Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: advice (Page 1 of 2)

Daily Reading List — June 27th

Here’s How Much Slower You Run In the Heat – This should make you feel better if your are sweating your times now that summer is here. For me, I'm just running on heart rate no matter what. When it's really blistering hot out there, that means I'm walking. So be it.

These Are Job Seekers’ Top 3 Priorities Right Now – *SPOILER ALERT*
The first one is "Culture, Culture, Culture".
I expected all three to be culture in one way or another.

The 5 Principles of Moonlighting Success – Works for sunlighting as well. – Create a bunch of fake data for dev/test – Lifesaver here. Lets you fill up your database fast with just the right amount data.

Market share yearly trends for content management systems, June 2016 – Makes it a little easier to understand why I can't find a lot of information from the last 5 years or so. 50% drop in market share for Drupal since 2010. Ugh.

The Best Exercises to Look Great Naked – Once you are bored with functional stuff like being able to move heavy things around or have hours and hours of stamina, you should focus on things that will be impressive to the ladies.

Burner: Free Phone Number, Temporary Disposable Numbers – When it's time for a re-up.

Is It Fair To Call Digital Health Apps Today’s Snake Oil?

Daily Reading List — May 26th

Moving a WordPress Site with Cherry Framework: A Little Tip for LESSPHP Errors – So kind to share the solution to this problem!!!

Unstructured Play Is Critical to Child Development – We may lean a little too heavily towards the "unsctructured" side. But at least we don't have to stress about getting some place.

Our approach is, "Learn to love it first, and when you crave the structure and time investment it takes to get better we will give it to you."

Official advice on low-fat diet and cholesterol is wrong, says health charity – It's the sugar people. The sugar.

How Melbourne (FL) could become startup city – Would love to see this. Would love to be a part of this. Wrong that I'm not quite willing to write a check?

TMetric – time tracker for Jira. Link your issues and tasks to time tracking automagically

If I had a birthday coming up…Best Scotch Whiskies Available For Under $35

Connect Bitbucket Cloud to JIRA Cloud applications – Loves it. Connecting Issues to Commits. Big time saver

The Rock Clock Alarm App Keeps You Motivated and Ditches the Snooze Button – Wake up with The Rock is the best feature. The Rock gets up early.


The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Brick Workouts


Yesterday’s post started a little bit of an interesting discussion about bricks over on Google+. At the same time, this thread over on Beginner Triathlete was going on talking about the same thing. There seems to be a wide spectrum of opinion out there about the value of bricks for 70.3 distances and beyond. I see the points on all sides, but I think I fall some place in the middle.

What I have to say on the subject is a little long for posting in either of those places. Luckily, I have this venue. Now, I’m by no means telling anyone else what they should do. I’m not a coach, and I’ve probably given out more bad advice than good over the years.

Like everyone else, I used to swear by bricks and ran a 10% run after every bike ride. Why did I swear by them and do them so religiously? Well…because everyone else did. Now I’m not so sure that was a good idea, but it fit into my general training M.O. back then–empty the tank every single time you train. If you aren’t willing to empty the tank, don’t bother training.

Needless to say, I skipped a lot of workouts back then.

Remember, these are just my observations and opinions about what seems to work for me. I’m using “I” and “me” everywhere I can. Feel free to collect your own test data.

