Road to Bluegrass 8/7 + JTFStrong

Happy Monday, freaks! Monday is definitely Road to Bluegrass day but today it’s happening a little differently. Let me explain.

If you’ve followed by blog for any amount of time, you know my story. I was sick, I worked my ass off, I became well and now I help other people do the same thing. I love sharing stories about the workout plan I’m on, the races I’m training for, the classes I lead and the meals I prep. But you also know I do a lot of other stuff, too. Primarily taking photos of the cool places I go and sometimes live streaming myself drinking wine and deep frying shit.

While I’m kind of into the idea of keeping it all together in one place, I thought it was about time that I separated all things fitness from all other things I do. Enter JTFStrong.

I’ll be in the process of moving over all things fitness/health/diet to that site and its social media compliments as well as creating new original content for the site including workout plans, meal-prep recipes, videos, commentary and maybe even an eBook.

If you’re a follower of this site because of the fitness stuff, please take a second and follow the new one. If you’re on Insta or Facebook, it’d be way rad if you followed me there, too.

If you’re really interested in how training went last week, I’ve already posted about it on the new site so now’s a great time to get used to checking there and (hopefully) bookmarking it.

This site isn’t going away. In fact, I hope to include more different things here in the coming weeks. Maybe more creative stuff, I don’t know. Definitely more personalized writings and likely some videos of my dogs.

Anyway, this is exciting for me and I hope you guys can benefit from the stuff I write on the new page.

Get Stronger, Get Prettier…


Friday Fitness Finds 8/3

Erin passed me an article today that I nearly included in this list but I thought I’d make a few comments on it instead. Brad Stulberg of Outside Magazine wrote the article Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports? and brought up some great points.

The first thing most of us who lift heavy things or run long distances (read: more than the short distance between you and a closing elevator) is going to think is: Rich? Come on… Yes. Rich. In 2013 a Gallop-conducted poll found that the worldwide median household income is merely $9,733. The median per-capita income is $2,920. That’s annually, y’all. Compare $2,920 to your annual salary and you’ll soon find out that not only are you rich, but you’re of the filthy, stinking variety as well.

The article goes on to explain how even in our “modern” and “civilized” country, a huge portion of our citizens do not have access to proper facilities or safe places to train for endurance sports. One would think that running, arguably the cheapest sport to get into, would be free for everyone. And I suppose to an extent it is, but if you want to properly fuel, support your body, have access to training materials, not get mugged or murdered while you train and actually compete in races, one needs the financial means to make it happen. And let me tell you — there’s a lot to finance in this sport.

Enter the rich and successful guy.

So you tough it out. You go to school and you get the job and you get the marriage and you get the success and money you were looking for. You’re successful! You probably wear a tie to work and drive a BMW! I bet you have a rehearsed laugh and scowl at the IT geeks who wear t-shirts to work. You’ve made it, right?

Not necessarily. Having a comfortable home on the safe end of town and a job that gives you ample expendable income is great, but for a lot of us, that safety isn’t really what we’re looking for. Personally, I enjoy knowing my bills are going to get paid and that my wife won’t be harassed if she goes somewhere on her own in the parts of town we frequent. I like knowing nothing is going to be stolen out of my yard if I leave it out there at night and that I can sleep soundly every night without packing heat. You could say I even take it for granted. Because I do.

A lot of us do. And this, according to the article, is often where endurance sports come in.

Exercising as hard as I do gives me a reason to push myself. It gives me a reason to hurt — to feel like I may be in danger. It makes me learn how to deal with pain and it shows me time and time again that I’m able to overcome it and get stronger. Is it the same as having to fight for what you have? No. Will running my next half-marathon earn me a black hat with COMPTON spelled out across it? No. Does it give me enough danger to make me feel more alive than I do 40+ hours a week when I’m doing the “rich guy” thing? Hell yes, it does.

