Archive for April, 2018

This was a rough winter.

It wasn’t necessarily very cold or snowy, but it just seemed to drag on forever.  The first couple weeks of April were still pretty bad out (NYC) but now it finally looks like we are turning a corner.

For myself, I make it a point to start training outside in March, no matter how nasty the weather is.

Unless it’s pouring rain out, I will wear the appropriate clothes and go outside.

Reason? I know that the nice weather does not come slowly, it appears IMMEDIATELY.

Later this week it may reach 80 degrees in NYC.  Luckily for me, I am already in decent shape.

I am running 3 miles in under 21 minutes, I am still benching and deadlifting relatively heavy and I lost 25 lbs since January.

Today I actually took my shirt off in public, which is pretty impressive for April.  Usually I don’t like to show the goods until Memorial Day.

May is an important month for bodybuilding.  If you are not already killing it in your training, you better start now.

You can look a lot better for Memorial Day and you can get ripped for July 4th, but you don’t have a lot of time.

Start cutting weight, continue to lift heavy and introduce moderate cardio to your routine.

Summer will be here before you know it.

If you haven’t started yet, you better get moving.

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P.S. Big race coming up on May 17th.  After the race, going to officially start bodybuilding for July 4th and continue to run a race here and there over the summer.

I usually peak in Late August, so I should have some good pictures this summer!

-John

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As much as people do not like to admit it, running is a timed event.

One of the best parts of being a runner, in my opinion, is that you can compare your times throughout your lifetime.

For example, if you ran 3 miles in 18 minutes in College and now you can run it in 19, you only are a minute slower.

Time is an absolute, definable, measurement.

When it comes to running a fast 3-miler, there are two different ways that I attempt to increase my times.

A) Run less distance but at a faster pace.  For example; if I want to break 21 minutes (7 minutes per mile) I will run 2-2.5 miles in training at a 6:30-6:45 per mile pace.  Once I can handle the shorter distance at a quicker pace, I will try to “hold on” and complete the last half mile on target.

B) Run longer distances but at a slower pace.  In this example, I will try to run 4-5 miles in my training at a 7-7:15 pace.  The benefit would be that a 3 mile race would feel easy and I would be able to run at a faster pace.

The winner?

It is hard to say.  Using the 2-2.5 miles in my training I have been able to run some fast races, but by running slightly longer, I have almost always run fast.

I have a big 3 mile race coming up in a month, and this season I have started to try plan “B” and run slightly longer in practice.

I figure If I can try to get my 4 mile time down to near 28 minutes (7:00 per mile), I should be able to kill that for 3 miles.

We will see.

Personally, I have found that I can run 2-5 miles pretty fast and still be able to weight train heavy.  When I go over 5 miles is when I start to burn off muscle and look worse.

A combination is also good.

Some days you run shorter and fast, some days you run longer and slow.

-John

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I am officially about 2 months into my 2018 running season and I am finally starting to feel pretty good.

It takes a couple of weeks of going outside before I realize how much I missed running.

The first couple times out are rough, but once you get into a groove, I start to really enjoy my training.

If you want to get fast with running, you just need to run hard.

That means pushing it in your training and also competing often.

For myself, that means either going to a track and timing myself or signing up for many races.

This year, my first official big race is on May 17th.  Since I have about a month until the race, I figured it would be a good idea for me to sign up for a practice race in April.

At least I can see what type of shape I am really in.

To get fast in running, you need to run hard and compete.

All of that practice and slow running is a waste of time if you aren’t getting faster.

Right now, I think I can run 3 miles in close to 21 minutes.  That is a pretty decent time for April, but the only way for me to find out, is to run a race or time myself.

Maybe this weekend.

-John

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Running is not a very complicated sport.

I generally focus on running between 2 and 5 miles at a fast pace.  Anything further and I lose too much muscle and start becoming fat, anything less, and it’s not enough volume.