The Good

  • For beginners. I think bricks are vital for two reasons when you are first starting out. First of all, you need to know what you’re legs are going to feel like coming off the bike. Secondly, you need to know how long it’s going to last. If you don’t know these two things before your race, you’re in for a really big shock. But really–if you’ve been doing this for a few years, does that feeling freak you out any longer? It’s like a horror movie–really scary the first time, but when you already know what’s coming and have watched it over and over…meh.
  • For sprint training. I get the upside of “learning to run on tired legs” if you are going to need to go hard for the whole race. It kind of goes back to the first point of knowing how long the feeling is going to last and being able to mentally push on through that and keep going hard until it’s gone.
  • For testing a nutrition plan. A run of a few miles after a long bike ride will let you know pretty early on if you ate enough and hydrated right while riding. This can be pretty hard to figure out, and it may take a few sessions to dial it in. I actually think this is a HUGE upside to doing VERY EASY bricks for long distance training. But I don’t do any more of these than I have to.
  • For squeezing in a couple of workouts on limited time. Sometimes I have only one chance to workout on a day, but I need to get two in. This is an effective way to squeeze it in without having to prepare twice. Might as well make it a transition practice while you’re at it.
  • A race rehearsal. Not the entire race, just what you plan on doing out of T2. For me, that means thinking about cadence, form, and keeping the pace down. Yeah…I said keeping the pace down. A one mile run is more than enough distance for me to do this.

The Bad

  • For building aerobic endurance. Maybe there’s no detriment here either, but I don’t see any real value. If that’s the goal of the workout, why not get in the pool and swim instead? I’ll get all the benefits of the aerobic work without any of the pounding I get while running. Not that I recommend that either–swimming after cycling is probably begging for your technique to be destroyed. On second thought, that’s probably a benefit in my case. Aerobic and Anaerobic aren’t the same thing, and that’s important to remember for the second point.
  • “Learning to run on tired legs” for anything longer than an Olympic distance race makes no sense to me. For 70.3 races and up, why not  “learn to ride a bike for a few hours without tearing my legs up” instead? That means staying aerobic on the bike instead of deliberately trashing myself so I can go out and run a bunch of *ahem* shitty miles with bad form and throwing myself into anaerobic zones just to maintain some pre-determined pace I think I ought to do. Not casting stones if you do this. I’ve done it. A lot. I just don’t think it paid off for me.
  • Trashed isn’t just for today. I pay the price for a few days. I have to think of what a long hard brick does to me going forward. If I go out and do a 60m/10m brick on a Sunday and intentionally trash my legs during this workout, I’m sacrificing Monday completely, and probably at least part of my Tuesday, and maybe Wednesday as well. And what do I get out of it really? Maybe I prove to myself that I could do it? I’ve already done that. Again, I do try to get in a couple of long bricks in the middle of my training plan to test my nutrition plan, but I make sure the run is super easy–like “holy crap, I’m embarrassed by this pace and don’t really want to post it to DailyMile”  easy.

The Ugly

  • They take a really long time. I’m lucky to have the best and most supportive girlfriend* in the whole world. She gives me Saturday and Sunday mornings to do what I need to do to train. A 2-3 hour workout means that I’m usually home by 9:30 or 10:00 at the latest on both Saturday and Sunday. She’s never complained once. She’s even ok with me turning that into a 5 hour workout occasionally if it’s a nutrition test day. But I’d feel guilty about leaving her to deal with our three heathens for a whole day every single weekend. She does it all week already…weekends are when she has a chance for some help, and I don’t want to deny her that.
  • “What do you mean ‘all day’? Five hours is not all day!” Well, it would turn into all day if I went out and bricked it hard. Sure, I may be gone for only 5 hours, but I’m definitely going to need a nap that afternoon. And I’d be pretty worthless (bonked) even when I’m awake–basically one more heathen to care for. I know how I end up on the afternoons after a race–not fun for her.

So there you have it. I’ve learned this stuff (for me) mostly by experience and reading what coaches (love Coach Brett) have to say about it. Go ahead and rip it to shreds.

But before you do, consider this one little tidbit…

After tapering, you have ~2,000 calories worth of glycogen in your liver and muscles. You cannot process food fast enough to replace these calories at the rate you’re burning them while racing, no matter how much or what you eat. If you go out and “trash your legs” by going anaerobic, you’re going to be using those calories instead of using your fat stores for energy. Every notice how it seems like so many people hit the wall at mile 20 in a marathon? That’s why. Once those calories are used up, you are bonked.

