Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Importance of Running Well

Is it more important to run well or run more?  When you show up to a half or full marathons there are many recreational runners out there who have trained to just finish. They will sludge through the event, shuffling their feet so they can cross the finish line.  The achievement of finishing an endurance event can be exhilarating but the damages it can have on a body can be debilitating.  66% of runners get injured. Why is this stat so high?  My opinion is that many people rush into running more and cause overuse problems that can hinder their overall performance.  

Notice the different techniques of these recreational runners.
As volume is an important component to the endurance world, we should not rush into more mileage. I say, get better at running.  Be smart with your training and don’t let volume be the only aspect you are focusing on.  Running well is the way to go. Focusing on improving your form, efficiency and economy are going to keep you running longer.  Look at these big marathons; you get thousands of people out there. You can see some horrific running technique.  Sloppy reps performed over and over creates bad behaviors, which in running will eventually cause injury.  That is why dialing in your technique is critical; it might be the most important component to an injury free program.  Here are simple tips that are very important to add to your training to create a more intellectual approach: 

Elite runners with efficient form and very similar styles.

Recreational runners shuffling their feet.

1.     Running drills: Take a 7-year-old soccer team.  Would it be smart to just put them on the playing field and say, “Play”?  Drills will be the main aspect these young kids ingrain in their skill set to become better at soccer.  It goes for running as well.  It’s poor thinking to just go out and run without attention to proper technique.  Running with sloppy form will eventually put you on the sideline because injury is destined to happen.  Running specific drills are needed (see video).  Performed consistently throughout the week, these drills will aid in improving your overall running performance.     

2.     Learn to run well first: don’t rush into running long.  This is a mistake I see many endurance athletes make.  They want to rush into a marathon training program without running a handful of 5k’s and 10k’s.  And in all actuality, this is a problem.  As I am all for setting ambitious goals, it’s imperative to be smart with the build up.  Get better at running shorter distances with good form first.  Go see if you can run with perfect technique for 10 seconds, walk for a bit and then repeat. Add some speed to the 10 second intervals to promote good running form and get good at this first before moving to longer durations.  Progress to 20 seconds, 30 seconds and so on.  Before you know it you will be running with great technique over longer durations. 

3.     Build your kinetic chain.  This might be my first priority when setting up a program for an endurance athlete.  If the kinetic chain has leaks and movement dysfunctions, running will just cause more harm than good.  But yet, many endurance athletes skip this component in their program.  Building the “chain” does not mean going to the gym and performing bicep curls and leg presses.  Implementing the “inside-out” approach is imperative to strengthening the body in a systematic way.  We need strong stabilizers in our hips, ankles and shoulders, adequate range of motion to move efficiently, a stable inner core to protect our spine and durable connective tissue to enable us to accept the demands of training loads.  For more details on a proper strength program, check out my article I wrote for here:   

Our body is connected from head to toe.  We are not isolated muscles, we are one chain.  This is how we should train.  

4.     Be patient.  Endurance for any sport takes time.  Years, in fact, to build a solid foundation of aerobic endurance.  So don’t expect to be running marathons your first year in the sport.  If you are patient and allow ample time to build technique, endurance, speed and strength, you will become a better runner.  Running is a lifestyle so allow yourself to be progressive and you will increase your longevity in the sport. 

5.     It’s ok to run fast.  You must know your level of course but running fast promotes good running technique.  Slow, methodical jogging forces bad patterns.  Running uphill or at a faster speed will force good form and will utilize the correct muscles.  Here is a simple way to periodize intervals into your training program:
                        (Remember to always go at your own level and modify the sets and                                                 repetitions accordingly.)
                        Week 1
                        5x200's at 5k goal race pace, jog 200 for recovery
                        Week 2
                        7x200's at 5k goal race pace, jog 200 for recovery
                        Week 3
                        9x200's at 5k goal race pace, jog 200 for recovery
                        Week 4
                        No intervals, light running for recovery
                        Week 5
                        4x400's at 5k goal race pace, jog 200 for recovery
                        Week 6
                        6x400's at 5k goal race pace, jog 200 for recovery
                        Week 7
                        7x400's at 5k goal race pace, jog 200 for recovery
                        Week 8
                        No intervals, light running for recovery

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Strength Training Principles for the Triathlete

