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Patrick McCrann's Blog

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Kona 2015 Planning

Time to start practicing what I preach; I hope you find these notes useful for your training!  You can only have the race you prepare for, and preparation starts with a plan and some critical targets -- it's how we work inside Endurance Nation and it's how I plan each phase of my training. I simply don't do well without goals!


The Rough Outline

Goal is to have a truly complete race. This is the first time I will be on the island to acclimate to the conditions (usually arrive just 2-3 days prior), so excited to see what that brings. Plus the family gets to go, and that’s what it’s all about.


Experience has shown me that the run really matters in Kona…a good bike is nice but the run is where it’s at. I have done all kinds of bikes there, but my runs have always been sub-par. Much of this comes down to better execution, but that’s not something I need to focus on right now (although I am pumped to try the new aid station methodology you all helped me with and worked for me in TX).


For my training I will start with run durability and return to the split long runs that have helped me in the past. I will continue to push the steady work as it’s good for me, but I will be incorporating some more run strides as I feel my overall form has fallen off a bit. The broader goal will be to prepare for a bigger run block in September heading in to the final weeks pre Kona. I was about 40 miles per week before TX and I’d like to be at 45 per week for HI including a peak week of 50 miles.


To set up the run I will need excellent bike execution and swim fitness. 


First and foremost is the swim so I am in a better group. I typically swim a 1:10 which isn’t terrible there but it does put me in a big bike group (non-swimmers who seek revenge on the bike).  Without a doubt the biggest improvement I could possibly have is on the swim. Kona is a one-loop, non-wetsuit ocean swim with a mass start. Not only do I not swim well with others, but the ocean and non-wetsuit set up hurt me as well. I basically have 18 weeks to develop a solid open water swim stroke. I plan on revisiting Mike Robert’s swim thread to plan something out…in fact I might put him to work helping me out.


I have learned tons on the bike, and I think I can have a really good split out there (bike wise) with a couple of key changes as I continue to improve riding steady and managing my nutrition.  I think a critical aspect this year will be developing the ability to ride at 85% for key sections of a longer ride, and still recover. On the Kona course there is the climb to Hawi, the climb back to the Queen K, and then the Scenic Overlook…all three of these climbs are sustained and required a good effort (not too hard) but one that I can sustain.


My real focus is on Hawi, and in particular being able to stay on the watts both up and down (this seems to separate most of the race). All in this is 14 miles…7 up and 7 down; call it about 45 minutes of solid work to be safe. I will be working this into my “HI Block 2” bike rides from the 1:45 to 2:30 marks. I also need to decide what to do with my gearing. I currently have a 54/42 on the front with an 11-28 in the rear….I can fly on the downs / flats and in the tailwind…but with the few critical climbs it might be nice to have an easier gear to spin with…not sure If I should go to a smaller front ring in general or just mess with the rear cluster. I kind of am used to the rear…but not sure I can mess with the QXL rings either…any input here welcome.


HI Block 1 (June, 5 wks) = Run durability, Bike FTP, and Swim Re-Entry. Total volume per week will be approximately 12.25 hours outside of one bigger week at Placid Camp.


HI Block 2 (July, 4 wks) = Swim Volume / Focus (5x a week), Run 4x week @ 10miles per usual, Return to TriBike. Add Hawi Bike Focus to my longer rides, but long ride is still just 3 hours so I can keep intensity up (other than the volume of Placid week). Weekly volume will be about 16 hours a week.


HI Block 3 = (August, 4 wks) = Good time to train in the heat here in RI, so make the most of it. Swim sets will move to being slightly longer (hopefully I’ll be in a place to sustain it). My split runs will be consolidated into a few long runs and my long weekly bike ride of 5 hours returns. Weekly volume will remain about 16 hours a week as the time spent swimming will shift to the bike.


HI Block 4 (September to Race, 6 wks) = Total Tri Focus. Brick run it out. Longer swim sets. Consider a heat camp in Florida if stars align with family schedule. These will include some of my peak weeks. I estimate a few 20 hour weeks assuming I can recover enough. I rarely have this window for Kona training as I am usually coming off a July / August race and it’s more about getting my legs back vs building fitness. I am both excited and scared about these weeks.

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9:29:46 on a Wicked Windy and Hot Day...and headed back to Kona, baby!

For the speed readers, the full report is below. For the rest of you this was my 21st Ironman and I went 9:29:xx, good enough for 36th overall...26th male...5th age grouper...and 2nd in the M40-44 age group. My swim was baaaad. The bike was almost perfect and the run was a sufferfest...but my ticket is punched -- Kona #7, here I come!

The Build Up

Winter 2015 simply sucked. I wasn't able to ride outside in my town until mid-April...about. 5 weeks pre-race.  I did have a full winter of quality running and a modified OutSeason (see below), plus camps in Florida in January (January Volume Camp), a shortened Texas Camp and the Blue Ridge Cycling Camp (here) which all afforded me some good bike volume.


Winter Long Running in Rhode Island

The Winter Training

I decided to keep my run pace pretty high at the outset of my training -- think just slower than Z3 / Half Marathon Pace and then add the bike/run workouts of the OutSeason in to the point where I could still run that quality tempo pace. I wanted to do this as the bike is my current strength and I wanted to target the run with more quality.


Well after one week of training and real winter weather I realized that things had to change. First, I couldn't run intervals in the snow (no treadmill for me thanks!) and second, increasing the bike interval duration each week really hurt my run.


So I settled on a "fixed" week of bike intervals -- Tuesday was 2x12' @ Z4, Thursday was 4x4' @ 110% FTP / Z5 and Saturday was 2x12' @ Z4 again. This allowed me to push the effort of the intervals up each week since the duration was fixed. I could also easily tell when I was tired as the numbers would drop.


I ran 60' to 70' at the sub-Z3 pace on both Wednesday and Sunday and then a few shorter runs during the week when possible. Monday and Friday were 2500y swim sessions.


Overall I was pretty pleased with the results. My run quality was pretty high -- not my fastest running but a lot of quality. My bike was super strong and my swim had been fairly consistent.

The Race Prep Training

Race Prep started right around mid-February. With about 10 weeks to go, I decided to use a modified version of the EN*Full Minimalist Plan as I knew I couldn't do 2 long rides a week with the weather (as we usually do) and I wanted to maintain my run.


Race Prep Phase One


This meant more Tempo (no real run intervals), more swimming and a three solid bikes. A HUGE shout out to the TriFit Lab (run by Todd and Lisbeth Kenyon of TTBikeFit fame -- as I used their indoor CompuTrainer facility for a few loooooooooooong rides.


Race Prep Phase Two


After 4 weeks I transitioned to better weather and a "consolidated" long run, which you can see reflected in the schedule above.

Swim Training

This was about the time that Mike Roberts had posted on his year-long swim hack for IMNZ and how he dialed in his swim.  I read, learned, and did my best over the final 10-ish weeks to implement the knowledge. I was pleased with my swim progress in the pool but am bummed it didn't play out on the race. Regardless, I have a few more months to continue making progress!

Bike Training

Aside from some technical issues getting my TT bike back into workout shape , the transition from my road bike to the Tri bike at the end of the OutSeason was pretty uneventful. The indoor sessions made me mentally tough and the other sessions were short enough I could still get in some good intervals.


