04 June 2011

Ask the Asshole #10- There's Nothing Fun About Fun Runs

You guys definitely outdid yourselves on the weird questions this time, which ranged from more questions about running (aka my favorite thing ever) to misinterpretations of shit I've written, to utter gibberish.  Shit kept me in the library though, so I enjoyed it.  Keep 'em coming.

Q: On to my actual question:  I am doing the Tough Mudder event here in Virginia in October, which if you don't know is an endurance event including an approximately 12 kilometer run interspersed with obstacles such as greased monkey bars, log carries up a ski slope, etc.  Do you have a recommendation on how to continue CnP while preparing or even use CnP to prepare.  I'm currently running intervals (jog, run, sprint) on a horse trail near my house.  I'm also doing high rep bodyweight shit like pull-ups, dips, hand-stand push-ups.  I've been doing quick Clean&Press with 135 for 10x3.  I'm having trouble with deciding how much heavy squatting/lifting as a whole I should be doing simultaneously with this.  Is there anything you can suggest?  The web site suggests doing nothing but high rep body weight stuff with distance running.  Most of the posts on message boards say that they didn't run enough in prep.  So, I guess I'll keep up the running...but I can't imagine just doing walking lunges and push-ups until October.


A:  Not to put too fine a point on it, but their advice is downright rucking retarded.  Even triathletes train with weights, and they all look like fucking Auschwitz interns. From my cursory examination of a couple of triathlete magazines, and the Triathlete magazine training book, the advice given on the Tough Mudder website is worse that fucking useless.  

For starters, the race is one of intervals.  As such, you should be training for intervals.  I've covered interval training rather extensively in the past, so I won't get too deep into it.  Go here for my blog on intervals and here for info on endurance training.  That should not, however, constitute your entire training routine for a couple of reasons:  
1) there's no reason to derail all of your training progress for what amounts to a glorified fun run.  
2)  Weight training will definitely help get you through an obstacle course.  The stronger you are, the less an obstacle will appear as such.  If you've got a longshoreman's grip that allows you to crush unopened beer cans, greased monkey bars are fucking child's play.  If you can do heavy jump squats, vaulting logs or the lazy assbag who's collapsed in front of you is a joke.  Thus, you should be lifting hard and heavy, on the regular.  

One thing I will recommend, however, is circuit training.  Not all of your workouts need to be circuits, but it'd definitely behoove you to mix them into the rotation.  I'm not sure what your program looks like right now, but I'll go ahead and guess that you, like most people, train four or five times a week.  As such,I'd make two of those workouts into circuits.  Randy Couture recommends them throughout the training routines in Xtreme Training, and given that he's widely acknowledged to be one of the best-conditioned athletes in the sport, I'd say that bears considering.  I occasionally throw circuits into my training to change shit up, but you've got to ensure that you're basically in the gym by yourself, because you're going to use a lot of barbells at once.  Obviously, using dumbbells will reduce the amount of gym-hogging you'll do, but if you're doing overhead press or benching, I'd advise against using dumbbells.  While I've got about as much interest in gym safety as high school kids seem to have regard for correct form and usage of the English language, I see no reason to do something in the gym that's almost certain to end in catastrophic injury, which is what you're doing if you're putting two dumbbells over your head or face while exhausted.  
Obviously, the Crossfitters are already in the house.

Another thing I'd recommend is combining your running and lifting.  Take a page out of Crossfitters' books and starting incorporating anything from a half mile to a mile "sprint" into your training, so that you're doing your lifting and running in a fatigued state.  If you occasionally picked a day and did nothing but 10 rep sets on deadlift supersetted with a run, you'd definitely not be doing yourself a disservice.  I'd initially thought of suggesting 200 yd to 800 yd sprints, but given that the course is 10 miles long, you'll need to kick it up a notch.

That fucking thing looks like a bitch, by the way.
Somehow, I don't think tubby finished.

Q:  Thanks for the reference to the "B in beginner doesn't stand for bitch" blog.  It help and I modified my workout accordingly.  However,  I have never been this sore in my life.  I know that you oppose off days and consider them the scum of existence, but should I take them If I am sore?  I think I read somewhere on CnP that if you're sore, you can do body weight exercises until you get back on the saddle.  True or not?