You have all read that strength training is a positive element for triathletes to implement.  The question is what type of strength work is going to maximize triathlon fitness?  From P90x to Crossfit to Yoga and Pilates to “functional” strength, we can get a big confused as to what specific program can best fit the needs of our sport.  Let me give you some key principles to look for when deciding on a strength program:

1.     Working your soft tissue.  As a triathlete we are putting stress and impact on our body during training.  Our muscles become tight and inflamed and it can limit our performance and increase our chances of injury.  Soft tissue work using a foam roll, massage stick or a baseball should be part of your strength program.  Athletes that come through our facility start every workout with soft tissue work.  It’s the foundation of human movement.  With soft tissue and flexibility issues, strength gains will be limited if we don't solve the tissue problems first”, says Lee Burton, President of The Functional Movement Systems.   We will limit our triathlon performance if we do not improve our muscle tissue quality first.  

2.     Movement quality versus movement quantity.  Just because you get sore and tired from a specific strength workout doesn’t mean you are improving your triathlon fitness.  In fact, hard, aggressive and random program design can actually lead you down the path of chronic pain and injury, and then you cannot do anything.  If you train to absolute failure, your form breaks down, the wrong muscles are being utilized and your movement will be impaired.  This sets you up for injury and bad patterning down the road.  Think technical failure.  Do as many repetitions as you can with absolute perfect form.  Stop when the movement is no longer perfect.  I can have someone do 100 squats; think they will feel a burn?  Absolutely.  Is there a point to performing 100 squats?  Not really.   Like I said above, a sore body doesn’t necessarily mean you did something right.  Clean movement enhances your functionality which sets you up to push harder in your swim, bike and run workouts, which then improves total performance.  Quality over quantity!

  This is an example of quantity versus quality.  The goal of this workout is to get the reps done as fast as they can.  There is no attention to clean movement.  Remember if your form breaks down, the wrong muscles will be utilized and your movement will be impaired, which will lead to injury.  

3.     Working your “core” through smart training.  This word is probably one of the most used words in the fitness industry.  Proper core development teaches the entire body to cohesively work together.  If our “core” has weakness, we will limit the use of our lower and upper body strength and power.  The inner core incorporates the Multifidis (small spinal muscles), transverse abdominals (built in “weight belt”), pelvic floor (small muscles lining the pelvis) and the diaphragm (skeletal muscle used for respiration function).  These are muscles that we will never see but when functioning properly can aide in athletic development, optimal recovery, deep strength and stability and total body strength development.  Working your core is not just isometric “ab” training.  Performing thousands of crunches is not considered smart “core” training.  Researchers like Dr. Stuart McGill and Dr. Craig Liebenson are providing the world of athletics information on smart core training.  

 This is the "back expert" and all fitness professionals should learn from Dr. McGill. 

4.     Look for a system.  Your strength program should have a similar system each day you workout.  There should be a recipe that you follow each day.  If you are doing something completely different every workout you will increase your chances of injury and progress will be stagnated.  You shouldn’t just randomly run through a workout without detailed attention to progressions, appropriate sets and repetitions based on your triathlon-training schedule and proper functional training. 

A system that we use in our facility could look like this:

Soft tissue work with foam roll
Activation/mobility (glutes and shoulder stabilizers/t-spine and ankles)
Movement Preparation
(Series of drills to prepare the body for the work ahead)
Power Work
(Olympic lifts or Jump training; 2-leg and 1-leg drills can be used and medicine ball throws for upper body explosiveness)
Strength Work
1a) Knee dominant
1b) Loaded carry movement
1c) Upper body pull

2a) Hip dominant
2b) Core stability
2c) Upper body push

This system is consistent every workout for the endurance athletes that we train.  

5.     Stretching for everyone?  Flexibility training improves muscle length by going through specific range of motion movements and allowing the muscle to increase elasticity.  It also increases the circulation and supply of oxygen and nutrients the muscles need to work effectively.  If flexibility is limited, our movement and range of motion will be inhibited, thus making us more susceptible to injury.  Increasing flexibility through stretching is one of the basic principles of physical fitness.  Does everyone need to stretch?  In my opinion, the answer is no.   Hyperflexibility is an issue.  Individuals who participate in dance, martial arts, cheerleading and gymnastics can generally have extreme flexibility.  When muscles are overly stretched, the affected joint will lose the ability to control movement during activity.  This will cause abuse to the joint, which can cause debilitating injury (shoulder and hip labrum tears, rotator cuff trauma, ankle sprains, etc).  We need adequate range of motion, not extreme.  These overly flexible individuals need to focus on building stability and strength to support their joints.   Now if flexibility is an issue then yes, you need to stretch throughout the week.  Your range of motion limits your movement; thus causing a lack of performance.  