Given the long rides were indoors they were more at IM Race Pace / Z2 as I couldn't really ride sustained Z3 inside. I was happy when the weather turned so I could go back outside! Overall the numbers were good, combined with the Blue Ridge Camp work I did (back on the road bike) I had a high degree of confidence.

Run Training

While my "Tempo" pace fell from 6:30s to 6:45s as the training load increased, I was still pleased with my run. Durability was high and all my sessions were solid. I felt like another 3:15 here in TX was possible for sure. An unintended benefit of the running, I believe, was really good body composition. And I have to say I am a real fan of the Split Long Run to ramp up run volume safely.

Race Week

This is always fun! We had a smaller crew as this wasn't a "Key Race" for 2015, but what to we lacked in size we made up in AWESOME! Our Team Dinner was delish and filled with some great laughs. Mariah made the Four Keys Talk a success -- thanks to all who attended! -- and was my pre-race Sherpa. My amazing wife Maura arrived on Thursday just in time to keep me sane and help me get mentally ready.

Race Morning

Super simple using my checklists. The bike is all set, fueled and powered up. Shoes on the bike with a little rubber band trick for the left one so I can mount quickly. T2 and T1 bags are untied and prepped for the race. A quick drive to the swim start has me on the ground an hour before with plenty of time to do everything and make sure I am ready. A quick kiss to Maura and it's time the swim start!!

The Swim

The Swim -- 1:10:xx, 50th AG.

The swim was a rolling wave start -- like your local half marathon. Folks self seeded and when the gun went off we waded in and started swimming. No warm ups allowed. It was wetsuit optional, so those folks were in the back.

It was crowded at the start, and while I planned to to inside the buoys I saw the course curved right and so I headed for the final buoy. This meant solo swimming vs in the pack -- breaking my swim plan instantly.


And honestly it was really hard to tell if I was swimming well without the feedback of a clock. I feel like my swim has improved, but that my open water swim game sucks. I really need to solidify my stroke and get better at swimming with others for sure.


That said, aside from the top swimmers, times seemed slow. The water felt surprisingly choppy / angry for a lake; I think we all just sloshed it up. The canal, for the last 1300 just sucks. No two ways about it. It was really hard to maintain any good swim stroke in here.

Leaving T1


I executed this perfectly. Removed the swim skin just out of the water; got my bag put on my helmet and walked top right thru the tent. Gave a volunteer my bag and cap, etc, and then used the GoBag to fill my pockets while I got sunscreened and sloshed to my bike.


Sloshed you say? Oh yes. Daily downpours had tuned the transition area into a Woodstock worthy experience...complete with the smell of raw sewage. Not awesome. Since my shoes were on the bike, however, I just rolled out and got on the bike.

The Bike -- 4:44:xx, 2nd AG

After 2012's sub-5 ride I knew I could really fly here. I had the bike dialed in, complete with race tires and latex tubes, and I was ready to rock. My goals were to ride about 245 Watts and to be strongest when it mattered in miles 60 to 80 -- the usual headwind area (plus some chip seal).


The start was crowded, given my swim time. I was in that place where every guy is riding like they might win....surging, swerving, cursing, etc. I tried to just stay in my mental box and get my fluids in while trying to get my HR down below 130.


I could tell by Mile 20 that things were going to be funky. That's a flat slightly downhill section where I was going to skip an aid station as I'd be going 28mph there. Except I was in a group fighting wind!!! Aargh!


Skipping the aid station and the surprise wind turned out to be a good thing, however, as it gave me the momentum to create a gap and leave those other guys behind. As a result of this group stuff, my power was all over -- I resolved to keep my HR in check around 130 to 132.


With the wind picking up I knew the return trip would be much harder, so I played it safe on the rollers, sitting up and spinning. Sure enough, at the highest point on the course, the winds were screaming. But I just put my head down and kept the pressure on the pedals. There was really no one for me to work with legally on the bike; from mile 65 onwards it was really a solo TT effort.


The wind wasn't terrible on the chip seal as it was a cross-head, but that only meant there would be wind all the way into the woodlands...which is why everyone's last split on the bike just stinks.  I focused on getting wet to stay cool and drinking up. It was overcast for almost the entire bike, but the heat was evident when the sun poked though and the humidity was in full effect.


By the time the bike wrapped I was feeling pretty solid about my placing on the day and physically as well.


Here is the data from Strava:


Ironman Texas Bike Data


Reverse slopfest here, and I struggled with my T2 bag as I left it tied b/c of the afternoon showers that were forecast (but never showed up). I tried to maximize my time in transition by peeing as I sat down putting on my shoes — it kept my feet try but I was a hot stinking mess for sure. Out the door with my GoBag, I finished my admin items as volunteers put sunscreen on my back and it was time to run.

The Run — 3:26:xx, 2nd AG

I made a few changes here to my usual set up. First I didn’t take my FuelBelt with me as I was trying to reduce all weight. Instead, I used a FuelBelt SuperStretch Race with a pouch, gel loops and race number toggles. All in one baby!  I also upgraded my trucker hat to a Zoot Ultra Icefil Cap, with the flaps secured around my neck with an arm cooler. I blatantly copied Ben Hoffman’s race set up for Ironman Hawaii last year, and it turned out to be total money.


Without a doubt, however, the biggest upgrade was once again due to the Team….Dave Tallo’s suggestion to take a ziplock bag for carrying ice was killer. This was part of my “run the aid stations” strategy — which I think was a massive success for 2/3 of the race!! — and it really help offset the heat and manage random aid station placements where things really got hot. I simply dumped ice in it as I ran. Then I sealed it and stuck in my top….or I could hold in my hand(s)…if my head got hot, I turned it upside down as I held the ice in a ball and the cold water fell on my head…and I could chomp ice or put in my arm coolers whenever I wanted. It. Was. Awesome!


I set out knowing my bike Average HR was 131…so my run target of 140 seemed right on. However I could tell within the first 1/2 mile that it was going to be a friggin tough run. The sun was out in full force and the heat was on. Legit, Kona-style heat. My HR popped right up over 140 and I had to really slow myself down as I found my legs.


I focused on nailing the aid stations per my plan and getting in the food and salt I needed. I took in 2 caffeinated gels in the first 1/2 marathon, as wells 3 tiny Clif Bloks (Margherita with 3x sodium, of course!) as well as plenty of Gatorade Endurance.


I was passed round Mile 3 by the eventual winner of my age group, and he looked super strong and smooth. No way I was moving my HR anywhere, so I continued trucking. Even though I didn’t feel like I was running well (no peeking at the mile splits, thank you!), I was passing 90% of folks. I think maybe 15 people passed me all day and I caught all but 4 of them by Mile 25.


The fan support was incredible; from the Moxie music-fest to the Crotch Catapult station to the bearded-garbage can bangers…and the normal people were great too. I really never said anything to anyone…I was just trying to stay in my zone. My stomach felt pretty good after some colorful bike burps, but I could tell my calves were borderline in terms of wanted to cramp. At about Mile 8 (of that 8.55-mile loop) there were two sets of stairs DOWN…which I nearly killed myself on as my quads were so tight. I oped to walk these on Lap Two (Lap Three you headed to the finish instead).


