The Road to Bluegrass 7/24

They say if you want to learn how to write better dialogue you should listen to more people having conversations. Hearing the way people talk is helpful for anyone wanting to write the way people actually speak but it’s also a great way to learn how to communicate with people. And if you’re going to communicate with people or write characters based on them, you’d may as well take in their appearance. Round out their personality with their body language and other physical characteristics. You know…Watch the people. I love watching people walk around at hockey games as they juggle full cups of shitty beer and hot dogs. I love watching people walking into and out of Wal-Mart with the smell of Subway and inbred musk in the air. I love sitting on a bench on the strip in Gatlinburg and just watching people walk by as they look in the shops.

I just love watching people.

We live on the top of a very small hill under some very not-small trees. You can imagine that this can be both entertaining and terrifying during extreme weather. If the wind blows even a little bit our trees clap their hands together in an applause that sounds more like the Ragnarok than a warm summer breeze. It’s even more ominous if it’s dark out or if a thunderstorm is blowing in. If it rains really hard, sometimes a small stream will form in our neighbor’s back yard that runs down beside our house, across our front yard and rests as an improvised pond in our other neighbor’s yard. When it snows, the incline on our street is just enough so that most people can’t make it by our driveway. They’ll spin their tires, sometimes twisting their cars sideways until they make it. Other times they just roll backward, park in the street and start walking home. It’s entertaining to watch these things from my window. It’s entertaining to see trees blowing, the streams forming and the cars sliding.

I just love looking out my windows.

To the point where Erin calls me Neighborhood Watch and I ain’t even mad about it.

Considering my passion for people watching and my fascination with what goes on outside my house, it should surprise no one that I was particularly interested when I woke up one day last week — 6:30am — to hear my neighbors across the road yelling at each other. I’ve heard them fight before but there was a certain tone in this argument I’d never heard in the past so I rolled out of bed to get a view of what was going down.

I watched the argument unfold, most of which consisted of incoherent yelling. Over the next ten minutes I watched a man fill up the trunk of a car, load two women into the passenger and back seats, then drive off. An angry woman was now the sole resident of the home and she stormed back in the house, slamming the door behind her.

During the argument, I noticed her car was parked in the yard. Something they’d never really done before. Since then, the car comes and goes but when it parks at the house, it’s always in the yard, right by the front door. She literally pulls her car up to the front door of her home every single day.

The running plan continued last week as I totaled 13 miles for the week and averaged a 12:26/mile pace. My total mileage for the program is currently 58 miles with an average pace of 12:23/mile. I’m honestly not thrilled with my pace. Especially after I did some figuring to determine what pace I’ll need to be running to hit my goal finish time when the end of September rolls around.

I’m basically a full minute off. That’s a lot. Jesus, I miss training for my first half when the only goal I had was survive.

Anyway, this is week 8 and it looks like this:

  • Monday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE
  • Tuesday: 3 Mile run; 7:00 Boxing at TITLE
  • Wednesday: 4 Mile TEMPO run
  • Thursday: 3 Mile run
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Cross-training (details below); 9:30am Kickboxing at TITLE
  • Sunday: 7 Mile run

Cross-Training — Phase 5, Week 6: Back, Tris, Calves, Hams

  • Top of the Mountain Warmup: Spin bike, 8 minutes; stretch
  • Pull-Ups Set 1: 5 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 1: Dumbbells, 35% weight, 10 reps, 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 2: 6 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 2: Repeat circuit 1, 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 3: 8 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 3: Repeat circuit 1, 3m rest
  • Circuit 4: Barbells, 90% weight, 5 reps, 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 4: 9 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 5: Repeat circuit 4
  • Pull-Ups Set 5: 10 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 6: Repeat circuit 4
  • Kettlebell Burnout: 100 Snatches
  • Bottom of the Mountain Cooldown: Spin bike, 8 minutes; stretch

There’s a part of me that thinks parking your car inches from your front door is trashy.

Another part of me is jealous because I can’t park that close to my front porch, let alone my door.

But a third part of me cheers her on every time I see that vehicle parked in the grass, 10 yards away from their huge driveway. She’s doing it because it’s what she wants to do and likely has been wanting to do for some time.

What I’m trying to say here is now is the time to take what’s yours. If you want to lose 10 pounds, start exercising regularly, train for your first 5k or get a promotion at your job, that shit is YOURS. Kick whatever negativity you’re living with to the curb and you start parking your shit by the front door. There’s nothing stopping you.

Friday Fitness Finds 7/7

Okay, so it looks like I took a week off. Feels like more. I thought I had neglected this space for a month or longer.

I could say that I was incredibly busy and simply had no time to dedicate to the ol’ blog while masking the real fact that I was just too lazy to write words since I do it 40 hours a week already but that would be a lie.