This young lady has extreme flexibility which can actually cause more issues than someone who limits range of motion.  She needs strength and stability work to protect her joints.

6.     How does your body feel after a workout?  This is a key indicator of a smart strength training program.  If you are having trouble walking the morning after a strength workout, you did too much.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t be sore, but having minor muscle soreness and having trouble sitting and standing are two totally different effects from training.  As triathletes, we are not looking for extreme soreness after strength work.  In fact, you should feel really good after a strength session because you have worked on the above principles.  You didn’t just go to the gym and bang out endless repetitions of squats and lunges.  There was a balanced attack of full body, multi-joint movements implemented to improve your athleticism. 

A little extreme.  This is not what you should look like after a workout.

Triathletes should be strength training.  Triathletes shouldn’t be extreme in the gym.  The #1 goal of a strength program for triathletes should be injury prevention.  If you are getting hurt inside the gym, you should reconsider what you are doing.  If you are constantly getting hurt outside the gym, you should reconsider what you are doing.  There is a smart way to implement strength training into your program.  Abide by the above principles and you will set yourself up for a successful triathlon season. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


("Short" story of my LIMITLESS Journey.  I have already started to write chapters of a life changing book that will be out in 2013.  This is the short version but still might take you 10 minutes to read.  Thank you very much for taking the time to read about our journey.)

It’s mesmerizing to think of what 300 miles of running looks like.  I computed the approximate number of steps one would take running 300 miles.  A runner running 9 m.p.h. will take approximately 765 steps in a mile.  That means that same person running 300 miles would come close to taking 230,000 steps!  It is equivalent to running 11.5 marathons in the 4 ½ days.  That’s right, one foot after the other, moving towards a goal.  Fighting through physical fatigue was inevitable.  But the mental and emotional fatigue was something that was in the unknown, and was uncomfortable and something that takes mad determination to fight out of.  I came out ALIVE!  Not just alive, breathing and going through life but I came out ALIVE!  Energy and momentum was created.  Passion was re-built.  Determination was instilled again.  And I want to share the message to the world because anyone can do anything!  Believing is the first step....

This was the story of Limitless.  

Creating this endeavor was challenging.  After talking to my brother Josh about this concept, he jumped on board and would produce a documentary about the entire project.  We wanted to show people that anyone can do anything!  And anyone can break limits.  And we wanted to show this through the movie.  We set up a committee of people that showed interest in assisting this project.  We would meet once a month starting in April 2012.  We would start planning this massive event.  Boy, did we create a beast of a project.  This was not just some guy running 300 miles.  This was about one man's goal to create optimism throughout a community....let me rephrase that "throughout the world".  It was about bringing together a group of motivating and positive individuals to create the Limitless mindset.  We would discuss sponsorships, route logistics, construction of brochures, posters and bracelets and marketing for the event.  What seemed like a simple idea turned into a colossal expedition of sort.  These meetings led to the creation of LIMITLESS: Life in Motion.  It would be a 300 mile run from Visalia, Ca to Santa Monica all built to raise awareness that life is what you make it.  That pushing your boundaries will lead to optimal living.  That living LIMITLESS with your Life in Motion will give you a full life.  That ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  We would also shoot to raise $20,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.  After months of discussion, after creating brochures, posters, and a website, the journey was introduced to the community.  

