Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Week 33 Update: Food, diets, fatigue, bonking, and recovery - they all go together.

Week 32 Update: Jan 28, 2014 for the week beginning on January 12th, 2014

A great week all around with a few important observations….

  • Sleep might help me recover but food helps me stay focused and press through the hard workouts. I bonked on Sunday and was reminded of my friend Spencer who once bonked on a bike ride with a friend. If I recall correctly, they both bonked a good distance from home and were later rescued by Spencer's wife Stephanie. She found them sitting on the side of the road eating onion grass. That image remains with me after 20+ years and I am sure it remains with both Spencer and Stephanie. Well, Sunday brought me to the point of exhaustion but only because I did a horrible job eating prior to my training. Note to self: eating is important for endurance. No onion grass feed-fests for me!
  • Gave another talk at the local (DC) Quantified Self meetup. They are a great group and, if you are in the area, I highly recommend going to the meetings. Heck, if you are not from around the DC metro area, find a local group. Nothing like getting a bunch of highly motivated, educated and dedicated folks together to solve problems via self-monitoring and data analysis. My kind of group! Thanks to all of you from QS.

Workout Progress

“Summit Sundays” - for this week, it was “Summit Monday” - continue without a hitch. Well, actually that depends upon who you ask. These long days might be productive for my preparation but they are a huge distraction to my family life. I decided this week to wake up really early so I could be done before 3pm. We already get up early enough during the week so my one day to really sleep in must go away for my family's sake. It (sleep) is a reasonable sacrifice and one I gladly make to have time with my wife and son.

plot of chunk WeekEx

I continue to recover reasonably well from these long days. Last week was 8.75 hours and I felt OK the next day. The hardest part is going back to work and having to adapt to a new schedule. Change ain't easy.

plot of chunk DailyWL

I cannot believe I am almost half-way through my last phase. Time is running out and I am almost completely mentally prepared to head out to the mountains. I still have a few more weeks left and some more mental/physical/equipment preparation left.

plot of chunk CumWL

Weekly Summary

Food, food, food, food, and more food. I decided to forgo any plans to eat healthy at this point. The food while climbing will consist of a smorgasborg of culinary catastrophies that I need to be used to before I leave. This past week convinced me that I need to be more flexible in my diet. Eat everything and anything at any time to refuel.


Now that I am back to work and teaching my usual 2-course load, I have a bit more stress but, surprisingly I am more productive. Amazing how a more packed schedule results in a greater focus and less wasted time.

plot of chunk Mood

Hypoxic Training

I trained last week at 17,800 feet for all my sessions in the house. The remainder of my training was higher intensity (swimming and running sessions) to maintain my lactate threshold and anaerobic fitness. I think this combination works well for both fitness and recovery. Only my time on the moutain will confirm my suspicion but now I think I am adapting well to hypoxia. Note the subtle but real decline in morning spO2 levels? Kathy and I both experienced the same dip one the same days. I wonder why. We have completely different training regimes. My suspicion is that the two of us consume the same pool of air in the tent. When one of us struggles, the other struggles as a result of the changing ambient air conditions (i.e., more CO2 and less O2). I plan to look into this observation further.

plot of chunk Hypoxia

Recovery (Restwise Data)

As I said in my introduction, sleep might be king but food is equal parts royalty during training. I am still recovering reasonably well and continue to gain some extra weight - not much but enough to readily lose without looking like a skeleton upon my return.

plot of chunk RestwiseData

Updates for the week

Now that I am back to work, I am reminded how important my students are for my morale. The students in my lab, in my classes, and who just swing by for a quick chat give me a great sense of pleasure. Thanks to all of you.

I have a few other blog posts and a few that remain unfinished. Expect a bit more posting in the near future. These posts, in no particular order are…

  • Hypoxic adaptation and asthma
  • Elitism in sports - a common problem but one worth discussing
  • The (in)complete guide to preparing for the extremes. I want to follow-up with one of Alan Arnette's posts about the complexity of training/preparing for Everest. He is a wonderful writer and a first-class thinker about the topic. I strongly encourage you to read his blog (click here). Alan documents the Everest expeditions each year. His blog (and hopefully mine) serves as a great resource for the most up-to-date Everest information. Thanks Alan for posting my blog link on your page. Go visit Alan's page and please donate to his causes.

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