Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

I finished with my work for the day and headed to the indoor track to get a workout in. It’s funny, it’s my favorite workout, but also a workout I haven’t done in over 10 years – Fake 8s (or feights), I actually forget what my high school coach used to call them. I’ll go into the details of the requirements of that workout at a later date, but for now what you need to know is that part of the workout entertained the idea of a 60 second quarter-mile.

I get to the indoor track only to find out that there will be a high school meet and there was not enough time to fit the workout in, so I was relinquished to the outdoor track, in the not-so-bitter cold and problematic wind. I toed the line for the first rep and said to myself, “this is gonna suck.” And naturally with that negative mindset came a poor workout. A wholly awful, s—-y workout. The was one of the few workouts I voluntarily cut short, partly due to frustration, but mostly because I just wasn’t ready for the workout — and if I’m not ready, I’m not ready. I need to get the appropriate work in.

I call this workout “This is what 60 seconds feels like, a—–e”

So I came home, fed the dogs, and headed out for a run. I was more than frustrated now, I was angry. I made sure I got a good enough warm-up in before the destruction began. I found a hill nearby and started to go. And the task? To know exactly when I hit 60 seconds while running uphill. Not 59 seconds, not 61 seconds, SIXTY SECONDS – and I had to be able to do it twice (after doing at least 8 reps). This works for me because I can’t necessarily tell exactly how much time has passed while running, even moreso at an especially fatiguing pace.

The workout started out just fine. First few reps I would flip my wrist and snap my head down. “Shoot! 56″…  “Damn.. 61” … “58?.. Really?” And then I of course started keying in on where I was finishing each rep, which I then used to “cheat” myself because I just used my surroundings to tell me my time, as opposed to feeling it. And on my 7th one, when I passed the same parked car that had been sitting there with its engine and lights on for the past 20 minutes for some odd reason while its driver smoked a cigar, I looked down to see 60 seconds had past from my hill start time. (I wasn’t timing these individually, just calculating the difference from a running total time.)

Around the 12th rep of this roughly 220 meter, 100+ft incline the fatigue started to set in. I decided to make an active effort of counting the seconds in my head as I ran, which allowed me to be much closer to my target time on average, but since I have the attention span of a young puppy I often lost track of where I was.  Like on my 15th repeat, when a third of the way up the hill my running on the street at first startled someone on the sidewalk, and then they proceeded to laugh hysterically at the safety vest I was wearing – you know since I was running in the dead of night and all. Seconds later, a driver of a pick-up truck decided he didn’t need to signal that he was making a left turn, which made me “flying” through an intersection very interesting as I had to dart out of the way. So that rep was a wash.

At this point the pace was starting to suffer. Not that I cared much, that wasn’t the point of this workout. (If you forgot the point of this workout you should scroll back up to the part in bold.) I wasn’t getting as far up the hill anymore. People, that for some reason would sit in their cars for 20 minutes at a time, were probably overhearing me curse the workout, curse the hill, curse my time… curse myself. Runner’s high was definitely setting in, and the fear of not being able to complete the workout started to rear its ugly head.

So on the next one I took note of what had been happening with my counting. Seconds were running long, so more often than not, what I thought was sixty seconds was more like 63 seconds. Climbing up the hill, I continued my count.. “Fifty-four, fifty-five, fifty-.. f–k it just look!” And sure enough, I looked down at precisely 60 seconds.

Because of the wishy-wash nature of hitting both 60-second intervals (both kind of being a fluke, and one being in the first 8) I decided that I had to keep going until I hit another one. And somewhere around rep twenty I started to think that if this hill claims my life, in the least it was a valiant effort. Runner’s high was full blown at this point. Gasping for air, bellowing loudly, finding myself in the distraught hands-on-knees runner’s pose. It was getting viscous. I lost count of seconds on multiple occasions as my head wandered off into La La Land. S–t was getting real, there was no end in sight. And then came the 24th rep.

