Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ahead of the Curve?

Three years ago I developed a training method known as "Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap". The root philosophy behind BTWG was "No Excuses", meaning I eliminated every possible excuse one could have for not being active and living a healthful lifestyle. I wanted workouts to be short (30-60 minutes), yet highly effective. I realized the majority of people I train have busy lives, a job, a house hold to manage, and so forth. What would be the point of designing training programs that require 2 hours to complete if it was going to be impossible for my clients to complete all the tasks? I also saw many of my aspiring athletes feeling frustrated that they couldn't spend hours and hours training each week the way the pros do, nor see the results they envisioned.

Over the course of the past year, the BTWG workouts have continued to evolve and develop with the inclusion of the principles of CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance. I began training with CF workouts last January, and went full-on with CF in late March, early April, I then attended a Level I certification in September. Realizing the value of this style of training, I revised the workouts to include some elements of CF.

In my upcoming "Indy Mini Marathon/CrossFit Training Program", all the training is based on the principles of BTWG, CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance. While the response has been great thus far and several people have already applied, I find that many die-hard endurance athletes want to cling to their old method of training with LSD workouts (Long Steady/Slow Workouts) and sport specificity (running to be a better running, riding to be a better cyclist, etc.). Fair enough! I too had a hard time breaking out of my old thought process. I understand the fear associated to change. Why listen to someone like me who isn't a top tier athlete? Why follow a training plan from someone who doesn't even run a sub-90 minute half marathon and isn't even close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon? Again, fair enough. I get it. How about listening to a "real" coach, such as Lance Armstrong's coach, Chris Charmichael? Check out his new book, "The Time Crunched Cyclist" or the following interviews:

While Charmichael isn't exactly CF/CFE, he's on the right track and helping to bring this format of training into the endurance community. When Charmichael talks, people listen.

So, what about all this CF training? Why bother with power lifting movements such as the hang clean, the snatch, overhead squats? Why do burpees and pull ups? Why do high intensity circuits or maximal efforts? Why do workouts that are short and leave you in a heap on the ground? Why swing a kettlebell, isn't that for Neanderthals? Check out this picture of a typical muscle head swinging a kettlebell, I mean, really, who does this stuff?!?!?!
Oh, wait... hold on a sec. What's that? That's Lance Armstrong swinging a kettlebell? That's an Olympic weight set and a GHD machine in the background? That's his garage? Oh... I see. I thought it was a CF gym. My bad...

Well then, check out this workout session of some jack ass doing a high intensity workout with weights. You would never catch a world class endurance athlete doing anything like this:

Lance Armstrong
NOTE: if the video does not appear, just click on the words "Lance Armstrong" and it should take you to the video. Also, Lance's form on his hang power cleans SUCKS. Who's coaching this guy : ) Seriously, it's really, really bad. Most of my CF crew would put him to shame.

What's that? That's Lance... again? Crap!

Sarcasm aside, as much as I hate to use Chris Carmichael and Lance as leverage to make my point... well, it helps to make my point. Carmichael's program and Lance's strength workouts are not exactly CF/CFE, but they do come from a similar base of short, intense workouts that deliver maximum results and this is exactly the approach I take in coaching my clients and CrossFitters.

The next round of CF classes begin January 4th and the Mini Marathon training begins January 23rd. If you are interested in either, or both, be sure to contact me right away or shoot me your questions:

Be Well,

Monday, December 21, 2009

No Excuses = No Excuses

The BTWG motto = "No Excuses!" That means I designed every aspect of BTWG to eliminate all excuses for not living a lifestyle of health, fitness, and well-being. Once you have been introduced to the principles and workouts, there is never again an excuse to be sedentary, overweight, and/or unhealthy. If you are, or if you do, it's a choice, pure and simple.