Here’s this week’s stuff:

  • Portobello Fajita Meal Prep by BudgetBytes
    I got this earlier this week and I think it looks amazing. I like the idea of replacing the traditional steak or chicken in the fajitas with mushrooms and the “Cowboy Caviar” looks great, too. I’m super interested in the cornbread but I don’t know how it’s going to work macro-wise. I hope to make this in another week or two so I can actually calculate them. Follow up if you’re interested.

  • 4 Bad Running Habits and How to Fix Them by Shoshanna Cohen via
    I think this was intended for folks new to the sport but there’s some Running 101 tips here that even the seasoned runner could stand be reminded about. Me included. If you’re just getting into running, especially, just know that despite this list and many others like it, you’ll likely break the “rules” and learn the hard way regardless. I know that’s how it’s worked for me.

  • Muscle Club Apparel Promo
    Nothing to read here but Muscle Club Apparel is running a special through the weekend where orders of $35 or more will ship with a free tank! And let’s be honest, we can all use more tanks — NO SLEEVES ALLOWED!

  • Hella Recipes by PaleOMG
    Buffalo Chicken Bacon Ranch Potato Salad: I’m not crazy about potato salad but I could make an exception for this. YUM.
    Grilled Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Pork Chops: I love cooking with fire. I love pork chops. I love pineapples. This recipe sounds amazing.
    Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie: This has “make me next week for meal prep!” written all over it and I think I’m going to allow it assuming I can find some spaghetti squash this weekend!

  • Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age by Taffy Brodesser-Akner via The New York Times Magazine
    This is a long read but it’s an interesting topic. Break it down into parts if you need to. Ultimately, this is a study of how the diet culture a lot of us grew up with is dying off in a way with words/phrases like “diet” and “lose weight” being replaced with “clean eating” and “get healthy.” Statistically, people are happier being fat now than ever before — so how do you sell them lifestyle changing habits?

  • 18 Uncomfortable Truths About Nutrition, Health and Fitness by Nia Shanks
    You guys know by now how much I love Nia’s blog and I hope I’ve sent her at least one follower over the last several weeks. Her 18 Uncomfortable Truths… couldn’t be more spot-on and they’re relevant for everyone no matter your gender, age or where you are on your fitness journey. I read these and felt pretty guilty about a lot of them, but make no mistake, making you feel guilty is not the intention of this post. Rather, read through it, identify with some of her topics and learn to accept them as truths worth working with.

  • Free Fitness/Nutrition Guides from Nerd Fitness
    This is awesome! You guys already know that I’m a big fan of Nerd Fitness anyway but this is a perfect place to go if you’re ever wondering why. Here, NF has put together FREE guides on newbie health mistakes, the Paleo diet, beginners workouts, weightlifting basics and more. In all, there are eight incredible guides written by a useful and non-intimidating source, all for free. You can’t beat that!

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

Nothing this week, y’all. Nothing.

But before I left work I had a conversation about the Dream Warriors so here’s this:

The Road to Bluegrass 8/1

Oh, hello, August. I didn’t realize you were here already but you’re looking good.

August is, indeed, looking good but that’s about it. So far my week has looked like this:

  • I ran long on Sunday (more on that below) and went for a relaxing lunchtime trip across the lake on my friend’s boat. I grilled steaks and baked potatoes for dinner but I didn’t do meal prep. I did, however, buy chicken to marinate so I could do it Monday.
  • Since I did heavy deadlifts on Saturday followed by a kickboxing class THEN a 7-mile long run on Sunday, everything from my waist down was barely functioning yesterday. I used the elevator to get to the second floor and I wasn’t even embarrassed.
  • I didn’t do meal prep Monday either. Instead, I ordered a pizza for dinner.
  • This morning I accidentally (swear to god) turned my 4:30 alarm off instead of snoozing it. I fell back asleep and didn’t wake up again until nearly 7:00. There went my Tuesday morning run.
  • I brought leftover pizza for lunch today (since I didn’t prep anything) and I ate it at 10:30.
  • We’re going to a show tonight — I have class in the morning — We have plans Wednesday night. Therefore the first time I can run this week will be Thursday morning. WHEP.

In other words, this week hasn’t been my finest work and it’s only Tuesday. It happens, I guess. Let’s get on with the good shit.