Lap Two was purgatory. You can see from my HRM file that I backed off a bit here. Reflecting with race friend and fellow coach Tim Snow of QT2 Multisport Systems, I think that this was really due to a lack of mental toughness. I visualized the final 4 miles, but neglected the middle…not next time.


I was basically biding my time to the third lap. On lap three I started to pull things back together and run the tangents. By this time the course was wicked crowded and it was hard to get what I needed at the aid stations without actually stopping as there were just too many other athletes in the way. Note to self, I need to yell at volunteers more for what I want.


By Mile 22 it was game on and I was running down the last two guys I could see who had passed me. Some solid work here, even if it’s not reflected in the pace. Then at Mile 24 turnaround I could see that there was at least one person close to me in bib numbers…I was about to get a banana for tingly fingers, but instead I had to suck it up. I really picked up the pace and I was surprised to see how good it felt to stretch out my stride and really run. The HR went up, for sure, but there is something here for me to learn from really running vs getting buried in a shuffle. I really pushed, running a 7:24 and 7:04 final two miles, making sure I was in the finishing chute by myself and safe from getting pipped at the line. Always good to finish strong.


Here is the data from Strava:


Ironman Texas Run File


Number One Fan


The Finish

I had enough time for a massive smile and the EN-gang sign.


It was great to be caught by teammate and good friend Vic Kaiser, who shepherded me to my wife and the finish area for much needed cold water, cooling towel and a massage. Interesting enough there were no chairs or table for athletes to sit at…that really stung as folks were left to sit on the concrete or go off in the bushes. Can’t imagine that’s a big line item that can’t be added back in.


I was able to see many of my teammates in the finishing area, and we also were able to meet up at The Goose’s Acre for some post race food and drink. A burger never tasted so good. After getting home and trying to sleep, Sunday brought the awards banquet and Kona slot allocation. It was a nice wrap to the weekend and a good chance to say hi to the folks I met on the run course. A lot of really tough and fit men and women out there. I took my slot to Hawaii, making this my seventh trip in my last seven tries. I am excited to rest, and plan our Hawaii Race Week Camp (for racers and just folks who want to train and experience the biggest week in our sport!).


2nd Place Age Group and Kona Bound

Massive Thanks

As always, to my understanding and amazing wife Maura for lifting me up more than she’ll ever know. To my daughters who inspire me and love me no matter how sweaty and tired I am. To my training partners Lisbeth (who also raced, won her Age Group and is headed to Hawaii!, Peter and Todd who push me when we connect. To my mentor, Vinu Malik whose wisdom on all things endurance could fill several encyclopedias..thank you for all your advice.  To my teammates on Endurance Nation who continue to push me athletically to be my best, you never cease to amaze me with you new perspectives, tips and strategies…that run was dedicated to you! If I forgot anyone else, please know I am sooooo thankful….and thanks for reading!

Random Lessons Learned

* Shoes on the bike is a gajillion times better than in a T1 bag; I hope IM continues this trend at other races.


* The best thing for your chafed parts post race is chamois cream. Who needs bike shorts for permission?


* Be ready for a scary post race pee if you have been beet juice loading.


* Chocolate milk is NOT a sponsor / at the finish line this year. BUMMER.


* Someone needs to make an “aid station volunteer” video manual that folks can watch. Simple things like how to hold bike bottles or two cups in one hand would make a massive difference.


* Yelling what you need at run aid stations really does help.

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March training highlight was the Texas Race Camp, even if the weather didn't cooperate! The hours continue to build up across all three disciplines. Fatigue is high but not unmanageable; then again ask my colleagues what my productivity has been and you'll probably get a different story.


Thanks to your input, Team, I have set minimum sleep to 7 hours vs 6 which has really helped. Also enjoying Mike Roberts swim project thread which has been super informative. Thank you!


Also managed to go the whole month without a PT visit, and somehow survived the massive fundraiser 5k for the kids elementary school (we raised over $17k!).


You can view all my details in Strava here:


The Swim


Currently in a 4-swim week program with average yards around 10k. This is (hopefully) a good platform for the final swim push that I need to make a meaningful difference in my swim performance. Usually I don't do ^this^ part of the swim, waiting until now to get to 10k.


Make no mistake about it, this is no year-long swim project, but it is a fair amount of focus for me given my history.


Up Next -- looking to hit around 14,000 a week for the next 4 weeks if I can make it happen.


The Bike


March saw the return of the #triathlon bike (P5). We also added long Friday rides come into effect, most of them indoors. This has not been easy, but the work has been really solid. Most of my long ride watts & HR have been consistent with past years -- good.


I have seen the FTP and VO2 efforts fall as well. The focus has moved from hard number chasing to "best effort" and let the numbers fall where they may.


Up Next -- two bigger rides a week are on the plan, hoping the weather plays along. I will work in some harder efforts within those sessions as well as keep one FTP session during the week.


The Run


Built the run up to a consistent 40-ish miles a week, mostly at my low-Zone 3 effort. This has been across 4 x 10 milers a week, with two of those being a split long run on Saturday.


Times have slowed a bit from Jan/Feb where I was more 6:30s than 6:40s, but the fatigue has gone up. I also initiated the transition to one long run on the weekend, with 13+ then a 15+.


Up Next -- (1) a return to some FTP running as integrated into steady runs. (2) and two bigger run weeks closer to 50 miles/week, including a few 18 milers. This means more back-to-back running. I am a little concerned about this, will end to stay on top of the nutrition and recovery.


Body Composition


Good but not great. I have been eating clean but not super lean. I am low 180s so need to stay smart to break 180. Still debating how badly I want to suffer here.


Just about six weeks left to TX so time to make a solid push. Shiny side up!

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It seems absurd to be recapping my winter training, what with record-setting snowfall blocking the roads and literally enclosing the windows of my subterranean Pain Cave. I feel a strange kinship with Rocky IV training in the Russian winter, only my enemy is winter itself. But I digress...Transitioning to March means moving on to the Race Preparation phase of my training for Ironman® Texas regardless of what it looks like outside.

January Highlights

An amazing week in Clermont, Florida, for our January Volume Camp. Full recap available online here, 2016 slots available here.

February Highlights

School Vacation Week: I closed out the OutSeason Training Block with a week of snowboarding with the family in New Hampshire. I brought the trainer with me to ride, and I even managed to get in a 10 mile run on one "non-mountain" day of the week. Both kids got the 24-hour flu on different days -- add in some great wine and friends and things were less than ideal for actual training. But it was a blast!


Got Sick with Hacking Cough: After a few weeks of fighting it off, I finally came down with the cough that my poor family has been incubating since December. I have high days and low days, and the medication has really messed with my Perceived Exertion...but I am doing my best to sleep a lot, stay hydrated and stay focused.

Overall OutSeason Training Thoughts

General: One of the bigger changes I made of for this winter was following a "fixed" week, both in terms of what was done each week and day, but also similarity in the type of training was done each day. I have found that it takes a few weeks of a particular plan for my body to adapt to the workload and then force improvement.


I also decided to keep the intervals fixed as well -- rather than changing the workload in each weekly interval session, my focus was on seeing increased power within each session.