A: I'm not sure that I ever characterized off days as the "scum of existence"- it's not as though I want to round them all up, feed them a massive feast, and then nail the door shut and set it on fire while they're eating.  I'm, unfortunately, no Vlad the Impaler.  There've definitely been forthnights during which I've not taken an off day, but that's the exception rather than  the rule.  I generally take a day off every week.  My problem with the concept of off days and weeks stems more from a hatred of how weak we've become as a species, in addition to the fact that most people simply repeat bullshit that they've read in numerous places as if it's gospel, never knowing why the authors made the recommendations they made.  In the case of off days, authors have made those recommendations because they're dogmatic idiots with no idea whatSiff 443, quoting Selye) 

I realize that this makes the entire concept of overtraining seem somewhat obtuse, but strap on your thinking cap, because it's about to get downright labrinthine. Excessive training comes in two forms- acute and chronic.  Acute overtrainging is just overreaching, and that's how you progress as a human in anything.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, motherfucker.  Chronic overtraining is usually the purview of idiots who train light and at great length, like the college chicks you'll occasionally see pass right the fuck out on the treadmill.  As there's little on Earth funnier than watching a sorostitute blast her ultrawhite teeth on the control panel of her hamster wheel, we shouldn't really try to prevent chronic overtraining.  If you've managed to train with ulta-high weights so frequently that your PRs have dropped by 25%, started weeping at the end of American Wedding, and you've got mysterious sores for which you cannot account, you've either got the AIDS or you're somehow managed to overcome your body's efforts to keep itself in working order.  That type of overtraining, by the way, is called B-overtraining (Basedowic), and is marked by exhaustion, fever blisters and headaches, high blood pressure, and an increased resting heart rate.  The other type of of overtraining is A-overtraining (Addisonic), and is usually just marked by diminished performance.  (Siff 442-3)  Either way, taking time off from the gym isn't your only option- your options are basically limited only by your budget and imagination.  Massage, extra sleep, therapy, yoga, baths... the list is pretty much endless.  

Here's what I used when I was training 10-12 times a week:  

  • hot baths in Epsom salts
  • long walks
  • self-massage with a Theracane

Remember: training while sore isn't a problem- training while crippled is.  Make sure you drink a ton of water, and the bodyweight exercises on off days will help work out the kinks.  For beginners, I'd recommend 3-4 days of weightlifting and 1-2 days of bodyweight stuff for a total of 5 days a week, until you're accustomed to that volume of training.  For more on determining ideal exercise frequency, go here, here, here, and here.
Stretching helps, too.
Q: Re the ABCDE diet [which I blogged about here]- If you overeat all the time and skip the undereating phase entirely, will that net you muscle still or will it be mostly fat? 

A: That's not the ABCDE diet at all.  That's called the see-food diet, and it's way most powerlifters eat.  You'll get fatter and gain muscle simultaneously.

Q: I'm wondering if you could help me out a bit more than your entire blog seems to be able to do.  I've read the entire thing, put it into practice as far as training and eating and have made considerable strength gains in the past 6 months.  So, for that I am thankful.  One area I am having a problem in is getting leaner.  I have followed a low-carb/keto diet for the past six months and my body fat has not dropped below 13-14% according to this accu-measure caliper I bought.  My weight has not moved a bit either.  I've been at 180 pounds for months.  

This is all a bit confusing to me as I have increased my training frequency to twice per day Monday - Friday and include intervals on Saturdays.  I track all of my food intake and only break on Saturdays for a carb day.  

A: As for leaning out, I've found that what works best for anyone at any given time is not always the thing that's going to work best at another.  Dieting really seems to be more of an art than a science, in my experience, especially if you're trying to get leaner and stronger at the same time.  One thing I've been doing is fluctuating my caloric intake widely- I'll have a day or two of low cal, low carb, low-to medium fat, high protein, and then higher fat, then low, etc, until two days of high carbs with one cheat meal.  That seems to be working well.  Going strict keto (low fat and carb) 5 days a week for a while seems to work nicely.
No idea what her diet is like, but it's working.

Q: What brand of lifting straps do you like? Or does it matter? 

A: I use Spud straps.  I got them at Nutrition Warehouse.  I linked it for ease of finding the straps- they're made from tow straps, and they're badass.  They're a bit of a bitch to break in, though, so I'll blog about doing that soon.  I've had more straps break while shrugging than I can count, which while hilarious to see sucks, I always punch myself in the mouth, and it's a shitty way to end a good shrug workout.  Thus, it matters.

Q: Hey man, have been reading your blog for merely 2 months, but I think you are great. I'm blithe to hear that there will be a new ASK THE ASSHOLE. Well
-How to increase pullups without tendinitis?
-Is it really necessary to train 5 days a week to become strong? Why? I train with sandbags and bodyweight 3 days a weak and give it all in the 30 minutes. However I don't feel like progressing a lot.

