Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Crossfitter in the Family?

After experiencing the impact of the workouts and lifestyle of "Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap", and watching the progress I've made with CrossFit, Jody (my wife) has been inspired to start CrossFitting. Over the past several weeks we have started integrating CrossFit workouts a couple times a week into her training. Rather than following the CrossFit web site workouts, I have been programming her training. What can I say, after being Jody's "trainer" for the last 10 years, old habits die hard : )

This evening, I had Jody do a classic CrossFit workout known as "Helen": 3 rounds of 21 Kettlebell Swings (she used the 35lb bell), 12 pull ups (she did these assisted), Run 400 meters.

Jody feeling the Love after "Helen". Good job, Babe!

Earlier today I did my workout, a 10 mile run. I set my own "PR" on this run, though I really wasn't attempting to make this happen. It's probably been a year or so since I've done a 10 miler for time, most of my runs are either way shorter than this or in the 15+ mile range.

After Jody's workout we had one of my FAVORITE meals - fish tacos. I picked up this idea from BTWG graduate, Rad, about 4 years ago. It's evolved over the years, and tonight it was:
  • Talapia - pan fried in olive oil and seasoned with "Old Bay"
  • Corn tortilla - I actually had a couple of these, normally I would forgo the grain, but after today's run, felt I could use the carbs to assist in recovery
  • Purple Cabbage - yum!
  • Avocado
  • Pico de Gaillo
  • A "tartar sauce" of mayo and chili powder
This is a fantastic, fresh meal that is 100% BTWG approved!
Here is a shot of my fish taco, moments before I (mindfully) devoured it!

Give 'em a shot. I know the first time I heard "fish taco", I thought it sounded disgusting, but have fallen head over heels for them. Let me know how it goes.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

BTWG at Go Girl

A HUGE shout out to all the ladies of BTWG who competed in the Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek. I hope to have some first hand accounts and race reports emailed to me so I can share them on the blog, or you might catch some reports on the ladies blogs.

It was an ideal day for a race; a little overcast, cool temps, and mild humidity and it seems the girls really made the most of it. If I understand correctly, one of the teams placed 7th and 2 girls had PR's on the run!

Congrats to all who competed and a special thanks to the BTWG support crew - Pam the Blam, Matt, Rob and Joe!

After enjoying the post race celebration I continued to enjoy the day with a short (30 minute) barefoot run over at the soccer fields; it was amazing and exhilarating and the turf felt wonderful beneath my unshod feet. Making it all the more special? Jody and Christian joined me! Yup, I've got Jody taking up a little running and she's loving it so far and this is a gal that has "bad knees" and most doctors would tell her she should avoid running. A little coaching and the right preparation and she's been doing great.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Must Read

Funny how things play out...

A couple weeks back I had planned to start a series on why I'm convinced that humans were designed to run, and meant to run far. I had several articles to share which would reinforce my points and even a few more YouTube videos for inspiration (who can forget the "Persistence Hunt" video from a few weeks back, though I think a few of you are trying to forget it... sorry.). Piggy-backed on this article was to come my view on why I feel so many people avoid running, don't like running and why there are so many running related injuries. I was also going to make my case as an advocate for minimalist footwear when it comes to running. Since last Spring I have been transitioning into more and more basic and minimalist shoes (it can be a long journey, another story for another time). Again, I had plenty of supporting evidence, statistics and videos to share. For example, did you know that in the past 30 years, since the advent of the modern cushiony, squishy running shoe, running related injuries have actually increased rather than decreased; as in per capita - as in 80% of all runners will have an injury in the next year! And why is this? I'm of the mind, along with a ground-swell of others, the reason IS the modern running shoe and the fact that most people really don't know how to run properly. The top of the line running shoe with all it's cushioning, support, motion control, and flashy-ness promotes heel striking rather than a forefoot contact (which is how the foot is designed to work), jacks up your innate ability to use your feet as they were designed, and actually leads to injury rather than reducing you risk. Another interesting statistic? The more expensive the running shoe, the higher incidence of injury! Hummm, interesting indeed. Most people think we should just go out and run, yet running is a skill just like throwing a ball, swinging a tennis racket or golf club, and very few people have been coached in running technique. And, of those who have been coached, most have been coached incorrectly. Top that off by lacing your feet up in the latest and greatest running shoe and you have a recipe for injury and a general hatred towards running.

So why did I put the skids on writing this series? Turns out, someone already did and they did it waaaay better than I ever could and in a far more interesting and entertaining manner than I could have conceived. It all started a couple weeks ago when I was flipped over to watch the last couple minutes of "The Daily Show" and caught this segment:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Christopher McDougall
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Which lead me to read this book:

Which led me to feeling 1) excited that someone had written this book and done it so well because it says everything I wanted to say. And, 2) pissed off that someone had written this book and done it so well because it says everything I wanted to say. Damn, stole my thunder, and I thought I was so darn smart : ) If I could have written a book on running, this would be it.

Christopher McDougall's book is a must read, especially those of you involved in BTWG and those who run or are afraid to run or have excuses not to run. It is also a must read if you are thinking of attending my running workshop next month. Or, heck, it's a great book so it's a must read if you are into books.