So last week I tried something I haven’t ever done: I actually trusted my program.

That sounds silly considering I started running with Couch-to-5k and after completing the program, I tackled (and completed) 5k-to-10k. Although I successfully completed both programs, completion wasn’t achieved by following the rules exactly. There were runs I’d skip, others I’d fudge. Some I didn’t do exaaaactly right but I still did them. In the end, I was able to finish both the program and the appropriate races just fine so it’s not a big deal, really, but the thing I’m trying to get at here is that I didn’t do them perfectly.

And that’s okay.


What if I told you that the program is written a certain way for a reason?

NOTE: Not this kind of program.

I learned that last week after I did my first-ever legit tempo run. Up until this point, every training program I’ve been on has called for them but I’ve always fudged it. I didn’t skip the run but I didn’t run it at goal tempo. When I considered actually sucking it up and doing it this time around, I was immediately discouraged. I figured out that if I want to reach my half-marathon PR goal of 02:30:00, I’ll need to average an 11:27/mile pace. If you look at my spreadsheet, you’ll notice that up until last week I was averaging anywhere from 20 seconds too slow to as much as a minute.

That’s a LOT, y’all (have I covered this already?)

Anyway, I figured I’m not going to get any faster if I don’t go out and push myself so I did just that. When I started running that morning in the park, my legs were already sore from the weekend’s workout, I was stiff because I was in bed just a short time before and I didn’t feel very focused at all. Then I numbed myself to my aches, pains and negativity, and just ran. No intervals and no plan other than try to average 11:27/mile.

After I had been running about a mile or so I looked down at my watch and noticed that not only was I running fast, I was smoking.

NOTE: Not this kind of smoking.

Like, 7:40/mile smoking. Granted, I didn’t do it for long (especially after I realized I was running a little too fast) but the fact remains that after running a mile I was still able to run at sub-8 pace without feeling like I wanted to die. That was encouraging to say the least.

Anyway, I leveled myself out and took a short walk break after getting a righteous rock in my shoe and then another after eating a gnat. In the end, I ran my 3 miles with an average pace of 11:05/mile. If that sounds like my fastest average pace during this program it’s because it was.

A few days later I went on my weekend long run. On Sunday I set out to run seven miles on the Greenway and even though I was still riding high because of my surprise pace earlier in the week, I had no intention of worrying about my pace during my long run. They’re called Long Slow Distances for a reason, no?

Without getting into the details of the long run, I’ll just say that while I was definitely worn out at the end, it was not a killer run. I kept a steady pace for the entire run and felt confident the entire time. When I made it back to the door at TITLE Boxing Club (my start/finish point), I stopped my watch and realized I averaged a 12:08/mile pace. Was it the 11:27 I need to achieve to reach my half-marathon PR goal? Not even close.

BUT (again)…

Looking back at my stats for this program, a 12:08/mile pace is the fastest pace I’ve kept for any of my long runs by about six seconds. Somehow I was able to achieve this despite it being the longest run I’ve gone on in well over a year.

Now, did going on a single tempo run earlier in the week cause me to get 6 seconds/mile faster in such a short amount of time? Probably not. Did it give me the confidence I needed to push myself a little more, even on those slow and low long runs? Hell yes!

Thanks, tempo run. We may have to hook up again.

I finished the week with only two runs totaling 10 miles with an average pace of 11:36/mile and I’m now officially past the halfway point in the program. Y’all, I see a PR in my future.

Trying to salvage what I can of this fragmented week, here’s what the workouts look like:

  • Monday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE with a FAST Mile afterward
  • Thursday: 4 Mile Run, 7:00 Kickboxing at TITLE
  • Friday: 3 Mile Tempo Run
  • Saturday: Cross-training (Phase 5, Week 7: Chest, Bis, Shoulders and Quads, 4 sets 8 reps at 45%, 4 sets 3 reps at 100%)
  • Sunday: Long Run — 8 Miles

Anyway. Don’t do anything dumb this week. And if you do, just keep moving.