A:  The pullup question is interesting, as I have no earthly idea where you've got tendinitis?  I'm guessing it's not your cock, but outside of that, I've got no idea.  The best way to get good at pullups, though, is to do them often.  If you cannot do a pullup initially, start by only doing the eccentric portion of the lift- the negative.  Jump to the top and lower yourself as slowly as you can.  Do a few sets of as many as you can every day.  You'll be doing pullups in no time.  As for the tendinitis, take a combination of ibuprofen and aspirin in a 3:1 ratio.  I take 6 ibuprofen and 2 aspirin 3 times a day when I've had tendinitis.
As for the second part of your question, I've no fucking idea what you mean again.  Is it necessary?  Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine?  No, but it's sterile, and I like the taste.  Workout frequency should be dictated by personal preference, time constraints, level of interest, and your ability to recover.  I train 5 or 6 days a week because I enjoy it.  There are plenty of people who are plenty strong who don't lift at all, so "necessary" doesn't really enter into the equation.  If you want to read more about training frequency, I linked those blogs in a previous question.

Kudos on your weird and archaic usage of "blithe", but you used the wrong "week", which fucked you up a bit.  Fucking homonyms.
This thing ran long and I ran short of funny, so I'll make up for it in tits.

Couture, Randy.  Xtreme Training.
Siff, Mel.  Supertraining.


  1. No questions asked, but great read anyhow. Thanks Jamie!

  2. In regards to climbers elbow from pull-ups I suffered from it too. To the extent that it made me avoid the exercise. Close grip wide grip didn't matter I would work up to about 5 reps and then for the next few days have my elbows bother me in the worst way when extending my arm to it's full length. What I found worked to assuage this problem rather than Aspirin (which did help but is not something I want to take every day) was training opening strength in my hands rather than closing strength. I took the largest rubber bands I could find put them around the outside of my fingers and thumb and spread my hand over and over until it became fatigued. When I could easily do 20 of that motion I would add another band. Never had another problem I typically use 3 to 5 bands depending on how much typing I will do that day. Anecdotal but I hope it's of some use to someone.

  3. With regard to the guy who had the pullup related tendinitis question, I'm wondering the same thing.

    I have it on the inside of my right elbow on the inner forearm area. The tendons are tight and somewhat sore if massaged. I got the injury from doing pullups. I was almost able to do 5 sets of 5 when it happened. Taking 2 weeks off from pullups, icing it, and stretching it seemed to help, but I may have not taken enough time off because doing assisted pullups has slowly brought the pain and soreness back, which is generally negligible, and occasionally annoying but tolerable. I'm more concerned about a more severe injury. My cousin, an ex-collegiate wrestler and now a chiro and MD suggests alternating ice and heat, and massaging it with a PVC pipe. I'm generally anti-medication, but I'm wondering if an anti-inflammatory would help.

  4. Best part of this fucking post:


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hey Jamie, I am looking for some names for a smartphone application that I am developing to keep track of progress and 1RMs. The app development process has been decent, but naming it has gone nowhere.. ie. powerbox, PR.APP, PRorER (jking), etc.. could you suggest a few? or anybody else? thanks beforehand.

  7. Abe - what about a fucking pad and pencil, you moron.

  8. @Rant that never occured to me. Thanks! you are my hero.

  9. thanks for the answer, I was fucking sleepy when I wrote the question
    I can already do 8 pull ups, but I want to raise them.
    and for the training frequency, yeah it was a bit stupid, but thanks anyway

  10. If pull-ups are really that important to you, just lose weight. That's probably the single most effective thing to do to be better at them. Last summer when I cut 30 pounds, I went from doing 15 to 29 in 2 1/2 months without even focusing on pull-ups. That might help your tendinitis thing too. Maybe.

    Obviously the above does not apply to Konstantinov

  11. Why the combination of Advil and Aspirin? I thought that combining two NSAIDs resulted in lower levels of the non-Aspirin NSAID. Cool Blog.

  12. Who gets stressed out about how to train for a mud race? In fact, who trains specifically for a mud race?

    Jamie nailed it on being strong and having wind, but in addition:
    1) show up
    2) have a couple drinks beforehand
    3) go full tilt
    4) hit on muddy chicks at the after party

    That should about do it.

  13. The two painkillers, used in combo, treat both the pain and the inflammation- Aspirin for the pain and Ibuprofen for the inflammation.

  14. I've witnessed these mud races before.
    It's like watching a bunch of retards trying to hump a doorknob out there.

  15. Thanks for the advice on tendinitis

  16. So, you don't know her diet. Do you know her name?

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