This time of the year is the peak season for people giving me excuses. Here are the most recent:
  • "With the 'bad' weather I haven't been as active"... Oh really? Humm, that's funny. I live in the same town as you but I haven't missed a single workout due to "bad" weather. I have a list of clients who have yet to bail on their workouts, even their outdoor running on account of the weather.
  • "There have been so many office carry ins, family parties, and (fill in the blank) that I have really strayed from my nutrition program"... Is that right? I, too, have been at several parties, and for the last week Jody have been baking all sorts of cookies and treats and I've been able to stick to my program. Have I enjoyed a few treats along the way? You bet 'cha, but I've actually continued to maintain and lose weight over the past 4 weeks. I guess you atttend different parties than I do, the ones where they actually hold a gun to your head and force you to eat things you don't want and eat more calories than you should.
  • "Its the holidays..." Yeah, and? Using the holidays as an excuse is just that, an excuse. These days we have a holiday about every month, or other special occasion. Use this as your excuse and you will NEVER achieve your wellness goals.
  • "The shorter daylight hours has really made it hard to get my workouts in". See my response to the first example.
You get the idea...

Sure, the sh**ty Indiana winter weather makes it more challenging to get outside to train, yet with a plan and minimal gear, it's no big deal. See my previous post on "Dressing for Success". And, yeah, it is tough to follow your nutritional plan when there are land mines all around you and temptations around every corner. Again, with planning and awareness you can navigate through the holidays with no damage to your well-being.

I get it, it is difficult at times. And I also get it that the holidays only come once a year and we want to enjoy the season, our friends/family and treats. It's all good IF you have a plan, stick to your food intake budget, stay active and take a stand for your health. Have ONE cookie and move on. Enjoy it for what it is; savor it and let it go. You don't need 10 of them just because you only get them once per year! Have your treats on a free day and make sure you earn it by being active and disciplined the rest of the week. The point is to avoid the victim mentality and the excuses that can come this time a year.

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. And stay tuned, there are loads more great things coming our way!


Congrats to the New Grads

Congratulations to the newest graduates of Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap! The new grads wrapped up their 12 week program yesterday. I will post some news, results and feedback in the next couple days. Until then, I encourage you to visit Project Grad Vanessa's blog to read of her experience and some final insights from her:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fellow Hoosier: Feeling Blue?

If you, my fellow Hoosier have been feeling blue, or unhappy, perhaps there is "scientific data" as to why.

Read Here:

In a study of "Happiest States", of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Indiana ranked 47th! As in, almost dead last! Heck we even finished behind Illinois and Ohio! I had a hard time believing that people living in hell-holes like Hawaii or Florida could finish ahead of us - all that yucky sunshine and heinous ocean views, who could be happy living there?!?!. But, to finish behind the arm pit of America, Ohio? Come on! Now I'm depressed...

Enjoy : )

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More BTWG Race Results and PR's

A couple of our BTWG Crew ran in the recent "Jingle Bell 5K". Vanessa set a PR in the 5K - way to go Vanessa. And Alison had a great race as well. Here are a few words from Alison.

"I wanted to let you know the results from the race. There 75 women between the ages of 45 and 49 who were running the race on Saturday and yours truly came in 12th!! I ran a 9:07 pace which is slower than in years past but not a bad place to start out for the mini marathon training. The fastest woman in our age range was 7:44 pace. I never ran at that fast of a pace ever, but it is something to shoot for. Overall, I am quite pleased with myself.

The interesting thing about road races, older woman are awesome participants. The top two WINNING Female of the race on Saturday were 39 and 38!!! (The top three winning men were all in their 20s). The first OLDER woman (post 20s) to finish was 51 and she came in 159 out of a 1800 plus field with a 7:01 pace. I am telling you, watch out for the middle age woman. She is the one to BEAT!!!!"

Watch out, dudes, the ladies are hot on our heels!

Great job, all...Alison, prior to the race. Photo submitted by Pam the Blam, who crewed for Alison. Was the stairs in the backgroud the first leg of the race? Now that would be cool!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Indy Mini/CrossFit Training Program


JANUARY 16th – May 8th, 2010

WARNING: This is not your conventional approach to training for the Indy Mini Marathon; if you are looking for the traditional approach, please look elsewhere.

In addition to a weekly written training program, participants will also have access to weekly group workouts, email correspondence with their coach, nutrition advice, pre/post race support tent at the finish line, tech shirt, and more.