Training for this event entailed lots of time on the road.  There is no shortcut for an event of this stature (really any sports).  It's consistent hard work that takes time.  I was physically prepared and confident but running this distance brings unfamiliar territory into the equation.  I had built my endurance to a point that running 26.2 miles was just a normal training weekend.  My body adapted to the longer runs.  I had completed a number of self-supported ultra runs leading up to this 300 mile event.  Here are a few of those training runs:
Midnight to 6:00 am Visalia run - 36 miles
Visalia to Three Rivers - 35 miles
Visalia to Earlimart - 33 miles
Run in Seattle, WA - 26 mile training run - 103 mile training week
Exeter water tower to Lemon Cove and back: 26 miles
Exeter water tower to the Oak Tree and back: 26 miles 
Run in Avery, CA - 40 miles with 4000 feet of climbing - 110 mile training week
Arroyo Grande 3 day training camp: 1st day-48 miles, 2nd day-40 miles, 3rd day-27 miles, 
Total of 115 miles for the 3 days.  

Arroyo Grande Training Camp

These training days were necessary to prepare my endurance and mental mindset for ultra running.  This year alone I logged over 1600 miles of running, from January to October.  Along with running, I added in bike rides, swim workouts, weight training, flexibility work and lots of recovery to the program.  My nutrition was built to supplement my training loads.  It became my lifestyle. 

After months of physical preparation and project construction, the day of our departure was upon us.  We would meet downtown Visalia at City Hall and we invited the community out to celebrate life and send our crew on our way.  Let me say that this morning was magical.  It was everything I had imagined to the start of this journey.  It was quite overwhelming in fact to see so much support.  Approximately 50 people were out there with us for the departure of LIMITLESS.  We would run one lap through the downtown streets of Visalia.  This was an amazing scene.  The sun was just rising, the people were positive and smiling and I was encouraged.  This encouragement would be used later in the week. 

The magical morning start.

Supporters in Visalia - Thank you!
What started out as just a "run" would quickly turn into an experience of a lifetime.  We would run through Exeter, Porterville, Bakersfield, down the Edison Highway to Tehachapi, through the desert, through Lancaster and Palmdale, through the Angeles Forest and into Los Angeles.  Then re-routing and starting in Camarillo, running down Highway 1 through Malibu and into Santa Monica.  It was epic.  I had no clue the powerful impact it was going to have on myself and everyone involved.  Each night I would check my phone and the messages on Facebook and the texts I was receiving was encouraging and kept me going each day.  I truly mean that everyone's support whether it be through running with us, praying and thinking about us or crewing for our team, it was needed and was greatly appreciated.  I couldn't have achieved this lofty goal without the support. 

Rocky taking care of me
Running in Visalia at the start

As the run progressed, so did the emotion.  Physically this run tested my body, but I was unaware of the mental anguish I was going to go through; this tested my heart.  Sleep deprivation, hunger, physical fatigue, mind games and emotion all played a part in this journey.  But this trait called DETERMINATION is powerful.  It continued to lead me forward closer to my goal.  No matter how weak I felt, how tired I was, my determination and the determination of our team kept us moving.  The human spirit is one of the greatest and most powerful components in humanity.  I witnessed first hand the impact the human spirit has on people.  My pace runners broke barriers.  They encompassed  this optimistic energy that enabled them to push way past their initial personal limits.  I was motivated just watching.  This wasn't about me.  It was about developing a mindset to believe in yourself and break down your walls.

Praying for strength on the 3rd day
Running at 3:00 am; notice my brother and sister there with me

(Excerpt from my book - This was a pivotal part to the story)
"Right at this point is where we made a decision to all rest our eyes for an hour.  We came up to the RV, Josh Hickey made the announcement, I didn't even say a word.  I rushed to the back of the RV, took my shoes off and quickly laid my body down.  It felt good for a little bit.  But my mind was racing.  I knew that resting was not moving forward and that if I wanted to be done by noon that I needed to keep running.  After battling myself for a few minutes, I soon got up.  I used the restroom and stared at myself in the mirror and said outloud, "You son of a bitch.  Finish this."  I then put on fresh running clothes and started making my way out of the RV.  Quickly everyone heard the noise and saw it was me getting ready to leave again.  This is such a pivotal point of the journey.  As I was eating, we will call it breakfast, I looked around the RV and outside.  Everyone was so tired.  And everyone was slowly waking up from a depleted nap.  I felt so bad inside.  I thought to myself, "Everyone is sacrificing for me, this project, damn, I feel bad."  But I managed to move outside.  I was cold, my body was now beyond sore, my feet were beyond achy but miles needed to be ran.  A goal was waiting to be accomplished and my determination kept me driven.  I stood out on the road as I battled inside my head.  "Go, rest, go, rest, go."  This was going on in my head.  My brother Josh came up to me and with a weary voice I said, "I'm at my brink.  I am at my brink."  I looked out onto the road, my arms were crossed, Josh came up to me, put his arm around me and he was crying.  Crying hard.  It was such an emotional element we had come to."  