I essentially crawled down the rest loop that I had created and made it back to the start of the hill, approaching it with so much fear… and hesitance… and disbelief. Climbing the hill was much like the others, and the time in my head seemed to sync up with previous efforts and I just prayed that this would be the one. Fortunately enough I stuck to the count, and when I looked down, exactly 60 seconds had passed.

Too tired to be happy, I just stopped, walked up the hill a little bit and started my cooldown. After my mind started to come back down to earth I remember one of my first thoughts being “You know this means you have to do 24 400s in a few days right?” I shuttered, immediately stopped pursuing any thoughts of how miserable that workout was going to be, and just trudged home.



Just so we’re clear, this isn’t the arsonist in me with a passion for flames trying to get people to set fires, though a nice campfire is the s–t. So forget about the pyro in me, the obvious play here is in reference to the classic idiom, which means taking a risk, involving yourself in something that could be dangerous, which is right up my alley. Taking risks and accepting challenges helps me stay above fear. Like heading down a black diamond for the first time (damn, I can’t wait to go boarding) when I knew a nice wipeout awaited me at some point during the downhill. It was best to just suck it up and do it. Clearly I’m sitting here just fine right now, and now I’m terribly certain to do anything but catch the edge of my board. And thus, due to the numerous faceplants, I forced myself to learn the alternative methods of snowboarding survival. And while there are no Black Diamonds on the track or the roads, running has its opportunity for risk-taking.

Play with Fire

So, how do we risk it?

Well, you need a balls-to-the-wall day every now and again. You want to let it all hang out. There are opportunities to play with fire in workouts and in races. When most people run workouts, they run with this fear of bonking, as if  a bad workout is the end of the world. Definitely not the case, but I understand the fear of what feels like a wasted workout. So we tread along through our  interval workouts until we’re close to the end and we realize we have a lot left and we push it to the limit on the last interval. Funny thing is, whether it’s freshmen in high school, freshmen in college, or people new to this type of training, the same thing always happens. There will be a workout where that person decides today is their glory day and finishes first on the team in the last repetition, though they were nowhere near first throughout the entire workout. It happens every. single. year.  That’s one thing I’d bet on if I were a betting man. And the worst part is, you’ve gained so little from that little show, you even end up worse off since you don’t maximize your anaerobic work.

Interval workouts are the best time to give it a go. I look at at this way: Every other sport primarily trains certain skills (in addition to studying film and all the other nonsense I’m glad I never had to do) and it’s all “here’s a situation you will find yourself in on gameday.” And cross-country, track and field, and road runners need to look at their training the same way. It’s all situational and you want your feeling 1/3 of the way through the workout to match that (or honestly feel a little worse) of how you want to feel 1/3 of the way through a race and continue the workout until you are completely gassed approaching your last 1/4 or 1/6th of the work. You want to work past your glycogen depletion. You are teaching both your body and your mind how to react under these extreme circumstances.

Tune-up races are also a good opportunity, since they’re not what you’re truly training for and they are only there to give you a benchmark of where you are at. It’s a great opportunity to teach your brain where your body is at by testing the waters and figuring out the opportune times to go and the best times to hold back.

You can also choose to turn it up a notch during tempo runs, which will help build your lactate threshold, but you must be sure to not make it a race, because then you’re doing too much. Pushing yourself on the occasional regular paced run and/or strength training session won’t kill you, you just have to choose your timing wisely – you wouldn’t want your decision to “push it” to negatively affect a more important workout. Definitely DO NOT play with fire on easy runs or LSDs – you are then defeating the purpose of the run. I think the only to challenge yourself on LSDs are to give yourself a longer distance to survive – every once in a while screw the whole “one mile longer than last week” theory and go out there and lay one down.

Get Burned

OK, so you went for it and things felt like they were falling apart at the seams… It’s awful. It sucks. It can be the worst feeling in the world, but so is brain freeze and that too passes. Maybe you started too fast, maybe you started pushing it too far away from the end of the workout. Worse things have happened in the history of running. You know what didn’t happen? You didn’t give in to the fear. The fear that told you that you weren’t good enough, and that it’s in your best interest to stop. Psychologically, that’s a milestone to cherish. You just pushed your limits from point A to point B because you had the audacity to believe that you could.