The Swim: Averaged 2-3 Swims Per Week After having some shoulder trouble post Kona due to my aerobar placement and my weak shoulder / collarbone, I had to do some solid rehab back in December. The focus on Jan/Feb was to work in some more rotation in my stroke to engage the lats / back muscles more than simply using my shoulders / rotator cuff.


While there hasn't been anything spectacular here, I do feel pretty good about my baseline swimming heading into the final 12 weeks.


The Bike: Averaged 3 Rides, 3 Hours Per Week  I followed the basic protocol of Tues/Sat FTP rides of 2 x 12 minutes at FTP, with Thurs being a VO2 / 110% FTP ride with 4 x 4 minute intervals. I started off with my 12' intervals in the mid-320s back in December and finished with them consistently in the 340s.


The VO2 4' intervals went from the 350s to the upper 360s. I am pleased with being able to get the 12' intervals up to the 340s...that's a really solid place for me to be as I am usually locked in the 330s range.


Interestingly, the week of vacation where I rode some 90% intervals -- vs 100% or 110% of my usual training -- actually had me return to some really strong FTP work. But that could have been some rest from that week as well.


The Run: Averaged 5 Runs, 4 Hours Per Week, 30 miles-ish. My plan was essentially two longer runs on Tuesday / Saturday, with shorter runs of 4 to 6 miles on other days. These shorter days were areas for intensity if I felt good. When I started out running in this fixed plan, I was running most of my efforts at sub-6:45/mile pace -- even the "longer" runs of 10 miles.


That said, I never really ran intervals. My plan was to do one day of FTP mile repeats, but after the first week I realized that I could do ^that^ work, plus keep my overall running a pace pretty fast, PLUS push the bike workouts. So I made the executive decision to keep the overall pace high vs the interval work. This was cemented by the insane winter we have had so far, where many of my runs have been outside in snow, slush and ice...not to mention the usual wind.


While my average pace has slowed a bit, I think it's just as much a function of the conditions as of fatigue.

Pros of a Fixed OutSeason Week

  • Great for planning / scheduling.
  • Easy to track progress.
  • Improved odds for consistency.

Cons of a Fixed OutSeason Week

  • Lacked spontenaiety / Not so much fun.
  • Possibly left bike fitness on table with rigid workouts.
  • Schedule hard to tweak with multiple snow days / pool closures, etc.

Outlining A Race Preparation Block

Again, my best laid plans are really being challenged by the weather. Looking back on my 2012 training calendar, when I last did Ironman® Texas, I was riding outside in March!!! Since that's not an option I have outlined a schedule that gives me a family-friendly plan and will (hopefully) build my fitness up through Texas.


My targets are about 12,000 yds swimming, 7 to 8 hours on the Bike and 40 miles of running.


Here is the basic outline:

  • Mon -  Trainer Ride with FTP / Skill Swim
  • Tues -  Tempo 10 Mile Run / Swim Long
  • Wed - Trainer Ride with VO2
  • Thu - Tempo 10 Mile Run / Swim Long
  • Fri - Long Trainer Ride
  • Sat - Split Long Run (1:10 in AM / 1:10 in PM)
  • Sun -  Long Swim (Make up any missed yards.)


Of course along the way I have the Texas Training Camp ( to build in some miles and, if fate allows, perhaps one more warm weather expedition in April (TBD).


Thanks for reading and for your support!

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In the tradition of telling you what I am up to (in case you aren’t stalking me on Strava!), here’s what I have been doing post Kona.

I spent the first two weeks doing nothing. Really. Well, I organized my pantry, garage and tupperware. Cleaned the bike. Set up the pain cave. Mowed the lawn like 8 times. You get the idea. My wife can’t wait for me to start training again.

I too am pretty excited. This time of year I work with a handful of athletes on crafting their Annual Plan as a target for Kona (see the Additional Services Tab on the Members site, TeamEN Members ONLY!). It’s a lot of fun and very useful for me as well. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, an in the Fall it is the Season of Steps!


Tentative Plan for 2015

  • 2 - Weeks Off = Total Rest
  • 8 - Weeks Run Durability = Shoulder Recovery, Consistent Long Run, Dating My Trainer, Solid Body Composition
  • 8 - Weeks of OutSeason = Focus on FTP and vDOT, Adding in 2 skill swims, Core work.
  • 1 - Week of Swim Camp / Transition = Need to rest here and be smart.
  • 12 - Weeks of IM Plan in to IM Texas = Not sure I will be able to handle a full 12 weeks…this is TBD.

The Run Durability Plan is on the agenda for a few reasons. First, I have a few critical things to focus on and it's hard to focus on them when I am also drilling myself to get crazy fast. Second, I know my ability to focus into a race is limited; this way I am reducing the "Work Time to Race" window. Third, I have experience crazy over achieving early in the OS then getting sick and adjusting...I am hoping to reduce / eliminate that pattern this year by putting it at a time when I am ready for the work.

During this window I have several camps and events to keep me motivated and on track, including:

+ January Volume Camp [1/16 to 1/19 — (here) a nice break from the cold and a chance to keep the endurance fires burning.

+ Birthday Run [3/8] — Don’t think I am going to run 41 this year, but I am going to start the annual tradition of a nice long long long run on this day as an early season target.

+ Texas Race Camp [3/19 - 3/22] — (here) a great chance to get dialed in to the course, my fit, nutrition and experience the “heat” on the ground.

+ Blue Ridge Cycling Camp [4/29 to 5/3] — (here) Final big push on the bike before the race.


As an Update

I have realized the shoulder pain that I have been dealing with wasn’t going away with rest. A trip to the PT has let me know that my back muscles on the left side are weak, such that my pec, combined with some serious “forward” rotation (think aerobats, swimming and…yes…excessive time at my laptop) has caused some issues. So it’s off to PT again albeit for a slightly lesser issue than normal.

And my “light” focus on Run Durability has already paid off as I have my annual Fall Cold…so no pressure on me to crush the workouts…just have to be consistent. You can follow my daily progress over on Strava or on Twitter

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For some folks, getting fit is its own reward. For others, fitness is just something fun. For folks like Steve Kamb, fitness is about changing the world…one nerd at a time. A self-proclaimed “nerd who likes to be active,” Steve has spend the better part of the last few years helping average everyday folks change their lives through fitness. He’s well on his way to building a Rebel Army of folks dedicated to making fitness a part of their daily lives, and more importantly — in sharing that fitness with others.

As part of my pre-release for my forthcoming book Train to Live, Live to Train: The Insider’s Guide to Building the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle, I am profiling people who have built a remarkable lifestyle of fitness. In Steve’s case, his tireless work to bring peak fitness to the everyman through content and community have laid the foundation for something pretty amazing. Read the interview below or skip over to Nerd Fitness and check it out for yourself.

What was your fitness background as a child / young adult?
I’ve always been an active person, even as a little kid. I tried to play every sport imaginable (baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, street hockey, football), and then whenever I wasn’t playing organized sports, I was running around my neighborhood with my friends playing capture the flag or manhunt, skim boarding on the shores of Cape Cod (where I grew up), or having Nerf wars in my basement when it rained out. In high school I ran cross country for a year, played basketball for two, tennis for two, and golf for four.