This is a fascinating story on the one hand and virtually everything he covers is spot on with what I intended to say. So, rather than re-invent the wheel, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of "Born To Run". When you finish the read, pass it along to others, especially your sports medicine doc, your podiatrist, and the surgeon who is licking his chops to carve on your knee and "fix" your running injury.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

BTWG "The Renegades of Fitness", or just a shameless excuse to post a video from "Rage Against the Machine"? You decide...

No matter how hard you try, you cant stop us now
No matter how hard you try, you cant stop us now

Since the prehistoric ages and the days of ancient greece
Right down through the middle ages
Planet earth kept going through changes
And then no renaissance came, and times continued to change
Nothing stayed the same, but there were always renegades
Like chief sitting bull, tom paine
Dr. martin luther king, malcom x
They were renegades of their time and age
So many renegades

Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk

From a different solar system many many galaxies away
We are the force of another creation
A new musical revelation
And were on this musical mission to help the others listen
And groove from land to land singin electronic chants like
Zulu nation
Destroy our nations
Destroy our nations
Destroy our nations
Destroy our nations
Destroy our nations
Destroy our nations

Now renegades are the people with their own philosophies
They change the course of history
Everyday people like you and me
Were the renegades were the people
With our own philosophies
We change the course of history
Everyday people like you and me
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk

Poppin, sockin, rockin puttin a side of hip-hop
Because where were goin there aint no stoppin
Poppin, sockin, puttin a side of hip-hop
Because where were goin there aint no stoppin
Poppin, sockin, rockin puttin a side of hip-hop
cause were poppin, sockin, rockin puttin a side of hip-hop
Poppin, sockin, rockin puttin a side of hip-hop

Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk
Were the renegades of funk

Were teachers of the funk
And not of empty popping
Were blessed with the force and the sight of electronics
With the bass, and the treble the horns and our vocals
cause everytime I pop into the beat we get fresh

There was a time when our music
Was something called the bay street beat
People would gather from all around
To get down to the big sound
You had to be a renegade in those days
To take a man to the dance floor

Say jam sucker
Say jam sucker
Say groove sucker
Say groove sucker
Say dance sucker
Say dance sucker
Now move sucker
Now move sucker

Monday, August 24, 2009

BTWG Eagle Creek Adventure


Thank you so much for having an Eagle Creek Adventure! I had a really wonderful time. I even enjoyed the circuit training activity. It was great to have the bike component this time! Pat was a big help in giving pointers at the exchange to Margaret and Ginger. We were able to ride just over ten miles, so this was a great practice for the triathalon. Cindy said she really enjoyed the trail run and had fun too. It sounds as if all the runners had a great time! Thanks for all that you do for us!

Peace and love,


Here are some shots from the fun we had at yesterday's BTWG Eagle Creek Adventure. "Thanks" to all who attended and helped raise more money for the Wounded Warrior Project!

In case you are wondering "what's with all the hippie/60's references". Pam thought it would be fun to have a "Woodstock" vibe/theme, what with the 40th anniversary last week and all... Get it?


The Crew: Front row, left to right - Joe, Pam, Joyce Margaret.
Standing, left to right - Rick, Ginger, Alison, Matt, Pat (in back), Cindy.

"Calm before the storm", as Pat put it. Warm up and Stretch

Getting into the Circuit: Pam doing sit ups, Margaret getting some "burpees", Matt doing some Wall Balls, or "Tree Ball" in this case, Pat doing the "Farmers Walk"

Joyce doing the "Farmers Walk"

More "Wall Ball/Tree Ball" shots

Loving the Circuit workout, yet?

Push Ups, what's not to love?

Matt's all smiles with the "Dumbbell Thrusters"

Joe with the "Kettlebell Swing", getting fancy with the one arm swing.

Burpees and Sit ups - good times...

The fella's working hard

After all the "fun" of the circuit and the trail run (or bike, as some did), it was time for some yoga/stretching and chilling out. Here, Ginger is doing the "twist". Nice work everyone.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Application Process is Open!

New Project "Recruits” to venture, with me, into the next round of "Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap", a group wellness coaching program which I created and have used to successfully guide others in obtaining their optimal level of health, fitness and well-being.

"Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap" is not about extreme fitness, getting washboard abs, getting “shredded” or crushing course records at an athletic event.. Rather, this 12-week Project is about helping you to reclaim your health, improve your fitness, and inspire you to live a life of well-being. Whether you are simply stuck in a fitness rut, or you are facing a life-style related health crisis, this program is certain to help you achieve your wellness intentions.

“Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap is more than just a fitness or diet program. With the support of like-minded friends and an experienced coach like Chris, you can “find yourself”. I plan on living the Project for the rest of my life. With wonderful continued guidance and friendship, I know it is possible.” Alison, Project Graduate who lost 23 pounds during the Project and has continued to make progress in her wellness goals.

