A Soft Landing

Sometime during the course of this month, I technically completed this long hybrid round. Though, it was only yesterday that I actually “checked off” my final Tai Cheng Neural reboot in preparation for a singles tennis match. The 147 day hybrid as planned sounds long and in actuality it took more like around 200 days to complete with interruptions from vacations, tennis matches and the common cold.

Yet it’s not really that “long” per se. Over the course of the round it cycles up and down in difficulty each week, punctuated with recovery weeks, scheduled (and unscheduled) recovery times. The nice thing about where I am at this point is that when I modify a few days–or stop altogether–I know I will resume. I trust myself to do that. Consequently, I’m uninjured. No overuse injuries from working out or injuries from tennis play. This is the “sweet spot” and the entire point of exercising to begin with.

The only nit with this workout regimen is that my cardio endurance is somewhat less  than say two years ago. I recognize that at 54 years old I’m also two years older and that is certainly a factor. I have learned that for me, at my age, it’s vital to incorporate adequate recovery time, especially when I’m playing singles tennis. For the past two singles tennis seasons, I’ve moved up a level and my results (score-wise. win-wise) have suffered. Yet, I’m stronger and moving well. I’m trying to learn how to play a more forward, aggressive style and stop punishing myself with endless running down of every ball, just because I can. I may win the point, game, set or match that way, but it’s also a recipe for injury. And injury is to be avoided. It puts me in a bad mindset because, injured, I can’t play and it’s difficult to exercise as I would like.

When I began this round in August 2016, I was dealing with a tweaked, weakened right shoulder. But I continued to do the kettlebell routines with my lowest 8 kg bell. I stayed at that weight for about 5 weeks with my weekly kettlebell day. The shoulder improved and (along with everything else) got stronger. By the end of this round I was swinging the 20 kg bell for most of my routines.

Back in August, I started this round weighing in at 160 pounds. Now, I’m still 160. I continue to believe I should be at 155, maybe even 150. Yet I give myself some latitude because 1) I’m still doing around 100 cumulative pull ups on certain pull up days and 2) my legs, back, chest and shoulders are bigger and stronger.

So, in all, this “Mother of all Hybrids” combo of P90X, X2, X3, Insanity and Skogg Kettlebell has been good for me. I expect to focus a bit more on the kettlebells, complemented with yoga, in the near term before re-starting this hybrid again.

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2016’s Top 10 Posts

top10-2016Once again, it’s time to commemorate the year’s top 10 posts for this blog. The Top 10 represent the posts which have the most visits during the course of the calendar year. Given this, recent posts are at a disadvantage because they haven’t has as much time to accumulate hits.  Again this year, the tennis elbow saga dominated the hit list. So much so, that I should probably petition to get a commission of Thera-band revenues.

But it wasn’t all about recovery. P90X/Insanity related posts remain popular as well as my rants about getting a scholarship in the State of Georgia.

This year, my posts about several of my hiking exploits came to the fore. I’m glad to see that as these reflect the fruits of my labor, as it were. I haven’t been very good at blogging this year, mostly because it’s not so interesting to me to keep reporting on the same exercise routines I’ve been doing for up to six years now. But, rest assured, I’m still at it. And I continue to enjoy and get much utility out of the kettlebell (item 8 below).

  1. Tennis Elbow Rehab with the Thera-band Flexbar & Tyler-Twist Protocol
  2. My P90X-Insanity Hybrid Review & Results
  3. The Zell Miller Scholarship GPA Requirement is Seriously Flawed
  4. Into the Tetons. Our 4 Day Backpacking Trip Along the Teton Crest Trail
  5. P90X-Insanity Hybrid, Day 0: Fit Test & Schedule
  6. Hiking the Grand Canyon: South Kaibab/Tonto/Bright Angel Loop
  7. Zillertaler Runde / Berliner Höhenweg 2015: Hut to Hut Hiking in Tirol, Austria
  8. Round 13: Skogg Roots
  9. My P90X Review
  10. Pitztaler Runde 2013: Hut to Hut Hiking in Tirol, Austria

Thanks for visiting this blog. Have a happy and healthy New Year!


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Ich liebe die Freiheit


Now, one day after the massacre at Berlin’s Christkindlmarkt, don’t expect me to express my solidarity with the people of Germany by sharing any vapid, meaningless, hashtags or profile picture changes exclaiming “ich bin ein Berliner,” or “Pray for Germany.”
Even if these had any value, how could one reasonably keep up with the demands of expressing constant compassion for: Paris, Belgium, Nice, Cologne, London, Paris, Paris, Grafing, Malmo, und so weiter?

And how much compassion can one reasonably muster up when the victims are perhaps the greatest deniers of the very reality mowing them down? Western civilization in Europe, apparently, isn’t dying off fast enough vis-à-vis the population’s collective decision to not reproduce. No, this bizarre, macabre dance with death must go full-on jitterbug by importing and paying the tormentors to express their grievances at our Christmas markets, soccer matches, dance clubs and topless beaches.