Unlike most half marathon group training sessions, we will do far more than just head out for a “long run”. Workouts will vary each week in mode, duration, activity, and location! Group training sessions may include tempo runs, endurance runs, interval sessions, hill workouts, CrossFit workouts, or yoga /stretching sessions. Each workout is guaranteed to take you to the edge of what you are capable of - and beyond. The sessions will help prepare you for the rigors and demands of the race and to do your personal best. While the training and group workouts will be challenging, they will be expertly guided and coached. Each racer will obtain maximal results, yet the training will be scaled to meet their abilities and goals.

Requirements to participate:

· Must be in good physical health, meaning you are not under a physicians care for serious health issues, if you are, your doctors permission will be required before acceptance into the program.

· Depending on your current activity level and health/medical risk factors, your doctors permission to participate may be required

· Access to strength training equipment, including: dumbbells, barbells (Olympic weight set is ideal), jump rope, exercise mat.

· Must currently be capable of walking or running 3 miles

· “No Excuses!” attitude – a willingness to work hard and accept coaching and feedback, then apply what is suggested

What you get in this program:

· Weekly training guide which will include your weekly running schedule as well as CrossFit-based workouts and yoga/stretching sessions

· 45 minute CD with a weekly “Yoga for Runners” session

· Weekly training sessions each Saturday at 10:30a.m. These sessions will vary from week-to-week and may include running, interval training, hill work, CrossFit workouts, weights, kettlebells, calisthenics, yoga/stretching, and more. Location may vary each week; most workouts will take place at Eagle Creek Park or at a designated location in Brownsburg or other Indy location.

· Tech shirt to wear at training sessions and on race day

· Pre/Post race support tent with refreshments and more. Leave your items here prior to the race or stow gear you want at the finish

· Optional: 2-3 workshops offered during the 16 weeks. Attendance of these workshops is optional and there is a separate fee to participate. Dates, locations, and fees to be announced. These workshops will focus on running technique, shoe selection, hydration/nutrition, and other topics pertinent to your race.

· Weekly eNewsletter from Coach Chris with training tips and more

Who is this training for?

· Those with a limited amount of time to train yet want to get the most bang for their training buck (time and energy)

· Those who embrace coaching and excel with team support

· First time half marathoners who want to do more than “just finish” the race; they want to do their personal best!

· Runners interested in a fresh, cutting edge approach to training for a mini marathon and perhaps set a PR at the Indy Mini

What is the cost?

The base level fee for the 16 Week program is $125, which includes everything listed above. Workshops or private coaching fees are separate and will be announced at a later date. Please contact me if the fee is a concern or limiting factor for you.

To apply, simply email Chris and receive further instructions.

Who’s the Coach?

Chris Roche. I have been a personal trainer/coach for over 16 years. With a degree in Exercise Science, I also hold certifications that range from personal training to advanced yoga certs., and a Level I CrossFit Coach certification. I am the founder of “Bridging the Wellness Gap” (, a 12-Week lifestyle transformation program for optimal health, fitness, and well-being.

Over the years I have worked with athletes of all caliber, yet my favorite clientele are “real people” with real lives and all the challenges that come with having a job, family, and obligations. My satisfaction comes from helping others connect with their “inner athlete” and watching them excel beyond what they envisioned possible.

My current athletic endeavor is competing in Ultra-marathons (races beyond 26.2 miles) with a long term goal of completing a 100 miler within the next 2 years. In conjunction with my racing, I raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance to those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. My long-term goal is to raise $10,000. To learn more, please visit: and click the link “WWP”.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The Face of Intensity

The above picture of Danielle is from last nights CrossFit session and really captures the level of intensity that we approach during a CrossFit WOD (Workout Of the Day). Do all workouts need to be this intense? Well... yes, if your goal is to get the most bang from your buck in your workouts. It takes time and practice to be ready for this level of intensity, yet when you take it to your personal edge, rewards are HUGE - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual insights occur with intensity. Strength of character is forged with intensity. Yet, you will never know the value of intense training if you are not willing to go to this point. Some people are afraid to go this hard, others just don't know how to push the envelope or have never been pushed to their limits. Join us for the next series of CF classes and let me coach you on "intelligent intensity". As with all things, intensity must be balanced and approached in an intelligent manner along with proper nutrition and recovery.

