On Caffeine Pills

A little history:

I drink a lot of coffee. I have two tattoos celebrating my love of coffee.

But I didn’t drink coffee on race days – for a nice comfortable stomach.

Then I saw a bottle of caffeine pills in the supplement isle and thought of course! And now here we are…

So I skipped coffee and had a 200mg pill before a training session one day – and coincidently we’d splurged and had huge bowls of homemade mac and cheese the night before – I felt gross during the run but I chalked it up to that and called the test a wash.

The next day I took one and merely went to work. No ill effects.

Race day I took one the morning and warmed up just fine, feeling amped. Then went off the start line and felt like I might throw up. Like I might need to throw up. I thought maybe it was a combination of nerves and the fact that I was going off the line a lot faster than normal because it was only 10k and I wanted to rip it up.

Got 41:47 btw, ripping it up confirmed but I felt shakey for 7 of those k.

Today I popped another one to prepare for a race Sunday. Race day routine every morning for at least 3 days out, you know it.

And I did a work out and part way through that work out that same sick feeling came back.

So here’s my totally made up unscientific hypothesis on me and caffeine pills: they don’t do anything until my heart rate gets up and then they kick in all at once.

I figure 200mg ain’t that much. It’s like one strong cup and I drink four cups a day.

But I don’t drink four cups at once. I realize I actually drink coffee pretty slowly. I drink half a cup, it gets cold, I top it up, I drink half a cup, I top it up, repeat.

– that could be the chorus of a song about my life –

And so over some hours I’ve had four cups. But not a crazy rush.

Lesson learned


Taper Week Advice: Get Your Relaxing Done Early

There’s a temptation when tapering for a race to relax a lot. There’s also a temptation to train right through and even panic-train and mess up your race. It’s a tough life, tapering.

But I’m going to talk about strategic relaxing because that’s a mistake I recently made. Hoping to be really fresh for a run I did a float tank and an infrared sauna the day before a race.

Bottom line: It screws up your movement patterns. You’re used to having some tension in the system, and if you strip it all away and get all loosey goosey (or worse relax one leg completely while the other is still holding some tension because it’s nearer to injury) then running feels weird.

That’s the last thing you want on race day. Really there’s a million worse thing on race but whatever…

Point is you want to get super relaxed 5 and 4 days out then start working out again 3, 2, 1. Keep the work outs light, fun, form-focused, but start getting some tension back into your muscles, it’s your normal.


Time To Start Prepping For The Spartan Race

I’m signed up for a Spartan 5k August 10th. I’m nervous.

Mostly because it’s going to destroy my clothes and I don’t have any other running gear nor money for such a thing. I’ll wear my old, ill-fitting shoes and my old swim trunks I guess.

I need to bring a plastic bag to put my muddy kit in after the race.

Of course I’m also nervous because when you see video of the Spartan Race the obstacles look nutso – spear-throwing and carrying buckets of cement and whatnot.

Hmm, not much else to say… for the amount of anxiety I feel there’s usually a lot more to write about.

The nice thing is though I don’t care about my time or anything like that, it’s just for fun. I don’t even find it weird that I want to crawl through mud under barbed wire for fun.

Running Update: What a total shock I hurt myself during the taper

3 days out from the marathon and my back is… well it hurts.

As happens to so many people I was resting, resting, resting, being smart and safe before the race and then I felt like I hadn’t exercised in forever and I was getting fat and lazy so what do I do…?

Go beast mode of course. Dive into my favourite hard work out that I used to do everyday so of course I just gotta power through it.

Don’t do that, kids. When you’re resting for any reason and get back to working out do not pick up where you left off and certainly don’t try to pick up from your highlights.

I used to do 75 kettlebell swings with 45lbs every day. The first time I did it wrecked me, put me on all fours scared I’d vomit. Eventually I was up to 80 and staying on my feet.

When we’re feeling weak we think back to when we felt strong and try to recreate it.

This morning 75 kettlebell swings wrecked me like day one but also I’ve been unable to bend at the waist or even lean forward and pick something up all day.

So float and/or sauna and rest it til race day, baby.