What is Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap?
Project: BTWG is a 12-week fitness program which incorporates a multi-faceted approach that includes:
  • Individual coaching and guidance from an educated and certified personal trainer/wellness coach, with over 15 years of professional experience
  • 12-weeks of detailed workout programs
  • Dietary guidelines and assistance
  • Weekly feedback on your nutrition and workout journals
  • Stress reduction techniques
  • Daily emails and updates including The Project "Tip of the Day" and "Recipe of the Day"
  • Group support from your fellow Recruits and Project Graduate Mentors
  • Life-skills which will continue to benefit you for the rest of your life, as well as inspire and impact those around you

This integrated approach to wellness has been proven to help reduce stress, lose body fat, increase physical strength and stamina, improve cardiovascular fitness and flexibility, and decrease your health risk factors such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

“After just 4 weeks my blood pressure dropped from 130/90 to 100/70 ---- wow, was my doctor happy about that! At the end of the 12 weeks I had lost 17 lbs, 3.5% body fat and 16 inches!” – Loretta, Project Graduate

What Will be Expected from You?

  • "No Excuses" mindset - This means that you must be willing to take full responsibility for yourself, for your actions, for your choices, and for your life. You must also possess a willingness to make your best effort throughout the 12 weeks. Obstacles will arise during The Project, challenges will confront you, and you may feel sabotaged from time to time; that is life. You must be committed that when these challenges arise, rather than offer excuses or bailing on your Project, you will use the tools I give you to work through these challenges and move forward. I’m not asking, nor expecting “perfection”, only your best effort.
  • Commit one hour per day to your Project - in general, one hour is the TOTAL amount of time needed to complete your assigned training, workouts, journaling, and homework assignments.
  • Complete all required fitness and health evaluations – preliminary and follow-up. If you miss one of the evaluations, no make-up tests will be given. You will be responsible for having an evaluation completed at your own expense.
  • If required by Chris, have a physical before beginning the program, or a doctor’s signed release (at your financial expense).
  • Be willing to be photographed for before and after results – males will be shirtless and in shorts, women should be in shorts and either a close fitting shirt or sports bra. These photos will be viewed only by Project staff, unless permission is given by participant
  • Attendance at the following group meetings –
  • September 15 - New Recruit Orientation meeting (approximately 2 hours in duration). Cityoga
  • September 20 - Initial fitness testing session which may be 2-3 hours in length. Location to be determined and announced at a later time
  • December 20 - Final fitness testing session which may be 2-3 hours in length. Location to be determined and announced at a later time
  • Optional – weekly meetings to be held at Cityoga each Saturday from 10:00a.m. - 11:00a.m.
  • Maintain accurate, detailed records throughout the 12 weeks and submit records each week
  • Complete all assigned workouts and additional “homework” to the best of your ability
  • Adhere to all aspects of the program, as closely as possible. If you have unique circumstances or challenges, I can work with you to accommodate, however it is vital that you stay on course
  • Check in with Chris once per week, via email.
  • Minimum amount of fitness equipment is required. This includes a jump rope, several dumbbells or a couple exercise bands of varying resistances, or membership at a gym, space to complete your assigned yoga sessions, or ability to attend a yoga class of your choosing once per week
  • CD player
  • Yoga Mat
  • Ability/location to perform assigned aerobic conditioning, preferably outdoors. Please contact me if this may present a challenge for you and we can discuss options
  • Willingness to engage in various forms of relaxation/stress reduction practices

“Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap helped me focus on my weight loss and fitness goals. It seemed that I was always on a diet, but was having trouble making progress. The Project helped me become more consistent in my workouts and in my diet. Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap helped me focus and get past a weight barrier that I had been struggling with for the past couple years. The support and program are great!” - Jeanie, Project Graduate

How to Get Involved:
Beginning August 21st (today), I will accept applications and plan to accept ONLY 12 New Recruits. This is a small group and I'm certain it will fill VERY quickly. I will select Recruits from various lifestyles, backgrounds, genders, ages, demographics, and challenges with whom I can coach through the 12-week Project.

First and foremost, applicants must be willing and able to meet all the requirements for participation in this Project, as listed above. Additionally, I ask that you only apply if you are 100% committed to making a change in you health, fitness, and well-being. I am seeking those who truly want to transform their lives and are willing to commit to a challenging 12-week program. If you are not 100% ready and committed, then please do not submit your application, as this will free up a spot for someone who is ready. While this Project is not “extreme” or “hardcore”, it is certainly not “easy”, change never is. This is a “No Excuses” Project and I can assure you it will challenge you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; so, be prepared to do what it takes to complete this Project and know that I and your Project Mentors are here to support you each step of the way. The rewards will be far greater than any challenge you may face.

The Project was the greatest gift I could have given myself… the workouts were AMAZING and I’m already looking forward to cycling through them again!! Thank you thank you thank you for a tremendous experience… and for helping me take 3 inches off my hips!!” – Jen, Project Graduate

Submitting your application
Unlike landing your typical j-o-b, where you have to fill out lengthy application forms, I simply ask applicants to email me ( and tell me why you feel Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap appeals to you and why you feel you would make a good candidate. Let me know that you are ready to embrace a “No Excuses” lifestyle and that you are committed and ready to do whatever it takes to change your life. If you feel now is your time to rise above, be sure to convey that in your essay. Do your best to demonstrate that you should be accepted into the Project.