Hard work =Results

Interested in joining us for some CF "fun"? Email me:

For more pictures from last nights WOD visit our CF blog:


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold Weather? "No Excuses" Revisited

The following is a post from November, 23 of last year. With the recent drop in temps and snow, I thought it appropriate to post it again today. As a side note, I did a 20:00 time trial run this afternoon - don't let cold weather drive you indoors to the dreadmill or become an excuse not to train. Enjoy - Chris


Cold weather and shorter daylight hours are no excuse to bail on your walking/running outside. In this article, I share strategies to help you stick to your training plan through the winter. Why sacrifice your fun and fitness when you don't have to?

When it comes to "dressing for success" on cold days, there are a few basics that can make all the difference and there are a few general "rule of thumb" ideas to keep in mind. As with all things in fitness, there is also a great deal of personal preference when it comes to donning cold weather gear and a few factors to consider:

  • How long are you working out? Most people can deal with the cold for a 30-60 minute run if you plan ahead. There are a few of us crazy enough that we will run for several hours in the cold. This requires more practice and more planning, yet it can be done!
  • How cold is it?
  • Is it windy? Wind strips heat from the body very quickly, so it's important to plan ahead.
  • Is the sun shining?
  • What kind of terrain are you on? Running on hilly terrain generates more heat. Running on flat, open roads makes it tougher to stay warm.
  • We all have different metabolic systems and lean body mass, both of which contribute to how much heat you generate during exercise.
  • How much "natural insulation" a.k.a. body fat, are you carrying around with you?

This month marks my one-year anniversary (UPDATE: NOV 2009 MARKS MY TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY) of getting back to running as my primary vehicle for aerobic conditioning. Over the past year, 100% of my runs have taken place outside. I've gone running in the rain, in 90+ degree weather, and I've gone running when it's dark and drizzling ice. The only weather related condition that has caused me to postpone an outdoor run was on two occasions when there was ice on the ground. And this year, I've come up with a plan to work around that. I've purchased a set of the "YakTrax® Pro".

I've known about YakTrax® for years, but never had a need for them, this year is different. I plan to run all winter, regardless of the conditions. I ordered my YakTrax® Pro online, because I couldn't find them locally. Several local outlets carry the YakTrax® Walker which would work great for shorter runs or hikes. If you plan on running, I'd go for the Pro. Here is the link for the YakTrax® web site:

Layering -
Most people are familiar with the concept of wearing multiple layers of clothing to stay warm, however, not everyone clearly understands how to layer properly. Layered clothing creates thin pockets of air which are sandwiched between each article of clothing. This air is then heated by your body, helping to keep you toasty and warm. The two main enemies to this strategy are using non-moisture wicking fabric (especially cotton) and failure to use a wind-breaking outer layer when it's windy.

Base Layer - Wicking Fabrics:
"The best dressed corpses on the mountain are always dressed in cotton."
The above quote is popular among mountaineers. I heard it several years ago, when I was selling outdoor apparel. Though a little macabre, the saying holds an important teaching about dressing properly for cold weather.

Wicking fabrics should ALWAYS be your base layer. Some people go with a long sleeve option, some go with a short sleeve shirt, you will have to experiment and see what works best for you. Either way, a good quality wicking fabric moves moisture away from your skin and out to the surface for evaporation. Other fabrics, such as cotton, trap moisture against your skin and will quickly lead to a loss of body heat. In a serious situation, this can lead to hypothermia and death, thus the lovely saying about corpses dressed in cotton.

Another thing to consider with your base layer is the thickness of the fabric. You will come across everything from very thin fabrics, which work great as a base layer or it can be worn with nothing else on your torso on a moderately cool day. Others are much more thick and can also be worn alone on colder days, or as a layer that has a little more warmth to it.