It’s a mental disorder of the highest degree, this insane compulsion of so many in society to deny reality. I subscribe to various German news publications so my Facebook feed is full of the news stories of the day reported through German eyes. As Mark Steyn observes, there were, indeed, the obligatory headlines describing the event as a “truck crash.” But, the German comments, by Germans, peppered below these news pieces escalate the denial by describing the “event” variously as: “Goddamned 2016,” “humanity,” and “religion.” Along with the obligatory: “you cannot judge,” and “terrorism speaks for no religion.”

When it is forbidden and racist to use your mind to know and to judge (which is to think and be fully human), then events like yesterdays are mystical, unknowable things, where the cause can be attributed to “the year,” “all of mankind,” or “all religions.”

The multi-cultural ethos relieves the adherent from the obligation to know–to know anything at all about the culture, religion or tribe they are celebrating. And in that vacuum of complete ignorance, without standards, without value, everything is indeed the same.

Nature, unfortunately, abhors a vacuum. And so it fills rather quickly.

Yesterday, it filled with blood.

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The Culture.

Our culture is expressed each day in the work that we do, the hand we extend, the garden we tend, the wealth we create and the love we share. The yawp of life and liberty. That is the bounty of America.

Let’s together animate the better angels of our nature in tender pursuit of happiness.

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tennisNow 36 days into this hybrid, I have to say I’m feeling satisfied with my progress. My shoulder is slowly improving. I’ve been able to play tennis again. I even signed up and played my first match of the singles tennis fall season.

I attribute my progress to date to several factors:

  1. This hybrid round ramps up in difficulty over three weeks, then includes a recovery week, then ramps up again in the same cycle. This prevents me from over-taxing myself.
  2. I continue to swing the kettlebell light. The first 4 weeks, I kept it at 8 kg. Now, I’m using the 12 kg and dropping to the 8er for high pulls and snatches. This keeps my shoulder happy.
  3. I do Tai Cheng Neural Reboot or X3 Yoga prior to tennis play. I refrain from other workouts when playing tennis. This obviously extends the duration of this hybrid. But it also prevents me from overdoing it.

Thus, I am in pursuit of a long, ego-less round. I want to work the cardio, endurance and to a lesser degree, strength. I played a two set singles tennis match yesterday in 95 degree heat. I basically won by having more endurance than my opponent (7-6, 6-2). So, even though I’m not 100%, it was a good feeling to be able to push through that heat to a win. The legs felt very good. I give the kettlebell work a lot of credit for overall strengthening of my legs.

Also, it’s been three years since I’ve done the original 60 minute long P90X workouts. I can state unequivocally now that they are more difficult than X2 or X3. Just sayin’.

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A Weak Week

Nutella-pudding1One week into this round, I can confidently report that taking two months off of any resistance exercise results in material gains in weakness.

Some of this weakness is out of respect for my still compromised right shoulder. In each routine, I reduced weight amounts from prior levels. But even still, at the close of week 1, I am sore as can be.

Even with The Challenge, at only 5 pull ups and 15 push ups per set, I was humbled with total body soreness for two days after.

And with today’s kettlebell routine (after a rest day), at Level 4 with an 8 kg bell, I was like the tin man when I started. The good news is that after the first round, blood flow lubricated my muscles making the subsequent rounds very productive. It remains a good decision to stay low with that 8 kg bell. With it, I’m doing more, good form reps and good, very deep squats.

My hope is that by not “pushing it” I’m getting a decent workout, good cardio and rehabbing my shoulder. So far, I’m satisfied that I’m accomplishing this.

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Round 16: The Mother of All Hybrids

P90X_X2_Round-16It’s with some trepidation that I am re-entering the blogosphere and dipping my toes into a new and extended workout round.

Why? Well since completing my last round, now over two months ago, I’ve been in general “recovery mode” playing some mixed doubles tennis, doing yoga and listening to Mozart operas. It’s also been something of an extended recovery period because at some point I did something to the back of my right shoulder that was causing discomfort and weakness. Range of motion wasn’t really compromised, though. So while this annoyance was happening, I stopped tennis play and just did yoga (and opera).

After a month and a half of no tennis, I played a recreational mixed doubles match only to find that the shoulder felt better the next day. And that better feeling continued to the next day, and the day after that. OK, that was weird. I still feel some minor irritation, but nothing like prior to playing that match.  Could it be that swinging my arm released some kind of impingement? Well I guess we’re about to find out.

After about five days of my shoulder feeling better, and bored as hell with yoga, I decided to try starting up my self-designed, 20 week P90X/X2/X3/Insanity/Skogg Kettlebell regimen. I started today with the kettlebell via the Skogg Roots workout. I opted to go full Level 4, but with my lightest 8 kg bell. Doing Level 4 gave me a decent cardio workout. And keeping it light with the 8 kg kettlebell allowed me to focus on form, do really good, deep squats, and test out that shoulder.

The shoulder felt ok throughout the routine. I’ll have a better sense of everything tomorrow morning, but so far I’m doing fine. It felt good to be back at it.