Feel free to share stories of current health challenges you are facing, set-backs you have experienced in the past, the difficulty of finding balance in your work, family, health/workout time. Include any current challenges you are facing in terms of your health, fitness, and well-being. Be sure to include if you are under the care or supervision of a physician for any current medical challenges, or of any untreated medical conditions that may be currently challenging you.

I am looking for “real” people, with real lives, and real challenges.

The more open, honest, and real you are in your essay, the better your chances of being selected. I’m not looking for writing skills; I’m looking for those who write from the heart.

The application process is starts to day and will close at mid-night on September 6th, 2009. Preference will be given in the order the application is received, so be sure to submit your application as soon as you can. No applications will be accepted after the application process ends – no exceptions.

Important Project Dates: If you have conflicts with any of the below dates, contact me before applying to discuss options.
Application Process: August 21st, 2009 - September 6th, 2009
New Recruits Notified: September 7th
New Recruit Orientation: September 15th at Cityoga
Initial Fitness Testing: September 20th
Official Start Date: September 28th
Official End Date and Follow Up Fitness Testing: December 20th

“When I started this program, I was not even sure what it was realistic to expect, I just knew that I was dying a slow death and it was not fair to my wife and my two wonderful kids. I thought if I could lose 15 or 20 pounds during The Project it would be a great start towards my goal and get me in the right direction. Weight loss was definitely my main goal when I started and losing 46 pounds I would say I far exceeded my expectations on weight loss! So, with all that being said, the health and wellness benefits I received were far greater than anything I could ever have dreamed. I dropped my Cholesterol 28 points from 204 to 176. I lowered my resting heart rate from 75 BPM to 52 BPM. No question you have added years on to my life!” – Matt, Project Graduate who has gone on to lose over 50 pounds and completely transform his life!

Project "Super-Star", Matt Fallin in his "after" shots

Entry Fee
For those selected as a “New Recruit”, there is a $249, non-refundable, entry fee which is to be paid on or prior to the initial orientation session. You may pay via check, money order, or cashiers check. Your entry fee covers all your training materials, fitness/health evaluations, coaching sessions, group meetings, a Project: BTWG t-shirt, yoga CD, as well as the support from your fellow participants, and the opportunity to make the lifestyle change you know you have been waiting for. Now is the time! No Excuses!

What if I’m not selected?
While I never like to turn people away, The Project is not for everyone. This is a “No Excuses”, 12-week program, which requires a serious commitment to me, to your fellow Project participants, and most importantly, to you.

If you are not selected, please do not take it personal. Each round of the Project I am looking for specific people, with specific lifestyles, demographics, gender, age, challenges, etc. I am also looking for the most highly motivated people, those who are fed up or frustrated with their current level of well-being and are truly ready to do something about it.

If you do not get selected, it is likely that I have already filled all the slots and profiles, or I may feel that you are not quite ready to embark on the Project, either way I will contact you and let you know why you were not selected. Please be patient and stay encouraged, if you do not get in this round. There will be more Project opportunities coming very soon.

Additionally, I ask that you continue to stay in touch with me, and to read my blog on a regular basis. I will be posting progress reports, news, training tips, and sharing stories from our group. Hopefully this will provide you with informative wellness news, added motivation, inspiration and maybe a little comic relief. I also ask that you re-apply with the next group at which time your chances of being selected are much greater as this shows your sincerity and motivation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hey Gang,

Meet "El Diablo", my Frankenstein version of a 20lb medicine ball. I fashioned this one out of an old basketball, some playground sand, and good ole fashioned duct tape. At 20.8 pounds, this thing is pure evil and, at less than $10, it will do the trick until I invest in a good quality leather beast.

Why "El Diablo"? Just ask my buddy Jeff. Below is a picture of Jeff "resting" after completing today's CrossFit Workout of the Day (WOD) in my garage gym. Today's WOD is called "Karen" and calls for 150 Wall Ball shots - 20lb medicine ball, 10 foot high target. Like all CrossFit workouts it doesn't sound bad on paper but it left me in a heaping mess on the deck. As for Jeff...

Jeff's been CrossFitting for about 4-6 weeks and is really feeling and seeing the results. Tonight's WOD in the home gym was a real killer. Nice work, Jeff!

Click HERE if you want to see a video of "Karen".

Indulgence Film

Here's a movie I'd actually enjoy going to the theater and paying the $10 (or whatever it is they charge these days!) Guess I'll have to order this one on video. Enjoy the clip...

The featured ultrarunner, Tony Krupicka, has a "one degree separation", from BTWG. Check out the "comments". Thanks for sharing, Corbin. I knew that and can't believe I failed to mention that in the original post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Peace, Love, and a Discount!

Hey Gang,

Been enjoying all the "Summer of Love" stuff that's been in the media as of late? In the spirit of "free love", I'm lowering the fee of Sunday's Eagle Creek Adventure to $15 per person. A portion of all proceeds will still be going to the Wounded Warrior Project and you are welcome to give more if you like.

We already have a great group of folks who plan to attend and all fitness levels will be represented. Be there!

If you haven't already done so, please visit the BTWG Main Site at Among other things, I just added a link to the site called, "Upcoming Events". I will keep this page updated with all upcoming Eagle Creek Adventures, Workshops, Races, and other things of interest.