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Don’t get me wrong; sprinting is probably the best exercise for burning off body fat.  But I prefer to sprint after I am done with my 2-4 mile training run, not as a 1 for 1 substitute.

This week, I am finally getting fast.

I have been consistently running 3-4 miles outside in my training and today I ran 3 miles on the treadmile in 20:30.

That 20:30 was also pretty easy.  I probably could have run close to 20 minutes.

I’ve found that it takes around 60 days to get into decent running shape.  Of course that is considering you are already in decent shape and not ‘brand new” to a work out routine.

My entire running workouts consist of 2-4 miles, 4 or 5x a week, with some occasional sprints at the end.

I will typically add more sprinting and hill repeats in the beginning of summer, after I am already in decent running shape.

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My first big race of the season is on May 17th.  Right now I am about a month away and feeling pretty good.

When it comes to lifting weights, it’s a little bit different.

If usually takes me about 90 days to get into decent shape with weight lifting, but it feels like it lasts longer after I stop. (I rarely stop)

If I skip running for a month, I will almost completely lose any type of “running endurance”  With weight training, I will stay strong for several months after.

That is also why you can never stop training.

Nobody cares if you completed 25 marathons and won 6 bodybuilding competitions.

If you don’t work out for 6 months in a row, you can have a heart attack and die.

-John

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Today I finally made it outside for a lunch-time run instead of using the tread mile.  This winter hasn’t been very cold in NYC, except for one week, but it has been really long.  We have actually had a decent amount of snow into April

Unfortunately with the horrible weather, I have been using the treadmile a lot more instead of going outside.

I have a big race coming up in the middle of May and I am trying to get my 5k time down.  Right now I believe I can run 3 miles in about 21:30ish.

It feels like its been a while since I had a fast run.  Running is a lot of work and I realize that for me to get faster, I really need to get outside more.  The treadmile helps, but it’s not the same as training outside.

Just like everything else in life, there really aren’t any shortcuts.  If you want to get strong, fast or cut, you need to put in the work.

If you want to become a doctor, expect to be in College for at least 10 years.

If you want to become a lawyer, expect several years of law school after College.

It also helps to have years of experience when it comes to training.

Today as I was out running, I started to reflect on my running career and I realized that I have been running off and on now for almost 25 years.

That is a long time.

Last week when I was on vacation, I unfortunately lost my G.P.S running watch somewhere in Georgia.  Luckily, I always keep an old running watch around, so today I used one of watches that I had saved from College.

It’s a very basic watch, obviously made before GPS was created, but it still works.

And to be honest, I felt better without the stupid GPS.

I went for a nice run by just using the basic time.  I knew when I reached 14 minutes that I was probably near 2-miles and when I was passed 21 minutes I estimated that I had probably passed 3-miles.

It almost felt liberating that I didn’t know my running pace for every second and I can just go at my own pace.

If you think about it, I set almost all of my running personal bests before GPS watches were invented.  The only way I was able to officially time myself was on a track or during a race.

Sometimes I would even measure out a 3-mile course with my car and then memorize it.

But part of being successful in running, earning money or your career; is that you need a long-term pattern of consistently.

I saw a guy eating a slice of Pizza today on my commute home and I have to admit, I was really jealous.

It’s not that I will never eat pizza, but definitely not on a random ride home from work. And I started thinking about how long I have been dieting.

This year will be my 9th straight year of bodybuilding.  That means for 9 years in a row I have been lifting weights, running, fasting and building a 6-pack every summer.

That has to help at me some point.  That is 9 years straight of being on a strict diet.

I am going to turn 39 this year and I can already see that I look a lot younger than my peers.  It wasn’t as clear when I was 25, but now at nearly 39, it is a big difference.

Making an effort matters.

Its the same with saving money.  I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagine, but, I did save money for the least several years consistently.

Small efforts help.

If you are either training harder than your competition, studying harder or saving more money than everyone around you, long-term, it will really start to add up.

The key is to never quit and keep pushing yourself.