Taking advantage of the smiles
A deep moment to collect my thoughts

As I look back at this exponential run, I am humbled.  I have a greater appreciation of the people in my life.  Waking up feels better.  Complaints are thrown out the window.  Inspiration has been developed.  As I begin to write my book I constantly stop and I realize the life lessons I learned on this 4 1/2 day adventure.  I wanted to share a few of them with you:

1.  I was deep in the trenches of running.  I had ran 200 miles so far but I still knew I had 100 miles left.  This was a tough moment as I focused too hard on the end goal and it played tricks in my head.  I needed to stay focused on the present moment.  What was I doing at that time to make sure I would stay on path?  I allowed my mind to wonder and think about "how much I still had", instead of "I have come a long way".  I remember quickly changing this thought process and told myself to focus on each step rather on the end goal.  Each step would allow me to eventually reach my end goal.  Each step would give me motivation as it would creep me closer to this huge achievement.  Each step would be the focus.  This is what I encourage you to do as well.  Don't focus on the big goal ahead.  It will lead to frustration.  Instead focus on each step.  What are you doing daily to be healthy and reach your fitness goals.  Keep your mind focused on these little steps, be consistent and the big goal will eventually get accomplished.

2.  After running 300 miles I am sold that rest and recovery are crucial components to getting desired results.  I went through nights with very inconsistent sleep.  This didn't help for the next day.  Yes, I managed to get through the day but for long term and longevity, rest and recovery are so important for overall health and wellness.  You have to ask yourself each day how your sleep quality was the night before.  On a scale of 1-10, if you gave yourself a 5, then you shouldn't go push yourself too hard in the gym.  If you are an inconsistent sleeper but yet you push hard in the gym, your results are probably stagnate because you haven't allowed the body to regenerate.  Do this for weeks or months, this leads to over-training, injury, lack of motivation and lack of results.  So pay attention to your recovery habits.  We all have jobs and families and social responsibilities so there are other stressors in our life that play into this recovery.  Don't just keep "running".  If you need a break, take it.  If you need some extra sleep, get it.  You will reap the benefits by focusing on this aspect.

3.  I witnessed some unbelievable events during this journey.  But something that stands out were how my pace runners were able to bust through their own barriers.  Every single one of our runners broke their own personal records of running distance.  The human spirit is powerful and contagious.  This goes to show you that if you surround yourself with positive and motivating people, optimistic energy will be spread.  We had one runner join me for the final 56 miles of the journey.  This individual does not have a running backround, in fact he has only ran 6 miles a few times in his life.  But something took hold of his human spirit.  It was inspiring.  Now, I don't recommend running 56 miles right away, but I do recommend challenging yourself.  By surrounding yourself with a great group of motivating people, you are set up to challenge yourself.  You have the support, the energy and you will build the confidence to believe in yourself.  This is how big things happen! 

In another world.  Fighting through our barriers

Levine Boys running Angeles Forest - Something we will never forget!

I'd like to thank the following people....
Ira Jr Zermeno for running the last 56 miles with me. This is a guy that has no ultra running backround. In fact, he has only ran 6 miles a few times in his life.  He stepped up and helped a friend!

Rocky Cisneros was in constant control of my vital signs and physicality. He was there to ice my legs, stretch me out, tape my blisters and keep me moving forward.

Joshua Hickey ran 220 miles with me! He was my wing man and his ultra running experience paid off at crucial times during the trip.  His selflessness to aide this project was remarkable.  
Jim Barnes, was on a bike by my side every mile! His contagious positive attitude tremendously helped me stay in the zone to keep moving forward.

Stephanie Levine was the rock by my side the entire time. She stayed calm, took care of me and was willing to do anything for our team.
Jamie Hickey, her constant positive attitude and contagious smile gave us great encouragement at each stop. Thank you Jamie for being there to support us runners.

Robin Twitty, leading up the the actual run, Robin did so much administrative work for the project. These are things that needed to be done to make this event successful. Once she joined the crew out on the run, she helped in anyway she could. She cheered and high fived us along the course.