For me, it’s mile 18, probably because I’m a little bit heavier and much more inefficient, so I burn the same amount of calories to go 18 miles most people do for 20. Another hard lesson (hopefully) learned.

So it makes complete sense to me to stay aerobic in most of my training (with some intense intervals thrown in here and there) and teach my body to burn the fat better. It’s just a simple math problem. In the perfect race, I’d start burning that stored up glycogen about 2,000 calories from the finish. The perfectly executed race plan would see me start my run on legs that aren’t tired and make sure they stay that way so I can finish on strong legs. So even in a brick, there’s no way I want to go hard on a bike and “learn to run on tired legs”.

The only benefit I see there is that you get to bonk. And from that, you learn that you never EVER want to bonk again if you can help it.

*Yes, we’re married, but we still like each other a lot, so I still call her my girlfriend.

[Image Credit]

Link Dump Obsession With Ditching Facebook

How To Move Your Facebook Photos To Picasa – Get them over to Picasa/GooglePhotos/Plus. One step closer to ditching Facebook forever.

Facebook blocks Google Chrome extension for exporting friends – It’s ON! HT @slashdot.

Fast-food chains selling alcohol – HT @FrankStrovel. I will not rest until I can get a Cherry-Vodka-Limeade straight from the drive-up window.

RunKeeper Building ‘The Facebook Of Fitness’ – I started using RunKeeper when it became free, and at the time it was just the mobile app that drew me to it. I was using DailyMile as my “Fitness Facebook”, but was pretty frustrated at having to keep transferring from one system to the other. Looks like DailyMile may have missed the boat. I’ll know more when I’m able to work out more regularly.

The 5 Switches of Manliness: Nature – The last post in this series. Every one of them was a great and worth reading.

Running, Drinking and Nerding Out Link Dump

Long Distance Half-Steppers

“Self-knowledge is a bitch.”

I have been all of these people at one point or another, and I’ve definitely run with all of them. There are more I could add to the list too!

Desmos Graphing Calculator – I am in nerd heaven. I can’t wait to play with this gadget. I can’t wait until my kids are learning higher math and we can do this together!!!

Get Drunk Not Fat – My knees wish my brain had been supplied this information at an earlier date.

‘Til debt do us part :

Leverage is leverage, and leverage always brings with it increased risk.

True, but what scares me most is the amount of this “leverage” that represents items of depreciating value or Super Value Meals. And that’s just on the consumer debt.

HTC EVO 3D Review – Hope to get mine before it’s obsolete.

iDoneThis – Very cool, very simple service. Every day it sends you an email, and you respond with that you did. Makes TPS reports a snap.

The 5 Switches of Manliness: Provide – Haven’t even read this one yet, but if it’s half as good as the others, it’s a must read.

India’s $35 Android Tablet Finally Ready Ship – Would be hard not to buy at least one of these. HT @_Neville

High-Pressure Tactics Culture At Groupon – More dumping on Groupon. The more details I read about this company, the more I am wary of it.

Forget Student Loans, And Maybe Even College – Can’t say it enough times–student loans are horrible. The whole industry is basically pay day lending that you can’t bankrupt.

Short Groupon – “Groupon is essentially holding a portfolio of loans backed by the receivables of small businesses. If a business goes under, consumers will come back to Groupon for their money back. Unless Groupon is actually doing credit assessments on businesses that it chooses to feature, this is a big risk for Groupon.”

Perfect Iced Coffee – A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give up coffee for 30 days. This post is the first time I’ve regretted that decision.

Tips On Working From Home

First, let me clarify. When I say, “working from home”, I don’t mean the occasional Friday or snow day. I’m talking about  working from your house, day-in-day-out. Telecommuting full time is definitely not for everyone. I tried it during the dot com days with limited success myself, but I learned a lot during that time about how to pull it off and some pitfalls to avoid. Since it seems like working remotely is a growing trend, I thought I’d document some tips I’ve learned for new telecommuters to help them make the transition from working in the office to working in the virtual office.