While the site is very much in it's infancy, I appreciate any feedback or suggestions!

BTWG Eagle Creek Adventure:

Considering next weekends BTWG Eagle Creek Adventure? Check out the images below which were captured at the last BTWG Adventure. This crew experienced some of the basics of working with Russian Kettlebells, a trail run/hike, and some hanging time with friends.

Don't miss next Sunday's Adventure. I'm sure the workout will include throwing some kettlebells around as well as a couple other things I have planned.

All levels and abilities encouraged to attend. I will scale the workout to your current fitness capacity. Be there and help raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Some of the gang from the last BTWG Eagle Creek Adventure: Joe, Kelly, Diana, Alison, Matt, and Pam "The Blam"

Demonstrating the "Turkish Get Up" a classic kettlebell movement

Joe and Matt doing some "Synchronized" Windmills. Another classic KB movement. Kick the hips a little more and keep the wrist straight, Matt! Looking good.

Kettlebell cycling? Who knew...

Getting the hang of the KB Swing. This is one of the most effective movements you can do with a KB. Way harder than it looks, especially when swinging a 35lb. (Matt) and a 50lb. (Joe) KB! Lock out the knees and hips, Matt. You are getting it!

Alison practicing her first Turkish Get Up. Lock out the elbow and keep your eyes on the kettlebell, Alison! Great job on your first Get Up!

Nice form Diana - knees and hips locked out on the drive, weight on heels, letting the KB swing in it's natural arch. It's all good. By the way, the folks lying on the ground aren't dying from the hard workout, they are learning the Turkish Get Up - HA!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eagle Creek Adventure and Next Round of the Project

Up for an Eagle Creek Adventure? If so, here is the plan:

When: Sunday, August 23. 8:00am. Be there early as we will start the workout at 8am sharp

Where: Meet at the 56th street entrance parking lot

What: Workout from 8-8:45am. Trail run or hike from 8:45-10:15'ish. Yoga/stretch/cool down 10-10:30.

How Much: $20. A portion of the money collected goes to the Wounded Warrior Project. If money is an issue for you, contact me for options. No one should miss an adventure base on money concerns! To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project, please click HERE. If you would like to make an online donation for the WWP, you can do so by clicking on the WWP logo to the right.

What if it rains? If it rains, we will still meet at the same location and then see if we can Shanghai one of the shelters to use for our workout and yoga/stretch. The trail run/hike will take place if it's raining. The event will only be canceled if it there is a thunderstorm. Any cancellations will be posted on this blog by 7:00am Sunday morning.

What to Bring: You, workout clothes, yoga mat if you have one, water, any snacks you want during the workout and snacks you want to share after the Adventure, and ideally you will bring a friend!

Please let me know if you plan to attend - not required, yet it does help me plan the event if I have an idea of how many are attending. All levels invited and welcome - I will scale the workout to your current fitness capacity!

The Fall 2009 "Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap" application process is opening soon!

If you, or someone you know is interested in participating in the next round of Project: BTWG, stand by as the application process will be opening VERY soon. The application process only lasts a couple weeks and it WILL FILL QUICKLY! I am taking a limited number of highly motivated people for the next round and the sooner you apply the better your chances of selection.

To learn more about BTWG visit my web site, Once the application process opens I will announce it on my blog and on the BTWG web site on the "How to Join the Project" page.

Put a reminder on your fridge, put a post-it note on your forehead, whatever will help you remember to watch for the application dates. You snooze, you lose and remember that the application process is the first step in your willingness and motivation to participate!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Training and Secret(s) Revealed

For those interested, I thought I'd share how I trained for last weeks Howl at the Moon 8 hour Ultramarathon. In an upcoming post, I will share "why" I did what I did. Also, it's time to reveal the mystery of how I'm using the gift from last year (40th birthday and wedding) Enjoy!

What was my training approach? Bridging the Wellness Gap and, drum roll please...

Yup, "CrossFit".

From January '09 through early May, I followed the "Project: Performance" workouts that I designed as an advanced aspect of Bridging the Wellness Gap. In late May I became a full fledged "CrossFitter" and started following the Workout of the Day, or "WOD" in a 3 days on, 1 day off rotation; the WOD's are posted each day at By June 1st, I was averaging 4 CrossFit WOD's per week and maintained that average through today. I also began to incorporate WOD's from the CrossFit Endurance web site.

Along with the CrossFit WOD's, I maintained the same flow that I prescribe in BTWG: 3 days of running (CFE WOD's and/or BTWG interval sessions), one day of yoga, meditation a couple times a week, and I stuck with Project Dietary Principles.

My average training time each week has been around 4-5 hours per week (depending on my long run) and only 2-3 hours of that time is running. My longest run prior to the Howl was 3.5 hours and most of my runs were 5K or less.

"But Chris, you didn't reach your goal. Doesn't that show your training failed?" Hardly.

