January 21, 2019

My Next Impossible Goal — Diablo Trails 50k


“Anyone can quit and be defeated – but a winner will never quit and always keep striving for more” — David Goggins

My next impossible goal will be to finish a 50k. That’s a little over 31 miles.

The one I have chosen is the Diablo Trails 50k, which benefits Save Mount Diablo, a non-profit that strives to preserve all of Mount Diablo (presently, only half is a nature preserve). They have been doing this for over 40 years. Funnily enough, they were formed in 1971, the year I was born. How fitting that my first 50k benefits an organization as old as I am :).

A Different Kind of Race

Training for this race will be a lot different than Vineman or the Goruck Challenge (Class #306).

As my friend Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen commented in his Endurance Chronicles interview:

1/2 Marathon and a Full Marathon are all athletics. Anything beyond that is all mental — Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen.

The challenge with the Diablo Trails is that it’s a trail run which means that my normal marathon pace, which hovers around 4 hours, will extend out a bit.

The last time I did a trail run was the Muir Woods Half Marathon, which took me a little over 3 hours to complete.

Training Plan

I’m thinking that the key to finishing Diablo is to pace myself slower than my normal marathon time. To do that, I’m going to focus on longer, slower runs or rucks which conditions my body to sustain movement for long periods of time (like 4+ hours).

I’m also going to be doing another Goruck challenge on March 9th which is usually 12+ hours of Good Livin’ followed by Fight for Air Climb on March 23rd. Both of those will be a good gut check for the April 20th Diablo Trails.

I’ll also throw in some strength and sprint work outs to increase my muscle strength.

What that looks like each week is as follows:

  • Monday — Rest or Stretching

  • Tuesday — Running or Swimming

  • Wednesday — Circuit Training (5 x 5, etc)

  • Thursday — Running

  • Friday — Circuit Training ( 5 x 5, etc) or Swimming

  • Saturday — Circuit Training ( 5 x 5, etc)

  • Sunday — Long run or rucking or sleeping

A Lot of Help And Motivation From Friends

Joel Runyon, over at the Impossible HQ, finished the Chicago Ultra Marathon and wrote a great post about it.

I’m just a little competitive with Joel (I’m not even sure he knows that :)) since we have the same can do, nothing is impossible kind of attitude and he is trying to make a dent in the universe.

I’m also part of Goruck NorCal who are a great bunch of Gorucktards who motivate each other to push hard and play even harder. No one exemplifies Good Livin’ like they do.

What About You?

What races or events are you doing this year? It does not need to be anything extreme to make a difference. Just pick something and do it.

Simple Ways to Workout While Traveling


Regularly, I find myself traveling for either work or pleasure. During these travel times, my normal workout routine gets interrupted.

On top of that, it’s incredibly hard to get a work out in if I’m jet lagged or just plain lagging (most likely from too much food and booze).

In order to maintain my fitness levels and my sanity while on the road, I try to get in a modified workout whenever I can. Some of my favorite travel workout hacks are presented below:

Bring Equipment With You

I always bring my workout clothes, Teva’s, resistance bands and a jump rope with me on every trip. It’s a good way to remind myself that I should do something to maintain my fitness level.

When I get to my destination, I even put the gear in a place where I’ll either look at it when I get up or trip over it on my way out. That way, it’s always on my mind.

I tend to travel light (at most a backpack and a roll on) so I only carry one set of workout gear which means it can get a little ripe during traveling.

One great trick I learned was to bring packets of Woollite with me and wash my gear in the sink. That way, I have a fresh set of clothes for my workouts.

Sometimes it can be hard to drip dry them, depending on the place. A couple of great hacks for that is either use the blowdryer or iron to get that last little bit of moisture out.

I know it may sound kinda vain or even odd but believe me, clean work out gear helps make your travel partner(s) a lot happier.

Book A Hotel with a Gym

Most decent hotels (and even some motels) have gyms. Some can be awful but most will have a treadmill, stationary bike and/or set of weights.

All you really need for an effective travel workout is some sort of cardo equipment and maybe some weights.

If you can’t book a hotel with a gym, then the equipment you bring with you will have to do (See the travel workouts below for a great set that will keep you interested and energized to work out on the road).

Wake Up Early

I find myself wanting to work out in the morning while on the road. This stems from all the activities that tend to either bleed into the night or dinners with co-workers or clients.

Getting up early to work out makes it a lot easier to stick with a routine and gets the blood pumping especially if you have jet lag or a tad to much to eat or drink (which rarely ever happens :)).

Do a Quickie Before Bed

If I can’t get a workout in during the morning, then a quick one before bed is good but not ideal.

My before bed workout will be a little different and not as intense simply because, at least for me, it usually pumps me up so I can’t sleep.

Eat Light and Take Vitamins

Traveling wrecks havoc on my diet. I just can’t help eating more especially if I’m out with clients or work mates.

The downside to eating heavy and late is that it interrupts my sleep and makes me feel kinda blah.