You do not work from home.

I can’t stress this enough, so I’ll say it again…in bold–You do not work from home.

You work from work. If you have the mindset that you are working from home, you’re already walking on thin ice. The problem with this mindset is that you will inevitably either bring home to work (not good), or bring work to home (even worse). One of the biggest difficulties I had working from home in the late 90s was that some days I had a very difficult time “going to work”. Other days, it seemed impossible to “come home from work”. There are a few things you can do to make the transition easier and keep the separation between work and home more clear:

  1. Set aside an office in your home. If you are limited on space, this may not be a separate room, but it needs to be a separate work area at least. It can even be a designated chair. All you do in this area is work. You don’t watch TV, play video games, or read for pleasure here. Work there, and don’t work anywhere else. I’ve learned that I do best with an entire room complete with bookshelves, a printer, filing cabinet, etc. It has to be as much like a traditional office as possible. And it must have a door that locks.
  2. “Go” to work in the mornings. In the beginning, you can help yourself with transitioning to telecommuting by continuing the same routine you would to go to work at a traditional office. This helps prepare your mind for the day ahead. For me, that meant actually getting dressed for work and arriving at the office at 7:30 am. After a month or so, I was able to drop the dress code, but I still like to “clock in” at the same time every day. If you have a morning workout routine, this will be much easier because you will continue exercising and showering before getting dressed. I’ve heard of other people going so far as getting in their car and driving to Starbucks for coffee, then returning home and going straight to work–simulating a commute.
  3. Factor in transition times, both to and from work. If you are used to commuting 20-30 minutes every day, this one is crucial. You may not realize it, but you’re probably using that time to either mentally prepare for work on the way there or to deflate from work before you get home. One of the issues you can run into when your commute is only 10 seconds is that your mind is still at either home or work, even though your body has changed locations. I’m lucky that the people in my group at work tend to start around the same time I do, while most of the people I support come in a little later. This gives me time to catch up on what’s going on within my group if necessary before “customers” start coming in, and it also keeps my morning more flexible so I can easily transition. “Going home after work” is much more difficult for me personally because my customers are still working when I’m ready to leave the office. If I’ve been working on one of their issues or am writing some code right up until the time I leave for the day, I sometimes find myself still mentally “at work” when I get home. I try to save tasks that have definite termination points for the end of the day to help me make a clean break.

There will be doubters. And some won’t change their minds.

Whenever you are doing something outside the absolute norm, there are going to be people who are skeptical. I once worked for a company that had a strict 8:00 am – 5:00 pm attendance policy. When they moved to flexible scheduling for salaried employees (as approved by management), lots of people in management refused to allow their people to participate, even if it meant something as small as taking 30 minutes instead of an hour for lunch and leaving at 4:30 instead of 5:00. Does that sound like a good way to keep responsible, reliable professionals around?

Skepticism of working remotely is fair up to a point. Know this is the situation you are signing up for, and do your best to change minds. Remember, you are being given a large amount of trust in your ability to manage your time effectively, so it’s reasonable to accept more responsibility for doing just that. Some people will never have their minds changed, but do your best to make sure that’s because of them, not you.

  1. Answer phone calls and emails ASAP. Every work place is different, but a certain amount of time in between receiving an email and replying is usually acceptable and the norm. Try to beat that. Every time. Try to be the most responsive person in the organization, especially during the regular office hours.
  2. Be flexible, especially with the “not bringing work home” rule. Smart phones make it easier to at least respond to emails if you have information readily available without “going back to the office.”  I think it’s reasonable for people to expect a little more availability from a telecommuter given the extra flexibility they are afforded.
  3. Be willing to “go back to the office” later. If you’re working in IT, you are probably used to having to come in during off-hours to perform maintenance and installations anyway, so it’s no big deal at all to go back to your home office and log in from 10pm-2am to perform some task. Much better than driving back in, right? If you work in another field, this may take some getting used to.
  4. Produce! You’ll probably find you’re much more productive by default since you aren’t spending as much time in meetings or getting pulled into random conversations with people stopping by your cube. Don’t take your foot off the pedal!
  5. Volunteer! There are always going to be those “meh” projects in any organization that no one is too excited about taking on. Take the opportunity to grab them if you are caught up on your usual duties and have the time to take care of them! This stuff has to be done by someone anyway, and it’s been my experience that I almost always end up learning something new or making a connection that leads to a much more interesting project later on.