Howl Goals:
  • Complete all 8 hours of the events - check
  • Keep weekly training times to a minimum, ideally under 8 hours per week - check. Most hours logged in one week was 5.5 and that included my longest training run of 3.5 hours.
  • Feel physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong throughout the event - check
  • Enjoy the training and the event - huge check
  • Cover 35 miles - negative. Came up 3.89 miles short
Throughout the entire race I felt physically strong and pain/injury free. Sure it was hard, but mentally and physically I was on par. The determining factor was the heat. Not making excuses, but when you compare finishing distances over the past several years, you will see that they were about 12% lower than years past. I was 11% short of my goal. I stand by my training and feel it delivered the goods. In fact, I will continue with my current training approach to prepare for my next race, the JFK 50 which is in November.

Why CrossFit?
I've know of CrossFit for several years but never really gave it much attention and had a generally negative attitude toward it. Since learning of CrossFit, it continued to cross my path in various ways. As I continued to evolve as a trainer/coach and educate myself, all roads continued to lead back to CrossFit. I felt I needed to give CrossFit a fair shake and the only way to do that would be to jump into the fray and follow their programming. Personal experience is the best litmus test.

The CrossFit methodology and philosophy is closely akin to what I've been teaching for years so it's been a natural fit for me; lot's of barbell squats, deadlifts, running, pull ups, body weight exercises, kettlebells, Olymipic lifts, rowing, and more.

Combining BTWG and CrossFit I've experienced some pretty remarkable personal improvements. While I'm not that impressive compared to others, when compared to my previous results, I'm more than pleased. My strength and power is the best it's been in over 10 years. I have the best balance throughout all spectrum of fitness that I've ever had and I have a high sense of contentment, peace, and confidence.

Sure, there are a couple gaps in CrossFit and they have plenty of haters. BTWG is still my number one priority. But for me, when it comes to performance for the recreational athlete who wants to compete AND have a life, I'm sticking with BTWG and CrossFit as my vehicle.

Other Secret Revealed:

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had finally found how I was going to use the gift presented to me last year (40th birthday and wedding) and I've kept you in suspense since then. Since last year I have considered several places to visit, monasteries for retreat, workshops to attend, and more. Nothing really spoke to me, so I continued to patiently wait. What would fulfill me personally and professionally? The answer finally came and on September 26th-27th I will be attending a CrossFit Level I Coaching certification.

BTWG and CrossFit are a potent combination and I can't wait to share more of my vision and how this relates to your health, fitness, and well-being and the future of BTWG.

Thanks for sticking with me through this wild ride. Trust me, you are gonna love what I have in store. That is, unless you like stagnation and hate change and progress!

More soon.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If Only I'd Known...

A little Mt. Dew and some Red Bull at my race last weekend gave me a little "pick-me-up". If only I knew about "Powerthirst" I'm certain I would have reached my 35 mile goal...

Warning: They do drop the f-bomb once in this vid so consider yourself warned.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How Did You Spend Your Saturday?

Me? Oh, I just enjoyed a day of running an 8 hour ultramarathon in 90+ degree heat with plenty of humidity. Ha! Seriously, though, this isn't the way I would suggest to spend the day, but for me it was a great experience. Not only was it a personal challenge, I also raised another $300 for the Wounded Warrior Project. A huge thanks to those who pledged money and for those who wrote a check or donated via my WWP web site. You guys rock and you have no idea how much you have impacted a wounded soldier, sailor, or airman.

At the end of the day I did miss my race goal (more on that later), but that fact is overshadowed by the huge sense of accomplishment I feel, all that I learned during the race, how well my training paid off (more on that later as well), the mental clarity and discipline I experienced during the race, and all the support I got from each of you and my family.

The race started at 7am local time (8am Indy time) and it was a rather pleasant morning; the race director promised all that would change later when the heat would arrive (how right he was). We got to the race later than I would have preferred so there was no time to dilly-dally around. I picked up my race packet, changed, hit the head, and jumped into the starting corral. Right on cue, the starting horn blared and off we went. Only 7 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds to go. But hey, who's counting.

The course was a 3.29 mile loop. The first 1/2 mile or so was pretty uneventful, just open grassy areas. The second 1/2 mile was a gravel/dirt road false-flat; nothing too extreme, but the false flat felt progressively longer during the last few laps. This ended up being about the only shaded part of the route once the sun was overhead.

Mile 1 to the half way point aid station (around mile 1.5'ish) had a short section of paved road which turned onto another grass road/trail. You had to be more mindful in all the grass sections as there were plenty of opportunities to twist an ankle or do something stupid and end your day early.

The 1/2 way aid station was awesome, which kinda sucks sometimes as it makes it harder to want to leave. They had great music blaring, which you could hear about 1/2 mile away. The tunes ended up being good motivation to get into the station, especially later in the day. They had a "Margaritaville" theme; grass skirts, coconut bikini tops (on the dudes), Hawaiian shirts, etc. It was a well stocked station with plenty of bananas, boiled potatoes that you could dip in salt, chips, crackers, pb&j sandwiches, and maybe a few other things. I relied mainly on liquids all day, so I really didn't pay that close attention to what else they had. There was also Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mt. Dew and loads of ice water and Gatorade.

