Still trying to get to the lingering emails and comments I've not replied to. They will all be handled today as my head is now above water.
Well, I had hoped to maintain or even lose fat on my vacation, but it was not to be. I gained 3 pounds. I ate pretty paleo the whole time, excepting a few sessions with a few corn tortilla chips with salsa and/or guacamole (I usually felt awful for several hours after — I've simply lost my tolerance for them, just as you can build and then lose tolerance for alcohol, nicotine, caffein). Speaking of alcohol, that was another issue, most likely. I consumed it daily in immoderate amounts of spirits over a long period of time (afternoon to late evening), though never enough to become noticeably intoxicated. The other thing is that I didn't fast until beginning the trip home on Sunday, where I had breakfast in Puerto Vallarta, then went trough the process of enjoying the last few hours on the beach, getting to the airport, flying to LA, driving 1 1/2 hours down to Vista, spending the night, then getting up in the morning for the 7 hour drive back home. I finally ate Monday evening and accounting for the two hour time gain on the way back, the fast was just shy of 36 hours.
Traveling is an excellent opportunity to fast.
I also didn't work out in the standard fashion. Instead, I sprinted barefoot on the beach for three sessions during the week. I was impressed with the results, especially when I consider how little time of actual exercise is involved. Once again: high intensity wins the day. Here's what I learned:
- For the first session, I did two sprints, all out for about 20 seconds each (about as much as I could take). Running on moist and slightly packed beach sand is quite different from running on grass or a paved surface. In each, I exploded off the line with full intensity, and quickly developed quite a tightness / cramping in my quadriceps, especially the left; and in exactly the same way I used to get it in HS playing soccer — a sport that requires explosive bursts. So, the explosive off-the-line bursts limited what I could do that first time.
- Also, I was trying to do long strides and I quickly found that a long stride seemed to equal less intensity. Think about it. A sprint is mostly push, little if any pull. If you get your foot way forward, you can't push until the weight of your body gets over the point of pivot. So, more time equals less intensity. I shortened my stride substantially in sessions two and three and got way more intensity out of it, with full-body results that were quite noticeable. I suspect that for world class sprinters, the name of the game is to develop a lot of intensity with a long stride. Of course, part of why they use spiked shoes is to give them the ability to pull with their foot until their body weight going forward gives them the leverage to instantly shift to push.
- Though I want to be able to develop the ability to explode off the line with full intensity, I let that go for now in sessions two and three. As such, I was able to get in four sprints in each of those sessions instead of two. So, a bit of a tradeoff; no benefit from the initial explosion, but double the sprint time. What I did was begin with a jog and immediately and steadily accelerated to all out, in a time compressed to maybe three seconds, at most. You want to very quickly get to full intensity. So, rather than 1-2 strides to full speed off the line, it was maybe 6-7 strides.
I was really blown away by the results. I've sprinted now and then in the mornings, walking the dogs, out on a paved surface. However, I never felt any particular result I could identify. This is perhaps because I was doing my two intense sessions at the gym anyway, so it would have been difficult to attribute any results to the sprinting. However, I didn't do any workouts this vacation week and I can definitely say that the sprinting essentially gave me the same feeling, i.e., that wonderful substantial muscle tightness for the next two days, and not just in the legs, but over my entire body. In essence, I felt as though I'd gotten a good workout of my arms, chest, back and shoulders.
Quite amazing. I'm now firmly sold on sprinting as part of my weekly routine.
Later: Having thought about Keith's comment setting me straight on the push/pull issue, I have to conclude he's right. If you watch sprinting, bodies tend to be erect / vertical, so it has to be more of a pull than a push once off the line.