Work From Home Every Now and Then

Every now and then (but not too often), work from home the same way other people do. Does this mean relaxing by the pool with lemonade in hand and doing just enough to keep your screensaver from activating? Uh…no. But it can mean an evening performing some less thought intensive tasks with your feet up on an ottoman while someone else in your house is engaged in a Desperate Housewives marathon. You’ll have no problem focusing on work if that’s your only other option.

You can work-from-home from home if you’re single or have the house to yourself during the day, but it’s tough to really work in your living spaces during the day if you have kids. My preference is to head to a coffee shop for a Friday afternoon every now and then when I’m caught up and things are expected to be smooth for the rest of the day. Right before a long holiday weekend when everyone else has mentally checked out is the perfect time. It’s a nice change of pace from sitting in the same spot every day and gives you the chance to feel like you are a part of normal society, even if it’s just for a few hours.

Sometimes You Have To Adapt

Just like at the regular office, sometimes things pop up that throw a kink into your perfect plan. You’re going to get sick, but there isn’t any “I don’t want to infect everyone else,” so you have to do your best to fight through it and still get some rest. Sometimes you’ll need to handle an errand during your office hours, just like an in-office job, and you’ll have to step out to take care of it. The best you can do is to try and imagine how you would handle any unexpected occurrences if you weren’t a telecommuter and try to handle them the exact same way.

I’m sure others have some great strategies to adjust to telecommuting and handling the challenges it brings. If you can overcome the things that make working remotely difficult (solitude, distractions, mindset, etc.) it is a great way to work! Again, it’s not a good fit for everyone or every company, but it’s worth giving it a shot if your employer is game to letting you give it a shot and you think you can do it successfully.

I’m reading– January 18th through January 21st

First two years of college show small gains – Get thee to a community college.

Pick At It! – It’s been a long time since I’ve LOL’d all the way through an article.

Scott: ‘We’re spending too much money’ – The “Scott” in the article is our governor, not me. But this Scott agrees. Here’s what I don’t get about how budgets are crafted–why can’t they just do it the way we do at our house? Start with the amount of money you have, then subtract (by priority) the cost of all the things you have to pay for. As you go down the list of priorities, “needs” transition to “wants”. In good months, we actually make it to some pure “wants”. When the amount of money you have reaches zero, the budget is finished. The budget damn near writes itself! I realize it’s a little more complicated than that for a state legislature, but what if they approached the process by simply prioritizing the spending first?

Worldwide Coffee Production and Consumption – Doing my part on the consumption end. Pretty cool map!

Intro to Heart Rate Training From Mark Allen – If you’re new to heart rate training, this is good. Nice of him to share his personal experience of beginning to use a heart rate monitor.

Training For a 6 Hour Half-Ironman

NOTE (2.7.2014):  What you will find below is one strategy. I don’t think it’s the best strategy. In fact, three years after originally writing this, I don’t even think it’s a very good strategy.

This is not the way I currently train for 70.3s.  I’ve gained mucho experience and knowledge in the last three years, and you can read most of that in the articles listed here.

There are much more effective ways to train, even with time constraints. And I’ve realized that setting time goals for a 70.3 is maybe not the smartest thing to do, at least for me. A time range is reasonable, but race day is full of unexpected events and factors you can’t control. Read on, but at your own peril. 

Ok. I’ve noticed a lot of people are landing here looking for the answer to that one simple question…”What is the best way to train for a half iron distance race (70.3 miles) and finish in under six hours?”