All lies.

It’s definitely true that yes, I have been quite busy and being a bit swamped at the office makes it difficult for me to want to write even more words when I get home or even on my lunch break. I’ve kept the ball rolling, though, on some new, hopefully cool, projects that involve my personal training.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to start rolling out JTFStrong — a website and social presence where all my fitness postings where live. My intentions include the same posts I’ve been making here for the last few weeks, some rants and raves about hot fitness topics, some hopefully artsy fartsy videos, free workouts and even a full eBook version of my meal prep series that I’ve not finished yet (I owe y’all one more post — I promise I haven’t forgotten).

Anyway, so that’s all been going on in the background. Hopefully they’ll start getting their full reveal sooner rather than later.

Until then, here’s some shit I found this week:

  • Why Negativity Is a Social Killer by Brett and Kate McKay via The Art of Manliness
    A lot of people just assume I’m chill and in a good mood most of the time. Honestly, I actually am. But this isn’t always the case. In fact, I’m often grouchy, hateful and can sometimes be downright nihilistic. But, like it or not, it’s my job to be positive. Not just because I’m a personal trainer, but because I think it’s everyone’s job to be. Being negative is unbelievably easy. Griping and not feeling grateful about nit-picky shit in your life is the simplest way to live, therefore a huge portion of people you encounter during the day will be this way. But not you — not anymore. Someone is depending on you to brighten their day and you may not even know who it is. Does it take effort? Yes, but the benefits far outweigh those of being negative (none).

  • BCAA Energy by EVLution Nutrition via
    Nothing to say here except this is what I use for midday energy boosts or something to swig on between a workout or run and class if I’m doing more than one thing during the day. It’s currently Buy 2 Get 1 Free and you might want to jump on that.

  • 9 Dynamic Plank Variations for a Sexy and Strong Core by Fitness Coach Lunden via Runtastic
    I do several plank variations during my boxing classes (push-up, push-up with hands on the medicine ball, push-up with hands on the medicine ball and ankles crossed, elbow plank, elbow plank with feet on medicine ball, uneven planks, elbow-to-push-up planks, side planks, side planks with the medicine ball on the hip…)

    The point here is that I do a lot of planking. Well, my clients do. And I like these variations. If you come to my classes, expect to see some of these in the future!

  • How to Deadlift (And Why Everyone Should by Nia Shanks
    Confession: I was one of those people that dogged deadlifts. For years. Because I hurt myself when I was in high school. Know how you hurt yourself doing deadlifts? Not doing them right. I didn’t do them right, I griped about them, and herein lies the reason other idiots gripe about them. Nia does a great job here describing the proper deadlift and its many benefits. If you’re name is Erin, please expect to start doing some more deadlifting in your next phase…

  • Anabolic Stretching: An Oft-Overlooked Training Facet to Ramp Up Single Bodypart Growth by Peter Tzemis via Roman Fitness Systems
    This is interesting. I don’t know how accurate it is but his reasoning makes sense (and the idea that Arnold did it helps). The thought here is that while we know that static stretching cold muscles is not only NOT beneficial but potentially detrimental, our muscles can benefit from loaded stretching where we hold a weighted stretch at the top of our eccentric portion of our lifts. It couldn’t hurt, I don’t suppose and I may try this out starting with my cross training this week.

Music to Run Fast-ish, Lift Heavy and Punch Hard To

I guess it was around the time I started training for my first 10K that I stopped listening to music while running. For the longest time I had various playlists and podcasts and story runs I’d listen to while running just to keep my mind off of how tired I was getting. But at some point I decided to quit because I figure since it’s not really allowed during races, why would I train that way?

Then last week I was watching Two Minutes to Late Night clips on YouTube when I found a short video of host Gwarsenio Hall doing Carpool Karaoke with members of various metal bands to the Misfits song Hybrid Moments. The Misfits are one of my favorite bands (if not my #1 favorite) and Hybrid Moments is one of my favorite songs they do. Hearing it that day and seeing people thrashing about in the car to it got me so hyped and I couldn’t stop hearing it in my head.

As a result, I loaded some Misfits onto my iPhone and broke out the headphones for the first time in a long time for a short 2-mile run in the park.

And it was amazing.

It wasn’t my fastest run during this training program thus far, but it was a close second. Something in those Misfits songs sets a fire in me that nothing else can. I’m also sure I was more than just a little intimdating running nearly shirtless through the woods shouting IF YOU WANNA SCREAM, SCREAM WITH ME…

Anyway, that’s the jam for this week — go run, lift or box. And come see me if you want to learn how to do either of those things better.