Speaking of raceday: we’re meeting at the finish line at 10 and then Barcelona at 11 – table for six under my name.

Just More Thoughts On Caster Semenya

I’m crossing over into being part of the problem. Not everyone cares about this situation and certainly fewer people are informed but when it seems to be everywhere more and more people get drawn into believing they’re informed and taking a side.

But I cannot stop thinking about this and neither can a lot of people and it seems to me that I’ve wound up on a side and some people I like and respect feel different and wound up on the other.

So here’s the article that convinced me. A Victory For Female Athletes Everywhere I agree that Caster’s biological advantage takes away the reason we have a female designation in sport. If we don’t set aside a space for women in sport then men would dominate everything and this is actually an insidious case of that happening.

I see it as a case of The Needs Of The Many, yes it feels unfair to Caster and it’s natural people want to protect her, but it’s also unfair to every other woman running at the elite level and it’s the organizations job to protect the space those women inhabit.

If Caster isn’t allowed to compete and it fucks up the trajectory of her life that’s tremendously sad but she does have options. If she is allowed to compete it fucks up the trajectory of an uncountable amount of women’s lives, women who have no recourse.

I want to snip out a few quotes from an article in The Cut:

Semenya has elevated the bar of speed toward which all women runners can gaze, and hope to one day beat.

The problem is that all women can’t hope to beat it, not even elite women can hope to beat it. Because:

most females have about 0.12–1.79nmol/L of testosterone in their bodies versus males, who have 7.7–29.4nmol/L. Caster falls within the latter range.

and apparently there are some people who believe:

No conclusive evidence exists to suggest that testosterone correlates to enhanced performance.

Which is insane. The conclusive evidence is that we ban taking exogenous testosterone in sport. Shout out again to my review of The Virility Paradox, testosterone will make anyone better at almost anything. Bankers, investors, lawyers, soldiers, and oh yeah athletes of either gender show that more testosterone leads to more success.

My mind is zooming out to an uncomfortable place but it seems that some people are arguing at once that gender oppression is a problem and that gender doesn’t exist.

I guess what the line of thinking in the Semenya situation is, for my friends, we should protect anyone who identifies as female from anyone who doesn’t. And for me it’s how to do we protect those who identify as female from someone else who identifies as female?

What does it mean to identify as female if female doesn’t refer to anything? If it doesn’t mean testosterone levels or reproductive capabilities? Is it, at this point, just to belong to what you see as the out-group of a patriarchal society?

Running update: last big day before tapering

3 hour long intervals, plus some fueling insights

I ran a lot slower than my last 30k day. Partly just gun shy from how bad I hit the wall that day but also because I know I’ve got to save some power for the long race.

I still race like I spend. Have a hundred, spend a hundred.

It’s why my legs hurt and I’m broke.

But also I set the treadmill to periodic hills and the motherfucker went beast mode on me.

I like my incline around .5 to 2 and this was all 6s and 7s.

(That’s a great British slang pun for the majority of you who wouldn’t have gotten that.)

But today’s surprise was that while my cardio was fine what feels like my tendons were aching.

Because we went a week without groceries my protein was low this week and I actually felt great about this morning. I’m so lean and easy. I ate mostly donuts yesterday and had pancakes for dinner and I woke with the most tapered, unbloated, waistline I’ve had in months. Since I was a slow carber with the zeal of the converted.

But I’m sure I could use some amino acids and collegen now.

I ended up walking in the last half of the last interval, and I checked my heart rate because my level of exertion felt fine and sure enough it was just pain in my feet, ankles, shins, and knees that was making me want to walk.

To take my mind off it I texted my ex and mocked her a little for being single. Because… like the shirt says, you gotta run happy.

Working Out Should Come From Self-Love Not Self-Loathing

Now I wrote in the past that There Is Room For Negative Self Talk In Fitness and I’ve written a song about how self-hatred is a super power (Soundcloud) so this take is a little out of character for me.

But as hard as I am on myself and as much as I respect the discipline of other people who are hard themselves I think there is a dark side here, some moral problems, that came up as all dark, moral problems do, on Twitter.