I wrote a longer, more detailed post about one strategy to do this a while back. But if you’re looking for a simple (and logical) approach, I’m going to summarize it here. I’d advise going back and reading the whole post, which contains a little more detail. Keep in mind, I’m not a certified triathlon coach. I have absolutely no credentials other than the fact that I’ve actually done it while weighing over 200 lbs, eating higher quantity and lower quality of food than I should, and skipping a workout here and there.

[amzn_product_inline asin=’1599218577′]

Here’s my strategy: Prioritize the race (and your training) in the order of time spent in the race itself. That means concentrate on bike first, then run, then swim.

The bike is going to be about half of the race, right? So make biking the main focus of your training. That means you are probably not going to get a PR for your half marathon during this race. So be it. If you wanted to PR a half marathon you’d be training for that exclusively anyway, right?

Running will probably benefit from having a really solid base before you start training for the race. Build that up in the off-season, and you can put the running portion of the training on auto-pilot. It probably isn’t necessary to rack up a ton of miles running, but it’s a good idea to be mentally prepared for 13.1 by making sure you still hit a long run every week, preferably on tired cycling legs. For me, I did that along with a 10% brick of my rides, and it worked out. Again, I was a long way from PRing the 1/2 marathon in my race, but I’d banked so many minutes on the bike that I had a huge cushion.

Swim–fuhgetaboutit. If you can swim the distance, you will be fine. No need to spend hours in the pool so you can shave off 3 minutes of swim time when you could spend those hours biking (or resting). If anything, spend your swim time in the open water so you are comfortable with it.

Keep in mind, the point here isn’t to “do your best” or “run the perfect race”. If you want to do that, you should hire a coach, measure everything you eat, take vitamins, etc. Not knocking anyone who wants to do that either, but that’s a different (and very worthy) goal than just trying to arrive at 5:59:59.

Hell In A Cell – A Mick Foley Parenting Tip

Mick Foley penned a great guest post for GeekDad on “The Talk”:

Have a talk with your kids. Tell them about some of the unfortunate realities of life, and assure them that you’ll be there for them in good times and in bad, in sickness in health. Let them know that a parent’s love is indeed unconditional and that they can turn to you in any situation. Just don’t let them know that you’re taking parental advice from a pro-wrestler

While my M.O. up until now has been based on the question “WWDLRD?”, I think it may be time to reconsider and change strategies to “WWMFD?”. DLR isn’t quite as literate as Foley.

Have A Nice Day!

Stuff You Should See– August 26th through September 3rd

Higher Ed Bubble Dwarfs Housing Bubble – There's an even bigger bubble in the amount actually learned. Not casting stones or anything, just sayin'.

Provide 30,000 rugby balls to youth&high school players – A Ball for All!

Does Stretching Before Running Prevent Injuries? – Short answer–no. The only thing I stretch is my running clothes.

Inspiration and Chai – "Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

How the Commerce Clause Made Congress All-Powerful – Must watch

The U.S. Postal Service Is Dying. Why Not Radically Rebrand It? – Actually makes more sense than doing stuff like sponsoring a cycling team in a largely international event.

Some Daily Homeschool Advice

Jennifer is a friend from way back and is homeschooling her kids for the first time this year. Lots of good advice over there, including this:

It doesn’t matter if my child is ahead, behind, or right on target, I have to ask “who’s target?” They get there when they are ready. My job is to meet them exactly where their knowledge stops and their curiosity begins. I have to make sure they are not bored nor overwhelmed.

Smart move–it seems like one key to successful homeschooling is to identify your child’s preferred learning style and adapt your teaching methods to it instead of the other way around.


Seth Godin

Most of your competition spend their days looking forward to those rare moments when everything goes right. Imagine how much leverage you have if you spend your time maximizing those common moments when it doesn’t.

This is just contrarian enought that I can agree with every single word.

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