Insulation Layer:
After your base layer, if it's cold enough, you should add a layer of "insulation". If you are a fan of natural fibers, wool is one of the best options you can choose for this purpose. Wool allows moisture to continue moving away from your body for evaporation and temperature regulation. Modern technology has given us the ever popular "fleece" which is used in everything from pullovers and sweatshirts to hats, gloves and boot liners. Much like base-layer fabrics, fleece comes in various thicknesses to provide differing amounts of insulation. I have a couple different fleece shirts of different thicknesses that I use, depending on how cold it is. I also suggest purchasing fleece that has a zip-up neck that goes at least 1/4 - 1/2 the way down the front. This option allows you to zip or unzip to regulate your temperature.

As mentioned above, some of us have a greater amount of natural insulation, or body fat and therefor don't need as much additional insulation as our skinny counterparts. Personally, I generate enough heat that even on really cold days, a light-weight fleece is more than enough for me. Others, may need to go with two light-weight fleece shirts. This works great, especially on longer runs where the temperature may rise along the way, you can simply peel off the extra shirt, tie it around your waste and continue on. Or, chose a medium weight fleece if you need more insulation. Unless it is extremely cold out, I suggest leaving the huge, bulky fleece at home. These shirts are designed for sitting around the campsite, or looking snazzy and "outdoorsy" at the company Christmas party but really are not all that functional unless you are going into below freezing conditions. The problem with wearing a single, thick insulation layer is that once you get too warm, there isn't much you can do to about it.

Outer Layer - Wrap it up!
Finally, if it happens to be windy or particularly cold, you should finish your torso layering with an outer shell made of wind-proof, or wind-resistant material. Trust me, if it is windy out, it doesn't matter how many layers of fleece and wool you throw on, you are still going to get chilly. An outer shell deflects the wind and helps to retain the heat you generate.

A couple things to watch when seeking out your shell include getting a jacket that is well ventilated. Ventilation is crucial. Look for back panels that vent and, ideally, either "pit zips" which are zippers under each arm which you can open and close to allow heat to escape, or at a minimum ensure there are vents in the arm pit area of the jacket.
On days when it isn't as cold, a shell vest works excellent as it retains torso heat, ventilates extremely well and allows heat to dissipate from your arms. Personally, this is what I do until the thermometer dips down in the 20's. I also favor fleece vests which are very functional as well.

"What about 'my other half'"?
When it comes to layering for your bottom half, I use the same strategy that I use for the upper body. I start with a base layer of wicking fabric, such as a pair of compression shorts, over which I add a pair of long tights. For me, this usually does the trick unless it's below 30 degrees. If this is the case, I may add a second pair of tights, or I'll go with a layer of insulation such as fleece-based long underwear under my tights. Other times I just go with compression shorts and a pair of thicker tights. Only on really cold and windy days do I need a pair of wind breaking pants over my layers.

The important thing is to be smart and avoid wearing shorts on really cold days. Below temperatures in the mid-30's, exposed legs will cause you to lose heat too quickly, making it difficult to remain warm. Plus, it is crucial to keep you joints warm otherwise you become more prone to injury to your knees and hips. Research actually supports that running in shorts in cold weather diminishes overall performance. So, don't try to be a tough guy/gal. Cover up for Pete's sakes!

Heads Up!
Just like your Mother always told you, "put on your hat and gloves!" Science shows that we lose 50% of our body heat through our head and another 30% through our hands and feet.
Depending on how cold it is and what type of run I am doing, I usually start with a headband/ear warmer made from fleece. I also have one made from windstop fleece which works great on cold and windy days. Once it gets colder, I go for a nice warm fleece skull cap, like the one pictured to the left. What ever style you go with, just make sure it is made from wicking material.

One of my favorite pieces of cold weather training gear I own is a balaclava, such as the one pictured on the right. I've had one of these for years and find it to be one of the most versatile pieces of winter workout gear that I own. A balaclava can be worn, as pictured, which keeps your head, face, and neck warm. Of course you also look like a S.W.A.T team wanna be, but it gets the job done. On warmer days I roll up the bottom half and wear it as a hat, or you can also pull it down and wear it around your neck as a neck gator. Like I said, its a very functional piece of gear. And yes, it should be made of wicking fabric.