-John

Book 3 coming this summer!

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Savannah in one word? Historic beauty.

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Is that two words? Either way, Savannah is a beautiful city and if you are a history buff like I am, it is a great place to visit.

I love the city planning that was involved in creating Savannah.  Savannah is divided up into numerous “squares”, that each have some historical reference.

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The city also has a large centrally located park, named “Forsyth Park”, that is constantly filled with people.

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What I also love so much about Savannah, is that is it so walkable.

Whether you walk around the riverfront area or around some of the “squares”, there is just so much to see.

The weather is also great, although I heard it is really hot in summer, but you also have Tybee Beach only 30 minutes away.

The food is also outstanding and the city has an open container law (although I am not sure if that is city-wide or just in the tourist area’s)

This was the 2nd time I have been to Savannah, and several years ago it seemed to have more of a crime element.

Now? It seemed like it cleaned up a lot more.  Maybe something to do with the high real estate prices? I am not sure, but outside of 2 or 3 vagrants in some of the parks, I didn’t really seen any problems at all.

Overall, Savannah is a beautiful city and deserves a good 3-day weekend trip.

What are the negatives?

  • Not 100% kid friendly.  There is the park and some horse ride tours, but overall, there isn’t really much for kids to do.  They would be better off at the beach during the day.
  • Although it’s a large city, it doesn’t feel much like a “real” city.  Meaning, it feels like the main industry is tourism. It would be a good place to retire, but not sure if I could build a career there.

But besides those two negatives, and they are small negatives, Savannah is still a very nice city.

Beautiful architecture, great food and nightlife, warm weather and a close drive to the beaches.

Overall rating, “A-“

Hilton Head is nice, really nice.

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I always seems to have a good time in South Carolina; whether it’s in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Charleston or others.

When I was planning my Hilton Head trip, I told my wife to think of it as a potential retirement spot.

Although I am not a big golfer, I would definitely prefer to retire somewhere South of NYC, where the weather is better and the taxes are lower.

Although, I really enjoyed Hilton Head and I would highly recommend it, I don’t believe I can retire there.

Reason?

It’s too “resorty”.  I believe almost 70% of Hilton Head is owned by private communities, but don’t get me wrong, Hilton Head is beautiful.

Pros: Warm weather but not as unbearable as Southern Florida.  Very clean and manicured with outstanding golf and tennis courts. Appears to have very good health care options with an active senior population, along with many young families.

Cons: Expensive for South Carolina.  Mostly private resorts with annoying security guards.  Reminded me of Boca Raton.

Overall, Hilton Head is a beautiful city and an excellent place for a family vacation.  Although I wouldn’t retire there personally, I could see how it would make sense for many people.

High recommended: We stayed at the Sonesta that was very nice and I would also recommend Harbour Town. They have a downtown area that has many restaurants, a light house and one of the nicest kids parks I have ever seen.

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My son had a blast.

Hilton Head deserves a “B+”

-John

You need to work out hard.  There is no way around it.

I don’t buy all of these articles stating that less workouts are better than more. I agree that you cannot overtrain, but is less really better than more when it comes to removing bodyfat?

It depends.

Performance is everything.  If you think you can work out twice and week and show up in good shape, good luck.

You wont be able to run a mile in 5 minutes.

You also won’t have enough cardio workouts to burn off the extra body fat.

When I train for the summer, I will work out 6 or 7 days a week and show up ripped.

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Although I will work out for 6 or 7 days a week, my workouts are usually only an hour at time, and two hours on the days that I do both cardio and weights.

I only squat and deadlift once a week and I rarely do more than 3 sets per body part (not including warm ups)

I prefer to focus on high-intensity.  Hit it hard and quickly and get out.

But sometimes I feel rundown.

Last week I was on vacation and when I went back to work on Monday I felt exhausted.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were horrible workouts, so by Thursday I realized that something was off.

Thursday night I decided to increase the calories.  I had a big dinner, some desert and I had 2 beers before I went to sleep.