Dave Edwards, Dave the "video guy" was out there doing what he does best...shoot awesome video. His work will make for a legendary documentary.

Josh Levine, my best friend was out there supporting me the entire way. He ran with me at times when I needed my brother. He is going to put together an inspiring film.

Ron Levine, my pops was there the final 3 days to support us the rest of the way. He even ran with us in the Angeles Forest with my 2 brothers. Something we will never forget.

Suzin Levine, my mom followed us the first 3 days making sure we were safe. She would give us wet towels when it was hot and took care of the pace runners when they needed rides back.

And to all of my pace runners, You were my team and a team does perform with one individual.  All of your efforts were greatly appreciated; Your energy and drive motivated me to accomplish the goal: Sean, James, Steve, Salina, Eric G, Eric B, Tyler, Kimmie, Kelsey, Lindsey, Landon, Raul, Antonio, Jason L., Tiffany, Jesse, Chad, Jonathan, Sarah, Casey W., Ryan, Elizabeth L, Dad, Josh L, Ira, Josh H

I'd like to leave you with a message...
No matter the hardships, the obstacles in your life, the physical restrictions you might have, YOU can break those LIMITS.  You just have to create a belief system and a positive day to day life.  And you must have work ethic, determination and the desire to achieve your goals.  Life is waiting to be lived so set your goals high, go get 'em and be the person you were meant to be!! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


“Get out of your comfort zone.”

After running 115 miles over a 3 day span, this was one of the lessons that was grounded into my brain.  The comfort zone is, well, comfortable.  Being stuck inside this box will force stagnation. Stagnation leads to moving in the wrong direction.  Goals do not get set by staying comfortable.  We need to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable (quote by Bill Parisi).  It’s a place that is hard for people to be in but it truly pushes us to become better.  The first day of training was a 48 mile run which we completed in 8 hours and 30 minutes.  The second day was a 40 mile run which we completed in 7 hours.  And the third and final day was a 26 mile marathon.  I came to a point on the third day, 20 miles into the run, 108th mile of the weekend and a revelation hit me.  "DIG DEEPER JUSTIN."  I said out loud to myself.  "YOU HAVE MORE."  I continued.  My body was tired and my legs were sore but somehow I was able to dig deeper to find strength (this is a metaphor to life; dig deep in the toughest of times to find more of YOU).  I absolutely killed the next 5 miles.  I was running fast.  My heart rate was low, I had a smooth rhythm, and I was very controlled.  It came to me then, in the toughest of times, we have to realize that we have more inside of us.  We have more strength, more drive, more determination.  But the question is, are we willing to dig deep to find that inner strength?  It's hard because it's uncomfortable.  But we have it....  This alone will create a determined mindset that will drive you to your goals.  Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.  Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.  Don’t be afraid to push a little harder.  Be smart, yes, but GO FOR IT! You will truly see what you can do when you allow yourself to bust down that comfort zone wall.  
If you haven't heard, I am embarking on a journey that will exceed my physical limits.  To inspire others to live with this LIMITLESS and I CAN mindset, I am going to run 300 miles.  Physical, mental and spiritual limits will be broken as I begin my trek from my hometown of Visalia, CA to The Santa Monica Pier.  It will be a 300-mile ultra distance run that will test every bit of my physical capacity but will also test my mental mindset and will ultimately tap into the deepest part of my human spirit.  Let me make a clear statement: I AM NOT AN ULTRA DISTANCE RUNNER.  I am in the process of training to become one but I do not have experience in the ultra-distance world.  I have done 1 Ironman, 5 Half Ironmans and I have ran 7 half marathons.  I have completed over 40 triathlons ranging from sprints to Ironmans.  I have never raced in a solo marathon or ultra-distance marathon.  But, I DO BELIEVE IN MYSELF.  I have this belief in myself to conquer the aspirations I put on myself.  People ask what is LIMITLESS?  This is LIMITLESS.  

