her own complicated and totally sincere path through her own community. And that’s what I realize now I like in these individuals, they’re sincere and sincerety gets a little messy – it’s easier for douche bags to hammer home dogma because it feels pure than to be honest about how complicated things feel.


Okay, one thing Fitness related. Look how much power he gets into a forward knee! I watch the occasional MMA video because that’s more the physique I want than body building and I’m always looking for more power and explosive-based exercises.


Now hopefully this sucks you in as much as it did me. CaptainSauce is a gamer channel and he does lots of hilarious stuff like games where you need a clown to sign insurance forms while jumping to it’s death, or games where the world is ending so you just run around shooting everyone you can. But then he also gets so sucked in and sensitive to text on a screen and the ethical and mental health concerns the game brings up.


Another long video so I’ll wrap this up, if you watch any of these you’ll be down your own rabbit holes anyway. So I got into BroScienceLife and the character of Dom Mazzetti as created and played by Mike Tournabene. Just like getting into a new band I absorbed the back catalogue and the behind the scenes stuff like it was my sacred duty. Music fandom is dead, long live comedy-writer fandom. Anyway there’s a gap in the the Bro universe a few years ago and a bit of talk about how Mike was going to get to take the character to the next level but there’s nothing out there about what happened – or really, didn’t happen. The thread just dies and Dom comes back a few years later.

Well he finally talks about it on this podcast and it gets into exactly what happened with the failed pilot (I watched it, it was… watchable. And nothing more.) and then into the nature of hopes and expectations and, for a comedian and a meat head, it gets real about living with disappointment and carrying on.

From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 10.2

Running time again.


Any – literally any – interval is a good interval.

What matters is rest. You can do same rest, half rest, or double rest. You probably want to start with double rest so, obviously, whatever your interval was you rest for twice that long.

And the shorter the interval the harder you want to run. Like, if you’re doing 2 minutes it’ll be a 7 out of 10 on the effort scale, if it’s 30 seconds – go 10 out of 10.

You should be running twice a week at this point. One longer, slower run and one interval session.

It’s important to remember that running (and getting wet I guess) is the one thing you can’t avoid at Spartan. Anything else you can fail and do burpees but it’s not like you’re going to walk the whole course. It would take forever. And I’d fucking disown you.

So it’s the tenth commandment of Spartan training – thou shall run.

From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 8.2


It’s on the pull up bar but it’s a rope climb work out.

Really just get hanging with bent elbows and practice raising your legs. Knees to Elbows and eventually just for a Spartan Bonus, Toes to Ceiling.

Because the core work is the neglected piece of the rope climb masterpiece. You can get on a rope with bent elbows and lock your feet in but if after that you still try and climb with your hands you’re still gonna have a bad time.

After you grab the rope you bring your knees to your chest, lock the feet, and stand up. You push down on the rope with your feet and shimmy up your hands up. Once you’re fully stood up you release the feet, bring knees to chest and lock them in again and repeat.

In a good rope climb your hands are doing as little work as possible because no matter what they will be the most taxed.