The Weekly Thing 6/5


The music was pumping. People in white shirts were milling around, some carrying bags, others smoking cigarettes and complaining that they’d forgotten their music. Erin’s mom and dad were behind us as we walked through the tunnel at Chilhowee Park. Erin was looking for the check-in, I was looking for the bathroom.

When we got to the top of the hill, we looked down over the next hill and saw the starting line flags, the check-in table and the stage where the music was originating. The DJ was counting down, spinning, scratching and politely requesting his audience of 15 people to scream or put their hands up. The scene was almost like a poorly attended rave only we were outdoors and it was 8:00 in the morning.

We were at the Knoxville Color Vibe 5K — our first ever color run.

Erin had planned to wear the event’s shirt, a move that almost guarantees a race injury (or so I’ve heard). I bought a $2 white TITLE Boxing Club t-shirt especially for the event. We were told the runners would leave in waves yet after we checked in and started taking notes on the other attendees, I was a little lost as to why waves were needed. There were only a couple hundred people in attendance.

Despite the relatively light attendance, the DJ played hit after top 40 hit to get the runners hyped. There was a Zumba warm-up that was probably more intense than the race and then it was go time. The DJ instructed everyone to participate in their best outside voices in the countdown from 10…9…8…7…6…

…5 – SO excited, time to run!
…4 – I’m so incredibly proud of Erin for wanting to do this!
…3 – I’m hopping in place from excitement!
…2 – I’m so freakin’ pumped about starting my run training next week!
…1 – It’s time! Let’s get it onnnnnnn!!!!!


…except not us. We were in the second wave. That was weird. Now I’m just hungry.

Anyway. Last week wrapped up my phase 4 lifting program and this week starts training for the Bluegrass Half Marathon on September 24. My program for the next 16 weeks will consist of 4 runs of varying distances, 1 cross-training day and then whatever I’m scheduled to work at TITLE for the week. Here’s what this week looks like:

  • Monday: 6:00am Boxing at TITLE
  • Tuesday: 2 Mile Run
  • Wednesday: 2 Mile Run; 7:00pm Boxing at TITLE
  • Thursday: 2 Mile Run
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2 Mile Run
  • Sunday: Cross-training (details below); 1pm T-75 Boxing at TITLE


The term “cross-training” can mean anything. For a lot of runners that would indicate going to a spin class or taking yoga. I have a hard time thinking about not lifting so I’m going to continue lifting through my phase 5 program, just vertically loaded. I’m still doing my pull-ups program and will be continuing the 21-Day Kettlebell Program this week.

I’ll be doing days 1 and 2 of this week’s pull-ups at home. Kettlebell Challenge day 14 will likely be done either before or after class on Wednesday night.

Here’s what this week’s cross-training looks like:

Phase 5, Week 1: Chest, Biceps, Shoulders, Quads

  • Top of the Mountain Warmup: Spin bike, 8 minutes: 1 minute each from levels 1-8 then stretch
  • Pull-ups set 1: 6 Reps
  • Circuit 1 – Weight: 30%, Reps: 10
    Dumbbell Bench Press, Dumbbell Biceps Curls, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Squats
  • Pull-ups set 2: 5 Reps
  • Circuit 2 – Repeat Circuit 1
  • Pull-ups set 3: 4 Reps
  • Circuit 3 – Weight: 85%, Reps 5
    Barbell Bench Press, EZ-Bar Biceps Curls, Barbel Shoulder Press, Barbell Squats
  • Pull-ups set 4: 3 Reps
  • Circuit 4 – Repeat Circuit 3
  • Pull-ups set 5: Max reps
  • Kettlebell Challenge Day 15 – 50 Snatches (10 left, 10 right x 2, 5 left, 5 right)
  • Bottom of the Mountain Cooldown: Spin bike, 8 minutes: 1 minute each from levels 8-1 then stretch

Once we finally got running I quickly learned that this part of Knoxville is a pretty fun route despite running alongside traffic on a relatively busy highway. We were hit with blues and yellows and greens and reds. Some people had it all in their hair, on their faces; some were even rolling around in it on the ground near the color stations. We walked uphill, ran downhill. Color runs aren’t timed and we didn’t time it independently. We didn’t care. We wanted to have fun and we did. In a way, it was a very unique PR.

Our packets came with two color packs with instructions to hold them until the after-race party. We hung out at the party for about 5 or 6 minutes listening to DMX and DJ Kool. We watched a few people dance and nodded our heads a bit while chugging finish-line water. I think Erin did the Apache. We decided to take our colors home so I could snap a few proper photos. Dig ’em:

Worth noting: Erin started her tracker too early and stopped it too late…like minutes early/late…and her pace averaged out to be record-setting for her. I can’t wait until her next timed race!

…also, she didn’t get hurt despite her shirt choice.