See, too many times we "just get through the day".  The reason why I know this is that when I ask people how their day is going, many people say, "Oh, I'm just getting through another day."  That is the problem right there.  Each day is NOT just another day.  Each day can be powerful and full of many "take-aways" if you create this mindset.  And it starts with your thoughts, then your words, and then your actions.  We are extremely fortunate to be given opportunity each day to create inspiration in our life.  This inspiration can come in the form of a good workout, a relationship, a teacher or mentor, a healthy and energized life, so much!  But yet we are focusing on the negatives in our life.  We can get so much FROM the day.  Motivation, drive, growth, opportunity, strength, desire, determination, confidence, discipline, patience, relationships, focus, love, health, energy, fun, and happiness!  These are just a few of the things we can get FROM the day.  I am running to promote this mindset.  I want to prove to people that positive living is the way to go and life gets better with this approach.  It doesn’t necessarily get easier but it does get better.  

This “LIMITLESS” mindset I am talking about is telling yourself, “Yes, I can”.  It’s truly, deep down believing you can accomplish your goals.  It’s ignoring the negativity that tries to break down your spirit, which then allows you to focus on the positives.  It allows optimal life.  It allows for more substantial and genuine relationships.  We create limitations in our life.  Whether it’s from other people’s negativity that hammers our subconscious or our own personal walls that we have allowed to develop in our life, these limitations ultimately stop us from reaching our full potential.  People talk themselves into quitting sometimes before they even start because they have allowed “I can’t” into their mind.  Once this thought enters the mind, you start believing it.  I say, “bust down those walls!”  I say, “you can!”  Break those self-imposed limitations and reach for the stars.  Will it be uncomfortable?  Absolutely.  Will it be hard?  Absolutely.  Will there be risk involved?  Absolutely.  But you will find a way with this Limitless lifestyle.

Reaching ultimate human potential is for all of us.  It’s not just for the physically gifted or the smartest; it can be for any individual who is ready to push pass the comfort zone.  As John Wooden has said many times, "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."  This quote has changed my life.  Reaching this potential takes a considerate amount of preparation.  The willingness to commit to a goal and put forth full effort is the first step.  Once you have mentally committed you are now ready to design a plan to achieve the goal.  Is this plan perfect?  Absolutely not.  There will be bumps and obstacles in the road.  And how you handle these setbacks will define you as a person.  But when you are "ALL IN" and the deep determination persists you to move forward you will reach new heights by pushing through these obstacles.  
There is always anxiety doing something new and pushing past your previous limits.  Questions like, "How will my body hold up?"  "Will nagging injuries creep up?"  "What about my nutrition?"  These things were on my mind as we started our 3 day training camp.  I have never ran this much in a 3 day span.  But not once did "failure" or "I can't" come into my head.  I truly believed that I was going to succeed.  This is where mind control becomes powerful and a huge assistance to the accomplishment of your goals.  See, I have believed in myself and gone after certain goals for a really long time.  I have created a positive consciousness so when a task is laid in front of me, I automatically believe I can succeed.  It takes work and I still focus on this mindset daily but it is something that has been instilled in my life for a very long time.  The first step is to be fully aware of your thoughts.  Once you are aware you are more likely to act in a positive way.  If you want to create a belief system in yourself, then start focusing on everything positive in your life.  Try your best to eliminate self-doubts and negative thoughts.  These thoughts do not take you closer to this human potential we are talking about.  It just stagnates the process. 

Which leads to the next point...

Preparation is what is needed to be ready for an extreme endurance run of this nature (or anything that you are trying to achieve).  I was prepared for my 115 mile weekend.  Yes, I highlighted prepared because it's a strategy that is critical to being successful in anything you do.  Many people do not have the patience to allow the appropriate time to succeed at a specific task.  Sometimes I lose focus on the "patience is a virtue" mantra.  But I always come back to, "just keep going".  With long term work comes long term benefit.  I don't want fast acting, quick fix, band aide approach answers.  I want to instill positive habits into my life that will last forever.  And my goal is to teach and inspire others to create these positive behaviors in their life, to make for a better community.  
So here we are....42 days till I depart Visalia and run to Santa Monica.  This is the biggest endeavor I have ever aspired to achieve.  And it is going to take 100% full effort and motivation to accomplish.    As we count down the days, the energy will begin to escalate to new levels.  My training will continue.  I will be prepared to run 75 miles a day for 4 days.  And I will need all the support I can get. 
If you would like to get involved with our project, please contact me via email at  We have teamed up with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation to help raise $20,000.  You can go to LIMITLESS and check out our website for more information.  