Your nervous system is the “hall monitor” of your body that takes its job too seriously. You start pushing the limit and Pocket-Protector Peter (your nervous system) is all “Uhh.. Uhh.. oh my god what’s happening?” and starts locking doors (shutting down certain bodily systems) and stocking up on one-way tickets to the principals office (preserving necessities) to avoid mass chaos (untimely death). It got really morbid at the end of that last sentence, but it’s true, our central nervous system has our best intentions (our lives) in check. It’s what makes you over-react to an iron that isn’t even hot. But what ol’ Pete needs to learn is that running through the hallway is okay. You just have to respect him, and let him know that the occasional forgotten hall pass is quite alright. Just don’t abuse it, there’s no need for mass chaos.

Did I really just compare our central nervous system to a geeky hall monitor? I hope the analogy made sense.

Learn Something

You’re running to learn about yourself. Tell yourself whatever you have to, but at the end of the day this is all it is. There is no more primal and basic activity that can teach you more about yourself. Eating is a close second. When you decide “today’s going to be the day” and you hammer the training you take a step towards figuring out what you can truly be, err I mean how truly fast you are. How was my form during my faster repeats? How did I manage my breathing? I probably should’ve worn spikes. What worked? What didn’t work? What muscles started to fail, and did my counterbalancing muscles perform appropriately. And if you crumble, if you bonk, you can look back and see what it was that put you in bad shape. And guess what, you know what to avoid doing now.

Was that so hard?

Well, yeah it probably was. Christ, it was probably awful and made you wonder why you opted to do this, maybe even why the hell you brought running into your life in the first place. Good… it’s working. You will be sore, but you will be accomplished, you have trained the guts that are necessary to be successful.

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.
– Steve Prefontaine

If you're scale says this, you should seek assistance

So you’ve started exercising eh? Started treating yourself to the proper nutrition? I bet the pounds started disappearing. Then you hit that point where the pounds stopped shedding didn’t you? And sure enough, sooner or later, the pounds will stop going away — what then? Well if you take nothing else away from this post, remember this:

Nothing looks as good as healthy feels

Most days I feel that many people need to hear that. Your weight, does not dictate your health, does not dictate your fitness, and does not dictate your capabilities. It’s merely a guideline, and the most basic guideline at that. The number on the scale, your goal weight, should be a jumping off point. A lot of companies will take advantage of the fact that most people associate their weight with wellness, so they market saying “LOSE 30 POUNDS!” because that will grab your attention and trigger your emotion — it’s just smart marketing. But any fitness professional with a brain will design a program designed to do more than help you lose weight.

For most people it’s not even about only the weight, they take their height into the equation to arrive at their BMI. And again, the BMI is great because it provides an overview on whether or not you’re in an “overweight/underweight” state, but that still won’t tell the whole story.  So try this out, go to your nearest BMI calculator and put these numbers in. 5 foot, 10 inches tall, and 207 lbs. Go ahead and check what it says, I’ll wait..




You didn’t do it did you? You just continued to read on because you knew that since this isn’t a dialogue you could just continue reading to see where I was headed with this. You’re a smart one. The answer: That person falls in the category of overweight. The person with that height and weight? None other than 5x NFL All-Pro Strong Safety Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburg Steelers (oh and he has two Super Bowl rings too). Is he overweight? His 4.3 second 40-yard dash would lead me to argue against that. That and the fact that the man is just a plain BEAST. He’s got a lot of muscle, and muscle carries a lot of weight.

Prioritizing will always be important in your weight management goals, and if that number on the scale is really that important to you, you’ll be foregoing the opportunity to improve other important numbers. What are those numbers?

