Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Glove Incident

About nine years ago, my mom thoughtfully bought me a pair of black workout gloves, for lifting weights. Those gloves have literally been all around the world with me - they're always in my backpack, just in case there happen to be heavy metal objects to lift at the hotel I'm staying in. A week or two ago, I moved the gloves from my backpack to my workout bag (clever, I know), worked out, went home, etc. The next day, as I'm pulling into my favorite parking spot at work, I spot a black workout glove on the ground. Same brand as mine, just sitting there. At the time, it somehow made logical sense to me that the glove was someone else's, and the best thing I could do is leave it right there for them. Later that day, glove is still there. I worked out, but it was a running day or something. Next day, I think that glove was still lying there. The following day, it was gone. Time to lift weights, check the backpack, only one glove. FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. And the worst thing is, I probably ran that poor bastard over two or three times. Sorry, Mr. Harbinger Black Workout Glove. R.I.P.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back to Barefoot (Running)!

So I finally got over to a nice rubberized track today to do some sprints with my new stopwatch. It was a sad, sad state of affairs. My legs felt tired and "mushy" before I even started, but I figured (or hoped) that it would go away once I warmed up. No such luck. I suppose running MWF this week really did me in. It was so bad that I almost tripped three times in the middle of my 100m time trial, and the time was embarrassing enough that middle school girls would probably beat me. I think the tripping may have been caused by my shoes, though. I switched back to my running shoes for the sprints, and it's the first time I've worn them running in about 6 weeks. Usually I wear thin-soled Adidas shoes that are most certainly not meant for running, with the hope that the thin heel will help promote mid-foot striking rather than heel-striking. But when I go back to my running shoes now, it feels like I'm wearing huge pillows on my feet.

Short aside: I had to give up on the barefoot treadmill running after a month or so, as it was too painful for my feet. My soles kept blistering, and one of my arches started hurting too, so I switched back to shoes.

Despite the demoralizing sprints, it was still a great workout. I spoke to a former Stanford Track member a couple weeks ago, and he confirmed that the team indeed did some barefoot training, mainly in the form of strides on the grassy infield. So after my sprints, I decided to do a couple 100-130m strides on the grass. It felt incredible! I can't remember the last time I ran with any significant velocity barefoot. It's amazing feeling the grass beneath your feet, feeling the entire spring action that your foot naturally has, just feeling everything. I'm totally sold. But I would still recommend to anyone considering giving barefoot running a try to take it slow at first. Your feet probably are not used to it, and they need to build up strength in order to avoid injury.

Till next time, keep it real, and real means no shoes!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Action Hero Training

The more I work out, the more energy I seem to have on a day-to-day basis, and I find myself jumping, running, and doing pseudo-parkour movements at random times. This usually elicits a "What is Darren smoking?" look from my coworkers or friends, but I enjoy it anyway. It got me thinking - how would someone need to train to be a real-life action hero? That is, what would be the best training regimen to attempt to mimic the stunts that movie action heroes pull off with startling regularity? Having just watched the amazing initial chase scene from "Casino Royale" again, this may be biased towards becoming a bad-ass Daniel Craig James Bond, but here goes anyway:

1) Massive grip strength. All action heroes sooner or later find themselves hanging precariously from a ledge, cliff, window pane, crane, etc. Time to get cranking on those finger tip pullups! Throw in some dead lifts without the whole "lift" thing, too (i.e., load up an Olympic barbell at mid-thigh with a ton of weight, lift it off the power rack, and just hold it there for awhile). For good measure, make sure to practice weighted hangs with both arms and with each arm individually.

2) Abs of steel. As you enter into your life of hand-to-hand combat as a real-life action hero, you will increasingly find yourself being punched, kicked, kneed, or headbutted in the stomach. Better build up a ridiculous core to withstand the attack. Crunches, planks, captain's chair, etc. These are all your friends. Btw, word of warning: you have to flex to withstand the impact.

3) Sick anaerobic capacity. All good action heroes can chase a villain at full tilt for 3-5 minutes. Give up on the slow jogs - being an action hero is a sprint, not a marathon. High intensity interval training is your friend. Specifically on foot, since most action heroes find motorcycles or cars for non-foot chases.

4) Lats that block the sun. Whether you're hauling Trinity up the side of a skyscraper or pulling your own sorry ass up over the edge of the cliff that your enemy kicked you over, you need strong lats. I'm talking Christian Bale Batman lats. Lats that let you do pullups with your damsel in distress wrapped around you, hanging on for dear life. Lats that let you pull a 50-foot tree (see Predator) into a spring-loaded booby trap. Any type of large pulling exercise is your friend - pullups, seated-rows, bent-over rows, etc.

5) Crazy explosive leg power. Make no mistake, you will be leaping across rooftops, jumping onto moving buses, escaping oncoming traffic vertically rather than horizontally, and other high probability maneuvers. You better throw some power exercises into your workouts, cause plain weight-lifting won't get the job done. Plyometrics are your new best friend. Box jumps are your palate cleanser between meals. Sprints are your passion.

Congratulations! You are now well on your way to becoming a real-life action hero. All you need is some martial arts and marksmanship training, and a catch-phrase, and you're good to go.