What is your primary sport of choice right now?
I don’t play nearly as many organized sports now as I’d like to. I’ve played in a co-ed kickball league over the past few years, which has been a great competitive outlet for me lately. It’s funny: I always plan on just having fun at kickball games, but by the second inning I’m laying out for foul balls and sliding headfirst into home plate. I guess I really do miss competitive sports.

Other than that, the majority of my physical activity comes from my three weekly weight training sessions in the gym, long walks around Atlanta, and as much golf as I can afford to play. I’m getting ready to start taking Capoeira (breakdance fighting) lessons, and I like to hike or rock climb as well.

What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started this new lifestyle/fitness journey?
Looking back, I wish I could tell the “younger me” how important my diet would be for success. I spent four years in college working out like crazy, drinking protein shakes, reading muscle and fitness, doing whatever possible to pack on some pounds and be less skinny. I just didn’t know any better, which is why I failed to gain more then 2 pounds in the four years.

Now, I know that diet is at least 80% of the battle. I make sure first and foremost that I’m eating properly or else I know that my time spent exercising is like treading water. Now I can pack on weight or muscle (or slim down) just by making a few key diet adjustments.

What led you to pick your focus on “nerd fitness?”
After graduating college, I decided to start a fitness website dedicated to folks like me: nerds who like exercising or want to start exercising. I’m a nerd, I love writing, and I love helping people: starting a blog just made sense to me.

I know fitness can be intimidating and overwhelming, so I set out to create a site that made things as simple and enjoyable as possible for guys and girls to get started down the path to a healthier life.

I get a lot of questions on how I’m a nerd exactly. Well, I’ve built computers, I love Harry Potter, I quote Lord of the Rings frequently, I read probably two books a week, and I play lots of Halo and online games. I also love to exercise and stay active. I figured there were others out there like me, so I tried to create a new niche in the fitness world.

So far, so good!

What larger change do you hope to effect with this focus?
I realize this sounds corny, but I really want to change the world. Initially Nerd Fitness started as a blog for nerds to gather and talk about video games and get tips on how to be more healthy. Nerds could come read about Star Wars, learn how to do a push up, and then tell their friends.

For the first year, that’s all Nerd Fitness was.

However, since I started focusing on building it into a more of a community (called the Rebel Army), I’ve realized that Nerd Fitness has become something much bigger than just me writing a few articles. The message boards are filled with people who offer up tips, motivation, and support. I’m constantly inspired by the stories of success from readers, and I’m really excited to see how things go over the next few years.

Watch out world, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is growing stronger…

What has been the hardest part of your transition to this new focus?
The hardest part to me is realizing that I’m no longer writing for just a few dozen people. I started writing for myself, my friends, and a few nerds who stumbled across the site. It’s now evolved into something far bigger: it’s incredibly exciting, humbling, and also terrifying.

I’ve had to learn that everybody’s a critic – and usually a poor one – on the internet. Although the cases are few and far between (and usually without merit), I’ve had to learn to ignore the people who don’t support the cause and concentrate on those that do.

Life’s too short to deal with people who suck.

How have you structured your day to make fitness both possible and a priority?
Since quitting my day job June to focus on Nerd Fitness full time, I’ve actually found it tougher to make fitness a priority – I have a tendency to work all day and night, skip meals, and wait until the last possible moment to exercise because I’m excited about an article I’m writing or an interview I’m doing (like this one!).

However, I constantly remind myself that daily exercise is not only crucial for me to feel balanced and in control, but now it’s part of my job! After all, we can’t have an overweight, out of shape guy running a fitness website, right? I tell myself that I have a whole community of people who count on me for inspiration, just as they know their exercise and hard work inspires me. I don’t want to let my team down.

How do you balance your passion for fitness with other elements of your life?
I’ve come to realize that balance is so incredibly important: work, exercise, and life are the three areas I try to make time for each day. I’m struggling with scaling back the work, but I take time each day to exercise, go for a long walk around my neighborhood, and hang out with my friends (usually by playing Xbox or grabbing a drink with them).

Fitness is important to me, but I try to keep everything in perspective – I still drink beers and eat pizza on the weekends, I still stay up way too late some nights, and some days I miss workouts. That’s okay – as long as I do my best, have some fun, and help others along the way, I’m a happy man.

What are your top three tips for other folks who might be considering following in your footsteps?
Be unique. I spent nine months publishing five articles a week on Nerd Fitness before finally realizing that I was writing stuff that could be found on any other generic fitness blog out there. After coming to this realization, I really embraced the “nerd” part of the site, started producing two solid articles a week instead of five mediocre ones, and things really took off after that.

Write about things that you are truly passionate about. If you’re starting a blog with hopes of turning it into a business, I’m guessing you also have a full time job. If that passion isn’t there, those long months where your readership isn’t growing and you’re not bringing in any money can become painful.

Because I was so passionate about helping people getting in shape, I had no problem working a full day at the office, going to the gym, and then coming home and working on my site until two in the morning. I did this for a year and half before making a single cent through Nerd Fitness.

Lastly, do what you can to include everybody, whether it’s a community to join or a cause to rally behind. Nerd Fitness started as a blog for me to write fitness tips, but it’s become a community of people who are all fighting against the same thing: obesity, nerd stereotypes, and a life without passion. I try to write about “us” instead of “me.” People will support a cause that they’re a part of – those folks will be your biggest fans and your most vocal supporters.

The way I see, I’m just one of thousands who are trying to level up their lives – I just happen to be the guy that brought everybody together.

What’s the “next big thing” you are up to?
Now that I can work from anywhere, and I’ve never been out of North America, I’ve decided it’s time for a quarter-life crisis. I’m getting ready to embark on an Epic Adventure all over the globe. I head to Peru to visit Machu Picchu at the end of October, and I plan on moving to Australia or New Zealand at the beginning of 2011 for a few months. After that? I have no freaking clue.

I’m also hard at work on my next fitness e-book, a strength and muscle building book for busy guys looking to bulk up and get stronger the right way while still doing all of the other stuff they love.

How can others follow you / find you online to support your efforts?
For starters, you can email me at, and say hi!  Let me know if there’s anything I can help ya with.

Secondly, you can sign up for free blog updates by joining the Nerd Fitness Rebellion (

Lastly, if you’re looking for a fitness guide on how to lose weight and get healthy without needing a gym membership – check out my Rebel Fitness Guide (, my first e-book for sale through the site.

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bookshelf spectrum, revisited
Creative Commons License photo credit: chotda

Auth Note: To celebrate the November 5th launch of Train To Live, I am giving away some of the key books that changed my personal game.

As an entrepreneur in the online community space, I spend a lot of time doing things that don’t make traditional business sense. I’d like to claim some amount of personal responsibility for our modest success, but I think a lot of things have just fallen into place. Hard work is key, but timing is everything.

I am often asked what lead to the sea-change in how I approach starting and running companies. I have done a lot of self-evaluation; I have compared start-up mode to launch mode; I have even gone as far as to dig up my old notes from 2007 to read what was going through my head.

While I have certainly bounced all over the place, there is one constant through it all…one simple activity I did a few times a week that influenced my work, my focus, and my strategy. What was this critical thing? Reading.

Not just glancing at articles online or zipping through links in Twitter, but really reading a book. Sitting down with an author and letting them give you several hours / several hundred pages of their ideas–in totality–is a rare thing in our 24/7 digitally driven world. I was fortunate to come across several key books, each of which affected me in a unique way. Together they have guided me more than any one adviser, and have influenced almost every strategy meeting or decision.