Luckily, I have started to cut down on eating heavy in favor of eating lighter meals not so late at night. Sure, I sometimes have that fantastic meal that puts me in a food coma but I pay for it later on.

One other important aspect of a travel diet is vitamins. Even if you don’t routinely take vitamins it’s a pretty good idea to take them when you travel since traveling takes a lot out of you.

Hydration is also critical while traveling. Drink more water than you normally do so you can adjust to the lack of sleep and different climates.

Enlist Travel Mates

Any time I travel with others I always try and recruit them to work out with me. There is something about the peer pressure that drives me and them to make our workout date.

Even if your travel mate is not at the same level it’s just great to encourage each other to get in the gym and stay healthy.

My Favorite Travel Workouts

Some of my favorite on the road workout take about 30 minutes and are meant to keep up my level of fitness instead of building on it.

The next time you find yourself traveling, consider giving these workouts a try:

  • Explore the area: One of my favorite things to to is run around a city. Ask the front desk if they know of any trails around the area.

  • Modified Murph’s: Murph’s consist of a 1 mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and then another 1 mile run. That’s a little too much for travel so I usually to 5-10 reps of 5, 10 and 15 each book ended by the runs.

  • Gym Brick: If the gym you are in has both a treadmill and a bike, then I sometimes will do a mini-brick (bike then run). That’s a great way to break up the workout.

  • Simple Swim: Most hotel pools are short and can be too crowded to do a real workout. The next best thing is to do 15 minutes of a mix of free and fly. That way you get the maximum benefit from your time in the pool.

  • Five by Fives: These are pretty fun if the hotel’s gym is well equipped. Basically, you do 5 cycles of 5 exercises with some rest in between. You get to pick which ones to do. My favorite is push-ups, squats, jump rope, bicep curls and lat pull-downs.

Doing Anything Will Help

Most fitness experts agree that doing at least 20 minutes of exercise a day will benefit you. When you find yourself on the road, schedule in some fitness time. It will make your trip a lot more enjoyable.

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Vineman Training Update #3 – Beaten Up But Not Broken

Sign outside Walden House That Reminds Us to Look Forward Not Backward

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday — Navy Seal Motto

Man, I’m I sick of training. Everything hurts especially my left shoulder. I couldn’t even swim today it was so soar.

Feel sorry for me. Well, don’t.

Today was a tough day of many tough days but it was also the point I turned the corner.

That corner was it’s worth the pain. It’s worth the struggle. It’s worth getting up early to run. It’s worth the soreness, cramps and fatigue. It’s all worth it because I’m doing it for me.

Like Joel’s post on not wanting to do wind sprints, he did them anyway. Not because anyone was looking. Not because he wanted to brag. He did those wind sprints in the cold and rain for him.

I’m about a month and a half away from Vineman. I’m nervous. I’m emotional. I’m pushing my limits but most of all, I’m proud of myself for sticking with it and not quitting.

For those of you who feel like quitting, don’t.

For those of you who struggle, keep going.

For those of you who can’t seem to find direction, choose a path.

Life is not easy. It’s full of struggles, setbacks, triumphs, heartbreaks and sorrows. It’s when we push past our limits and extend beyond ourselves that we appreciate that whatever path we take, we have to enjoy the journey — pain and all.


Vineman Training Update #2 – Roman Style Running

The other day I was on a training run and another runner passed me and said.

“Hey, you run Roman Style”


It took me a couple of moments to realize that he was referring to my sandals.

You see, I run in Teva Sandals — Men’s Hurricane XLT’s to be precise.

At first, people think I’m weird. How can you run in sandals? Why do you run in sandals?

Running in Sandals

My journey into sandal running started with the book Born to Run. I originally started running with Vibram 5 fingers but the fit was never perfect and I ended up hyperextending my toe (yeah, sounds hard to do but I did it).

Anyway, after I healed, I went back to shoes and found it to be horrible. So, I tried sandals and found that it gave me the same barefoot running stride without mashing my toes.

An added side effect of sandal running is that my feet never get cold. I’m not sure why. Maybe Cody Lundin has the answer (I remember that it has something to do with capillaries in your feet being conditioned to increase blood flow or something like that.)

One thing I also like about sandal running is that I don’t get black and blue toenails anymore. I used to get that all the time but now, my toes are beautiful (those are mine in the photo) and I don’t have to worry about broken nails or ingrown toenails.

In The Build Phase

Right now, I’m in the build phase where I will need to increase my overall training time. Most of that will be on the bike. Right now, I’m up to 3 hours on Saturdays with a two hour run on Sundays. This will peak at about 5 hours on the bike and a 3 hour run.

Onward to Vineman!

P.S. If you did not catch it, here is my first Vineman Training Update


Vineman Training Update #1 – Practicing Darth Vader Breathing

Lover's Lane in San Francisco's Presido

It’s been nearly 10 weeks since I started training for Vineman and so far so good.

There has been challenging times like adjusting my swimming schedule, doing bricks on Wednesday morning and making sure I eat and hydrate appropriately. I now have found my rhythm

My long runs are now up to 1.5 hours and my long bikes are 2.5 hours which will start to increase steadily over the next ten weeks (peaking at 4 hours before the final 10 week push begins).