  • Body Fat – Lean Muscle Ratio
  • Resting Heart Rate
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol

So what am I trying to say? (Well if you don’t know by now, I definitely misdiagnosed you as a smart person above)

“Healthy and Fit” is the new “Skinny”

Get with it,


I have a fitness problem. I was doing squats in the shower this morning. You know, just perfecting my form — standard stuff not weird at all…

I just got rid of my gym membership in favor of doing “prison workouts” — workouts I can do in the comfort of my own home. It made sense for me because a) I only join gyms in the winter for the use of the treadmill (I don’t have much cold weather running gear) and b)I’m mostly concerned with my core and doing body-weight exercises.

So I came across this workout consisting of only squats and pushups and I thought “This is the type of workout a lot of people can and should do.”

Start with one body-weight squat and ten pushups. Rest 30 seconds, then do 2 squats and 9 pushups. Work your way up to 10 squats and 1 pushup.

See? Simple.. or easy enough to describe at least.  You end up doing 55 of each exercise (hence fitty-fi) and it is a ten minute workout that will definitely get your core charged. If maxing at 10 seems daunting, feel free to start at 9,8,7,6, or 5. See how that works?

If you’re unsure of how to properly do a squat or pushup, don’t hesitate to comment or e-mail me

C’mon,  be a rebel…


Me: Hey, are you going to be home in about two hours?
Roommate: Yeah I should be. Why, what’s up?
Me: Oh nothing, I’m just going for a run.
Roommate: You’re running for TWO HOURS?!?!
Me: Well, yeah. See it’s my long–
Roommate: You’re weird!
Me: Well alright then, guess you’re not interested. See you in a bit..

So Sunday I went for my last long run before Broad Street, a “modest” 13 miler. (I only say modest because I saw someone write about completing a 17 miler in preparation for the race) I felt exactly as I should have and listening to REBELrunning Survival v.HipHop kept my mind occupied.

About 11 miles in, on my way back from an ‘out-n-back’ down the Schuylkill River Trail, I was listening debating in my head whether or not I should keep listening to Ghostface Killah – All That I Got Is You featuring Mary J. Blige since it isn’t really a song that would amp me up to keep up my pace this deep into the run.  Just then, about 50 meters in front of me, a woman riding her bike towards me clipped the rear tire of the bike in front of her and I swear I saw her helmet smash against the ground in slow motion.

First Aid/CPR/AED Certified. Click to get yours

So naturally I picked up the pace, and I noticed she wasn’t moving at all so I ripped out my headphones and knelt by her side. I started asking her questions, seeing what she could move without moving her — the standard stuff. Turns out that her primary language is Spanish, and though I’m not fluent, speaking the language all of a sudden became natural. Soon I realized that yeah, it was a lot of pain she was feeling, but also a ton of embarrassment, which kept her from speaking to me much. As it turns out the bicyclist’s tire that she clipped was someone who I could only imagine she was romantically involved with. I learned that they were both doctors and she soon stood up under her own power and only wanted to go home. I soon grabbed my phone and went on my merry way… which wasn’t so merry because in that time the lactic acid began to settle.

It’s funny, you’ll never know when your knowledge will just kick in.

Running: Never a dull moment Plenty of dull moments, but every now and again you’ll get your rush.

–Rebel Dels

Accomplishment is easily one of the best feelings. 4 weeks ago I attempted an 800 meter interval workout at goal pace (GP), and even though I completed it, I felt like CRAP. Finished the workout terrified that I wouldn’t be able to hit my goal come race time.

Yesterday I ran 4 more 800 repeats, all at or below GP! It felt amazing to be able to do that. I had to start my run late so I was basically running in the dark by the time my workout was finishing. I did need some inspirational music to go on my last rep. Last night’s music run was Hip Hop, so I went with a classic from my generation.. Puff Daddy – Victory

It was so fitting how my last rep ended right as Diddy said “You ain’t gotta like me, you just mad cause I tell it how it is and you tell it how it might be” — My favorite line. And then going into my cooldown Kanye West – Celebration started. It seemed fitting that this song would hit at the time.

This was just one of those workouts you get amped about!

To your next amazing workout feeling,

Rebel Dels

When I walk in the gym, this what I see
Everybody sitting there staring at me
I use light weights and high reps and I’m not afraid to show it, show it, show it…
I’m skinny and I know it!