As I continue to work towards the launch of my new book, Train to Live, Live to Train: An Insider’s Guide to the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle, I am reminded of the power of the written word to truly change the way we interact with the world. If my book can help just a small handful of people re-think their approach to being an endurance athlete, it will have been a success. I know not everyone will accept my proposal that organizing the other 80% of your life outside of your athletic endeavors will transform their ability to train and reach their potential, but having the chance to

To celebrate the November 5th 24hour launch of Train To Live, I am giving away some of the key books that changed my personal game. To be sure this list isn’t exhaustive (I read a lot) but they represent some of the core books. They were also in my house, meaning I could actually give them away. A sign, to be sure!

To “earn” your copy, please respond in the comments below with a quick description of something unconventional you did that changed your training — or life — for the better. Be sure to mention the book you’d like to get and the hardcore judges panel (Me + My cat Daisy) will announce the winners at the end of the week (by October 15th).

Note: I have several early release copies of Train To Live available for review. I know that some of you have requested versions, please use the contact form on my blog and I’ll reply accordingly. Thanks!

ReWork by the posse at 37Signals — They guys make creative work fun by helping you focus on what really matters. A short book of essays designed to help you really challenge your personal and professional status quo.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by the inimitable Seth Godin — I am only halfway through this book right now, but it’s already made my short list because Seth has capture just how dramatically the world has changed in the last 10 years…and gives you a road map to find (or create) your own success.

Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less by Sam Carpenter — A book dedicated to finding and mastering the underlying systems of the world around us; part manifesto and part guidebook, this treatise in the right hands can unlock the power of a systems mindset and enable you to apply it for great leveage. I personally don’t think approaching everything as a system is the best way to go, but using the concepts in this book have enabled me to streamline basic areas of my life to enable maximum creativity in other spaces.

Smart Start-Ups: How Entrepreneurs and Corporations Can Profit by Starting Online Communiites by David Silver — A bit more educational than the other books on this list, in that I could see it being used in a college course on entrepreneurship, this text represents some early thinking in the online space around communities. It doesn’t have all the answers for where we are now (it changes so fast these days!) but it absolutely gives insight to the power of communities and groups connecting online.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb — A random book for the list, as it’s largely a philosophical examination of the world around us and how it works. While his focus starts in economic terms, it quickly gains scope to include the world around us. His singular premise on how unique unexpected events change life as we know it is one of the strongest calls for pushing the envelope as a business leader that I have ever heard.

Remember, you have until Friday 10/15/2010 to reply in the comments below with the unconventional thing you did that changed your training/life/overall game. I will announce the winners on this blog and provide instructions on how to get your book copies at that time. Thanks for playing!

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MS Runs the US

One of the biggest components of building your own “endurance lifestyle” is being able to operate on your own schedule. For some this means being able to exercise and race whenever they want, but for the lucky few, they are able to use their fitness to bring attention and focus on an issue that they are most passionate about. I discuss this concept in my forthcoming book Train to Live, Live to Train: The Insider’s Guide to Building the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle, as I think an important part of our fitness journey is finding a connection to “something” bigger than just endorphins.

But enough about me–let’s learn more about the amazing Ashley and how she’s changing lives one run at a time…

I had the good fortune of interviewing Ashley Kumlien last week. She is a one-woman, country-crossing, game-changing ball of energy. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Ashley is running across the US — approximately 25 miles per day — to raise awareness and funds to fight Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Ashley’s mother, Jill E. Kumlien, has been fighting MS for 27 yrs. It is Jill’s continued zest for life in the face of her adversity that has inspired Ashley to RUN:

  • 20-30 miles a day;
  • for approximately 6 months;
  • while running from San Fran, CA to New York, NY.

I was able to get about 15 minutes with her between interviews and her post-run recovery somewhere in western PA, and I learned:

  • What inspired her to take this incredible journey;
  • How she recovers from all the running;
  • It’s possible to have a sense of humor after 3,000 miles of running;
  • Her plans for a relay run across the US in 2012 (you’ll be able to participate)A

You can listen to the full interview here online, or you can download it here.

If you live in/around New York City, you could drop in on the Finish Line event at City Hall, hosted by Montell Williams. I am sure it will be an epic event, but as Ashley notes it’s only a small step of many that need to be taken to fight MS.

If you’d like to learn more about Ashley, donate funds, view her pictures, donate funds, follow her virtual map, or donate funds (get it?), please use the links below.

Web & Elsewhere:

I am curious to know what your passion is outside of exercise. What journeys are you contemplating? Please share with us in the comments below!

Become a Fan of Endurance Lifestyle Design on Facebook to join the conversation and check out my free Fit Life eBook for more insider tips.

Thank you so much!

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ELD Book Cover


With the launch of my new book coming in less than two months, I am getting pretty pumped to spread the word about what this book is really about.

First, let me be clear that the fundamental premise of the book is pretty simple. We can all be much, much fitter than we are right now if we can structure our lives in such a way that allows us to get the best possible training in at the right times. Not the most training all the time. Not a slave to the job or other commitments. This is about purposefully building a lifestyle that will integrate your passion for endurance sports with all the other things that are most important for you.


This book is not for you if…

  • …you are looking for a list of cool workouts;
  • …you want to be come an endorphin-monk and train away the rest of your days;
  • …you want some top-secret short cut to the top.

I have to be honest and say it’s not really a book, it’s more of a manual. After the introductory section of the book I move right into outlining strategies that you can use in your own life. I have included several case studies to show you how other folks get it done on a regular basis. There are even several worksheets to help you get the ball rolling right away.


I have worked hard to make sure the book is ready-to-use, and I feel that I am pretty much there.


As we build to the launch of the book in November, I wanted to recap some of what the book is about (above) as well as collect and share some of the information I have already made public about the book itself. In addition to the links below, consider downloading the FREE Fit Life eBook as an interim-resource until the full book comes out in November.


Thanks and enjoy!!!


~ Patrick

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Art of Non Coformity Book


Just Released on Amazon here: Art of Non-Conformity Book


I follow about 20 folks online, mainly because the vast majority of folks out there aren’t doing new, inspiring stuff. My top 20 do, and for their efforts, documentation and sharing I am truly grateful. Chis Guillebeau, the author of the brand new rt of Non-Conformity Book and chief architect of many a world-domination plan via the AONC online empire, is one such inspirational character.


This book captures the core tenets of Chris’ philosophy, which center around how to live a remarkable life. He’s carving his path by traveling to all 192 countries (as recognized by the UN) and using those experiences to connect with others. His advice via the unconventional guides he has published over the last three years. With topic ranging from World Domination to the Frequent Flier Ninja and the all-encompassing Empire Builder, Chris has you covered.


And now, thanks to the miracle of book publishing, you’ve got a guide that doubles as your passport to a world of remarkable living. An absolute must-have read for folks looking to change their lives in today’s digital age.


Enjoy…I’m off to buy my copy…


~ Patrick

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Majestic White Heron
Creative Commons License photo credit: PacoAlcantara

What will your creation become?