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Core Training is smart fitness training

Works your "core" more right?
What does the core mean to you?  This word is probably one of the most used words in the fitness industry.  Core this, core that, work your core, my program involves the core, etc.  Many people think the core is building a 6-pack.  To some, core training is using a stability ball or bosu ball for every exercise they perform.  This article will define what the core actually is and give you some strategies in integrating “core training” into your program.  
Is this "core"?
The “core” incorporates many muscles.  It’s not just “ab” training.  Proper core development teaches the entire body to cohesively work together.  If our “core” has weakness, we limit the use of our lower and upper body strength and power.  

The word core is defined as the innermost, most essential part of anything (   

So, the core of the body envelops muscles that we never see.  The inner core incorporates the Multifidis (small spinal muscles), transverse abdominals (built in “weight belt”), pelvic floor (small muscles lining the pelvis) and the diaphragm (skeletal muscle used for respiration function).  These are muscles that we will never see but when functioning properly can aide in athletic development, optimal everyday living, deep strength and stability and overall strength development.  


Here are four tactics to implement into your lifestyle for proper core development:

1.     Deep abdominal breathing practice.  Enhancing diaphragm function is a major skill to improve.  Two big things with diaphragm strengthening: 1) You will take in oxygen more efficiently and 2) It will increase thoracic spine (12 mid-spine vertebrae) function.  It can open up many pathways to better movement and coordination.  Simply lie on your back, bend your knees, and place one had on your belly button and one hand on your chest.  When exhaling, push strong air through your stomach first (your bottom hand will rise), trying to expand out and to the sides of your “ab wall”; and then allow air to flow to the chest.  You do not want your shoulders shrugging when breathing.   Perform 5-15 deep breaths a few times during the day.      

2.     Posture reinforcement.  Yes, posture works your core!  We can do “ab” exercises till we are blue in the face but if they do not promote good posture we are in trouble.  When sitting, remember to sit up tall, proud and straight up.  Do not slouch in your chair because this puts major stress on your lower back, shoulders and neck.  When standing, use both legs equally, stand tall, shoulders up and bring your neck in line with the shoulders.  Always remember, posture, posture, posture!  

Good posture = Function, Bad Posture = stress and loads

Be aware even when sitting!

3.     Technique versus volume.  When training, don’t be so focused on high volume “ab” work.  “More is better” is not the answer in terms of fitness training; focus on good technique versus high volume.  When holding a front plank, perform 10 repetitions of 10-second holds instead of trying to hold for 60 seconds.  Your form will be better with the shorter interval periods.  When performing a strength exercise like a push-up, focus on perfect form and stop when your technique begins to suffer.  Good clean movement is proper core training.  Poor technique and sloppy movement is random exercise. 

Cmon, bust out 50 more! (this is not the answer to a strong core)

4.     Cues to remember.  Whether you are at the gym working out or at home working on household projects, think about these core training cues:
·      “Tighten your tummy”
·      “Blow air into a thick balloon”
·      “Breath deep from your gut”
·      “Tighten your stomach as if someone was going to punch you”
Of course you shouldn’t be “tightening your tummy” all day everyday but when you are lifting, working or pushing heavy objects these are the cues to focus on.  


 Now for the fun part, some specific "core" exercises.  These are movements that could be seen as "unorthodox" because they are not typical "ab" exercises we see in the mainstream.  But this is cutting edge core training.  These are the movements I use in my programs everyday.  

1.  Pallof Press: This is an anti-rotation exercise that enhances spinal stability and decreases rotational forces on our lumbar spine.  


2.  Farmer Walks: Think of this exercise as a "moving plank".  Stay tall and tight as you perform this exercise.  


3.   Side Plank with Row: Side plank works lateral core stability; adding the row puts a dynamic twist on the move to create more stability during the move.  

4.  Core Rollout with stability ball: This is an anti-extension exercise that assists our deep ab muscles to stabilize our spine and limit excessive extension in our lumbar spine. 

5.  Birddog: This exercise teaches rotary stability.  DO NOT let the lumbar spine take the load during this move.  

So as you can see, core training is more than just busting out hundreds of crunches all day.  Developing a program that integrates core philosophies will give you optimal performance and a healthier body injury free body.  

For more information or questions, please email me at

Past writings