A girl was posting before and after photos of her fitness and talking about them. One she said really made her sad still because she had taken the before picture as a way to punish herself when girls at school were bullying her for being fat. It made her cry to write about it then and it’s making me cry a little bit writing about it now.

It’s a photo of a well-dressed, pretty girl who’s kinda chubby. And because I read her tweets I also know that she’s smart and articulate.

And I’m so sad for that girl being so mad at herself because that should be enough. But society is so cruel and so demanding that that wonderful person ends up hating herself and at such a young age when there’s so much of life left that will be coloured by that hatred. It’s some heart-breaking shit.

Then she loses the weight. Her conventional, physical beauty shines through and now she gets into clubs no line, no cover. And that’s the happy ending.

That doesn’t feel morally right to me. That feels like she joined her tormentors and gave into the desires of a cruel and unjust society.

But at the same time, and as she points out, she also got healthy. She didn’t only get hotter by giving society what it wants she also extended her life and protected herself from disease and chronic conditions. That is a happy ending.

I hate myself because other people tell me I should seems awful but if it’s leads someone to loving themselves then can I really judge society so harshly for doing it?

Short answer yes I can don’t be a piece of shit to people.

My transition into fitness came from a sort of self-loathing but it wasn’t externally motivated. My self talk was you’re so unhappy, you feel like shit all the time, nothing makes you happy, what could possibly be worse about taking up running? And I could take some of that self-anger and a bit of that self-punishment and turn it into speed.

And once I got to distances and speeds that impressed me and also impressed others it was a bit easier to like myself sometimes.

At the same time though my body became more appealing to me (weird thing to say but you know what I mean) and to others and I’ve seen the dark side, the fear of becoming ugly again, the shame of simply bloating after a meal, and all that. And, worse I feel, the awareness of other people’s bodies as well.

I think the curse of knowledge in this case is best illustrated by height. I never thought about it before a girl I was wildly infatuated with summed up the reason we couldn’t date, even though we had amazing rapport, with not tall enough.

I, with all my supposed love-worthy qualities felt passed over like one passes over fruit in the supermarket. She threw away all the value of my life as casually as one agrees to a side of fries.

Evidently I’m hungry, two food metaphors.

Then I hated everyone taller than me. And shockingly they were everywhere, most of my friends were taller than me and I’d never noticed.

And the same thing happens with fitness. Once you care about your own you automatically see the haves and have-nots of others. I think it’s what makes cruel people cruel, they’re either so worried about their own short comings they revel in going for the kill on the short comings of others, or they’ve had it so easy that any short coming of another must be a choice and it’s deemed okay to be shitty about the choices of others and use shame as a corrective tool.

I know. I’m a drunk and I’m really intelligent. I’ve been on both sides of pointlessly attempting to use shame as corrective tool.

To try and pull this to a good feeling ending I’ll go a bit deeper on that and say that being a drunk has made me a more empathetic person all around and I think it effects why I’m not shitty about the fitness and body-types of others.

Being an alcoholic really, really sucks. Like, dozens of reallys and people don’t understand or acknowledge it. Someone said once about the idea that being gay is choice that no one would choose it then, no one would choose to get disowned, beat up, judged, condemned, excluded, etc just for the fun of being gay. And I feel similar about being an alcoholic, if quitting drinking were as simple as quitting drinking then everyone would fucking do it and there wouldn’t be any alcoholics.

No one’s making the informed conscious decision to lose their friends and family and all their money and look like shit all the time and end homeless for the fun of drinking oneself to death.

And it’s much the same with depression and self-hatred. You don’t choose to have it but you do have to choose what to do about it.

For the sake of getting in another reference to my songwriting, it’s why I wrote a song called As Sad As You Need, which is a much poppier song. Being depressed gave me the insight into the paradox of loving someone with a problem and that includes loving yourself. You have to accept them and want them to get better, that should be contradictory, so you have to say you get better for you, when and how you want to. When it’s you vs yourself or you vs society.

Whether the obese or addicted, the depressed or the anxious, we have to love them and ourselves enough to give them the space and time to get better.

In much