Time for another business post folks. This one was written on the flight home from Ironman Louisville, one of my annual pilgrimages to support the amazing folks on Team Endurance Nation.

After a few hours of checking up on by business reading, which mainly consists of sifting through my contacts via Twitter and checking in on the key blogs I follow, I am beginning to get a little disenchanted. If I open another email from another expert selling me a $1000 program to creating the best blog ever, I might just keel over.

I have to wonder where such a swath of experts were hiding, mere years ago, until the advent of Twitter and social networking. I am not personally overwhelmed by the information available 24/7 on the web, but I struggle daily to make sense of the people who are involved.  Who to follow? Who to listen to? Who can help me?

I have come up with a simple criteria I use when navigating the expert-o-sphere. I simply ask: Is this person trying to sell me something or teach me something?

If you are selling, then I take what you have to say with a grain of salt. And the higher the price of what you are selling almost instantly lowers your value to me.

If you are teaching, then I am interested. The web is a good place to make money (see selling above) but it’s also a platform for educating, sharing and creating change. These elements don’t preclude making money, but they do require a fundamentally different approach to communication.

Why Selling vs Teaching?
Well, I had to start somewhere. Seriously. But it’s also because I am looking for role models and leaders in my personal and professional quest online. Having been at the online entrepreneurial game now for five years, I have learned that the quick fix stuff never really works as well as you’d like it to. If the web is full of information, then the most important people to me are the ones who are going to help me to learn and to put my learning into action.

Someone who sells just drops by via email, or maybe by phone. Think 30-second dating. The teacher, on the other hand, is there consistently. Whether it’s daily or weekly, s/he is putting out thoughtful content that challenges me to be better as a person and as a professional.

This isn’t to say that the person teaching won’t, at some point, try to sell me something…but if they have already taught me something then I will be more likely to purchase from them.

It All Comes Down to Building
At the end of the day, I think the real power of the web is to connect people and ideas and to reduce the barriers for further exploration. There are few, if any experts out there. There are lots of opinions, and that’s a good thing. But the most powerful experiences are where dialogue and information sharing improves our collective understanding of any given concept.

The folks who do this well are what I call “builders,” people who are creating online communities of people able to access high-quality information. The next step for these folks is to create the opportunity for their followers to connect with each other, driving the process forward exponentially faster.

I think of Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferris, Derek Sivers, and Cal Newport as a few of the powerful voices that affect how I work and live. These people generate ideas and food for thought, but aren’t (yet) building online communities for their many followers. I think that’s going to be the next iteration…and you can get a jumpstart on these thought leaders by building out that community on your own.

If you are looking to succeed online today, I think it’s important to consider yourself a builder, not a seller. A teacher, not a marketer. Take a personal long-term view on your content and how you build relationships online. The longer you play the game, the more likely you are to win.

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Make More Finish Lines

Posted by Patrick McCrann Aug 27, 2010

Creative Commons License photo credit: basictheory

Have you ever watched a major event like a marathon or Ironman? Not the biased television coverage, but the real deal form the sidelines? It’s powerful to watch thousands of people from all walks of life on a similar journey to complete a physical challenge in one massive attempt to reach the finish.

Out on the course it can be quiet, sometimes quite lonely. I personally prefer to be out on the course. I think it’s inspiring and educational to watch people perform and execute when they aren’t aware of being watched. When they are still fresh and early in their day and have countless options. This is where the nature of their finish is created, far from any finish line.

Have you watched the same events from the finish line?

It’s a tale of two (different) races. Hundreds if not thousands of screaming fans. Signs, banners, lights and music. A steady stream of competitors becoming finishers, hustling down the finishing straight despite hours of suffering. People are transformed, replacing grimaces with smiles. Despite incredible fatigue most raise their arms while others muster a small victory dance or other celebration.

Regardless of the time on the clock, each of these people have successfully complete what they set out to do…and the fans, spectators, and loved ones are there to mark the occasion.

The finish line experience is one of the main reasons people keep coming back. They profess to love the toil of training, the ardor or early morning sessions, the daily rush of endorphins. But nothing is more rewarding than the sensory overload experience that is a race finish line. If you’ve ever completed such an event, you’ll most likely have those memories etched into your brain, into your being.

I think we need more finish lines. Not the massive celebratory ones from races (but that would be funny!), but ones where we can still throw our hands up to the sky and mark the end of a journey.

In a world full of things to do / read / learn / say / process, we are almost entirely focused on the act of doing instead of the state of being done. We are building a culture where action is rewarded, not completion. At some point the emphasis will shift from what we have accomplished to simply being rewarded for doing.

I can’t think of faster way to personal, professional, or social mediocrity.

Here’s how you can make your own finish lines happen:

  • Decide upon a final date to be done. Deadlines make things real.
  • Start with the end in mind. Know what “done” is so when you get there, you can celebrate.
  • Practice celebrating. Pick small achievable milestones. Add up the milestones and soon you’ll be at the finish line. Success is addictive; start training yourself early.
  • Work with others. Solo-preneurs are more likely (thank teams or groups) to just keep going. Even if you don’t have colleagues, share your work with others in your life so they can help you reflect on what you’ve done.
  • Consider scheduled finish lines. Some industries operate by quarter, others on an annual basis. Pick your own cycle and schedule time to step away from the WHAT and focus on the HOW.

Starting something is the hardest step, but it gets easier the better you become at finishing. Build success into how you manage your work / life / play and you’ll find that it’s not only more fun…it’s easier. I’m available for hi-fives and words of encouragement along your journey on Facebook. If you need someone to be at your finishline, just contact me.

Good luck!

~ Patrick

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underneath a star
Creative Commons License photo credit: jaeWALK

Greetings from my summertime weekend base of Cape Cod, MA. This is our hot weather escape, where we crash with my outlaws (the in-laws) for almost every weekend of the summer. It’s a great chance to unplug from the hustle of everyday and tune into the things that really matter: the kids, our family, the kids, relaxing, and above all else…the kids.

It’s also a great chance for me to reflect on the business side of things, as I typically am not working overdrive after a pretty solid week. This post is part of a series, a weekend Sunday Store Update Series, where I write about the small business side of ELD.

Book CoverMost of this summer has been dedicated to the upcoming launch of Train to Live, Live to Train: An Insider’s Guide to Building the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle. The hard copy is done and is being converted into a nice PDF format. The audio case studies are done. I am working on the launch site and a few other videos to put into the higher-value packages. Many of you have pre-ordered the book (thank you!) and I promise I am working to get it to you as soon as possible…thanks for your support!

Ten Hours A Week SystemStrangely enough, this past week saw a massive uptick in the number of copies of my Competitive Triathlon in 10Hours A Week product. Even though it’s August, it appears quite a few of you are already beginning to think ahead to the winter and next season…good for you! The 10Hours System is a great way to build out a functional training cycle that instantly fits your life and keeps you focused on the other things (like kids!) that really matter. Remember that if you are buying the kindle edition you’ll want to email us to get the download too as the planning spreadsheets and free bonuses aren’t included from Amazon.

2008  CalendarI am considering a four-week long season planning session for September, the $100 Season Planning Group.

It would be a 28-day exercise where a small group of you work with me to walk through the 10Hours concepts and build out a full season for 2011. Each week will feature a conference call by me as well as a set of “tasks” to complete. You’ll be able to interact with the other members of the group and, by the end of month, you’ll each have a complete roadmap for 2011 with some really solid ideas on how to best manage your time for maximum fitness.