Heading out of the aid station was another gravel/dirt road which was the most scenic part of the race, though it also proved to be one of the hottest sections of the course; no breeze, no shade. This led to the only other paved section of the route. As soon as you hit the asphalt, you hit the only hill of the course which was about 250 meters of somewhat steep climbing followed by another 400-600 meters of moderate up hill. This whole section was fully exposed to the sun and by noon it felt like it was melting the soles of my shoes. The last 3/4 of a mile was more grass trail which lead back to the start/finish.

All-in-all, a pretty simple course; nothing too technical, nothing too difficult. By far, the greatest challenge of the day was the heat. While I had been training during the heat of the day for several weeks, with the cooler trends we have had, it was difficult to really be acclimated for the conditions.

My pre-race goal was 35 miles. My strategy was pretty basic: start conservative, yet on pace, re-evaluate 5 hours into the race. If everything is good to go, pick up the pace in the last couple hours. My "markers" would be lap 4 (13.16 miles) and lap 8 (26.32 miles), these points would help me determine pace, and predict my finishing distance.

For the first 4 hours, I was on pace for a 40+ mile finish and I was feeling great. I knew I had not gone out too fast, too early (typical rookie mistake) and my body was holding up perfectly, only some mild calf discomfort. By the second lap I had found the ideal places for walking breaks, I was keeping my aid station/pit stops to only 1-2 minutes each and I was actually holding back in order to stick with my game plan; fueling and hydration was on par. After a few laps I switched out of my trail shoes for my road shoes. The route surface was pretty hard and my road shoes were more appropriate for the conditions. It was a good call and the mild calf discomfort vanished. As a side note, this mild discomfort and some blisters turned out to be the only physical "pain" of the day.

All was going better than planned until around 12:00 that's when all hell broke lose, or at least it felt like someone had opened the gates of hell. The heat began to climb and the shade was sparse. After noon, I noticed fewer and fewer people on the course, fewer runners at the aid stations, and I saw lots of people in trouble. 1pm was around the time I started seeing the ambulances rolling in.

As mentioned earlier, I mainly stuck with liquids all day, ice water, and lots of Accelerade. I had also planned to take in some caffeine around the 5th or 6th hour. I ended up drinking some Mt. Dew at the aid station around hour 5.5 and had some Red Bull around hour 6 - both had merits and I will use Red Bull again, though only for an ultra. Otherwise, I stay away from the stuff.

By the fifth hour, the real game was about thermoregulation, flat out, nothing else. Could I maintain some level of performance without exceeding my body's ability to cool itself and causing a problem? My pace was clearly slowing, as was everyone around me, yet I felt 35 miles was still very doable.

My cooling efforts consisted of filling one of my water bottles with ice and water which I used to squirt ice water over my head, face, and body. At each aid station/pit stop, I put ice in my bandanna (or "banana" as Jody wrote on the Twitter updates, which you can read HERE) and kept it around my neck. I would also pour as much cold water over my head as I could and even had a kid shoot me with his "Super Soaker" that was filled with ice water - anything I could to get cooled off, I was game!

In the end, I could only do so much, and at times it was really frustrating. My body felt great in terms of my legs and fitness, but after a short distance of running, I had to slow down and/or walk as I just couldn't stay cool enough to perform at any intensity. Like I said, very frustrating but I had to let that go, stay calm, keep moving forward and cover as much ground as I could.

I finished my 9th lap and there was not enough time to complete another full lap. With 30 minutes to go in the race, the main loop shuts down and you begin a series of "out and back" laps which are 1/2 mile (1/4 mile out, 1/4 mile back). This section totally sucked - another section of grass road but it was the roughest and most uneven of the day. Not exactly what you want when you have blisters and your senses/mindfulness is sucking after 7 1/2 hours of running/walking in the heat!

I finished my last out and back with 4 minutes on the clock; not enough time to do another lap. We watched the final countdown and the last few runners coming in. And then, it was done. No real fanfare other than the bullhorn blaring once again to signal the finish. A few people cheering and lots of people limping around like the walking wounded.

Officially I completed 31.11 miles and I'm listed as finishing 115th (though there were several of us that completed the same distance and I'm not sure how they decide who places in front of who. Age?). You can check out the race results by clicking HERE.

Originally I was disappointed that I didn't reach my 35 mile goal, I let that go and embraced the accomplishment for what it was. As it turns out, the heat slowed everyone down as the overall winner (a woman by the way!) completed 50.35 miles which is 8-10 miles fewer than the usual winning distances at the Howl. Not taking anything away from the winner, just putting it in perspective.

At the finish line, as I sat and took it all in (along with an ice bath, thanks to the guys next to us in the pits!) I knew there was nothing else I could have done to safely complete more miles. I gave all that I could give and I know anything else would have put me at serious risk for heat related illness. I was super-pleased with how my fitness and preparation had delivered and know for certain that had the heat not been such a factor, I would have reached or surpassed my goal. Though it's still a little frustrating, as it was out of my hands, I'm okay with it.

There is more I want to share about my new training approach, yet it will have to wait for another post. For now, let me just say that I was able to finish this race on an average of 4-5 hours of training per week, only 2-3 hours of that was actual running! A far cry different than the traditional approach to ultrarunning which usually entails at least twice that amount of running per week. Not only that, but the week prior to the race I set a new PR on the deadlift and the day after my race I did a short, high intensity workout that included pull ups, push ups, sit ups, and speed squats!