Give cold weather the finger.
When it comes to gloves, I start with a thin pair of cheap nylon, knit gloves or similar light-weight material. As it gets colder or more windy, I shift to thicker fleece gloves or add a nylon, wind resistant shell if needed. Another excellent option for gloves is mittens. Mittens hold the advantage of using your own body heat to help keep all your digits warm since all your fingers are next to each other, skin to skin. There are actually "combo" gloves out there that offer gloves with a mitten cover that allows you to wear them in either mode.

The agony of da feet...
Depending on the shoes you wear you may not need anything special to keep your feet warm enough for a 30-60 minute walk or run. Some shoes are overly ventilated, so you can get cold toes within a matter of minutes, and spend the rest of your run miserable. In addition, running on cold concrete or pavement will get your feet cold faster than running on trails as the hard surface is colder and transfers the cold to your feet more quickly.

If cold feet is a challenge for you, you can experiment with shoes that are less airy, shoes with Gore-Tex liners (which are not only water proof, they also tend to be warmer), or you can go with thicker socks. One strategy that works well for winter running is to purchase a pair of shoes that are 1/2 to 1 size too large. This extra space allows you to throw on two pairs of socks (think layering, here), or you can wear thicker performance based socks, such as those geared towards hiking. Sure it's an added expense, but if you use these shoes only during the winter, they can last you a several years, depending on how many miles you put on them.

Practice, Practice, Practice...
At the end of the day, you will have to do a little trial and error and experiment with different tactics in various weather conditions. Yet, just like I tell all my clients and students, if you want to get better at anything, the secret is PRACTICE!

So, get out there and hit the trail or the road. By using my suggestions and doing some experimenting you will find that walking and running through the winter can actually be fun and exciting. Plus, you will feel better and you will feel empowered!

Please contact me if you have questions or need additional guidance with your winter training. And feel free to share your outdoor training stories with me. I'd love to hear from you and you might just inspire others to get outside this winter!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Way to Go, Joe!

Congratulations to Joe Wagle who completed his first marathon this past Saturday - not just any ole marathon, he did the Tecumseh Trail Marathon which is one of the toughest marathons around. Joe finished in 5:58, a very respectful time for his first venture into this distance and hilly terrain. Joe competes in the 50-54 age group.

I've coached Joe over the past year as he completed Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap, as well as a three month custom program leading up to Tecumseh. Joe was a dream athlete to coach for this race and I couldn't be more proud of him.

I look to have a race report from Joe and post it here in the next few days.

Way to go, Brother!
A shot of Joe - training last summer at "Punch Kettlebell Gym" out in Las Vegas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Opportunities to Train with Chris

There are three upcoming opportunities to train with me, all of which will launch right after the new year. Here they are:
  • CrossFit-inspired training in Brownsburg. These classes have been running over the last 3 months and have been a huge hit. So, I'm looking to expand the schedule at the first of the year. If you have an interest in attending, please contact me right away. The classes run in a four week series and the fee is $10 per class, paid in full at the first session. These classes are appropriate for ALL FITNESS LEVELS as they are scaled to your ability. CrossFit is a form of high intensity training utilizing functional strength movements, body weight exercises, kettlebells, running, power lifting, Olympic lifting, and more. These classes will take your fitness to the next level whether you are looking to lose a few pounds, improve your health, or participate in sport. I hope that doesn't sound too much like an info-mercial, but it's the truth. If you express an interest, I will give you the rest of the details. You can also check out my (now-not-so) underground blog at
  • Indy Mini Training Program - "by popular request", I am willing to offer a training program for the Indy Mini, which is in May. Whether you are doing your first Indy Mini or looking to set a PR, this program will be for you. In addition to the weekly training guide, there will be instructional sessions you can attend as well as group runs and a team jersey. Again, if you are interested, let me know right away. Training will be based on CrossFit, CrossFit Endurance and Bridging the Wellness Gap, not your conventional training programs - it will involve strength training, yoga, nutrition, and running. If you are looking for the traditional mini training program, look elsewhere - they are a dime a dozen. Fee to be announced.
  • Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap - the next round of the Project will launch at the end of January. If you, or anyone you know is interested, contact me. Application dates will be announced soon. For more information you can visit the BTWG web site:
Again, if you are interested in any of these opportunities, or if you have questions, please contact me ASAP.

Be Well,