Friday I went to the gym and I decided to skip deadlifting.

So overall, I took an easy day at the gym and I completely cheated on my diet.

End result?

Today I ran like a champ!  I finally had a great workout and ran 4 miles at around a 7 minute per mile pace.

So although I try to be strict on my diet as much as possible and I rarely skip the gym, sometimes its pays off to take a break.

Increase the calories,  and skip or take an easy day at the gym.

Once you feel rested, right back at it.

Just as long as you don’t make a habit of it, a short break ran help your training and assist you in reaching your goals.

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-John

I must apologize.  Although my blog is called “workout and travel”, all I have been talking about recently is working out.

But now that my son is almost a year old, I am slowly starting to get back into traveling.

Last week, we took a family trip down to Raleigh, Hilton Head S.C. and Savannah GA.

What place was my biggest disappointment?

RALEIGH

North Carolina in general is a hot topic now in NYC.  Not only are many companies relocating down South but many people are also starting to retire outside of NY in greater numbers.

It can make sense, especially if you are living in the tax-hell area’s of long island, westchester and NJ.

You can most likely purchase the same size house for 100-300k cheaper and you will also see your property taxes cut at least in half.

The weather is also slightly warmer, but not much.  So what is the downside?

It’s North Carolina.

Raleigh is pretty terrible.   To be fair, I didn’t visit the wealthy suburbs like Cary and I also didn’t drive around the College campus’s at Duke or NC State.

But Raleigh itself is pretty bad.

It’s a difficult area to describe, but I think my wife said it best “it looks like a run down New Jersey”

The outskirts going into the city looked ugly and the city itself was a complete ghost town on a Saturday.

And you can’t blame that on the weather.

It’s warmer than Boston, Hoboken and Montreal.  All which would be crowded on a Saturday afternoon, especially with March madness basketball going on.

I was also surprised to see some serious blight.   Almost 2 or 3 blocks from the main action on Fayetteville Street, there is some serious poverty.

We also drove around to some of the “corporate” areas and they also reminded me of a worse version of Arlington, VA or Jersey City, NJ.

If you are going to move down South, why stop at North Carolina?

I would take almost every major city in Florida over Raleigh, including Savannah Georgia, Charleston South Carolina and even Washington, DC.

I would like to give it another shot and check out the campuses and possibly Durham, but overall, I was not very impressed.

2 hours+ to the beach, not so great weather, not alot of action.

One of my least favorite cities so far.

Official rating “D”

-John

 

I am officially back in NYC!

This last week I was in Raleigh, North Carolina, Hilton Head SC, and Savannah, GA. It was a fun trip and I will post my review on these cities during the week.

I always try to plan a Spring Break trip almost ever year.  It provides me the motivation to get into shape and it sets the pace for my Summer training.

When it comes to vacation and especially Spring Break, there are certain tips I use to handle my training and diet.

A) Start off the vacation being light.  This year I lost about 16 lbs before I went away.  I figured even if I gain 3 or 4 lbs back, I am still down over 10 lbs from my winter bulk up.

B) If the hotel has a gym, and most of them do, try to hit the major bodyparts.  I won’t work out every day, but I try to do a 30 minute chest, shoulder and leg work out if I can.  I don’t go crazy, but just try to keep the blood flowing.

C) Run outside If I can.  This week off I was able to run 4 times.  I ran twice in Hilton Head and also twice in Savannah.  You lose your cardio ability quickly, so I am happy to say that I ran pretty hard over my week of vacation.

D) Pig out.  I don’t understand people that start to diet on vacation but not during their regular work week.  On vacation I drink beer, I eat ice cream and I let my diet fall apart.  Once in a while I will order a fish dinner just to detox, but I refuse to travel and not try the local cuisine.

Overall, enjoy your vacation.  Lift weights briefly if you can, do some light cardio if you have time and for goodness sake, please do not diet.

-John

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