Could I have covered more miles had I put in more training miles? I honestly don't think so. Again, fitness was never a factor in the race. Plus, I really don't like running all that much and I sure don't want to spend hours and hours each week... well, running! I'm not a specialist, I embrace wholeness over specificity; balance to imbalance. For me, fitness isn't one dimension, it should cover multiple aspects: strength, power, endurance, agility, flexibility, etc. And it should also include mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. I want to enjoy ultrarunning, yet not at the expense of huge amounts of time away from my family and things I'd rather be doing than running. I want to enjoy ultrarunning, yet I still want to be flexible, strong, and I want to have a life outside of training. I don't compare my results to others, only to myself and my goals. IF I use these points as my measuring stick, I have blown my "goals" outta the water!

Please check back soon for my training report as I think it's something you won't want to miss - a big "secret" is about to be revealed!

Thanks for reading and a huge thank you to my race crew - Jody and Christian, you guys made it more fun and meaningful. Thanks to those who followed the race on And thanks to those who offered their support, thoughts, prayers and gave to the WWP.

What's next? The JFK 50 mile ultra in November. I can't wait!


Friday, August 7, 2009

BTWG on Twitter...

We are also going to give "Twitter" a shot for tomorrow's race updates. While I'm not much of a twitter fan, I know several of you are - if that is you, here is the address to get the updates: So far I have not been able to get the texting option to work and if I can't get it sorted out, then there will be no tweets. Otherwise, Jody will be posting updates along the way. Should be fun. Check it out...


Race Reports?

Hey Gang,

Tomorrow is the big day, the "Howl at the Moon 8 Hour Ultra". Just a few final preparations remain, a short yoga/stretching session, massage the legs, fuel, sleep as much as possible tonight, then it will be time to toe the start line.

The race starts at 7am, Danville, Ill. time, which is 8am Indy time. If possible, and technology allows, Jody will be posting some race reports and updates throughout the day on this blog. Feel free to stop in and check it out. I'll have a short race report tomorrow evening and more of a full report on Sunday or Monday.

Again, I sure appreciate all the support, the comments, texts, and emails that have been sent. You guys rock!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Input Appreciated...

Hey Gang,

While I have a couple things I plan to post on the ol blog in upcoming days/weeks, I'm very interested to know what you would like to see of on the BTWG Main blog. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments, or shoot me an email:

My intention is, and has been since launching this blog, to provide you with helpful, relevant, and interesting information. So, it would be great to have your input on what you would like showing up on the blog.
  • More info., updates, pictures of the Project participants?
  • Less stuff about running?
  • Less stuff about WWP?
  • More about diet/nutrition?
  • More tips and training info?
You name it, just let me know what's on your mind.

Here to serve.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tapering and the Rest of the Salads

9 days ago was my last "long run", though with my new training approach it really wasn't all that long at 3.5 hours. Since then I have been tapering, resting, recovering and training for Saturday's race - The Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultramarathon. After last weeks long run I shifted my attention to yoga/stretching and lots of self massage to get things flowing and loosened up. Though it was less of a priority, I also did a couple of sessions in the gym and an interval session. For this week, on Monday, I did a 5K earlier in the day and then a strength workout later in the afternoon. Tuesday was a 20 minute high intensity session in the gym. Today is full recovery with some low intensity yoga. Tomorrow will be a short interval session and stretching. Friday is a full recovery day; at most I will do a short, easy yoga session. Other than that, it's hydrate, fuel, rest/sleep as much as possible, pack and make all the final preparations.

Over the past few weeks I have been joking about the race day weather. You see, for my last 2 trail races I've had 1) snow and cold temps and 2) rain the entire week prior to the race making for a VERY wet and muddy course. So, for Saturday, I figured it's either going to be raining, lightning, and generally nasty, OR it's going to be HOT and humid. According to today's weather, it's supposed to be in the 90's and feel like 100! Par for the course... I feel prepared for whatever mother nature throws our way and while it may impact how far I'm able to go, it certainly won't be an excuse to do my best.

I want to thank all those who have donated to the Wounded Warrior Project in support of my race. In addition to the checks, I also have a handful of folks who have pledged a dollar-per-mile which really motivates me. Thanks, guys!

I'll let you know how it goes and offer some insight into my training and preparation for this event. Just let me say, it's been far from the "conventional" approach to endurance training.

Salad #27
Fresh greens - thanks Kyle!
Egg whites
Slivered almonds
Purple onion
Walden Farm's dressing

Salad #28
Raw spinach
Chicken breast w/Asian seasoning
Sesame seeds
Slivered almonds
Mandarin oranges
Ginger dressing

Salad #29
Greens and spinach
Extra lean hamburger - for shame... beef! Yum...
Sunflower seeds
About a teaspoon of bleu cheese
Walden Farm's dressing

Salad #30! Jody's fav.
Greens and spinach
Chicken breast with buffalo wing sauce
About a teaspoon of bleu cheese
Ranch dressing

Hope you have enjoyed the "30 Salads in 30 Days" series. Thanks for the comments and emails sent in!