What about the opera? Well, kudos to Mozart for keeping me sane while in low activity mode. Perhaps I’ll write about that at some point. For now, let me just say that opera on blu-ray can be very enriching. Uncompressed sound, high definition picture and English subtitles combine to create a captivating experience.

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Round 15 Hybrid Complete

doneThis post is a little late in coming, but just to tie this round up with a bow: I completed this hybrid on May 29, 2016.

In all, it took me 118 days to complete this 111 day Hybrid, begun on February 1.

I started this round at 160 lbs and finished this round at 165 lbs.

That’s tough to type. Back in the day, a few years ago, I was a steady 150 lbs. I’ve been gradually creeping up since. I’m willing to concede that some of this may actually be blamed on muscle gain. Since I started with the kettle bell, my thighs have gotten bigger. And there ain’t no fat in my legs. Neither in my shoulders and arms. But there’s no way I’ve gained 15 lbs of muscle mass. No, the fat resides as a sort of “modesty shield” covering my awesome abs. It’s there to make me more approachable and less intimidating to others.

This is all so much whining though, as I’m feeling in pretty decent shape.

Summer mixed doubles tennis starts this weekend and I’m looking forward to it. That knee/hamstring issue that began last June (!) is now almost fully resolved. Since completing this round, I’ve been doing Tai Chi and the Tai Cheng Neural Reboot each day. Just doing that has improved my range of motion to now be essentially the same on both legs. Still, I opted out of summer singles play. I plan to start that up in the Fall.

I must say I really enjoyed this hybrid. The variety. The mixing in routines of varying duration. I placed the recovery periods at good points where they turned out to be needed. Overall strength improved well. Pull ups improved throughout as well (even with the added weight gain).

So, this may me the new normal for me: extended regimens that incorporate a variety of workouts from multiple sources. I’m planning to take some time off, just focusing on walking, tennis, yoga and Tai Chi before starting up again. I drafted up another hybrid that incorporates P90X and Insanity along with P90X2, X3 and the kettlebell. The Mother of All Hybrids is what I’m calling it. Because of all the routines, it will extend to about 150 days. I plan to start up with that at some point this summer.

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Round 15: Everything is Awesome Edition

the-lego-movie-awesome-e1392309318427Today, I’m at week 10, day 67 of this hybrid round. Everything, as they say, is awesome because I’m on schedule and things continue to trend well.

No injuries. Strength, mobility and flexibility are gaining. Tennis play is improving, with actual wins on the doubles court. I’m still not playing singles and am refraining from doing so this summer as well. While I’m moving fairly well now in doubles, I can tell the demands of singles would really overtax my knee/hamstring.

With the kettlebell, I’m swinging that 20 kg bell a bit longer before retreating to the 16 and the 12, depending on the routine. I remain happy with the structure of this hybrid. It seems to offer up recovery days just as I need them. This is good because I’ve been messing around with structuring another hybrid that incorporates P90X and Insanity along with P90X2, X3 and the kettlebell. The Mother of All Hybrids is what I’m calling it. Because of all the routines, it will extend to about 150 days. I hope to try it out beginning this summer sometime.

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Round 15: Strength in Numbers

strength-in-numbersToday begins week 7 of this 16 week hybrid round. And while some days are better than others, the general trend is one of increasing strength and muscle gain. I’ve expressed this gain with the purchase of a new, 20 kg (44 lbs) kettlebell. It’s very satisfying that I’ve gone from swinging a 16er for about half my rounds, to now starting out with the 20 and falling back to the 16 as my baseline bell.

So things are generally trending well. My injured knee/hamstring issue continues its healing. I’ve introduced deeper squats and moderate plyo into my routines. Movement on the tennis court is getting better. Hiking and backpacking performance is decent. Range of motion in yoga routines is getting closer to normal on the injured side.

In February, I went on our Troop’s annual backpacking trip to Pine Mountain, Georgia. We hiked 10 miles the first day. 10 miles is a pretty good distance with a full pack. As is usual for me, around mile 8, the tendons around my knees started getting bitchy. Likewise, with the better weather, I’ve started doing a 5.5 mile loop hike down by the river near my house. My time is good, but my steps lack that plyo spring I enjoy when in very good shape. So the 8 mile backpacking knee pain and the lack or elan in my hiking steps are why I characterize my performance as “decent,” as opposed to something more exuberant.

Also, since I’m sort of complaining, there is still zero weight loss. And it’s definitely not because of all the awesomeness and muscle gain I’ve developed. It’s that damn belly fat. I’ve resolved to work harder at it because it’s really starting to bug me. It’s also, I know, at the root of what’s slowing me down.

On the positive side, pull ups are getting stronger, even though I’m pulling up 10 lbs more weight. So the optimist would say I’m enjoying the cost savings of not needing to purchase a weighted vest to make my pull ups more challenging. I would say: lose the weight and do more pull ups! So far, it’s the pull ups that are proving the most draining, particularly the needed ab effort. Two days afterwards, I still feel it.

Kettlebell day today.

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