Sunday, March 22, 2009

Test Run

This winter, along with Rob and Jen Johansen, I've been testing out a sort of "covert" Project operation. I refer to it as "Project: Performance" and as the name implies, the training is oriented towards those with performance-based goals, or have a job that requires a high degree of fitness. While the training can be tailored to any performance-based goal, my winter training has been focused on overall performance/fitness, and preparation for ultramarathoning this year (any run that goes beyond 26.2 miles is considered an ultra).

Project: Performance utilizes the same principles and philosophy as Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap. The primary difference lies within the workouts (most of which are still well under 1 hour!), the intensity (often off the charts), and a few additional training tools not used in BTWG (more on that in a moment).

Earlier today, a window of opportunity opened for me to hit the trails at Eagle Creek park. I knew I only had a couple hours to run, so I decided rather than run long, I would run fast (well, fast for me), and put my money where my mouth is; to see if this Project: Performance stuff would deliver. My pre-run ritual was far less than ideal (that can happen when you have a 2 year old), and my legs were not super fresh, but I figured today was still a good day to see what I could do.

The long and short of it - I'm more than impressed; not with myself, with the training and my performance as compared to last year. I PR'd (personal record - cheesy running term) the course I ran by 10 minutes, which is a full minute per mile faster than what I was doing last year at my peak. Not too shabby for early season.

I felt confident on all the hills and quickly recovered after hard efforts. Hills that I preferred to hike last year presented little problem today. Don't get me wrong, it was a hard run, and at times I was really hurtin', yet I was used to the intensity from the training I've been doing in the gym my interval workouts. I was able to trust my fitness and ability and had no drama associated with the challenging moments. With warm-up and cool-down, I ran just shy of a half marathon and I feel great and know that tomorrow, I will be back in the flow for my workout.

For the record, earlier this week, I also set new PR's for my mile time as well as my 1.5 mile time and two weeks ago I set a new PR on my 5K (4 minutes faster). I set all these recent PR's without trying, they were just part of my workouts and I happened to make improvements in each.

For those interested, here is a little peak behind the curtain as to what has made such a big transformation in my performance.

Secret Training Tools of Project: Performance -
1) I'm working with a new running technique (new to me, it's been around since the 70's). The technique is natural to the human body, yet when you have spent so much time running "wrong", there is a bit of a learning curve and adjustment time. I have a long way to go with it, yet in just a few weeks I have already seen and felt the difference. This one will remain under wraps until I complete a certification course in June.

2) High intensity, circuit, complex, compound, and insanely painful workouts in the gym (including Olympic lifts, power lifts, plyometrics, body weight exercises, and little to no isolation movements). This training isn't for everyone, yet not everyone has performance-based goals. In my opinion, if performance is your goal, intensity is king and these workouts deliver; high intensity, short duration.

3) High intensity interval training - similar to #2

4) And the biggest secret weapon of all and what I attribute much of my progress to.... kettlebells. Kettlebell work has truly rounded out my training and I haven't been this fired up about a training tool in a looooong time.

I've done tons of research, worked with an experienced coach, spent hours practicing, and have learned how to integrate kettlebells into my format and style of training. I'm truly blown away by these simple, yet decidedly evil training tools. While kettlebells have yet to really hit the mid-West and mainstream, it's only a matter of time. Trust me, by next year you are going to see these in every gym and it's going to be in all the magazines, etc. And I'm sure they are going to have all sorts of goofy spin offs, celebrity videos and info-mercials (which is truly sad to those who love and embrace the roots of kettlebells...).

Ahead of the field and representin': Current Project Recruit, Joe Wagle getting in a workout at Punch Kettlebell Gym, Las Vegas. Joe's been working with kettle's for a while and visited Punch while on a recent trip to Vegas. Note the BTWG t-shirt and Chuck Taylor shoes (barefoot, Van's shoes, or Chuck Taylor's are the ideal footware when workin with kettlebells)

A kettlebell is essentially a cannonball with a handle welded on it. Do a little research on the internet and you will find a fair amount of information out there. While you find lots of kettlebell zealots out there who have forsaken all other forms of training, I am finding them a potent training tool with tons of fitness and performance delivering potential.

I'll share more on kettlebells in upcoming posts. I've been sitting on this "secret weapon" for some time, and now that the cat is out of the bag, I'll have a hard time shutting up about them : )

There you have it, a little about what I've been up to this winter and what's up with Project: Performance. Stay tuned for how you can get tapped into Project: Performance and take your training into a whole new realm.

Thanks for reading.



Corbin said...

Chris, Looks like we are working the same paths so to speak. What Cert are you looking at? Pose? Chi?

You should check out my friends in Lansing, Playmakers. The owner and a former olympic miler have put something together called"Good Form" clinics.

We have much to discuss. we should get coffee some time!

Rob Johansen said...

Way to go on setting some "PR's"!! That is really awesome and a testament to what you are creating with this training.

Looking forward to tomorrow's workout!



ProMotion at Klipsch Fitness said...

Coach Chris,
This sounds MOST excellant, and congrats on the improving times!

Cole said...

Chris, I am really interested in learning about this new running technique. Anything to save the knees and hips, given that my family is prone to having both body parts replaced! Also, I was curious about Rad's comments about Chi Running. I went to Borders to find a book, but nothing popped out. Any recommendations?
I got my 9 mile run in yesterday and I was pleased with the consistent pace of about 10 minutes per mile. My course included the hills of Ft. Ben State Park so I figure that those extra challenges only help the cause. I can tell that the Thursday work out and the interval training is making a difference.
Sounds like you are exploring some very cool, cutting edge stuff. Can't wait to hear more about it.


Chris said...

Hey Guys,

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the support and encouragement.

Way to go, Alison! After putting in your interval work and hill work at Ft. Ben, the Indy Mini is going to be super flat and fast for you! Go get some!