So far (knock on wood) no injuries and I’m feeling pretty good about meeting the challenge (although I still feel that pit in my stomach now and then).

Training Schedules Are Key

One of the things I did was to lay out my training schedule in Excel. I know, kinda nerdy but it helps me plan my training and my life.

As my training model, I’m using Be Iron Fit by Don Fink. It’s a great book and has a lot of practical advice on training and making the time to train.

Don’s training plans go in three, ten week cycles and he has three different programs (competitive, just finish and intermediate). I’m doing the intermediate program.

All three have a base phase, build phase and peak phase which increases duration and intensity as you train for the event. By gradually increase your time and intensity, you build your body up to take on the Ironman distance challenge.

The training schedule I’m using is listed below:

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim/Run

  • Wednesday: Bike/Run

  • Thursday: Swim/Bike

  • Friday: Run (Swim will be added during the build phase)

  • Saturday: Long Bike

  • Sunday: Long Run

The one thing that I have learned to really appreciate is the rest day. In the past, I would train everyday and thought that was the best way to get better. It turns out, I was wrong.

Rest is just as important as activity because your body needs time to absorb all that training and recover from stress and strain you put it under.

Rest days are also great for getting errands done and hanging out with family and friends.

Darth Vader Breathing

One thing I’m experimenting with is breathing. I first found out about the importance of breathing after reading Body, Mind and Sport by John Douillard. In the book, Dr. Douillard explains why nose breathing (instead of mouth breathing) is not only more efficient but makes you more relaxed. I won’t get into all the science behind it but when you practice breathing through your nose, you slow down, you are more conscious of your movements and your heart rate drops. It takes time and patience but when done right, you always feel in the zone.

The best way to describe the technique is to breath so you sound like Darth Vader. At first, this is going to be really, really hard. It just does not feel natural to breath through your nose while running or biking but after a while (weeks to months), you will start to feel more relaxed and actually refreshed after a workout.

Building Phase is Next

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll start the building phase of my training which will increase the intensity and duration. I’ll also add another swim to the mix. Thankfully, the weather has been kind to me and I hope it continues that way. Onward to Vineman!

My Impossible Goal: Ironman in 2012

I just read this great post by Joel Runyon over at Blog of Impossible Things. It inspired me to go public with my Impossible 2012 Goal: Finish an Ironman. Specifically, the Vineman in July.

I did sorta let the cat out of the bag in Just Enough and Just In Time Leadership but I figured why not just come out and boldly say:

My Impossible Goal for 2012 is to Finish an Ironman

What’s an Ironman

I’m sure most of you have heard of an Ironman but don’t really know what it entails. Here is a brief overview:

  • 2.4 Mile Open Water Swim (Ocean, Lake or River. Wetsuit optional below 78 F)

  • 112 Mile Bike Ride

  • 26.2 Mile Run

Presently, the World Record (set at Ironman Mecca, Kona Hawaii) is 7:41:33 by Andreas Raelert in 2011. I’m not hoping for anything near that nor could I even get close. All I care about is finishing.

Triathletes are part of the growing class of athletes called endurance athletes who compete in multi-event and sometimes multi-day races.

Why Triathlon Let Along an Ironman?

For triathletes, the Ironman is the ultimate for the sport. It’s the achievement that truly shows your dedication, courage and conditioning to become an Ironman. It’s also been a dream of mine ever since I did my first Tri in 2006.

Another important reason I do triathlons is to stay in shape and not revert back to my days of being overweight. It was pretty depressing to let myself go after college and balloon to an unhealthily weight.

To put that in perspective, I used to run in High School. Back then, I was 165 lbs (6’ 1” Tall). After college, I weighted 225 lbs. Now, I hover around 180 lbs, which is a great weight for me.

Making the Impossible, Possible

What really resonates with me about Joel’s blog is that he challenges people to rethink what’s possible. I really like that because most of us (me included) can’t wrap our heads around something we have either never done or feel is out of our abilities. That is something all of us need to break out of.

For me, impossible is only impossible if you don’t have a plan to make it possible.

If Endorphin Dude Can Do It, So Can I

My goal might seem impossible but Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen’s goal was shear crazy — 52 Marathons in 52 Weeks but he ended up doing it. His goal was a monumental achievement that took a tremendous amount of planning and endurance to pull off. He got through it with lots of support from his friends and fellow Marathon Maniacs!

Surviving Road Ahead With Your Help

I have about 30 weeks to train for this Ironman. Thankfully, I have trained before and just need to focus on getting the hours of training up (it peaks at about 15-20 hours a week). It’s going to be tough but I’m up for the challenge but I know I’ll need some help.

That’s where you come it.

I’ll periodically post updates on my training progress and the parallels to leadership. I’m also planning on participating in the Impossible League to get that extra boost when times get tough. If you are doing something impossible or just want to cheer me on, please post a comment or send me a note (either here or over at the Impossible League).

Onward to Vineman!