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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Primal Endurance: Week 8

Views from my bike.

I'm finishing my 8th week of the Primal Endurance (PE) program. I am highly, highly skeptical by nature so I’m not the kind of person who tends to jump to conclusions based on little evidence or extrapolate exaggerated deductions from scant information. With that said I have to say that I have found a new and improved way to ride a bike after riding seriously since I was 15 years old. I have learned that slowing WAY down has been wildly beneficial to my overall level of fitness and health while increasing my energy level. Let me begin with this point of slowing down.

PE emphasizes the need to train at your aerobic maximum rate which is calculated at 180 heart beats per minute minus your age (180HPM – Age = Aerobic Max). At first this seemed ridiculously slow and completely counter-intuitive to aerobic fitness training. Before I started I had almost nothing in the way of a plan so I basically went out every day and treated my ride like a race as I tried to pass every other cyclist on the trail. I did manage to pass most cyclists and thought this was how everyone trained. Training at my new aerobic max seemed way too slow to be doing me any good but I stuck with it. As I mentioned in other posts, the hardest part was allowing other cyclists to blow by me.

I swallowed my pride and stuck to the program and very shortly I noticed that I was quickly riding faster and faster without elevating my heart rate above my target. I also noticed my recovery rate was ridiculously quick. For example, say I slightly exceeded my max on a short climb. Just backing off for a few seconds on the pedals allowed my heart to drop 10 beats a minute or more. At the end of these 8 weeks I now ride my old course in the same time at this drastically lowered heart rate level as I did before when I was riding all out for the entire course of 40 kilometers. I don’t get passed much these days.

Granted, I have worked extremely diligently these past 8 weeks, perhaps harder than I have ever trained in the last 30 years so I don’t want to give all of the credit to PE techniques. However, because of PE training I now have the desire and energy to train every day. I have hardly taken a single day off just because I don’t feel tired, not ever, not even right after a two hour ride. I don’t feel exhausted like I did before when I was riding balls-to-the-wall every time out.

I have lost weight but not a lot, not as much as you would think for someone training two hours almost every day, at least two hours. It's not like I need to lose a lot of weight. I drank a hell of a lot of beer at the beginning eight weeks ago because of the Euro2016 football matches and it’s really hard to lose weight when you drink 5-6 beers every night. I have backed way off on beer this past week and my weight is dropping slowly, very slowly. I don’t believe in miracles but I do believe in being patient.

I am a bit skeptical about the PE claim of me becoming a “fat burning beast” but I haven’t ruled it out yet. One thing I can say with authority is that my appetite has changed radically since training at this lower heart rate. I no longer crave carbohydrates and I have learned to eat a lot less. I haven’t eaten bread or pasta in eight weeks and I don’t miss either. I have always been able to lose weight by eating fewer carbs but the problem was sticking to this diet. This time around I just don’t feel like I am missing anything by not eating processed carbohydrates.

Another tenet of the program is rest. Once again I can say without a shred of skepticism that I have been sleeping better than I have in many, many years. I have always napped almost every day for a long time, usually for anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, at rare times an hour. Now my naps are from 45 minutes to an hour and at times two hours! Yikes! When I wake up instead of feeling groggy and out of it I feel like the day I was born.

I discovered this program at precisely the right moment of the year when I have time to train two or more hours a day as well as nap pretty much as long as I can. With that said this new method has given me an incredible amount of energy and I NEVER feel tired like I would before after a long, hard ride followed by eating too much (with a lot of processed carbs at times). 8 weeks is a pretty short time window, especially put in the time frame of how long it took me to put on the extra pounds I was carrying. I started to make a concerted effort to lose weight in January of 2015 and I had some success and have kept my weight down since the initial 15 pounds or more that I lost in the first five months.

Now I need to drop from my current 195 to 185 which is proving to be considerably more difficult than those first 15 pounds. The difference is that this time I will be going from my current weight of 195 which isn’t a bad weight for me and I look pretty good, if I do say so myself, to 185 which will be my absolute optimal weight. At 185 I will look like freaking Tarzan so getting to that point will take some doing and perhaps at least another 8 week cycle, this time with less beer (at least a little less). 

RE: The Video 

There are a couple of places around town where I will stop to do pull-ups. In all of these places there are lots of young punks with zero body fat showing off. While many of them put me to shame in the physique department, I’ve only seen a few who can do appreciably more pull-ups than I can crank out on a given day. Pull-ups are just hard to do.

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