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Showing posts from August, 2009

I've never liked running....

I've never been a fan of long distance running*, but it's about as evolutionary an activity as you can choose for exercise. It's interesting to think that a million years ago, some human was running across the steppe, endurance hunting an animal. I, on the other hand, spend my running days in a constant battle with myself. As soon as I start running hard, my inner voice starts asking me what the hell I'm doing. Why don't you just stop? It'll feel so much better. Are you a masochist? Maybe you're tired today. You can do it next time. Well, putting it off till next time is a cop-out, and running is actually a decent metric for aerobic improvement.

So, after finishing my strength circuit today, I decided to run a time-trial mile on the treadmill (always at 1% incline, to best simulate running outside). I cut 45 seconds off my previous fastest mile, run last summer in a gym in Tokyo. I felt like I was going to die at the end. But I guess the training is starting…

Aerobic Plateau

Well, had to happen sooner or later. Seems I've run full-speed into a plateau with my intervals. The last two times I've attempted my new interval workout, I've gotten stitches and had to modify the workout (either by decreasing intensity, or increasing recovery time, or both) to finish. I hate stitches!
Inspired by "Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Increases Muscle Oxidative Potential and Cycle Endurance Capacity in Humans", I've decided that instead of trying to stubbornly push through the same workout until I complete it (which will be both frustrating and potentially demoralizing), I'm going to switch it up. I've realized that my "sprints" in my intervals are not sprints at all. The reason I reach "failure" in my interval workouts is because I have extremely short recovery times (about 45 sec), and my recoveries are still at a reasonable pace (5 - 5.5 mph). So, for the next two weeks, I'm doing faster sprints with lo…

Heart rate improvements so far

It's been extremely rewarding to see improvements in my heart rate from my exercise routine that I posted about last week. Aerobic fitness was one of the main things I wanted to improve, so seeing large gains in both max capacity and general cardio fitness has been great. Some examples:

- Today I did a strength training circuit day, and because there was no clock with a second hand (and I don't wear a watch), I used the treadmill between supersets to time my minute recoveries. I noticed that even after intense exertions during the supersets, my heart rate was dropping to 110-120 beats per minute within 30 seconds. I honestly thought the heart rate monitor was faulty until I verified the measurement by taking my own pulse. Recovery time is a major metric for cardio fitness, and this was both surprising and very welcome.

- Ability to maintain a low heart rate during moderate exercise. The best example of this has been with biking, where I can go for an hour on the exercise bike at…

Healthcare: How much does that test cost?

I recently had some blood tests ordered by a doctor. She sent me across the street to the "lab" to have blood drawn and sent off. But before they took the blood, I was curious how much the tests were going to cost me. Here is a slightly paraphrased version of the inane conversation I had:
Me: "Will my insurance cover this?" Phlebotomist/Receptionist: "I don't know." Me: "Umm.... Could you check please?" Phlebotomist/Receptionist: "Well, I won't know if it's covered until I send it off to the insurance company." Me: "Okay. Could you call them and ask?" Phlebotomist/Receptionist: "No." Me: (trying to get an upper bound) "Uhh.... Okay. How much would they cost out of pocket?" Phlebotomist/Receptionist: "I don't know. We'll see when the insurance company gets back to me." Me: "So you're saying that I might have to pay an infinite amount of money out of pocket for these blood tests…

My exercise routine

Some people have asked me about my exercise routine, so I decided to post it. First, this is not a routine from a book or infomercial - I developed it myself after deciding my goals and reading up on fitness and exercise science. I'm constantly adjusting it, and still trying to figure out what works best. This probably is not for you, and besides: Don't take health advice from engineers.
Now that that's all said and done, let's start with the goals. I wanted to create an exercise program that would improve total body fitness. Specifically, I wanted to get stronger (but not focusing on hypertrophy), more powerful, and most importantly, more aerobically fit, as I felt that was my weakest point.
The problem is that strength and cardio fitness seem to be at nearly complete odds with one another. Every see how gaunt marathon runners are? Have you ever seen a bodybuilder ride the Tour de France? I noticed this quickly myself in terms of mixing workouts: if I did a hard leg str…

Eat slowly and live longer

Ever since I was a kid, I was taught to eat fast. In high school, I got home from high school gymnastics practice at 5, and had to leave for club gymnastics practice at 5:30, leaving half an hour to scarf down some food, do some homework, watch 15 minutes of news, etc. It was a terrible habit, but I never thought much of it until recently, when I started reading a lot about nutrition. I've now decided that eating slowly is vital to an overall approach to good health. Which is why today I present the top five reasons why eating slowly will help you live longer and healthier.
1) You'll eat less. According to something I once read somewhere, it takes about 20 minutes after you start eating for your "fullness" sensors to work properly. That means that if you finish eating in less than 20 minutes, you have no way of knowing if you ate too much. Ever get super full after the fact? Yeah, that's it. Eat slowly, and listen to your body, not outside cues like the TV or your …