If you are interested in this concept, please post a comment below or leave a message on Facebook. If we have enough interested folks I’ll put up a registration slot later this month…I’ll try to keep the first class pretty small so I can be sure to meet all of your needs.

As always, thanks again for tuning in and have a great weekend!

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Wired man

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mike Licht,

As a Type-A personality with an exercise addiction, I not only have a ton of things going on in my world…I want to be good at all of them. Not just good, but the best that I can be. I know this is, for all intents and purposes, pretty much impossible, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

One of the most challenging elements of trying to excel in multiple spheres is being able to balance your commitments across the board.  From personal to professional, and social to athletic, there are tons of different things you could have going on at anyone time. Learning how to manage these multiple areas is critical if you are to be remotely close to your best.

Here’s a not-so-quick review of how I manage my universe; I’d appreciate your feedback and comments at the end on how you do it (or how you suggest I improve my approach). Thanks!

The Problem
Mainstream planning approaches follow the notion that specificity solves the action dilemma. As initially drafted by David Allen in his seminal work “Getting Things Done,” knowing the Next Action is what frees the individual from thinking and puts them into doing.

Please note: This is not a knock on the GTD system. I have actually used it in the past on my personal management journey, and it is a quantum leap ahead of most other ways of working.

From personal experience, however, I know that the more detail I have or create doesn’t necessarily lead me to the right answer…or to any kind of action at all. The majority of my work is creative: writing, recording, editing, etc., and I have found that lists of things to do around my creative tasks only constrain and distract me from the actual work I set out to do.

Instead, the focus on exploring details became a huge time suck in and of itself. I worked hard to make sure I had the 25 steps to publishing an article in place; I reviewed the list. I put it into my planner. I assigned tags to relevant steps so I could batch phone calling in step 8 with my other phone-related tasks. I toggled items on and off the list as I progressed.

There was only one problem: I wasn’t any closer to having a written article.

I had essentially built myself a beautiful list of new stuff that now required management in addition to needing to write an article worth of publishing. I had also discovered that having a list to manage, for the Type A personality, is as addictive as crack cocaine. Not good.

Focus on What Matters, Details Are Secondary
When it comes to Type-A folks looking to succeed in multiple areas, I think it’s far more appropriate to focus on the big picture stuff. These are the action items that, when accomplished, will enable you to remain successful in all of your focus areas. If you are truly Type A, you’ll be able to hit all of the micro-steps to be successful as you dive into the project / task.

Let’s revisit the article publishing example. Making a list or process around the creation of an article ultimately takes away from what needs to be created:

  • If you review it from a linear perspective (Step A happens before Step B, then Step C), you place an inordinate amount of importance upon the sequence of your work instead of the content of the work.
  • If you have a list it’s easier to check off the easier things to show progress (create an outline, draft a tagline, etc) instead of doing the hard creative work that actually _is_ progress.

Instead of diving into a series of “article creation steps,” I have found it’s far more productive for me to keep a list of things that interest me, gathered as a surf the web. When I need to write something, it’s as simple as going to that list and finding something that interests me / syncs with my other priorities (marketing, events, etc). I dive in and start writing.

In other words, without the seminal act of writing the article, or at least starting to write the article, none of the other tasks really matter.

Of course, there’s a process here but it’s not one that I need to write down or check off:

  • There’s the collection of info / ideas as I surf.
  • There’s the picking of a topic based on relevant criteria.
  • When I write, I create a quick outline and then fill it in.
  • When I publish to the web, I do some content editing, fixing for SEO, adding images, etc.
  • Finally I make sure to distribute the final product through Twitter, Facebook and more.

You might consider this a list of activities, but for me it’s more of a weekly ritual that I go through. Putting it down on paper only serves to distract me, taking away from my final goal — a really good article.

When Details are Important: Confusion & Outsourcing
Details become important when there’s a lack of clarity or experience. Perhaps it’s a new task, one that you’re not sure how to complete. Or maybe it’s a very important task, say closing on a new home, that you want to get 100% right the first time.

Details are also important when you want to outsource any given task to someone else. I have a whole chapter on the concept of outsourcing in my forthcoming new book Train to Live, Live to Train: An Insiders Guide to Creating the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle (pre-order here). Basically your goal is to take something you normally do, give it to someone else, and make sure it’s done as well as if you had done it.

Aside from the instructions below, when it comes to outsourcing remember that the best time to do it is when you are (A) familiar with task, (B) know the desired outcome, and (C) are going to be able to monitor the results.

Here’s a quick list of how I suggest you prepare a task to be outsourced.

  1. Complete the task yourself, ideally several times.
  2. Break it down into a detailed list of steps.
  3. Test your list as you complete your task again.
  4. Create a screencast of you completing your list (I use Jing).
  5. Outsource the work for that task by presenting the list and your movie.
  6. Check on first results with great detail.
  7. Follow up at regular intervals.

I frequently get asked about outsourcing and when to make it happen. It’s very simple for me:
At the end of the day, if you can break a task down into clear, succinct steps, odds are you don’t need to be the one doing it. Outsource it.

Properly outsourcing a task is a skill you will need to develop.  It takes times to get good at it, but in general if you can master this skill, it will in turn allow you to focus more on the big picture items you need to be successful at in order to maintain forward progress in your multiple spheres of influence.

The Creative Opportunity
While getting things done is fun, and on some level rewarding, your ultimate goal should be to create value. Value is calculated differently according to your industry, focus, and goals, but  I think a general definition would be: Value is created when you have made something new, unique, or useful.

Simply put, your time is better spent involved in things where there is a lack of clarity, for therein lies the opportunity to create value.

My Personal Planning Process
So, how actually should you plan? Ultimately that’s up to you, but I will share my basic process here. If it helps you out, great. If you have feedback, please put it in the comments below.

I recommend a very simple system which identifies your critical spheres of influence and allows you to track activities across the year. This is essentially a big picture view of all the projects you are managing. I typically work with a rolling three month window, as that’s about the average time from inception to completion for most of my projects.

Macro Level Planning

You can see I have modified an Excel spreadsheet to track each area by month. Under each month put the big picture items. For example, launching a new book is a big process. There are big chunks like proofreading, sending to production, and launching on the web. Each of these might fall under a separate month.

Using this sheet, I can see how those activities stack up with the other things I want to do in my other areas of influence. This has really saved me from over-committing (and consequently under performing) on many occasions.

The next level down, after the macro-level looks good, is to break each area down into weekly tasks. Again, on a weekly level as this is a good time frame for most tasks. Anything more granular really can get off track and derail the entire project. As I progress from week to week I can move tasks or cross them off as they are completed.

One sphere sheet

And that’s it. I review the macro level sheet once a month, and the weekly sheets at the start of every week. I don’t keep a traditional to do list, as this keeps me from having a million and one other small tasks to manage that affect my ability to create.

When you get into doing your work and wanting to manage your multiple spheres of influence, I encourage you to take a step back and look at all you are trying to accomplish.  Use this perspective as an advantage to getting more important and creative work done, the work that is going to help you succeed across the board.

Good luck!

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